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Interview with Arno Carstens

The third voice on "The Road" - An Email interview

Mike + The Mechanics have returned with another studio-album, followed by a tour in the UK, Switzerland and Germany. The new album, The Road, features the singers Tim Howar and Andrew Roachford, who will be part of the live-band, and a third singer, Arno Carstens, who also co-wrote some songs on the album. But who is this Arno Carstens and what exactly was and is his role in the new Mechanics project?

Arno Carstens is an award-winning South African singer-songwriter and guitarist currently based between Cape Town and London.

During his career as the lead singer of South Africa’s favourite rock band The Springbok Nude Girls, and subsequently as a solo artist, Arno has released 7 studio albums and had 18 top ten singles. He has won 5 South African Music Awards and shared the stage with legends of the music world.

wonderful wildArno has supported the likes of U2, The Rolling Stones and The Police on European tours.

Arno Carstens’ UK debut album Wonderful Wild was released on 26 April 2010). Dreamer was one of the biggest radio hits of 2010 according to South Africa’s Media Guide Top 100 and Heartbreak Monday was playlisted on UK’s Radio 2 and Absolute Radio, hailed by the British Press as one of the songs of summer 2010.

For more information, visit Arno's official website.

We had a few questions regarding Arno's involvement with the Mechanics. Arno agreed to do a little e-mail interview:

GNC: How and when did you meet Mike Rutherford?

Arno: I met Mike Rutherford in 2008. We have a mutual friend, John Giddings ( who introduced us when I was living in London recording my 3rd solo album Wonderful Wild. John sent Mike some of my early demos for Wonderful Wild and it evolved from that.

GNC: How exactly did you become part of this project?

Arno: It was a very organic process. We had originally gone into the studio to play around with some of the tracks I was working on for my album and found that we enjoyed working together. When Wonderful Wild was finished, Mike asked me to come back to his studio and see if we could write some new material together.  The three tracks on The Road are a result of that time.

2GNC: Did you know Mike and / or the music of the Mechanics before you joined the project?

Arno: Yes, I did.  Their music is everywhere, in fact The Living Years is still a family favourite.

GNC: Were you aware that you were working on a new Mechanics album?

Arno: Yes, I was. 

GNC: On how many songs did you work with Mike? Did you sing these three songs or more?

Arno: I co-wrote and performed three of the tracks on The Road: Background Noise, It Only Hurts For A While and Hunt You Down. I was never meant to be an official ‘Mechanic’ and originally thought that I was only going to be a part of the project as a co-writer, but I suppose in the end Mike liked my voice enough to grant me the honour of putting the tracks I recorded on the album.

GNC: Why didn't you stay with the band / why are you not part of the Mechanics right now?

Arno: I suppose I am like an “apprentice” Mechanic (ha ha). They have got a good core live band and I am very busy touring my solo album, Wonderful Wild, as well as my original band ‘Springbok Nude Girls’.

GNC: Do you have plans to use the three Mechanics songs for your solo performances?

Arno: No, although, Hunt You Down in a darker format with a small orchestra could be riveting.

bandGNC: What are your plans for the future?

Arno: I am working on a new Springbok Nude Girls album at the moment, and we’re touring the UK and South Africa this year in addition to playing at The Isle of Wight festival in June, which I am looking forward to. I am also recording material for my next solo album.

GNC: Is it likely that you may return to the studio with Mike for another album?

Arno: I hope so, besides the enormous honour it is to work with him it’s also fun and we get along very well.

GNC: Thank you for this short interview.

Arno: No problem.

Interview: Christian Gerhardts (via Email)

Mike Rutherford

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