My eight-year journey with Zebra & Giraffe

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So we’ve heard the news already. South Africa’s most hardworking and dedicated band, Zebra & Giraffe, have decided to call it quits. I must admit, I am a tad heartbroken. Not because they were my favourite or the best. But because I walked this journey since 2008 and was there almost every step of the way.

It was a beautiful day in 2008 in Durban when Harris Tweed decided to change their name to Dear Reader and introduce us to “some of their friends”. Z&G opened for them at the crowded KwaSuka Theatre and by the end of their set, we were all dancing. I bought a cap with “Zebra & Giraffe” emblazoned across it in bright yellow. I still have that cap.

Now, the band has decided to end it, posting this on their Facebook page yesterday: “It’s with sadness in our hearts that we announce the end of Zebra & Giraffe. Kirstenbosch Gardens (20th March 2016) will be our last show for the foreseeable future.”

In 2009, when I started working for Rock Out Radio, I interviewed them backstage at MK Vrede Fest. It was the first of many interviews to come. I met some of the most talented and humble musos I had met to this day. Since then, Greg and Alan (and then Mike) welcomed me in with open arms and strong responses to difficult questions. 
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This was my first ‘interview’ with them (so to speak). It was a quick five-question Q&A but it paved the way to some bigger ones.

Zebra & Giraffe – Q & A
1. What are the best and worst things about being on tour?
Greg/Alan:
The best thing is probably being with five friends and driving around the country, seeing new places and playing shows. The worst thing is getting to stupid venues where there’s not rad sound and equipment and no-one comes.

2. What is the most embarrassing thing that’s happened to you on stage?
Darren:
On live TV in the biggest part of the biggest song, I dropped my stick and that was kinda embarrassing and anticlimactic.
Greg/Andrew: When the power goes off, that’s pretty embarrassing. And it sucks because everyone thinks it’s your fault and you’re just standing there…no power…oh well.

3. What is the weirdest thing that a fan has either thrown at you or said to you?
Greg:
I think someone changed their surname to Carlin on Facebook recently. That was pretty weird. On stage? No, usually it’s just friends pulling jokes. My one friend took a pair of girls panties and put soy sauce on the back and threw it at us.

4. Which band do you never want to be like?
Rob:
That’s a hard one.
Greg: Nickleback.

5. What did you want to be when you were 6 years old?
Alan:
This. Well, maybe when I was 8. Not 6.
Darren: A vet.
Greg: A meteorologist
Rob: I wanted to fly planes.

I have followed the band’s progress. Reviewing each album with care. Going to Pretoria to see them live even when I couldn’t drive. Having one of my friend’s mothers call them “Zebra & Leopard” and it being a running joke. Said friend being their air hostess on a Mango flight and going mad about their music.

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I did a photo story on the band. It was incredible. Watching them warm up before each show, seeing the dedication and the all they gave to each performance and rolling my eyes when people called them “Soundcheck & Giraffe” because of their perfectionism.

I remember singing my heart out to my favourite songs of theirs with Chris Maider in the photography pit. I remember sharing many laughs with guitarist, Alan Shenton, on one of his many nights out in Melville, and nagging singer Greg Carlin to stop smoking (which he eventually did).

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I remember slow dancing with my brand new husband to Long Way Down at our wedding in 2013. I remember taking a roadtrip to Durban with Collected Memories playing on repeat. I remember being at constant war with myself to get “that perfect shot” of the band as they rocked out on stage. Ravi Panchia always outdid me in that regard.

And I remember calling The Wisest Ones Z&G’s best album yet, to which Alan gave me a hug, saying: “Thanks for the support. It means so damn much.”

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There were so many memories created through being around Z&G, I can’t even begin to describe what an integral part of my life they have been. And how amazing they have been to me as a journalist.

All I can say is that Z&G have left a lasting imprint on my heart of hearts and that will never go away. Thank you for the music, my dear friends. The local music scene is poorer without you.

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The band leaves us with their final release – a fitting song called Redefine.

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Nikita Ramkissoon

Editor at So Much Music
Nikita is a Journalism and Education lecturer by day and music Jedi master by night. She can be seen in the photography pit or stage left with her Wookie husband. She can also be found trying to source corn dogs. If you see her, buy her a corn dog. She loves corn dogs.