IF YOU'VE ever wondered what Ashtray Electric sound like when they run on raw energy alone, Sunday is your chance. The four-piece are warming up to play (with most of their electrified backline nowhere in sight) at the Silver Tree Restaurant, Kirstenbosch Gardens, hot on the heels of their second full-length studio album, Measured In Falls.
For the uninitiated, vocalist Andr[c] Pienaar, lead guitarist Rudi Cronj[c], bass player Regardt Nel and Rupert Nel on drums are better known for their amplified, rock-rumbling sets that have made them radio and live-venue favourites for close on four years now.
"It's quite different," Pienaar said of their acoustically ambitious show. "We always try to put thought into everything we do.
"There needs to be an artistic premise, and being able to play a show where you can't hide behind a wall of electric assistance is the kind of challenge we delight in."
Ashtray Electric's latest 12-track album is a mix of the band's on-going influences - a recipe that's remained unchanged since The Swing, from the EP The David Sessions, in 2007.
In 2008 their Rhythm Records debut single on the label's Bellville Rock City compilation, Quite Overstared, had campus radio in a tizz with its unashamed chart domination. The obvious conclusion was for the band to go back into the studio and hammer out a full-length debut album. In April 2009 Bon Jour, with its 10 remarkable rock statements, including the Highveld Stereo and East Coast Radio hit single Seasons and the now cult favourite When Sex Becomes A Sport, turned Ashtray Electric into a commercial success.
"Bon Jour was a snapshot," Pienaar said. "We had the songs so we recorded and released them.
"The new album, by comparison, involved a lot more thought and time to get right."
He and Cronj[c] set up camp at the start of 2010 and began writing for what is now Measured In Falls.
"We recorded these songs in three different studios. Make no mistake, we're all incredibly proud of Bon Jour, but with the new album we were keen to up our game. By the time we went in to record we'd figured out how to be better musos, bent on writing great songs - not experimenting until, perhaps, we stumbled upon an idea that stuck."
The new album contains 11 brand-new tracks, as well as their popular single Release (featuring Gazelle) as a bonus track.
Sunday's performance is an important gig then where the band, who want to have their songs stand up in a stripped-down, acoustically anchored space, will …