When they say that they are proudly South African, the three members of South Africa’s biggest rock ’n roll export, Just Jinjer, really mean it.
After all, they had packed up their cushy lives in Los Angeles – where they had been living their dream for the past eight years – to return to the country where it had all started for them.
“We wanted to be based somewhere that we could call home,” says front man Ard Matthews with half an eye on the World Cup game unfolding on the telly.
“After the release of our album in the States, we realised that we were no longer needed there to facilitate the process, so we decided to come home.”
Port Elizabeth, where they will be performing at the FIFA Fan Fest™ on Friday evening (7pm), is another place that lies close to their hearts.
“In many ways it’s where we started our careers. We’ve performed there on many occasions and it’s always one of the places that come up when we sit down to plan our itineraries.”
They moved abroad after conquering the local market. Their debut album, All Comes Round, had become one of the best-selling rock albums ever and their second, Something for Now, reached gold status in a mere three weeks – both becoming platinum.
That doesn’t mean that they have bid the international stage a fond farewell. “Not at all. We’ll still be travelling a lot. It’s just our base that has changed,” says Matthews.
“In fact, I’m leaving for Germany next week for a radio promo and it looks like the rest of the band will be following a month later.”
When they came together in mid-1996 – the result of his merging with a two-man cover band consisting of drummer Brent Harris and bass guitarist Denholm Harding – they made a conscious decision to have their own identity.
“We decided that we wanted to make original music,” says the dreadlocked Matthews, who is credited for writing most of the group’s material.
“It just comes to me. It’s mostly about life, love and the loss of them both,” he summed up the nature of the lyrics.
Doing their own thing probably contributed to their unique sound that is, according to Matthews, “alternative and independent of everything else”.
The threesome will soon be heading to the studio to record their next album, which is scheduled for release by October.
The as yet untitled album is “similarly inspired” to their trademark stuff, “only fresher”, says Matthews. It will have the usual references to love and, this time, his thoughts on global warming.
“The title should take care of itself. It usually comes to us halfway through recording.”
Having performed with the likes of U2, Counting Crows and Def Leppard, Just Jinjer are well-versed in the world’s biggest stages. Now they can add the World Cup stage to their resume.
CAPTION: Just Jinjer are set to rock the FIFA Fan Fest™ in Port Elizabeth on Friday evening.
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