SPITMUNKY formed in 2008, the ambitious amalgamation of the NEON ANTHEMS and one CREAMY EWOK BAGGENDS. We were university connections, all drama majors, who had always followed each others work as live music performers. When I first came into contact with “The Anthems” I was a part of Illuminating Shadows, a serious hip hop crew, one of the first in Durban to actually break into the scene, and these fellas were a musical comedy duo. At that point I didn’t know what that was (this was way before Flight of the Conchords). Liam “Veranda Panda” Magner, one of the Anthems, was just starting to flex his independent music muscles as a DJ and beat writer and simply put, that ou was keen. We collaborated a couple of times, casually, with me beat boxing on one of their comedy numbers and eventually we worked out a full 45 minute set that bounced between my Spoken Word and hip hop styles and their special brand of humor. A very special brand indeed. We decided to make music together as a group, with Jacobus “Benson 3000” Van Heerden (the other Anthem) playing keys and electric guitar as well as additional percussion, Panda on beat machines and laptop controller, and me on raps. We wrote three tracks and got an immediate endorsement in the form of a session at the Redbull Studios Cape Town, a set-up that was just starting to establish itself as the coal face of cutting edge culture and the music it was coming with.
So that was us. With a three track demo that got us a slot on the main stage at KZNs premier music fest, Splashy Fen as our first gig we had to start taking ourselves fairly seriously. We got a Friday night slot at the jol, so our first official booking was the most major one we had ever entertained as artists. We went hard, even dropping some Spoken Word into the set. The reaction was epic and SPITMUNKY came into true Durban existence. Over two years we would record an album, tour the country and the world, and film a video, all the while maintaining our careers as actors and entertainers. It was a jol.
The album launch for our debut release, a product that we argued and sweated and celebrated over, might have broken us somewhat if we weren’t in fact made of a special organic type of super resilient and flexible rubber that is found only in Durban. We planned a proper throw down, linking up with the rising star of Georgios Kretsos and his UBER COOL EVENTS to host a real sweaty jump around album launch. Halfway into our set the system cooked itself an early grave. We recovered in flying style by pumping everything we had through the monitors and slotting a few Redbulls to hype ourselves beyond disappointment. It resulted in some dope footage, but not as many CD sales as expected. You could’ve farted more wind then we had in our sails. It seemed kind of epic in its failure, coming as it did with some success nonetheless, but in most regards failing. That was the hardest knock we took, and actually it wasn’t that bad in retrospect.
Jacobus eventually moved on, and myself and Panda put our energies into creating the CATS FROM UNDERDOG COUNTRY album, a full length release that we both maintain as some of our best work to date. SPITMUNKY expanded into a 5 player team for a period, with the addition of keyboard, electric violin and our very own VeeJay, my wife, the incredible Karen “Atari Logo” Logan coming with the stunner audio visuals. “Lady Jane” Bailie on electric violin was an inspired addition that has proved itself beyond itself again and again. You can hear her superior musical skills all over the album, and we had another period of rad jols and good times touring and performing together. We opened for Jack Parow twice and brought him to Durban for the first time, we played a live set on 5fm, we made it to Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland as well as Pretoria and Cape Town once or twice.
All in all, the ambition that got the original trio together imbued SPITMUNKY with enough initial energy to sustain us through some seriously good times. Panda still hooks me up with beats, and I’m always down when he needs some rhymes. I had the pleasure of hosting the album launch of the VERANDA PANDA (Liam and Jane) “White E.P.”, an event that certified those two as one of Durban’s proper success stories. The influence they have had and continue to have on the cutting edge sound scene in Durban is evident at every event where they appear. I remain totally proud of my association with these two. One of the tracks off of the “Cats” album made it onto the second E.P. of theirs, the “Black E.P.”