‘Everything is punk’, says Arno Carstens

Anchored in Glencairn - Arno Carstens shows off his fine art.

Springbok Nude Girl fans you have been warned. Arno Carstens has said – get fit, don your knee pads, mouth guards and bicycle helmets if you must – but be ready: the band is about to be unleashed, anew.

Frontman of the band once dubbed the South African Sex Pistols, Arno has honed his punk viewpoint – and is pouring this into a new Nudies album, with a tour to support it. September 30 is the date, Scarborough’s Farmhouse is the place.

If you thought the punk rebellion is over, think again. “Everything is punk,” Arno says.

He says it calmly; from his Glencairn home, overlooking a serene sea. Okay, he admits, maybe the music has changed and the form too – but there is even more reason now for the rebellion.

“It’s just in a different form now – but it’s quite alive.”

The focus is not political, but has expanded to challenge corruption in all its forms. “Politics is a sweet name for world corruption and corporate monopoly,” he states.

He sees the punk viewpoints expressed on a wider scale now, through lyrics. The Springbok Nude Girls have already torn through a few gigs with their new work.

Arno has been writing prolifically in preparation for the two-week recording stint that lies at the end of the tour. He reveals that his writing often takes place in front of the TV – he enjoys the constant input and flow of new thoughts gleaned from what he is watching.

“We used to get together and record an album. Who knows, maybe we do the whole album now. Maybe we do two songs and release them as EPs. We’ll see,” he says.

The band still has an album with Sony – but Arno points out that record companies are struggling. Forget video killed the radio star – “Digital has killed the radio,” he says.

But Arno is dismissive of radio and radio trends, lamenting only that it must be so challenging for young bands. “The music industry is developing backwards and forwards all the time. You never know if it’s good or bad For instance, LP shops are big in the UK again, but here?”

He refers to radio stations as “k*k” – and laments the lack of songs played, as opposed to what he terms “the inhuman beat of the DJ music” which are not songs, just sounds.

“It just doesn’t talk to you at all, there’s no connection to the human factor,” he says, shaking his head.

His cup of Buchu tea is forgotten on the counter in the kitchen. “All I hear are a lot of rich people singing about their cars and their booties. Who cares?” he laughs.

In a sad indictment of the music industry, Arno says the Springbok Nude Girls never made money from CD sales – only ever from playing live. So he doesn’t listen to the radio, he creates his own playlists from music he finds on digital sites, or he listens to audiobooks, while he paints.

His planned fine art exhibition is now on hold – at least until the new Nudies album or EP is done. “Painting is crap until you’ve done it,” he laughs.

“It’s deduction – you go, oh this is shit shit shit, aaah God, it’s terrible. Then finally thank God, I’ve fixed it. But that is all of art to me, you’re constantly working on it – polishing a turd,” he laughs.

So what lies ahead for him, beyond the screaming and wild rip and tear of the new tour? A second Afrikaans album, he says.

The screaming punk icon has found another voice, and is enamoured with writing in his mother tongue. “I’ve gotta dig deeper now cos English has so been done.” He says he feels richer for making his first Afrikaans album – and that now – die gogga het gebyt (the bug has bitten).

He says it’s made music fresh again. Fans can thank Celine Dion for Arno’s foray into Afrikaans. “I was on stage with her and during her show she sang four French songs. For me, they were the best songs of the night. It made me think about singing and writing in Afrikaans, which I never wanted to before,” he says.

“Afrikaans is such a direct language, and writing in it was difficult and daunting because I dislike the Afrikaans music I have heard,” he explains.

How did the experience guide the story-telling process? “Well yes, in my Afrikaans album I stayed very local. I was born in Worcester and the stories are about me and my buddies and local places like Ceres, and stuff growing up,” he says.

“I know I am not supposed to say it, but it’s a beautiful album. The thing is, you listen to every song about a 1 000 times during the editing and whole process. And I still think it’s beautiful. That’s rare,” he says.

The Afrikaans album encapsulates the diversity of his solo career. “I knew I couldn’t scream forever. And if you sing beautiful ballads, you can sing them till you’re 60,” he said.

Talking about age, he says he thoroughly enjoys seeing his die-hard fans at shows, and the mix of new young faces. He jokes that he may have to sing from a chair. The Nudies shows are wildfire frenzies – and it’s been a while, he laughs.

His last request may break a heart or two. He deliveres the line straight-faced, but with total mischief. “Ladies, dames, asseblief, I am only going to ask one thing of you. Please – do not throw your panties and bras onto the stage, this time,” he says, laughing.

You can see the Springbok Nude Girls live at Farmhouse Rocks, Scarborough, on Saturday September 30. Tickets are R100 from Webtickets, R120 at the door or R80 for students with a student card.

For more information visit www.nudegirls.co.za