Van Coke Kartel have gone down as, and will remain, one of the best locally produced rock ‘n roll bands our country has ever seen. After a decade of performing and critically acclaimed success, the band have decided to call it quits.
In our final interview with VCK we talk to Francois van Coke about the split, the memories, the achievements and more. See what he had to say here:
The real question on everyone mind is, why the split?
It is actually a combination of reason and timing, etc. We released our last full length, BLOED, SWEET & TRANE, in 2013 and Jason left the band to go to the States early in 2014. That changed the dynamic in the band. Dylan joined and we decided that we weren’t going to make an album immediately, but just find our feet and become a live band again. I decided that I would still be writing songs and got Jedd to join me on that. Those songs became my first solo album. Wynand also started to focus his energy on the management side around the same time, taking over as full time manager of Jack Parow. So, the dynamic in the band changed drastically. My first solo album was a success when released in 2015 and the demand for VCK became less and less, that we eventually didn’t play shows for about 16 months. So, after all of that taken into account we thought it is a good idea to end the project off, rather than VCK just fading away. VCK was a great project, but we just want to leave it in this time period. 2007-2017. The last tour is gonna be bitter sweet. It is going to be a lot of fun to play those songs, but also good to end it off and move on. At the end of the day the core of the band will still be working together. Jedd is the permanent guitarist and partner in my solo project and career, and Wynand also manages my solo career. So, we are and will still be working together very closely. We are also very close friends!
Take us back to your very first gig. What was the emotion and high of performing as Van Coke Kartel like?
The first gig was stressful. The band started when Fokofpolisiekar was on a hiatus and it was nerve wrecking writing a album, just me and Wynand, and putting it out into the world. The first show was to a packed out Mercury in Cape Town. It was also tough being a 3-piece after playing in a 5-piece band for years. It was stressful to play guitar, so it was a tough gig and definitely not one of our best. I think the band only really came to it’s true power when Jedd and Jason joined in 2010. We had some great and memorable gigs and experiences on the road. Also always had great critical acclaim but, never massive commercial success.
What ideas and goals did you have for the band back then?
We just wanted to be the best rock band in the country and write great, hard rock songs and be a great live act. I think we definitely achieved some of those things at times.
Did you ever expect the success that VCK would ultimate make?
It was a hard slog in Van Coke Kartel and success is definitely a relative term, but we worked super hard and becoming what we were. Never expected all the awards and critical acclaim we received in our golden years from 2010-2013.
What have been your personal highlights of the VCK journey?
We opened for Metallica, twice. In my hometown, Bellville, that was amazing. We were invited to play at a international festival in Taiwan and played to 100 000 people on a beach. We won a Hyundai tour van at the MKAwards for winning the best band award. The most special award was winning the best rock album at the SAMA’s, against great acts like Parlotones, Prime Circle and Black Cat Bones.
Tell us something that most people don’t know about VCK?
We played a show in Langebaan so shit-faced that the organizers didn’t want to pay us and 3 out of 4 of us could not remember that we were on stage that night.
What is one of the craziest memories you have while on tour?
Meeting Metallica was pretty surreal. Also, partying through the night with my early 20’s hero, Matt Skiba from Alkaline Trio and also now Blink-182. Also collaborating with Seether was something that was pretty crazy and unexpected.
You performed at a massive amount of festivals and venues. Which have been you standouts over the years?
That big show in Taiwan was a definite standout, also our main stage headlining slot at Oppikoppi 2014 was great!
If you could re-perform one gig/show, which would it be?
Probably that Oppikoppi show!
Your favorite VCK tracks, and why?
“Tot die son uitkom”, the first ballad we wrote and probably the most commercially successful tune. So the tune is still special to play every time, and “Niemand is meer heilig nie” is probably my favorite VCK tune. It is a journey.
What can fans expect from your upcoming The Final Tour?
A fast and hard rocking and rolling show. Songs from most of our albums from 2007-2013, and a good time, fueled by Jagermeister.
As Van Coke Kartel, for the last time, what message do you have for your fans?
Have a good time and hopefully see you at the last shows.
Don’t miss the opportunity to see Van Coke Kartel live for the last time ever in their The Final Tour. Details here.