15 November 2018
INTERVIEW: The rockstars of Stone Cold Jane Austen
Ever wondered what it takes to go viral and to amass millions of fans while maintaining totally legit rock-god status? Karel and Johnny share their journey to becoming the legends they are today in the movie named after their band, Stone Cold Jane Austen.
Look, this kind of fame and authenticity and legendariness isn’t attainable for everyone, so if you watch the movie and realise that these guys are totally out of your league, don’t feel bad. Not everyone can be this awesome.
We managed to catch up with Johnny and Karel in-between gigs and YouTube uploads recently, and asked them to share some words of wisdom with their fans and the aspiring rock stars who want to be just like them when they grow up. Here’s what they had to say.
Every supergroup has an origin story – let’s hear yours.
Johnny: There was this nerdy guy in school who no one wanted to talk to. His mother came to school to tell him that his best friend had died in a pretty nasty way. I thought that was pretty rock and roll to know someone who knew someone who actually died. So I asked him to start a band. His name was Karel and the rest is history.
Karel: My name is actually Carl but Johnny thought Karel would be better for our Afrikaans fans so, ja, im Karel now. And yes, history.
Who are your musical influences?
Johnny: I’m sure Karel would probably say me. And now that I think about it I might also say me. I know it sounds arrogant but it’s not supposed to. I believe an artist needs to tell a global truth whenever they are creating art and that global truth lives within each of us, but more in creative artists like myself. So just by being me when I wake up in the morning, I’m speaking a global truth. As soon as I aspire to be Axl Rose or Iggy Pop, I’ve lost my truth because I’m trying to emulate someone else’s truth. Make sense?
Which of the two of you has the best hair?
Karel: Johnny doesn’t need hair. Which genius do you know that was all about his hairstyle? Except for Einstein. And Beethoven. But what did those guys know?
Johnny: Karel has better looking hair, but I have better quality hair. Also my pubes are longer which apparently means healthier sex drive.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before you go on stage?
What’s the one must-wear item when you’re on stage?
Johnny: I think when you are a natural fashion icon like myself, I don’t have to think much about what I wear. Once, a very, very, very famous person compared me to Keith Richards; basically saying that whatever we wore, we just made it look rock and roll. Over the years I’ve put it to the test, and I can honestly say it’s true.
Karel: It was Johnny’s uncle who said that.
Johnny: Yes, but my uncle was super famous in the 80s. He was in the band Autumn Ritual. You must have heard of them? They sold hundreds of albums! People still tell me he’s the most famous person they know, obviously after me.
What is your most bad-ass rockstar moment?
Karel: When Pierre from Heuwels Fantasties punched Johnny in the face, I thought that was pretty rock and roll.
Johnny: No comment.
Oppikoppi – highlights and lowlights?
Johnny: Lowlight. The problem with Oppikoppi is that they don’t know how to recognise real talent in the traditional purest sense of the word. We might not sell the most albums, but there aren’t a lot of bands who have the same credibility and artistic integrity as us. But they don’t recognise that. That’s why we are starting our own festival. Only REAL cool bands can be on the line up.
Karel: So far we are the only band on the line-up cos Johnny says we are the only band who is really actually truly cool. I still don’t like to talk about Oppikoppi. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out why.
If you could fight any South African musician, who would you pick and why?
Karel: Zolani from Freshlyground because she is small and very peaceful so I’d stand a good chance against her.
Johnny: Hmmm, I’m not sure there’s anyone left I haven’t had a fight with yet. Maybe Matthew Mole?
Give us your best insult.
Johnny: I’ll do one better. I’ll dish out some truth. DO NOT WATCH THIS FILM! Not only has Showmax colluded with the filmmakers (and overpaid by the way), but we have NOT given our permission for this film to be screened. The filmmakers originally told us they were making a documentary about us to get our story heard and make us look cool. But they ended up making us look like petulant children, edited it in a way that was not fair and spent WAY too much time talking about Fokofpolisiekar. Showmax, we will be sending you a legal letter (Karel’s neighbour is a VERY good conveyancing attorney) if you put this film on your TV station.
Karel: My neighbour just said he wouldn’t piss on us if we were on fire let alone represent us. I thought that was a pretty good insult.
If you weren’t musicians, what other careers would you choose?
Karel: I worked for King Price for a while. It wasn’t exactly rock n roll but it paid for a lot of rehearsal space where we could practise rock n roll. I’d also like to train squirrels as seeing eye dogs and emotional support animals for lonely and bullied children and adults.
Johnny: Probably the head of a really huge, successful company.
What are you listening to right now?
Karel: The sound of this computer keyboard as I type.
Johnny: I pretty much only listen to our own Stone Cold albums. I think it’s a testament to how good they are if I can continuously listen to them over and over and never find any mistakes.
First song you learned to play on guitar?
Johnny: “Squirrel in my butterhands” – I wrote it and learned guitar at the same time.
Karel: Same. Except I didn’t write it or learn how to play while learning it.
Fanta Grape or Orange?
Johnny: That question genuinely upsets me.
Karel: Same. Fuck you guys.
Name of your first guitar pick?
Best South African rock album of all time?
Karel: Whatever Johnny says. I don’t want to get this one wrong.
Johnny: Springbok Hits 11.
Weirdest thing a fan has thrown on stage…
Karel: Someone actually literally threw a testicle on stage. I think it might been Johnny’s ball and they were just returning it.
Johnny: Once someone threw Johnny De Ridder (guitarist from Fokof) on the stage.
Roadie or groupie?
Johnny: I’ll do either. But usually they have to have sex with me before the tour because a lot of them don’t want to once they’ve worked with us for a while.
What’s next for Stone Cold Jane Austen?
Johnny: We are planning to buy a new guitar amp with the money we win from suing Showmax.