Battery 9 is an industrial music project from Johannesburg, South Africa.
Industrial music from Africa?
“I remember the look most record company personnel gave me: like I was completely insane,” says Paul Riekert, founder and brain of Battery 9. It was the year 1994, he had recorded a few Battery 9 tracks, and was attempting to get a record deal. The response wasn’t overwhelmingly positive.
Paul: “Looking back, I don’t blame them. It was very noisy. A backbone of sampled machines and scrap metal percussion, layers of electronica, screwed-up beats, with metal -inspired guitars and angry, distorted vocals – most of it in the politically incorrect, vilified ‘language of the oppressor’, Afrikaans. With a cynical sense of humour. And no hope for a hit or even radio play.”
Being relatively young and extremely hard-arsed, he figured out the production process, borrowed some money, found a distributor and released Protskrog, the first Battery 9 album, in March 1995.
Around the same time the live act was assembled: vocals, guitar, sampler, scrap metal percussion and a live painter.
Paul: “I put the recordings together by myself – recorded, sampled, played, sang, mixed, and so on. For fun, or for their unique flavour, I would occasionally ask someone else to do something specific. The difficult part was to re-interpret the recordings for a live environment, to come up with a show that had enough hard-hitting live elements and would also be visually stimulating.”
A few months later the longest-standing live line-up (until 1999) was cemented: Paul (vocals), At Nel (scrap metal percussion), Arnaud van Vliet (guitar) and Huyser Burger (painting, vocals). Huyser would remain in the live line-up until his tragic death in 2011.
Within a year or so, the live act was playing at Alternative clubs and major rock festivals countrywide, having also received daytime radio airplay with the second album, Strop, in 1996.
Five more albums, one SAMA award and countless live performances later, Paul has started up the machine again with the release of the Battery 9 single ‘Pluk ’n Lat Vir Jou Eie Gat’ late in 2015.