An Interview with Kenya’s ”Straight Line Connection”

Introduction

Kenya is a country on the Eastern Coast of Africa, bordering the Tanzania of Mwalimu Julius Nyerere to the north and Uganda to the West. Kenya is now being increasingly recognized for its growing dedicated rock and metal scene. The number of bands keeps increasing, new people with remarkable stories of how they got to play the music that they loved. Some like Straight Line Connection is barely two months old and are already playing the biggest metal showcases in the country. Like a lot of fans of the genre, they at first just wanted to be in a band. It is through discipline, punctuality and hard work that they have been able to take the first step outside the comfort of their own bedroom into the raging wave that is the Kenyan rock and metal music scene.

Straight Line Connection is a three-piece band composed of Gun (Guitars & Vocals), Kaleli (Bass & Guitar) and Param (Drums). Straight Line Connection played the opening set at the recently concluded Nairobi Metal Fest in early November at the Alchemist Bar; a show that also featured bands like Vale of Amonition (Uganda) Irony Destroyed and Last Year’s Tragedy (both from Kenya); Slander (Italy) and In Other Climes from Nice, France. This just happened to be Straight Line Connection’s first show since being formed. We learned that even this was not too long ago when we had a conversation with them just about some weeks ago, for a short interview.

I met with Param through a great friend of mine, around July 2017 and we started jamming on acoustic rock covers because we wanted to be in a band. On the third jam session param said he wanted to drum some, and i picked up the electric and started playing ”scream”, a song I had written a few months ago. There was instant chemistry and we said screw the acoustic covers and started our journey to writing our own stuff. After a couple months of jamming we met our first bassist Maina, who couldn’t make the Nairobi Metal Festival. He was kind enough to introduce us to Kaleli our current bassist, who is also a great guitarist. since then our goal was to prepare 3 songs for the metal festival. We were honored to open the festival and received many positive responses.

When you guys first decided you wanted to play your music, what are some of the things you can point to that you relied on most strongly, that helped you define your identity? Do you think that discipline and commitment played a part in it? Belief and maybe even determination?

A musician friend of mine put it very well, he said that we are the most punctual metal band ever lol. We are very dedicated and disciplined to show up for our jam sessions. we all love the same music and we are all very open and respectful of each others’ suggestions.

When watching you guys the other Saturday I had a very strong inclination to compare your music to “Stoned Jesus” and a lot of my friends did too. Is this a pure coincidence or have you felt the same too? Is it deliberate and if not what would you compare your sound to?

That’s very interesting because to be honest I’ve never heard of stoned Jesus, sorry. But now i will definitely give them a listen! It’s always interesting to hear what people liken our music to because honestly I don’t know who we sound like. We’ve also been told System of a Down.

Stuff we like listening to, Tool, Rage Against the Machine, Animals as Leaders, System of a Down, Stone Temple Pilots, Alice in chains, Metallica, Megadeth, Guns and Roses and many more

What are some of the shows you’ve played and how do you define the experience so far. Has it been challenging?

Actually, Nairobi metal festival 2017 was our first show and it was an amazing experience. we learned a lot from it, especially the importance of a good wholesome band sound and involvement of the crowd. Hasn’t been challenging really, because we set goals for ourselves and work towards them.

Your last song at Nairobi Metal Fest was “Fight and Reconcile”. Tell us a little bit more about that song. What does it speak to really and is there some sort of message you intended to convey?

Our music is mostly about philosophy and personal experiences. Fight and reconcile is about the notion that there’s no need to fight if you know you’re going to reconcile anyway. And that we are always going around is circles, searching for that elusive straight line, hence the chorus “fight, reconcile, fight, reconcile” and so on.

Conclusion

Despite being together only briefly Straight Line Connection have accomplished their first task, playing to an audience of metalheads. I was thrilled by their set and hope to see more of them. Straight Line Connection has begun preparing material for their debut record which they announced would be ready in a year’s time. They will surely deliver if their dedication and discipline is the only thing to go by. Lot’s of music from the Kenyan scene in 2018. But that’s a story for another day.

Daniel Otieno Kobimbo

I am no one and everyone
Master of nothing and eternal pad-wan learner
Occassionally masquerades as an Advocate of the High Court of Kenya but has no true calling.

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