Words: Chelsea Haith
Photographs: Fiona Christensen
Gad De Combes, keys man of Shortstraw, jammed with his side project, Adventure Man, in the Eastern Cape this May. In between shows at Champs Action Bar in Grahamstown, Raggies in East London and Bermuda in Port Alfred the band sat down for a beer with Archetype to discuss their life long aspirations to become astronauts and their not-so-secret love for the Backstreet Boys. Adventure Man is Gad De Combes on vocals and tomfoolery, Richard Krull on guitar and brooding, Neil Sinclair on bass and radical dancing, and Po-Chung Chen on drums and being the token Asian.
A: So you guys, why an Eastern Cape tour?
GDC: ‘Cause Grahamstown crowds are the nicest and the best looking crowds that I’ve played to. Ever.
A: I think that you’re slightly biased.
GDC: Probably (laughter).
A: How long have you guys been together?
GDC: As a band, probably about six or seven months. But I’ve been playing these songs for a year and a half.
A: Yeah, I saw you on the Bos Ice Tea Stage at Daisies last year, dedicated a song to you (gestures to Richard Krull, guitarist).
RK: Yeah, that was my stage.
A: What dreams did you have as kids?
NS: I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid!
A: Why? Tell me about that.
GDC: Because his name is Neil.
NS: It’s my destiny, it’s my legacy. I never really looked into it but it seemed like a good idea.
A: At what age did you give it up?
GDC: This morning.
NS: I think I wanted to do it until I was 13. So for what three months in Grade 7.
RK: Yoh dude, three more years and you could have joined the air force.
GDC: I’m colour blind so I wouldn’t have stood a chance.
NS: And Richard is already a space cadet. (laughter)
RK: Yes, I have explored the universe, both time and space.
A: So going forward from here, what are you looking at for the future?
GDC: We’re working on a new album, we want to jam a few songs together and write together as a band. So we’re looking forward to that, but right now we’re focusing on getting these songs down and once we’re there we can move on.
A: So Gad has Shortstraw as a side project, what do the rest of you do?
PC: (everyone laughs) Shortstraw is his main project and unfortunately we are his side project.
A: (to Gad) But I feel like Adventure Man is more you?
GDC: I like to think Adventure Man is more my individual taste whereas Shortstraw is a combination of four other people. Adventure Man, even though it’s a band now, started as just me. These guys kind of liked what I was doing; I didn’t force anyone to be here. I hope!
NS: I begged, I did beg to be here.
GDC: I did him a favour. And I’m glad I listened to his begging because he’s shit hot.
PC: Neil gave him some extra special favours. (laughs)
A: So what do you guys do in real life, do you have part time, normal jobs?
PC: I teach drums and session, that’s all I do.
RK: I own a company called Richard Gear that does sound.
NS: I work at a record label.
A: Which one?
NS: I work at Universal Music.
A: That’s always a good one, being in a band…
GDC: (stage whisper) So why aren’t we signed to Universal Music?
A: Do you guys have plans for more tours?
GDC: We are planning a Pretoria, Potch and Bloem tour in June. And I think Shortstraw are coming back soon.
A: Yes, sometime in late July as far I recall from conversations with Jean-Michel.
GDC: Yeah, and then maybe in September again, like last year.
A: So where does the music come from? Apart from outer space?
PC: And games.
GDC: Comics. Movies.
NS: Nerdy stuff.
A: Have you guys started working on the new album?
PC: Not really.
GDC: I’ve been ‘researching’.
A: How much different is it going to be from what you have now?
GDC: It’s going to be a bit “vibe-er”. The previous one was written kind of in isolation, me by myself, I wasn’t really writing to play it live. I think when you write an album to play it live it becomes more energetic.
PC: And each musician contributes something of their own and it becomes something more.
A: What influences are you guys writing from? What are you each bringing to the music?
NS: Po and I bring a lot of groove to it.
NS: I was going to say something else.
A: What were you going to say?
NS: Energy. Raw, natural energy.
RK: I bring the cock. (laughs)
GDC: I just play the piano and I learnt the ukulele and I wrote it all myself so it’s all pretty simple. The album is hinged on ideas of childhood and innocence and a lot of it is quite simple but some of the simplest ideas are the catchiest and the most memorable.
A: Like the song to your dog Sammy?
PC: And Richard Parker. That’s my favourite one.
GDC: I want to retain that for the new album.
PC: Simple and effective.
A: Do you guys have any plans to take over the world?
GDC: We already have. No, we’re waiting for Shortstraw to and then we’ll just hitch ourselves to their bandwagon.
PC: Well I technically already have because I’m Asian.
RK: Po is actually fourth-generation future royalty.
GDC: We each have our own bandwagons and we’re going to link them.
RK: Like the Great Trek.
GDC: You could compare our quest to Game of Thrones. Neil is the Dragon Queen.
NS: You got that right dude. The dragons, yeah.
RK: There is probably more nudity in our band.
PC: There is a picture on the internet of Richard playing naked tennis.
RK: It’s a tasteful nude of me. Playing tennis. For the fans.
A: So what’s the craziest thing you guys have ever done as a band?
GDC: This one time at band practice the power went off and when the lights came back on everyone’s clothes were just…off.
PC: We haven’t done anything that crazy yet but hopefully by the end of this weekend…
RK: Tonight’s the night.
NS: The craziest thing we’ve ever done was sit in the car together for twelve hours.
A: What did you listen to on the way down?
RK: A lot of Britney Spears.
PC: Backstreet Boys. I’ve been tied to that band forever.
GDC: They were playing it at Maxi’s, where we stopped, and Po went mental.
PC: I hadn’t heard it for a long time.
NS: We listened to a little Cake, Vampire Weekend, Red Hot Chili Peppers.
RK: Miley Cyrus.
A: So what are your dirty little secret songs?
NS: I’m really loving that 5 Seconds of Summer song, ‘She Looks So Perfect’.
GDC: What are you talking about?
NS: That boy band, 5 Seconds of Summer. It’s catchy.
GDC: I agree with Neil. What’s that other song you mentioned the other day that you love that Shane was ragging you about?
NS: That One Republic song? I’m not embarrassed by that.
GDC: I like listening to Neil sing that song.
PC: The Backstreet Boys.
A: Anything by the Backstreet Boys?
PC: Everything by the Backstreet Boys
RK: Backstreet Boys had an album, it came out when I as fifteen, I bought it. No, I got it for Christmas. And I listened to it enough times to say that I liked it.
PC: What is a Backstreet Boy anyway?
A: Where does the name Adventure Man come from?
RK: Adventure Adolescent was taken.
GDC: There was a TV show and there was this character, Adventure Boy, that’s me. I’m that boy from the island, throwing daggers at bad guys and wearing a loin cloth. And a hat.
A: And a hat. That’s important, that’s quite important. Thank you very much everyone.