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Written byGulshan Stodel

“It feels f*cking great!” –  TOUGHGUY

The year 2020 saw the birth of many unfortunate events. However, TOUGHGUY certainly was not one of them. The  Cape Town Punk Rock band had its start as a drunken idea shared between members Sihle Mkhize and Christopher Bolton, who were both hell-bent on starting something spectacular. Accompanied with Ryan Oliver and Desmond Kannemeyer, these four individuals are the key ingredients to your picture-perfect night out in Cape Town, especially if you’re a fan of rebellious punk music. TOUGHGUY has made waves in the city’s music pool with the recent release of their new single “Sugar”. Available on Spotify, Apple Music, and Youtube. This song will surely put a fresh kick in your step and get you amped up for the demands of the day. 

TOUGHGUY’s members are a very tight-knit group, as friends, they share great similarities, and as a band, the mutual respect and admiration for each other and what they each bring to the table is hard to miss – all this makes for a bond that can not be denied. The frontman of the band is bass player Sihle Mkhize. Sihle was born in Johannesburg but bounced around between Jozi and the Cape and now happily identifies Cape Town as home. The two guitar players of the group are Christopher Bolton and Desmond Kannemeyer who switch between being the rhythm and lead player, while Desmond takes on the lead with singing too. While Christopher comes from Johannesburg, Desmond was born and raised in Cape Town. Finally, we have the drummer for TOUGHGUY – Ryan Oliver. Ryan was also born in Johannesburg but has lived most of his life in Cape Town.

TOUGHGUY gave me a real understanding of the great lengths this band goes through to keep any processes of creating organic, staying as far from rigid, “corporate” ways of making their music as possible.

Speaking with TOUGHGUY gave me a real understanding of the great lengths this band goes through to keep their processes of creating organic and original music – staying as far from rigid, “corporate” ways of making their music as possible. The band has refurbished a holiday house out in Pringle Bay as their recording studio and boasts the ability that it gives them to make music in the best way possible, comfortably and naturally. Without any time constraints and deadlines, when they are out there, the group can meet their creative process with excitement and get to keep their passion alive and explosive. Each of their practices starts with a free jam, allowing them to get in their groove and loosen up a little. Then the magic happens and they work to make the best songs they can as each of them bring their own unique flair.

Now, you are probably wondering where to catch TOUGHGUY live if you haven’t before and some good places to keep your eyes on – better yet your ears would be SurfaRosa or Evol. The band has performed at these venues many times before and definitely will again. “We love to be able to look into our crowd and have our eyes be at the same level.” Says Sikhle, attesting to the notion that TOUGHGUY enjoys the more engaged, and aware crowds. So if you are keen on an unforgettable night out paired with some insane punk rock, look no further.
As the story goes for almost every creative, there are indeed major struggles mixed in with the freedom of art too. Especially as musicians where there is a heavy reliance on having good platforms and people out there to receive you, as is the case for TOUGHGUY

I’m stoked right now that we’re in the process of releasing stuff, we don’t just have to go on people’s faith. We can actually have material to back us up.” ~ Sihle Mkhize.

When faced with the question, “What is the most challenging aspect of being an artist in Cape Town, and is there anything in your opinion that could help ease that challenge or changes that can and should be made to assist?”  The reply was loudly unanimous. There needs to be more venues.

A trip down memory lane was taken as TOUGHGUY reminisced over  the spaces that used to be available and open for bands to perform pre-Covid-19. The mention of the much higher rates of involvement by corporations in Cape Town’s music scene was brought up too. So why has there been this epic drop in availability and participation in our music scene? The answer we all landed on was a fear of failure, which results in no one, business, or brand having the confidence or backing enough to risk opening up new venues or investing in more festivals and collaborations between musicians and enterprises. Because there are such few venues and spaces for musicians to play in, the music industry seemingly loses its power and value in the eyes of possible investment.

This then results in the chance of new spaces opening or collabs being made dropping drastically, and so the vicious cycle continues. That is of course until someone is brave enough to take the plunge to create such spaces so that our spectacular Cape Town music scene and its members may thrive.
Luckily for us all, these struggles have not completely brought the music scene to a standstill and we have a lovely lineup of all of the TOUGHGUY events we can attend in the coming month. With a gig at Evol Night Club on the
1st of July, another at SurfaRosa on the 2nd of July and to top it off TOUGHGUY will also be performing at PARKOFF, the official music festival of the Corona JBAY open on July 14th. Be there or be square, you will not want to miss it. Here’s to TOUGHGUY and the great strides they take to further South Africa’s music scene, one banger at a time.


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“Punk has always been about doing things your own way. What it represents for me is ultimate freedom and a sense of individuality.” ~ Billie Joe Armstrong.