”Written byChristian Staines
‘Pavement Special’ is Year of Dog’s debut EP and is exactly the type of fantastic culmination we were all expecting it to be.
Don’t let the turtle-necked vogue shoots deceive you, there’s nothing pretentious about Year of Dogs. Things began humbly for them and now, even with the impressive rep they built up, these four furless fleabags have stayed true to themselves and to the music. After 10 months of waiting, today is the day we’ve all been waiting for… their treat of treats has finally dropped. ‘Pavement Special’ is Year of Dog’s debut EP and is exactly the type of fantastic culmination we were all expecting it to be.
But let’s start with some introductions: Nic van Graan (27), “Mr Frontman” as the others call him, is the band’s dreamy vocalist, lyricist, synth dabbler and rhythm guitarist. He’s the guy that’s hitting those incredible high notes in Sweet Red. Next up is Themba Bosch (27), guitar virtuoso, backup vocalist, and producer-to-be. Nic and Themba met a few years back and travelled to Vietnam together where they bonded and grew their love of music amongst the cosmopolitan musical crowd that resides there. After returning to CT, they decided to hit up a few open-mic nights but confess that they weren’t the best…
It was only when they bumped into Alex (27) and Dylan Birns (25) at a Sofar Sounds event that things really began taking off. This brother duo hail from a lineage of musical fathers and are carrying this trait forward in their synergistic drum beats and bass lines. Nic explains that it went down like this: “We met a couple times and then Alex found out that I play guitar and sing with Themba and so he was like ‘oh we should jam sometime’. And in Cape Town, everyone is always saying ‘oh we should do this or that’ and it never ends up happening, but then on this random First Thursday I actually got his number and we finally ended up jamming that weekend.”
So now that they had the talent, all they needed was a name. Something fun and memorable but one that also just made sense. “We were at Search Festival, ironically searching for a name, and my brother suggested it because most of us were born in the Chinese Year of the Dog. And because we’d spent a bunch of time in Vietnam we were a bit more familiar with their calendar so it even had a bit of meaning behind it.” However, the band has a cheese-loving rat in their midst… Dylan was born in ‘96, the Year of the Rat, which is probably why his basslines are so well-laid.
“Most of us were born in the Chinese Year of the Dog. And because we’d spent a bunch of time in Vietnam we were a bit more familiar with their calendar so it even had a bit of meaning behind it.”
During the hard lockdown last year, all musical groups were displaced. Thankfully this didn’t stop Year of Dogs who managed to put together some extremely entertaining and surprisingly slapping lockdown videos. It was also during this time that some of their recognisable guitar licks emerged and made their way into the EP you’re listening to today. Go stalk their IG for the full range of lockdown jingles.
But back to the present. Their EP, Pavement Special, includes the fourth and final track called MoonLove – something that is somehow so bouncy and so laid-back all in one. Once the vocals, bass and drums have set the scene, in comes the astral guitar to walk you through your spaced-out dreamscape (an Imaginarium Dali would be proud of).
After taking some good advice from Danilo of Diamond Thug, Year of Dogs decided to try something new with their EP release: “A lot of people do EPs differently these days. In the past, it would be four songs that all come out on the same day, but now it’s staggered where you slowly release the EP over a few releases.” This tactic is to ensure you still make a splash but don’t flood the airwaves with your tunes and then slowly fade away. Their first splash, Sweet Red, certainly got a lot of tails wagging in January and is now sitting comfortably on 125 thousand plays on Spotify alone. “Our goal was 1000 streams in the first month because that was what other bands at our stage were getting. But we ended up getting 1000 in a day.”
Now let’s talk about something that The CCC loves: great collabs. The eye-catching covers for each of their singles were done by a man filled with humour and talent: Noa De Sousa Costa. Who you may recognize him as the genius behind @nobeys_doodoos. In each of the covers, you’ll find the bands alter ego’s imagined as dogs that are travelling the galaxy or cruising in a caddy.
“Our goal was 1000 streams in the first month because that was what other bands at our stage were getting. But we ended up getting 1000 in a day.”
Year of Dogs reckon that one of their biggest influences is the Electropop five-piece band from Australia – Parcels. Both musically and fashionably. If you’ve seen Year of Dogs perform live, then I’m sure you’ve seen them in their iconic Eat Your Greens outfits. Even just take a scroll through their Instagram and you’ll be blown away by these elegant get-ups. As for genre, Year of Dogs think of themselves as an Indietronica band with some indie-funk-pop influences. But overall “it’s not so much about the genre as it is about these three principles: (i) Playing music that we actually enjoy, (ii) enjoying playing with each other and (iii) I don’t know, not giving a fuck, just having fun.”
Now that you’ve had a listen to their EP in its entirety, and hopefully been groomed by how tasty it was, it’s time to catch them live in action. Next Saturday the 30th, Year of Dogs will be taking to the stage to bring you all these songs and more at our Trick or Truth event at Truth Coffee in town. Early bird tickets are nearly sold out so get them while you still can – click this link to secure yours.
To sum it all up, here are some wise words from Dylan on where he envisions the band taking him: “If I can wake up every day and just do music, chill with my friends, and not have to worry about wearing a suit and tie un-ironically, where my day job is my current night job, then I’d feel as if I’m doing things right.”
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