We sat down with Jeandré Schultz to chat about his role as lead guitarist in the house band for the Republiek van Zoid Afrika tv series on kykNET, his other projects and how he keeps his licks fresh. You can read all about his gear choices here.
MP: Tell us about the logistics of Karen Zoid’s Republiek van Zoid Afrika gig. How often do you rehearse and what are the expectations?
Jeandre: For the weeks running up to the TV recordings we rehearse 2 to 3 times a week for 6 to 8 hours at a time. It is intense. We joke when we joke and we work when we work. Karen knows how to get the best out of someone and she will be very straight about whether something works or not. She will always do it in a nice way though. I have learned more from her about the real essence of music than anyone else. Its about playing the right chord or having the right tone with the sole purpose of communicating the meaning of the song. It is much more than the scale or the mode.
We get the charts before rehearsals and each one in the band has to practice beforehand. Rehearsal is not the place to figure out your parts or try to learn how to play the song. You do that at home. When you pitch for rehearsals you should be ready to record. Karen is great to work for, but you need to be prepared and know your stuff. She also gives a lot of direction and she is very focused on the detail. She will point out one note in a solo that she does not like. Her suggestions might seem strange at first but when you play the notes she wants it all makes sense. She’s got amazing ears, especially for choosing the right tones and notes.
MP: Do you decide on your own tones or is that up for debate as well?
Jeandré: The overall tonal ballpark is up to me, but Karen can be very specific about pickup selection. I tend to prefer humbuckers and Karen might suggest something that does not sound great in isolation, but with the rest of the band it sits perfect in the mix. If Karen’s Telecaster is on the neck pickup I will never be on the neck pickup on mine. My first rehearsal did not start off well. She stopped everything after I played the first note! We then took a bit of time to go through all my pickup selections to find the ones that go well with her Tele. We ended up choosing the Duesenberg Paloma because it has single coils in the neck and middle positions that worked better with her Telecaster. I use my normal pedals and amp for the Karen gig – nothing extra.
MP: How does the actual shooting of the episodes work?
Jeandré: We shoot the whole series in 10 days – 13 to 15 episodes at De Malle Meul in Philadelphia outside of Cape Town towards Malmesbury. Some days we shoot 2 episodes, some days only one. There are about 70 to 80 stings (short 30 second sound bites before commercials) that we need to shoot as part of the episodes. We get the charts beforehand. Karen not only remembers the stings and the songs, but also the lyrics! There is a “live” audience during shoots. The venue seats about 40 to 50 people.
Another huge perk of the gig is working with the featured guests on the show. They are also legends in the music business and it is a great learning experience to watch them work first hand and to see how the pro’s do it. There is a great energy between everyone, from the lights crew, the sound guys right down the people that bring you coffee.
MP: So apart from having the chops what else is needed to retain this type of gig?
Jeandré: Firstly you have to be professional. Prepare, rehearse and know your lines. You should also not take offense when somebody suggests you do something different. They are just trying to help. But most important for this gig is to have integrity, meaning that when you say you will do something then do it. When you say you will bring something to the band then you better do. Raising the bar the whole time is crucial. Be consistent and be yourself.
MP: What other gigs are you also doing?
Jeandré: I play for Slow Jack. It is “feel good” music for people that want to feel good. Hannes and I (lead singer) write the music together. Hannes is the lyricist and I write the music mostly. I don’t write too many lyrics as I tend to get too honest and end up offending people. We send lyrics and songs to and fro until we have something that we both like. We then get together and flesh it out. The first two songs of the band Hannes wrote on his own but thereafter I became involved in the writing. When you are in a band you should insert yourself in the writing process you know? Take the time and the effort to go to someone, sit down and write the stuff!
I also play for Leah and then I do quite a bit of session work – in the studio and live. I am helping Arno Carstens out with a few gigs in October. My day job is working at Music Experience and we just started a 1-minute video series with me playing the Duesenberg guitars in the shop. I am very excited about it.
MP: Is the type of gear you use important to you or is it more a tool to get a job done?
Jeandré: I am passionate about gear. I believe in playing all types of guitars and sticking to what works for me. It does however not make any sense to knock or criticise something that does not work for you. In someone else’s hands it will play and sound perfect. I play a huge amount of guitars working in the shop so I have a general feeling for most. I can get my sound from pretty much any make and model. The Duesenberg’s however fit my style perfectly.
MP: Which guitarists inspire you?
Jeandré: There are many. Richie Samborra – you can hear his influence in my bends. Jimmy Hendrix – the first time I could play Little Wing I just wanted more. Randy Rhoads is huge for me. Joe Bonamassa is also featuring heavily for me nowadays. At first I did not like his stuff, but I have to be honest that it might have been because I could not play it! Now that I can slow it down about 20 000 bpm I realise that he is very cool. Jazz guitarists Joe Pass and Pat Metheny are just incredible. But if I have to choose just one it will have to be Mark Knopfler. I would love to meet him someday. Maybe share dinner with him and Brian May…
MP: How do you challenge yourself to keep growing and not fall into a rut?
Jeandré: Try to make mistakes and see where you can go from there. Charlie Parker said that the right note is only the next one in the scale. If you play the wrong note just play the next one. Also change the chord voicings. Modes are lovely, but you cannot really use them unless the underlying chords are voiced accordingly. I will often visit youtube and search for “guitar dorian backtrack”. I will choose any of them and just jam over it for hours. Initially it might feel strange and different because it does not sound like a pentatonic. But after 10 minutes a whole new world can open up.
MP: What is the best advice you ever received as a guitar player?
Jeandré: Serve the song. James Valentine (Maroon 5) said it once during an interview. Everybody else said practice, practice, practice. James simply said “Serve the song”. As much as we want it to be, the song is simply not just about the guitar. When everyone in the band serves the song the band gets tighter and the song communicates better.
MP: What is next for you?
Jeandré: I would love to have a solo career in a few years time. For now it seems that if you want to make a good living in the music industry you have to go the Afrikaans route though. I think there is a market for good quality Afrikaans music with great rock guitar that has integrity. Good music and good lyrics.The Music Experience shop is my life. I am here because I want to be and I do not want to leave this. Definitely no kids for now. If they give me half the troubles I gave my parents I will die!
I simply take things as they come, but I have many dreams. You have to dream and hope otherwise nothing will happen. I grew up in Kimberley and if you ever told me that I will do the Karen Zoid gig and work in Music Experience I would not have believed you. Keep dreaming and keep hoping.