Johannesburg’s DIRTY MOONSHINE Discuss Their Debut Album ‘Bottom of the Barrel’, the Local Scene, and Funding Music

- Jul 23, 2018 at 01:00PM
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South Africa is on the eve of the release of the debut album from rock ‘n roll band, Dirty Moonshine. Bottom of the Barrel will be launched at a gig to be held at Rumours Rock Lounge on July 27th, 2018 - and it’s free! PureGrainAudio will definitely be there!

This self-released album has taken three years to emerge, but we’re certain it is going to be well worth the wait. In May, they released an epic music video ahead of the album release - “Toxic Waltz” is a gritty, fun video and well worth the watch. We spoke to Dave Freedman (bass and backup vocals) and Wez Hitchin (drums and backup vocals) ahead of their record’s release.

What can we can expect from your debut album, Bottom of the Barrel?
Wez Hitchin: Bottom of the Barrel is a raw rock and roll album with influences taken from as many genres as we could to make the songs as unique as we possibly could. There are songs that will get your feet tapping and your body moving, and some songs that will evoke an emotion or two that you might have felt through your life. We like to have fun but we have written a couple of songs that will relate to many people’s lives.

What are some of the themes and concepts that the album deals with and what inspired them?
Hitchin: Just like many rock songs we have written about nights out, drugs, alcohol, sex and struggles. This might sound cliche, but we have written them in a way that many people can relate to.

Dirty Moonshine threw everything into their “Toxic Waltz” music video.


Who has been involved in its development?
Hitchin: The band has been involved in every aspect of this album from writing, producing, marketing and design concepts. We have also worked with the amazing Clint Watts from Watts Audio to help us get the best product we could.

Your video for your single, “Toxic Waltz”, got a decent number of views. I love the gritty South African realism of the video. It looks like the type of video that was really fun to film. Tell us more about filming it and the response that you have received.
Dave Freedman: The filming of the video for “Toxic Waltz” was a really interesting and fun experience. The amazing people at Ministry of Illusion went completely out of their way to assist us in getting all the filming down in one day. The shoot literally started at about 3am to shoot all the hotel scenes and we ended off at about 11pm that night. Long day, lots of driving around and just smiles and laughs from the crew all the way. We have had an incredible response to the music video, people really seem to love the story, the way it was filmed and the quality. Which was exactly what we and Ministry of Illusion wanted.

The video also features Ting’s Tattoos, to which you are affiliated. The band has got a few other affiliations. Tell us about these relationships and their importance to the band’s trajectory in the local scene.
Freedman: Along the way we have met some incredible entrepreneurs, who in term have become close friends and supporters. These affiliations include The High Street Beard Oil, who send us the most fantastic beard care products. MerchStore who aid us in creating and sourcing high quality merchandise, Freedom Hair Barbering, obviously why our hair and beards always looks so tasty. And most recently we have teamed up with Southern Creek Moonshine, who make the most delicious Moonshine to ever of graced this earth and our guitars and gear is now looked after by Jailhouse Customs, who also made us a gorgeous custom cigar box guitar. Not to forget our newest family members Plug Music Agency, who is assisting us with our behind the scenes mechanics.

Bottom of the Barrel drops on July 27th, 2018. Be sure to check it out!


You started a Thundafund campaign to get the album off the ground. I have noticed that this is becoming commonplace for South African bands. Would you say it is crucial for getting albums out and what was the response like?
Freedman: I wouldn’t say that is crucial, it has been a very stressful experience. Unfortunately some aspects of the album were delayed and we had to push out our release date out by a few months. But in so doing we also didn’t want to over saturate the local scene, so we literally stopped playing all gigs for a while. No gigs = no income. We used the Thundafund as a vehicle to pay back some money we borrowed from a close friend who helped us pay off the remaining amount for the album to be completed.

Not an ideal situation and with only one month to run the campaign we took a huge risk. Thankfully, it worked and the response has been amazing. It might have to do with the hilarious video that Roy and myself did to promote the video, but we have actually gone over the target goal by a substantial amount.

Dirty Moonshine have been around since 2015 and have steadily grown to have quite an epic reputation and have played with a number of key rock bands in South Africa, including The Narrow and Prime Circle. How much further do you want to take the band - in other words, what would it mean to have “made it”?
Hitchin: We are very lucky to have been given the opportunities that we have had so far and we always strive to be the best that we can and keep growing as musicians and as a band. I guess making it is always going to be the opportunity to make a living off our music and to tour as many places around the world as we can.

Stream the band’s newest tune and get ready to “Shake The Roof”!



Who are some of your favourite South African bands, past and present?
Freedman: So many bands between the four of us, but here it goes in no particular order. The Narrow, 16 stitch, Pestroy, Taxi Violence, Black Cat Bones, Hell Cats, Newtown Knife Gang, Gangs of Ballet, Jasper Dan, Red Helen, Facing the Gallows. Gosh, we could be here for a very very long time. We listen to all genres and support the scene wholeheartedly.

Who or what were some of the key influences for starting Dirty Moonshine?
Hitchin: Roy and I wanted to start a band that wrote the music that we felt we wanted to play and something that was raw and true. Luckily we found Dave and Al who felt the same way and everything has gelled since then. Was a quick transition from a two-piece into a full band.

There is a perception that the SA music scene experiences ebbs and flows, always managing to make a comeback. Do you think this is true? What would make the scene better?
Freedman: Definitely a comeback, I don’t believe personally that the SA music scene is dead, there are so many incredible bands and artists. There are waves and trends that affect it but, let’s be honest, it’s not the biggest music scene in the world and it is a tough scene to break into. Support and backing from the community and amongst bands is how I feel that the scene could grow. It happens already, but I don’t think it happens enough.

The “Toxic Waltz” single was released on August 1st, 2017, and this is its dope cover.


Dirty Moonshine made it into the top-5 Alternative Bands category at the South African Metal Music Awards. What were your honest thoughts and feelings about this, considering the awards 1) previously focused on metal and 2) have not always enjoyed legitimacy?
Freedman: Well to be nominated for anything strikes home in our hearts. It’s a great feeling to know that there are people out there who are noticing what we are doing and enjoying the music. It is a bit strange to be placed into the Alternative Metal category because we are far from metal to be honest, but there are no other categories for other genres. However we do feel the love.

As for legitimacy, I have personally seen the hard work and the labour-intensive procedures that the panel and organisers go through, it’s not a little tea party. As any award ceremony there are going to be fingers pointed and accusations. What would be great to see is the introduction of other categories, such as rock, hardrock, punk, etc. A focus on the whole alternative music scene would maybe gain more legitimacy.

One of my favourite festivals is Krank’d Up Festival - and I see you’ll be playing this year. Is this your first time and how are you feeling about it?
Hitchin: Krank’d Up is an amazing festival and we couldn’t be more psyched to be playing this year. This is actually our second time playing Krank’d Up and thank Turning Tricks Entertainment for having us back and letting us get sweaty and dirty on their stage for a second round.

What can we expect from Dirty Moonshine in the near future?
Freedman: Well the album for start, some tours, more singles, music videos, rad merchandise, lots of funny antics on and off stage. We want to grow as much as we can musically and as a unit.
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