Landing among the dragonflies and astronauts
One of South Africa’s most successful rock groups, the Parlotones have kept the hits coming for nearly 20 years. Hear their inspiring story.
You may know Kahn Morbee from The Voice, but there’s much more to the judge, who first crashed through the stratosphere as the frontman of the Parlotones. The Parlotones: This Is Our Story covers their musical journey from West Rand obscurity to becoming a household name in South Africa.
Morbee’s real name is Dingaan. His nickname was ‘Gaan which was misheard as, and later accepted to be, Kahn.
His distinctive vintage glam makeup, quirky hats and loudspeaker have become trademarks for the band and musician. Raised by his gran, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and Marie biscuits, his 80s childhood experience found him gravitating towards alternative music, much like his contemporaries Fokofpolisiekar and Jack Parow.
Morbee and Neil Pauw formed the Parlotones in 1998, later adding brothers Paul and Glenn Hodgson, all growing up in the same suburb and school in Roodepoort, Johannesburg. Radio night owls, their shared musical identity centred on international alternative rock acts like INXS, the Cure, the Pixies and the Smiths.
Originating at a time when 90s rock renaissance bands like Springbok Nude Girls, Sugardrive, Squeal and Amersham were slowing down, the Parlotones decided to deconstruct the traditional rock band, treating their act like a business rather than shooting for garage band glory.
In this honest and humble rockumentary, produced and directed by Michelle Pretorius (Stone Cold Jane Austen), the band recount the highs and lows of their surreal journey. From “buying their first real six string” in the days when they were known as Crayon and entering Battle of the Bands competitions, to playing at their biggest stadium shows, they conjure up dragonflies and astronauts, triumphs and setbacks.
“As long as we’re actually still a band in five years time, and are still creating music that’s relevant, that’s the ultimate prize.” Kahn Morbee in Channel24
From award-winning music videos to candid interviews and exhilarating highs, The Parlotones: This is Our Story is a compelling overview of a rock band’s first 15 years and their brotherhood. It’s entertaining thanks to a showcase of their catchiest tunes and educational as a case study for any up-and-coming musos. They stuck to their guns despite criticism, it’s an eye-opening and surprising ride.
Refreshing matter-of-fact honesty disarms any reservation you may have had about the Parlotones relating to their commercial enterprise or mainstream rock sound. Trashing the “sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll” image, not quitting their day jobs and making decisions to keep the dream alive, This Is Our Story is about as clean cut as you get – proving nice guys can finish first!
Leaning on interviews from music pundits and managers, including rock luminaries like Arno Carstens and Theo Crous, it’s a tale about fan boys whose passion for music led them to command their own army of fans. Forming the band, struggling for recognition, bravely forging ahead, recording their first album, campaigning for airplay and touring overseas, the classic band story format echoes the Springbok Nude Girls rockumentary. Under the spotlights playing to a few billion at the World Cup 2010 opening ceremony, touring with Live, pulling off a concert that was broadcast live in 3D and rocking a sell-out crowd at The Dome… this is their (amazing) story.