CITO Talks to Us Ahead of Led Zeppelin Tribute

Sunday is going to be amazing and the line up of artists sports some of the biggest names to give a fitting tribute to the legendary Zeppelin.

I spoke with CITO about his unaging looks, his side projects and,of course, his favourite Zep lyrics.

Richard Chemaly (RC): Firstly, off the bat, I gotta ask. You’re heading to your mid forties but you don’t look a day above 30 and you’ve lived the life of a rockstar…because, well, you have been one for over 2 decades. What’s the secret?

CITO (C): *laughs* Thanks for the compliment! I don’t know it could any one of the following or a combination of all. I drink coffee, which is an antioxidant. I’m half Puerto Rican. My mom looks like she’s 50 and she’s almost 80! I’m doing what I love to do…ie music. Rock n Roll keeps me young. Herbal remedies. Age is a state of mind. I’m lank immature.

RC: Before we get into music, I’d like to talk a bit about your extensive charity work. Peace Starts seems to have quietened down. Have you been shifting energies to the broader, CoLab Network? What initiatives are you currently involved in?

C: Yeah, I took a break from Peace Starts and The CoLab Network to focus on my music. I kind of felt that all of those other projects were demanding of (and deserved) my full attention; consequently, diluting everything I was involved with. My music creativity kept taking a back seat and that is what I should be focusing on.

I’m not trying to save the world, while my own productivity was nowhere. So, I’ll perform at certain charity events with WONDERboom or solo or whatever, but I won’t diminish the value in those events by performing at all that get proposed to me. It’s tough because all are legitimate and deserve to be supported, but my current chapter requires me to be creative.

RC: Now, 21 years after forming Wonderboom, you’ve released a brand new album. (A) where do you find the energy and (B) since it’s your first new album for a good 6 years, are you going to be touring extensively?

C: The energy is found in doing what I love. And that is creating and performing music with my brothers. I honestly don’t feel jaded or tired because I know, deep down, that there’s so much more to do and that can be done musically. We are definitely touring the album. Got some nice dates from November to January all around the Eastern, Northern and Western Capes as well as Gauteng and even China! Watch this space! This is just the beginning – again!

RC: I’ve had high regard for your DIY ethic and loved listening to your interviews where you talk bout the missing “hunger” in today’s generation. You often speak of how you would put up posters and persuade people to come to your gigs. What needs to be done to bring that back?

C: Well, the days of handing out flyers and putting up posters have changed. We now need to adapt to other forms of marketing, especially through social media. But, the one thing that hasn’t changed is the effect of performances. Word-of-mouth is the strongest tool.

If you put on a half-baked performance somewhere, because you’ve got a miff turnout or you’re not feeling it, chances are, the people who were at that show won’t come again. You give your performances all you’ve got, every single time, that shit spreads. Live performance is where it’s at. Engaging with your fans is very important. And being pro on all counts.

RC: I’m really keen to hear some of your former projects’ works. Is there anyway we can get a listen to music from your former groups like The Electric Pedals, Moon Child and The 8 Legged Groove Machine?

C: The Electric Petals were a rocking band with success in shows and recording. Martin, Wade and myself weren’t in the Electric Petals; Danny De Wet was. We joined forces with them as The Eight Legged Groove Machine to form supergroup, The Electric Petal Groove Machine!

Eight legged Groove Machine never released an album but I do have an old ½ inch tape with our first demos. Most of our songs ended up being WONDERboom songs anyway. Songs like Smile Pantsula, Jafta Rebel, Green Fever, She Cries, etc. And Moonchild… Hmmm… Someone’s got a cassette of our demos somewhere. I’m not sure if they’re worth digging up.

RC: Performing in Pieter Torien’s Jesus Christ Superstar must have been quite an honour. How does it compare to the honour of playing in a Zeppelin tribute show?

C: Well, the pressure is definitely the same! People are passionate about Led Zep as much as people are about Jesus. That’s for sure. Both a serious honour and equally daunting.

RC: Finally, what is your favourite Zeppelin lyric and why?

C: My favourite lyric has to be the one I can remember!! *laughs*.. Just kidding. It’s funny. I’m so bad with making out what lyrics are in songs. Even with my favourite bands such as Led Zeppelin. In researching Led Zep’s lyrics I realised that they’re mostly about love, recreation, Vikings and Lord of The Rings. But my favourite lyric is from Immigrant Song. Another Viking lore; “How soft your fields so green. Can whisper tales of gore. Of how we calmed the tides of war. We are your overlords.” So intimidating and hardcore.