Jon Lantic is a South African musician who recently released his self-titled debut album. Lantic had previously been a member of the garage rock duo, The Parlor Vinyls. Blues Rock Review caught up with Lantic to discuss his debut album and more.
You’re involved with nearly every aspect of the album from writing to producing and performing multiple instruments. Was this something you always wanted to do and what inspired this direction?
I have always followed my own way and style of doing things. Music, up to this point, has always been a solitary exercise for me. So, this came very natural to me. During early 2016 I built my little studio at home (Lantic Studio), and recorded everything in that little room, except for the guitar amps, which were recorded in the living room. Cables running everywhere. Ha ha. The drums I recorded at a rehearsal studio in Cape Town. I wanted a big room to record the drums in. I met Jan Fyfer at a gig early that year and really liked his style of playing and asked him if he could play drums on the album. Love his technique and I encouraged him to really let loose on some of the tracks. The album was recorded very much in an unorthodox fashion, with drums actually recorded last, which makes Fyfer’s skill that more impressive. There’s no programmed sounds on this album. Even the odd sounds on the song “Marching Straight to the Enemy” was me playing a Theremin with my pedalboard on my lap, turning knobs on the delay pedal while working the instrument too. I like trying new things and don’t really follow rules in music. Play what you want to play. I think sticking to one genre is the worst thing a musician can do. Forget about genres. Just make music. You might just discover you like more than one style. Got to give thanks to Christiaan Rossouw who co-mixed with me.
The fact that you were involved with nearly every aspect of the album, did you find that made things easier for you or more difficult?
I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I tend to try and do everything myself. Perfectionist that likes imperfect music. Ha ha. It’s a 50/50 situation. In the one hand, I control the end product, which is great. In the other hand, it puts a lot of pressure on you to get things right, cause there’s no one else that can pick up the slack. I did put a lot of time into the album, as I taught myself how to record and mix in that time, too. Sort of trial by fire. But this type of thing keeps you on your toes. Even choosing a location for the album cover was important to me. This is in fact a spot I drove by on my way to work for nearly 9 years. Always thought it would make a great photo. Had to go through a very tricky process to get permission to shoot there, but that’s a secret. Ha ha.
With Jon Lantic being your debut solo album. How long did it take and had you been sitting on some of the songs for a long time?
A bunch of the songs were written during 2016, with “Lonely” being the final song written, which I just felt needed to be written to end off the album. Some songs have been sitting for about a year or so, but it might have changed into something else along the way. With “The Olive Tree,” I think it was an acoustic guitar song first, then a piano only, and then it changed into a fun play between piano and guitar. I take song writing and especially lyrics, seriously. I do tend to take a while to write lyrics. I sometimes jump around, and change them. The great thing about writing music, is that you’re writing a story. It could be facts, fiction, or a blur between the lines.
There’s definitely a strong garage rock influence on the album. Who are some of your influences?
Always a difficult question for me because I don’t really listen to a lot of music. These days I do try and make a bit more effort. These aren’t really influences, but just some bands I listen/listened to which includes early White Stripes (which I haven’t listened to in years), The Hives, Jet, The Clash, The Gories, Bass Drum of Death, Tom Waits, Cab Calloway, Blind Willie McTell, The Black Keys, Iggy and The Stooges, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Karen Elson, Jack White, Neil Young, Oasis, Kasabian, Rival Sons, Skip James, Flat Duo Jets, The Kills, The Cramps, Ty Segall, Wolfmother. These are just a few, but I’ll listen to a variety of musical styles, and find myself listening more classical orchestral music these days. It’s both calming, and also activates my mind. I also like Latin and Cuban styles of music. But, yeah, once again vary from old to modern music.
How do you feel about the current blues rock scene in South Africa?
It’s a small but loyal crowd. Unfortunately festivals that support rock styles of music is getting less. But here and there are a few new festivals popping up. Hopefully these and existing festivals will get better financial backing so we can continue with our art. There’s a bit of a psychedelic garage rock scene also going on in Cape Town, which I enjoy checking out.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
Wolfmother live in Cape Town. The sound was horrible, but the band was great, and we had a blast watching them.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would you choose?
Really not sure about that one. The saying “Never meet your heroes” comes to mind. Ha ha.
Interview by Pete Francis