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WONDERboom celebrates 25 years of music-making with a new album

WONDERboom. Picture: Daniel Craig Johnson

WONDERboom. Picture: Daniel Craig Johnson

Published Dec 27, 2021

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It’s been 25 years of non-stop music-making for legendary rock band WONDERboom and to celebrate, they have released their latest album.

Titled “25”, the album celebrates the band’s career, which has seen them win awards, travel the globe, delve into other genres of music beyond rock and release 25 albums.

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Consisting of Martin Cito Otto, Martin Schofield, Wade L Williams and Jonathan Bell, the band was formed in 1996 when Martin, Wade and Cito, originally in an underground band called The Eight Legged Groove Machine, were approached by former member Danny de Wet, the drummer for the popular rock band The Electric Petals, and their manager, Patrick Horgan.

Originally they formed a funk-rock supergroup called The Electric Petal Groove Machine. Two weeks after the combination of the two groups, the band opened for Simple Minds on their South African tour.

Not completely happy with their temporary name, in the summer of 1997 a road sign caught Cito's eye, just outside the Free State town of Kroonstad, pointing to a little town called Wonderboom.

We caught up with the band’s lead singer, Cito.

First off, how have you been?

Although it feels like I've been spinning in a whirlpool of craziness, I am grateful to be alive in such times. Excited for the future and proud of what has been achieved.

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Talk to me about this album, “25”, when did you start working on it?

I suppose we started working on it 25 years ago! Haha... It's a collection of hits and dance floor favourites. Some songs are re-recorded in the way we perform them live now. A nice wide spectrum of ’Boom essentials.

What was the inspiration behind this album?

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As we are celebrating our 25th anniversary, we thought it would be a great idea to reflect and relive some of those moments with our fans, as well as those who don't know our music. We've had requests at a lot of our gigs for hard copies of our older material, especially on vinyl.

When you wanted to put this album together, did you have a clear idea of what you wanted the end product to be?

We knew that we wanted the tracklisting to be hand-picked by us, the band, all the while considering what our fans would dig. It was difficult having to choose and still exclude certain songs, as you can imagine.

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In terms of the lyrical content, how would you describe it?

A real-life lyrical journey from a naive, careless and, at times, punk origin, right through to progressive poetry.

How would you describe the sound of this album?

Something old, something new, something borrowed, no blues! Extremely eclectic and soulfully dynamic rock.

What were some of the challenges when putting this body of work together?

There were some decisions that had to be made collectively. Some songs that I would have liked to be on, but I had to remove my ego from the equation and accept that not all of my favourites are necessarily everyone else's.

How did you select the 21 tracks on the album?

We kind of went through our discography, compared it against our live setlist, looked at newer recordings of older songs and compiled the tracklist from there. Also included a brand-new song called “Prodigal Son” and a few of our other latest releases. Thought of our fans as well as ourselves.

You named it “25”, why?

We officially formed and named the band WONDERboom in 1996. That was 25 years ago.

WONDERboom has been around for 25 years with nine albums, what does 25 signify for the band?

25 signifies how long we've been doing this business we call the show and how young we feel. Closing of an illustrious chapter and a welcoming of what's next.

What do you hope people take away from this album?

I hope people get their rocks off to the classics and give a listen to the newer songs. Hopefully, they'll hear and understand our journey and enjoy it!

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