Legend holds that the name "Springbok Nude Girls" came to Arno Carstens in a dream. However, it also has an explanation. In the 70's there was a station called Springbok Radio, that used to release compilation albums with pictures of half naked women on the cover, in a shameless attempt to lure customers to their wares.
The now defunct Springbok Nude Girls are quite possibly the greatest band South Africa has ever produced. No mean comment I am well aware, but I'll stand by it. In case you didn't already know, the following people are South African:
The latter two are producers rather than players but you get the point.
The Nudies (as they are even more affectionately known) started up in Stellenbosch in 1994. I remember it well as it was my first year at university and our campus station used to play Bubblegum on my Boots regularly when I was sitting in the cafeteria. Bubblegum is definitive of South African Music, the Nudies, a generation, whatever.
One of the first Nudies tracks to be recorded was called Pappa Ek Wil 'n Popstêr Word, which can be found on the first Wingerdstock festival album. The band abandoned Afrikaans early on, but have been forgiven by their Afrikaans fans, most of whom probably don't know that they used to write songs in their native tongue. Pappa Ek Wil 'n Popstêr Word translates as "Daddy I want to be a pop star". Prophetic words.
The nation was thrust into mourning, well, at least a generation or two of South Africans were, earlier this year when the band called it a day. The reason that was cited was that they were in a place where they either had to
- accept that they could not move on from their home at the top of the South African Music scene,
- or else move to New York to try to crack the US and then international market.
They seriously considered moving to New York, but one member (Arno B, bassist) is married with kids and doesn't want to uproot his family. Besides, he's into IT and is making more money with his (presumably part-time) day job than he was with the band. Another member, Francious (drummer), makes funky furniture (would he make any other kind?) and is presumably making more money through that than he was with the band.
Let me go back and define what the top of the South African Music industry actually is. Every song that the Nudies release is more-or-less guaranteed of reaching Number 1 on the 5fm Charts. (5fm is a national radio station which is severely flawed but best of a bad bunch.) Every album that they release is more-or-less guaranteed of topping the Musica Album Charts. (Musica is a national music store, certainly the biggest, if not the only.)
Furthermore, the entire band are household names. Arno C (lead vocalist and occasional acoustic guitarist at gigs) <phwoah> is a sex symbol, drooled over wherever he goes, except that he is so revered, that people do seem to give him his space and not hound him UK Tabloid style. Adriaan (keyboards / trumpet) is also a sex symbol, less so only because he's sexually ambivalent. Theo (lead guitar) is the lads' favourite. Not built to rival Arno C or Adriaan in the sex-God status, he's the guitarists' idol. Mr Riff, Mr Intensity, Mr I'm-having-a-good-time. Everybody loves him. He is chanted onto stage "Theo, Theo, Theo, Theo".
Or at least he was. The Fat Lady has sung. They released a Greatest Hits album ("The Fat Lady Sings") and have completed their farewell tour. They held their last ever gig in London at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, "because most of our fans live there now and we always have such a jol whenever we go there." said Theo. As soon as they got back to South Africa, they were asked to headline a big festival and couldn't reasonably decline. They were slagged of as shamelessly flogging their release-in-time-for-Christmas album, but really everybody wanted them there.
The Nudies have left their mark on South Africa and her emerging music Industry. They have left their mark on a generation of (yes, mostly white, but certainly not exclusively) South Africans. They taught us to have pride in our home-grown talent, something 80's horrific bands like Little Sister and Cinema taught us the opposite of.
Fortunately Arno C and Theo have vowed to press on, as has Adriaan, albeit separately. Arno C and Theo are currently a duo, Crous & Carstens, who prior to the Fat Lady Singing episode, were touring the country (South Africa, of course) doing a set called "The Nude Girls Renditions" or something of that order. They are prolific song writers, the pair of them, and will release new material as soon as they can. Of this there can be no doubt. Adriaan has also vowed to carry on, although this spacecadette is more than just a rocker. He has composed for the Cape Town Symphony Orchestra and his composing skills are evident on Surpass The Powers' track Baseball, along with strings sections that he arranged on the last "real" album, Relaxzor.
Turns out that goodbye wasn't really goodbye. It didn't take long for the Nudies to feel the pinch and reunite. They did so in 2003, with only Adriaan Brandt missing from the band. He was replaced by Brendan Jury on synthesizer and viola and Lee Thompson on trumpet. Adriaan Brandt seemed to vanish into thin air, but he showed up recently working with Valiant Swart and was apparently in Taiwan for years. The Brandt-less Nude Girls will release a new album sometime in 2006. Carstens has in the mean time released two solo albums which brought him commercial and critical acclaim in South Africa. Crous's band Kobus! has also released an album, but shirking radio-friendly music, Kobus! plays hard Afrikaans rock. It's quite the experience. Crous is also a prolific producer, particularly of new South African music talent.
Anyone with a vague interest in music should hop along to their website and sample those tracks that NaNaKat mentioned. Genie is my favourite, Blue Eyes is the nation's favourite, Bubblegum on my Boots is, as I have already mentioned, definitive, Managing Mula off their first album, is awesome, and indeed you'd be hard pressed to find a song you didn't like on their greatest hits album.
Update: August 7, 2002 -- Arno Carstens has recently formed a new band, New Porn because sex always sells. The band features Woody Swart on bass, Frosted Orange and The Blues Broers' Albert Frost on gee-tar and Hanro van Wyk on drums.
Carstens was always the vocallist in the Nudies, and occasionally picked up an acoustic guitar when on stage with only Theo. It will be interesting to see what Brandt of music he produces without guitar-god Theo, funkmeister Adriaan and silent but violent bassist Arno B.
YAY! Music available on http://www.last.fm/music/Springbok+Nude+Girls
Info gleaned from many, many sources over the years. Most info regarding the split is from a cover article in South Africa Times UK. Press releases are available on www.nudegirls.co.za