The Devil’s Cattle is the highly anticipated, full-length album release from South African rock and rollers Ruff Majik, and the first with their new label Mongrel Records.
The album is a 13-song firecracker filtered through the colorfully twisted lens of lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter Johni Holiday and the first to feature producer, multi-instrumentalist, and fellow heavy weight, Evert Snyman.
The Devil’s Cattle is a collection of dystopian hymns and ‘feel good’ apocalyptic jams to shake your hips and bang your head to. Think zombie montages, demonic cabarets, drug fueled car chases, claustrophobic riffs, psychobilly freak-outs and hypnotic duo-toned sonics tightly packed into a highly fluid slice of high-speed rock and roll.
The Devil’s Cattle was written and recorded over a couple of months, stretched between September of 2019 and February of 2020.
“This was a time filled with excitement, and immense disappointment, all ground up together.” Comments Johni. “You see, at the end of 2019 the band had reached a peak, ready to break through to the next big thing in the stoner scene (playing at festivals such as Desertfest and Keep It Low, and meeting heroes of theirs such as Corrosion Of Conformity and All Them Witches).”
But all was not well in the Ruff Majik camp (and later we would find out, with the world) as Jimmy Glass (founding bassist) had left the band in September 2019, and the future was becoming increasingly unsure. Then January/February 2020 hit us with the rise of COVID, and it seemed the writing was on the wall.
“Being the annoying optimist that I am, I decided to at least tie together the loose ends, and hit the world with the breakthrough album I was planning to take on the road in 2020, even if only to be the final word by a band that was never supposed to gain the traction it did anyway. So, I got to work with longtime friend and collaborator Evert Snyman, who worked with me on the recording, production and mixing of Seasons and Tårn…also lending vocals to some of the songs…” – Johni Holiday
Working together with a rotating cast of guests (all comprised of close friends) the band fleshed out what would become the new album. After coaxing Evert into taking the lead with the vocals on one or two tracks, Johni ended up asking him to join the band full time.
“To my excitement, he agreed, and we crafted an album that I’m very proud of…” smiles Johni
When asked about the inspiration for the inspiration for the album title Johni explains, “The idea came about after a summer stint in Europe for some festivals, where I met up with some friends at Spreewald in Germany that told me a fantastic old folk tale. Spreewald is a forested area, interconnected with many little winding canals that are fed by the Spree river. The story goes that before time began, the devil and his cattle were ploughing the primordial fields. The cattle became tired, and this angered the devil, ‘causing him to throw down his hat in rage.
This in turn spooked the cattle, making them take off in a thousand different directions, and as a result they carved out the sprawling canals that would later be filled by the river Spree – leaving the devil standing there dumbfounded. This story to me meant two things:
1.Even if everything is tearing apart at the seams, and everyone is charging headlong into uncertain territory, something beautiful/astounding could still be created.
2.The story also felt to me like a description of defiance – to take matters into your own hands, and to put a great big middle finger in the face of your oppressors.
So, I got to work writing The Devil’s Cattle, crafting a narrative of a dystopian world in the near future (though by that time I didn’t know how near that future would be). I also referenced my personal turmoil (as well as the stories of my closest friends) into what I decided to call “A Collection Of Dystopian Hymns” – which would come to be the album’s sub-heading. The lyrics range from substance abuse, isolation – from delusions of grandeur, to crushing realizations of defeat. And yeah, it’s personal, but I just don’t care. I decided people will have to deal with it as is, whether they love it or hate it.”
Late 2019 saw the return of Jimmy Glass, as well as some new faces added to the line-up.
“Why? Because if I’m gonna have a big sound, then I’m gonna have a big band!” exclaims Johni
“Releasing an album during the apocalypse is a very strange feeling, and really something no one has any expertise on. However, I refuse to go down without a fight, so as the MC5 said – “Kick out the jams motherfucker!” To say I’m excited to release this album would be the understatement of the century. We had the best time I could’ve ever hoped for working on this, from the studio, to the label, to the art team, all the way through to the marketing. I can’t wait to hear what the world thinks of it.
To celebrate the release of the album the band will be performing a live streaming concert on Hullabaloo Urban Sessions on October 31 at 6pm CET. (Sunday, Nov 1 @ 3.00am AEDT)
Tickets are available here
Official Facebook event
**The Show will be available as Video On Demand after the initial broadcast so Australian fans need not worry about missing out due to the time zone difference**
The Devils Cattle now available on 140g vinyl (single gatefold with splattered coloured vinyl and a pull out A2 poster) and Digipak CD via www.justdirect.co.za
Watch the videos for the first three singles from the album.
All You Need Is Speed
Who Keeps Score.
Lead Pills and Thrills