By Marley

Woodstock Mafia is a 4-piece rock band, no question about it. Since the release of their music video “Electric Light” a few years ago on MK the Cape Town band grew from unknown to headline festival bookings. Using the classic genre of rock ‘n roll these guys gives a live performance that will make your neck stiff the next morning.

They are travelling up from the Mother City to the tiny, sleepy town of Lothair for Mieliepop 2014. It’s a long way from home but the boys enjoy the hospitality of the Mpumalanga’ers. We chated to the “bass guy”, Ryan Matthews of Woodstock Mafia. From the 5 things the band needs on a road trip to memories to festivals…it’s all there and a bag of chips.

STM: Welcome to Small Town Music! Please give us a short introduction of who you are and where the band is based.

Woodstock Mafia: Well there is Joe Theron (vocals) from Moss-Baai (and his MossNeus – that guy can snore), Nick van Rensburg (guitar) is from the same background as me in the Southern Suburbs, and Owen Ingarfield (drums) lived around the corner but we only figured that out once years later.

STM: The last time you guys were in Mpumalanga was for the R40 Music Festival that took place in White River. Now you are on your way to Mieliepop near Lothair. What stands out in Mpumalanga for you?

WM: We love travelling upcountry in general. The people are friendlier, they’re more into the music and into having a great time, and they leave any pretence they might have at home – they are very different from crowds in Cape Town. Mpumalanga itself is beautiful. Maybe we are too familiar with our own surroundings in the Cape, but yeah, the Lowveld is amazing.

STM: You released your album “Defiance” last year – what has been the response so far?

WM: Pretty good I would say. If anything it allowed us to close a chapter and start writing a new one. The moment running up to the album has allowed us to reflect more, and we’ve been taking it quite easily in 2014, writing new material and enjoying being a band a lot more.

Trigger and Gun – Woodstock Mafia

STM: “Trigger and Gun” has an extremely interesting video – please tell us a little bit more about it.

WM: Our mate Ric Shields who directed the “Electric Light” video gave us his energy for another outing – it was a 24-hour shoot, with folks painting walls and neighbours complaining of noise. The end result is quite hypnotic, and who knows, perhaps next year we will bring out something similar – this time without a 24-hour shoot.

STM: Travelling from the Western Cape to Mpumalanga is quite a journey. What are 5 things Woodstock Mafia needs for a road trip?

WM: Five things we need? Music (we’ve driven to PE with zero tunes and no radio signal – harmonising the cat version of Game of Thrones never got boring though); biltong; cellphone chargers to stay in touch with the WAGS at home; water; and pillows to help us snuggle.

Woodstock Mafia - photo provided
Woodstock Mafia
(photo provided)

STM: Mieliepop is still a young festival in SA, do you think the current amount of music festivals are flooding the market or assisting artists in playing for wider range of fans?

WM: Mieliepop is a welcome addition to the festival map and I’m stoked that we are a part of it. Watching it grow is amazing and I hope that it finds that perfect level of sustainability. Too many festivals burn out and don’t realize that it’s a gradual process – the Mieliepop guys seem to understand this process. I would like to see more festivals of this nature springing up all over the country, and more festivals and events that bridge historical gaps in the market – there is massive opportunity out there to grow the rock/indie/blues market, and I think it’s happening (at least when looking at some of the social media interaction for Mieliepop in particular).

STM: The very last track on your album features a mafia boss speaking about Woodstock Mafia. It is very funny! Tell us a little more about this?

WM: Our good friend and local comedian, Paul Snodgrass, volunteered to help us out. He had so many expletives in his adlibbed piece that we though “bleeping” it might make it even funnier… and it does.

STM: Are there any South African bands you look up to?

WM: Too many – Van Coke Kartel are continuing where Fokof left off, and these guys really created the scene. We’re 90s kids (except for Joe, who’s still a kid), and were into Lithium, Sugardrive, Nine, Nudies, Boo, Battery 9, Wonderboom…. I mean, all that good old stuff from way back when. But the age of performer, guys like Jeremy Loops and Dan Patlansky, bands like Shortstraw and Al Bairre keeping the students going, guys like Black Cat Bones and Shadowclub and some of our metal bands are just mental. We have a great industry, we just need to focus on building the market – this has little to do with radio, but more to do with product placement and taking it to the people.

STM: Which is your most favourite Woodstock Mafia memory? (can be on stage, tour, recording etc)

WM: We’ve had many – Joe often loses things at airports or gets arrested, we’ve bribed police in a couple of provinces, we’ve played every major festival and opened for Chevelle at Grand West Arena in Cape Town, we’ve had major play-listing on 5FM and continue to have “hits” on TUKS FM… argh, just too many memories, and so many more to make.

Joe Theron - Photo by Louise Pieterse
Joe Theron
(Photo by Louise Pieterse)

STM: Do you have a message for your fans out there?

WM: Get drunk, have fun, don’t be a doos. See you at Mieliepop!

Thank you again to Ryan for answering our questions. Check them out at Mieliepop Festival starts today (02 October 2014) and ends on Sunday 05 October. Tickets are available at and it’s happening in Lothair, Mpumalanga. We will see you there!

Electric Light – Woodstock Mafia
Marley is the founder and owner of Small Town Music. Born and bred in Nelspruit aka Nelsparta. Marley loves music (rock being a firm favourite), tattoos, festivals, animals and South Africa. Self-taught photographer and writer.