Six Questions for ... BLK JKS

blk jks

BLK JKS are a South African quartet that plays wide-ranging, expansive prog-rock with an element the genre often lacks -- soul. The band's debut full-length, "After Robots," is an intense listening experience, but never quite overwhelming. Drummer Tshepang Ramoba even went so far as to call it "chill" during our chat as the band was driving out of Chicago on its third U.S. tour. That tour hits the Black Cat tonight.

What have you learned about touring the U.S. based on your first few trips here?
The first time we didn't know much about how to handle it and how to go about things. The second time, things like the way to communicate with the people at home, the cheapest way to have a phone. Getting used to the money. When you have $20 you think it's not much. But it's kind of a lot. You can get two meals out of that. So those kind of things. The day-to-day things, more or less. Getting used to the weather.

(Read more after the jump.)

Are any cities particular favorites of yours?
I like New York. It's more like Johannesburg. I enjoyed Chicago, Washington D.C., as long as it's not too hot. The time we went there it was very hot. And Philadelphia is cool. We've been to L.A. but I still want to go to Compton. Yeah. (Laughs.) I want to go there. I just want to see if it's the same as it's reputation. Everybody in the world knows Compton.

The main shift from the EP to the album seemed to be in scope more than sound. Was that something you were trying to do?
We did the EP last April at Electric Ladyland and then recorded the album January of this year in Indiana. It's cool that we had a chance to do the EP first. It was a testing the waters situation. After the EP we thought maybe we should use the same producer. We were really gunning for a bigger sound. Trying to use different recording styles. So there is a big difference. We thought the EP was more relaxed, chill. The album's also chill, because of the songs that are on there. Songs like "Standby." That's a very chill song. So that was our plan.

Do you think the Internet has helped you make a mark as a band?
In South Africa the Internet is not that vibrant in using the Internet. A lot of people there don't know us that well because they don't check the Internet. But here the Internet thing is very good now, especially for indie rock. People like Jay-Z, I don't think a lot is happening for him on the Internet. He's got all the hype and radio and TVs and cell phones. The Internet, for us, it's wonderful.

Do you get lots of questions from fans here in the States?
We get questions. People here in the States don't know that black people in South Africa listen to rock. Like, only white people make rock music. So we get a lot of questions about how we got into rock, how we formed. Things like that.

U2's also in town tonight. Why should people see BLK JKS instead of U2?
U2 is old. You know what I mean? They've been around for years. You should see a new band, a new thing. Check it out. Bono and them, they've been around forever. Why would you want to go see a bunch of old people on stage. (Laughs.)

By David Malitz |  September 29, 2009; 2:04 PM ET Interviews
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