Musos on the move
The Parlotones, a household name in South Africa, have performed alongside musical giants such as Kings of Leon, Gossip, Violent Femmes, Jimmy Eat World, New Model Army, Evanescence, Staind, The Rasmus, UB40 and Collective Soul. However, the South African pop rock band’s meteoric rise to fame has entailed much more hard work and effort than the average person would guess. This four musician-strong, Joburg-based band, comprising Kahn Morbee, Neil Pauw and Paul and Glenn Hodgson, seems poised to become an international phenomenon: the band has just completed a 300-date sold-out world tour, and the word is out across the globe that the Parlotones are hot!
In 2005, the group released its debut album, Radiocontrolledrobot, which was named Best Rock Album at the 2006 South Africa Music Awards. The award opened a host of opportunities for the band, including performing at My Coke Fest after international act Metallica. The band also secured a European licence deal with Universal Music, after an Irish Fujifim advertisement featured their ballad, Beautiful, as its soundtrack.
Radiocontrolledrobotwent gold two years later and the group’s follow-up, A World Next Door to Yours went double platinum, producing seven radio singles and remaining on the South African top 20 sales chart for more than a year, with sales exceeding 80 000. This was largely due to the band’s ongoing commitment to win over local fans and media by hitting the road and embracing a vast array of experiences to gain exposure and capture the hearts – and ears – of would-be followers.
2007 saw the band playing 70 shows in the UK. Their stellar performance at the Live Earth concert, the largest festival ever staged, saw online portal MSN name them one of the 10 most memorable performances and flatteringly compare them with The Police in the late 1970s. That same year, the Parlotones scooped the You magazine’s award for Best Band, the FHM Readers’ Choice Award and the television channel MK’s award for Best Video. They were also nominated for Resfest Best Video.
In 2008 the band moved into Europe, touring Germany with the Wombats and performing locally and in Switzerland with Razorlight. Popular British band Starsailor supported the Parlotones on their Powerzone Unplugged Festival tour in South Africa; the relationship extended into a tour with Starsailor in the UK.
In 2009, performances at international music trade fair Midem with Blue October, at Canadian Music Week and at the South by South West music festival in Texas resulted in rave reviews and negotiations around a tour with Blue October in the US. The Parlotones were well received in the US, breaking onto the CMJ top 200 chart there. Overexposed won awards in the US, as well as locally.
The Parlotones 2009 World Tour swept through Europe, with A World Next Door to Yours being as well received abroad as it was at home. The whirlwind tour took the band to London, Reading, Bristol, Liverpool, Guildford, Portsmouth, Manchester, Bucharest, Derby, Glasgow, Amsterdam, Berlin, Munich, Hamburg, Hanover, Cologne, Magdeburg, Bielefeld, Bochum, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Lisbon, Zurich, Copenhagen, Dubai and Moscow. In Australia they performed at the One Movement for Music festival in Perth before being greeted by adoring local fans at Cape Town’s Grand West Arena and the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg.
The Parlotones, who are spokespeople for both Live Earth and Earth Hour, have launched their own wine, named after their monster hits Giant Mistake and Push me to the Floor. The wine is sold at local retailer Woolworths and is also available in Germany.
This Gauteng group is testament to the fact that tremendous talent, coupled with hard work and the willingness to promote one’s craft internationally, can have spectacular results.