“People always like to talk about the good old days and the past to try to get to this utopian view of the world and I think that part of the theme of this record is the idea that shit’s just going to be fucked up forever – that’s being human. And I think that the music kind of celebrates that cycle of unrest.”


WORDS: DAN CHARLES

PHOTOGRAPHY: JACQUI VAN STADEN


There’s a quote from a lecture given by Jean-Paul Sartre in 1946 entitled “Existentialism is a Humanism” – a lecture given in defence of the concept of existentialism against a series of critiques given against it – wherein he states “we are reproached for having underlined all that is ignominious in the human situation, for depicting what is mean, sordid or base, to the neglect of certain things that possess charm and beauty and belong to the brighter side of human nature: for example… we forget how an infant smiles.” And indeed, Sartre and his ilk can be guilty of such morbidity. More blatantly, so can Cape Town-based hardcore vanguards, Peasant. But, in both cases, that’s only half the story.

To keep a successful and relevant band alive within the ever-fluctuating South African alternative music scene – particularly within the marginalised world of metal and hardcore – is a commendable feat. It’s something that requires an incomprehensible amount of hard work, sacrifice and sheer optimism that can easily waver. But, since 2014, guitarist and chief songwriter Pieter Jordaan has seen his band through 4 EPs, several lineup changes and countless live shows across the country – including support slots for international heavyweights such as Godmother, Magrudergrind and Slander. Now – after taking a break to refocus on writing material with new members Adri Jordaan (vocals) and Immanuel Bester (guitar) joining Keagan Van Rooyen (bass), Graham Pitout (drums) and Pieter – Peasant have reemerged with a 9-track album containing some of their most meticulous and mature work to date.

Unrest Eternal is an audible onslaught that gushes with Peasant’s signature blend of thrashing punk and metal-tinged hardcore, as well as experimenting with ominous-sounding synth intros that beckon the narrative of an almost prophetic sense of doom within the record. The tracks are longer than the blistering minute-and-a-half barrages that are expected of a classic hardcore Peasant song but this only serves to mark a more considered era of the band’s sound.

“I think it sounds a lot like everything that we’ve done before but it sounds a bit more fully-realised. We’ve been doing this for a long time so we’re not second-guessing too much when we’re doing it. I didn’t think too hard about writing the songs this time so they came out more naturally – and my natural style is actually slower and a bit groovier. But I still love writing fast shit.”

Apart from Peasant’s own personal growth, the maturation of this sound is also owed to the band pursuing a more well-rounded production style with the assistance of Matthew Dickinson and James Pereira at Mt. Wave Studios, which allowed a more experimental air to the process.

“With heavier stuff, I think that a lot of people – especially in a recording environment – have their way of doing things. Like, they think that heavy music should sound a certain way. But James – who has recorded tons of stuff like jazz and pop – was just like ‘let’s get a tone and fuck around.’”

The progression of Peasant’s sound and their approach to production is testament to the band’s driving ambition that has been key to their endurance and, arguably, what has set them apart from their contemporaries within the local hardcore community that have dissolved over the years due to the fatigue that easily comes with trying to operate within a marginalised music scene.

“Because Piet writes all of the shit and does all of the art, he’s got a strong vision for everything and a lot of bands don’t have that vision,” says Keagan. “I’m not saying that they don’t have the talent or the fucking drive or the capacity to do whatever they want to do but maybe they lack that sort of vision. Piet has a very solid idea of what he wants this band to be and where he wants it to go and, when you know that, it’s a lot easier to make it happen.”

“I think milestones are important,” says Pieter. “Like, we always wanted to put out an EP and we always wanted to tour and we always wanted to put out a music video – if you’re in a band, it’s expected that you do that shit. If you want to do it, you’ve got to make time for it.”

All of that time and vision has ultimately culminated into this phase of Peasant’s career: a new record out, music videos being released and a debut European tour that they’re about to embark on. Despite the bleak outlook of the future portrayed within Unrest Eternal, the band has taken it upon themselves to ensure their own sense of fulfilment is reached in this often dismal existence and maybe even ensure that those who go to the shows reach theirs.

“It’s almost like you have this duty to do this shit if you can do it,” says Immanuel. “Because, especially in the hardcore and metal communities, people really get a sense of release and a bit of help from it when they can relate to people dealing with similar issues like depression, anxiety or whatever they’re dealing with in their lives and homes. And when you start to realise that this shit has a purpose, that keeps you going.”


DISCOGRAPHY


PEASANT – “Unrest Eternal” / 2019 // Roastin’ Records

PEASANT – “IV: Peak Fearl” / 20179 // Bandcamp

PEASANT – “IV: Peak Fearl” / 20179 // Bandcamp

PEASANT – “IV: Peak Fearl” / 20179 // Bandcamp

PEASANT – “Unrest Eternal” / 2019 // Roastin’ Records


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www.roastinrecords.com


HIGH FIVES