Van Coke Kartel were once the sleeping giant of the VanFokKingTasties family. With the release of Wie’s Bang, their fourth studio album, they’ve grown into a raging, rock leviathan. Evidence of this was their impressive haul at the recent MK Awards this past Friday where they picked up “Best Live”, “Best Rock” and the coveted “Best Group”. I sat down with lead guitarist, Jedd Kossew, to chat about playing hard, living hard and sweet, old ladies.

 

“We felt like the underdog last year” admits Kossew referring to the “Best Group” award.  “We wanted to win it last year but we didn’t think we were gonna do it. And this year we kind of got a feeling with the new album, all the talk, all the reviews…we thought, ‘Shit, we could maybe win best group.’”

The award in question is busy taking pride of place on Jedd’s desk. Along side it his laptop is open displaying Google Calendar. The VCK schedule is chock-full. Jedd has only just returned home toCape Townand is already preparing to head out again. He seems to take it in his stride though.

“I think if we’re getting booked every weekend you can’t really complain.”

 

Kossew is sporting a beard that looks nearly a week old. He’s lounging about in a pair of slops slumped in an office chair. It’s strange to see someone known for exuding such energy on stage now taking a far more sedentary approach to life. He is, no doubt, still feeling the effects of celebrating Van Coke’s achievements at the MK Awards. I press him for some after-party anecdotes but he’s very vague. “I kinda passed out at about 3[am]. I’m sure there was other shit that would’ve been funny but I wasn’t really there.”

Being the keen cinephile that he is, perhaps Kossew’s sidestepping the question is a lesson learned from Goodfellas, one of his favourite films. “Never rat out your friends and always keep your mouth shut.”.”

 

Van Coke Kartel started off as a three piece band. They recruited Kossew in 2010 to help beef up their live performances. The decision has proven wise on the part of founding members, Francois Van Coke and Wynand Myburgh. The band picked up the MK “Best Live” award for the second year running. Kossew feels that the award was richly deserved. “The connection we have amongst our okes is great. I think you can sense that when we get on stage. And the musicianship, people like to watch guys who can play. I think we put on a show. When people come to our gigs they leave and think, ‘Jeez, we really watched a performance tonight’.”

 

Jedd started out playing in metal band, Cruel April. He also lined up with reggae band, 7th Son, and melodic rockers tAIT. Playing in Van Coke Kartel has seen him return to his heavier roots. “I feel more at home playing harder. When I think of my favourite bands they’re hard rock bands. Excluding the Beatles, of course [laughs]”.

 

The mention of the Beatles segues into Jedd and me talking about Wrinklestock, an annual show he puts on with his cousin Raph. “We go and play for my grandmother there at the old age home.” The day after our interview Jedd will dust off his acoustic guitar and do some covers for the seniors. He hands me the set-list to peruse. The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, Dylan…all the greats are there. He seems to be just as excited for the show as his gran and her friends are. “We do it for her but we do it for ourselves as well.”

 

The whole way through our interview Jedd has his Fender Strat propped in his lap. He noodles his way through scales and licks without ever losing his train of thought. Tearing through monster guitar riffs seem to sharpen his concentration rather than hinder it. Lead guitarists can often be dismissed in interviews unless they are the frontman or chief songwriter. Although he is a consummate musician there’s much more to Jedd Kossew. He is engaging, entertaining and a gentleman. The fact that he can wield his axe like a demon just seems to be an added bonus.

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