Exactly what the doctor ordered

02 March 2012 - 02:36 By Nikita Ramkissoon

One man. One band. One tough time. The Sick-Leaves has been around since 2005 and has produced four albums yet is still fairly unknown.

Fronted by songwriter, guitarist, vocalist and bassist Eksteen Jacobsz, The Sick-Leaves is an anomaly.

Jacobsz has had a hard time breaking into the music industry.

"I know what I want to sound like," he says. "Sometimes people don't share that vision, so it's best to pursue it on your own.

"Collaborating with others takes more time, and it's slow working here as it is. There's no work ethic in the [local] industry - everyone wants to make a lot of money with little effort, and there's a lack of infrastructure. The industry is nothing like it is overseas."

Having started out in England, Jacobsz says London is faster: "You never stop. There are never enough live shows, and you can't wait around for roadies to pitch up."

Though unobtrusive, he is a force to be reckoned with. Confident and full of ideas, Jacobsz explains his love for music, and the struggles he has had in the industry.

"I'm not saying I dislike the South African industry. It has so much potential. I want to see my efforts here through before I think of going international.

"This is home," he says.

Born in Ermelo, in Mpumalanga, Jacobsz is rooted in the country.

"It's just somewhat stagnant and noncommittal," he says.

His music takes you back to when rock 'n' roll was really rock 'n' roll and wasn't for day-time radio. Even though the new album, Breaking Away, has been called "more radio-friendly", that wall of sound that crashes on you like a wave is as apparent as it was in previous albums.

Jacobsz's raw, grungy voice is captivating.

Although The Sick-Leaves has been nominated for two Samas and an MK award, the band is yet to be the flavour of the moment.

Forging an unusual sound with distinctive classic guitar, heavy bass and high-pitched vocals, the music seems inaccessible, but Jacobsz' sound has been well-received overseas.

"The problem is that the music is London underground-influenced," he says. ''It's not for mass production . but I refuse to turn my music into pop-rock - the kind of tunes some kid would have as his ringtone."

Influenced by the likes of The Kills and The Black Keys, he says the days of guitar-based music are fading.

"I'll eventually have to go overseas, where audiences are more in tune with classic sounds. I say what I want, make the music I want, and won't compromise on that . But everyone wants their music to sell, so if overseas is where it will sell, I'll have to toe the line.

"Maybe it's selfish, but I'd like to think there is an audience for my music somewhere. If there's an audience for [eclectic singer] Bjork, I know I can crack this."

  • The Sick-Leaves' new album, 'Breaking Away', is available now