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Kahn Morbee at the Zip Zap Circus Charity Event
How on earth did the Parlotones go from their parent's garage to intergalactic rock success?
For those of you who don't know (and you should), Kahn Morbee is the lead singer of internationally acclaimed band the Parlotones. Just to give you an idea of how musically on point they are: they've been compared with Radiohead, and even performed at the 2010 FIFA opening ceremony. Fast forward to the present day and the South African God of rock is experiencing another poignant moment in his life – he's sat on a couch with me.
He's just finished a dress rehearsal for the Zip Zap Circus – a show that marries death defying, theatrical circus stunts with artist Paul Du Toit and, of course, the Parlotones. When I catch up with him, he's easy going, passionately intelligent (as most creative people are) and he's wearing a damn cool hat. We talk about everything; from David Hasselhof to boerewors in condoms to whether or not he went on a date with Shakira after the 2010 FIFA World Cup ceremony.
CapeTownMagazine.com: Can you tell me how the Parlotones began?
Kahn: "We started off in our parent’s garage, as most bands do. I think we were very lucky that we were all into the same music at school and had a similar interest in the type of music we wanted to play. We evolved together."
CapeTownMagazine.com: From where did your band name originate and were any other choices considered?
Kahn: "We started off with the name 'Crayon', but later found this to be immature – I guess the name evolved as we grew up. Two of our favourite bands - Radio Head and the Beetles - had been signed to Parlophone Records at some stage in their musical careers, so it's a version of this name."
CapeTownMagazine.com: Your musical style has been categorised into a number of different genres. How would you personally describe your musical genre?
Kahn: "It covers the general spectrum of rock and pop. We're not purists and have a love for all styles of music, from pop to theatre music – we like Andrew Lloyd Webber, for example. Ultimately, the music that you absorb leaks out during creative process."
CapeTownMagazine.com: How would you describe your audience?
Kahn: "Awesome people! I don't think we're as calculated as a manufactured band, but I think we have quite a wide spectrum of fans. I don't think music is exclusively for one person. If there is a message that speaks to someone, then I would like to think they would be there in the crowd."
CapeTownMagazine.com: You've been compared with Radiohead and Coldplay. Who is your biggest influence?
Kahn: "The Smith's, the Cure and REM made us fall in love with music, but Radiohead was a massive influence and I think, as a result, we began to listen to the bands that they were influenced by, like Jeff Buckley and Travis. At the core of it, Radiohead is the band that bore the greatest influence."
CapeTownMagazine.com: What was the inspiration for your last album, Stardust and Galaxies?
Kahn: "At the time we were writing the song, I was reading a lot about the universe, the world and science, so those themes filter into the lyrics themselves. I used them as analogies to describe the human experience, which is quite large, hence the space metaphors. "
CapeTownMagazine.com: If the Parlotones didn't exist, what career would you be in now? Judging by your choice of album titles, an astronaut perhaps?
Kahn: "I would be a bored billionaire."
CapeTownMagazine.com: Why did you decide to get involved in the venture with ZipZap Circus?
Kahn: "They approached us with the concept and I think they are doing a tremendous thing. Out of the many charities that approached us, we chose this one, because it wasn't just us playing, because the charity is involved in the performance. The performance marries art, theatre and music quite beautifully."
CapeTownMagazine.com: You performed at the opening ceremony for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. If you had a preference, would you date Alicia Keys, Shakira or Fergie?
Kahn: "That's a difficult one. I think Shakira is the hottest, for me."
CapeTownMagazine.com: You're quite popular in Europe. Do you think you'll ever be as big an icon as David Hasselhof?
Kahn: "I would hope so. I love Knight Rider and I love The Hof!"
CapeTownMagazine.com: What's the worst thing anyone has ever thrown at you on stage?
Kahn: "Someone stuck a boerewors in a condom and threw it onto the stage, which was pretty gross. I think it actually hit Glen."
CapeTownMagazine.com: How would you sum up Cape Town in a couple of sentences?
Kahn: "It's one of my favourite cities in the world. It has all the amenities of the modern city, but also the ability to escape to the Winelands, the mountains and the wilderness. It's a whole world wrapped into one city, with a very cool vibe."
CapeTownMagazine.com: If there was one song you wish you'd written but someone beat you to it, what would that be?
Kahn: "Love Cats, by the Cure."
CapeTownMagazine.com: Who is your favourite band that you've supported or toured with?
Kahn: "Recently we supported Ash, and they are currently supporting us in South Africa."
CapeTownMagazine.com: What's your karaoke song of choice?
Kahn: "We've tried it at festivals in Germany and Ireland. After a few beers, we went and embarrassed ourselves so much that the other band members just walked away."
CapeTownMagazine.com: What's next for the Parlotones?
Kahn: "The media feature is a massive tour in North America, South America and Europe. We will continue to tour with our music, make albums and gather fans around the world. We're releasing another album next year."
By Lisa Nevitt
I don't mean to NAME DROP, but CapeTownMagazine.com have also met Morgan Freeman and chatted on the phone with Jeff Dunham.