Words: Chelsea Haith
Recently signed by Silver Cup Records, Words Untame are looking forward to recording their second album in December this year and a very busy National Arts Festival programme that they kicked off with a free gig at Carinus Annex on 2 July at the opening of the Finding Beauty exhibition by the Raphael Centre for HIV/AIDS treatment and awareness.
Named after what was originally guitarist and vocalist Words Booi’s solo act, the band is now a four person set-up comprising of the philosophical and vocal Words, Singaphi Booi, Steven Ellery and Julian Arenzon. The group formed after Singaphi joined Words as his partner in music and life. They expanded a year later when Argentinian Julian met Words and loved the idea and the music so much that he flew his drums from Argentina to South Africa to be a part of the group. Ellery on bass adds texture to what is now a full-bodied sound. Words Untame play for the love of the music, not the crowd, and theirs is a sound that evokes images of travel and road trips, walking barefoot on freshly mown grass, summer and a quiet desire for something more.
Ellery and Arenzon fill out the sound but the group has progressed from performing plumped-up versions of Words and Singaphi’s songs to writing together, contributing a riff here, a bass line there, the occasional backing vocals from Arenzon, making the music their own. The band has been recording an album for about a year and Silver Cup Records will distribute this along with the new album coming in December.
Being signed isn’t about instant fame and success, it’s about representation, distribution and making life easier Words explained. “We still have to carry our own stuff,” he joked.
The National Arts Festival is nothing new to the group, who all live in Grahamstown and are used to the madness that descends on the city of Sinners and Saints. “There are going to be so many interesting people arriving from everywhere, it’s going to be a great opportunity,” said Ellery. Singaphi added that the festival is a good time to network.
Words Untame are not afraid of hard work, playing six shows during the festival on top of their individual projects. The life of a band, freshly signed and making a name for themselves in Grahamstown and nationally is not a life of ease, yet. “I’ve never experienced anything like this, playing almost every night. I’m sure it’s going to be a lot of work, there’s going to be a lot of packing, unpacking, setting up, checking sound, moving to another venue, blah blah, but that’s what you have to do,” Arenzon commented, smiling.