“If I’m laughing my way from job to job, or show to show, perfect. Like what a jol!”
Rock Legend. Musician. Singer. Songwriter. Smiler. Soloist. Philosopher. Laugher. Goofy Drunk. Optimist. Water Baby. Skipper. Lead Singer of Just Jinjer.
How we measure success in life is often measured against the wrong things, like how rich we are or how much money we make. It is fascinating how we seem to have become so skewed and linear in our thinking when it comes to our success yardstick.
Our guest this week, Ard Matthews, can relate to all of this. Although he has never experienced huge wealth, he has had massive stardom, and has had to deal with the struggle of what success looks like and means to him.
Ard grew up in a single-parent household with his Mom and never quite understood why he didn’t have a father figure like all the other kids. He had to attend church a few times a week, as his Mom was rather spiritual and devoted. It led him to start his first band with his rebellious church mates, and christian death metal was their chosen genre!
At 17 years old, he met his Dad for the first time…and it was an instantaneous ‘father-son bromance’. Ard doesn’t recall why exactly, but he never had any hard feelings towards his Dad and just made the most of their time together, catching up on all of the lost years.
His folks were both musically talented and certainly passed down the genes to him. His ‘lucky’ break arrived when his mates egged him on to play the one song that he knew at the restaurant he was working at. As soon as he’d finished, his manager walked up to him and said he had to come back next week and play 10 songs. The saying ”never look a gift horse in the mouth’ had never been more true, so he took the opportunity with both hands!
Ard eventually moved to London, but without a visa. All he could do was work on a farm for 6 days a week, 12 hours a day, for a wage of £60 a week. That just didn’t cut it for him though. His mate and him eventually got enough cash together to get some basic audio equipment and started busking in the streets of Leicester Square. They were soon earning £60 a night in front of large groups of people.
Back in South Africa, they were rocking out small gigs and then serendipity stepped up to the plate. Another band, called Ard up after seeing him perform a few times, and said that they wanted him to join them. That was the beginning of one of the biggest rock bands in South Africa at the time, Just Jinjer.
He led the way to the incredible success of Just Jinjer’s debut album, All Comes Round, which achieved double platinum status in it’s first year. The follow-up album, Something For Now, went double platinum the following year too!
They spent a few years in LA, living the life of a true rock band trying to crack it big in the US. For a few reasons, they never quite made it there, however, it’s a time looked back on fondly.
These days, Ard is now focussing on his solo career and his work has many deeper meanings with love running strongly at the core! He spends his time kite-boarding, surfing, being on boats, performing, recording new music and travelling the world, and gigging around his beloved South Africa.
Aesthetically, Ard looks like a typical rock frontman. Long dreadlocks (well, at least back in the day!), tattoos and a funky dressing style. However, underneath the layers, there is so much depth to him. Philosophical in his outlook on life, he is someone who could never hurt a flea, has never been in a fight, is a goofy drunk, laughs more than anyone you know, always sees the bright side of things, is an optimist and realist, and has a very gentle way of being.
We hope you enjoy this conversation as much as we did.
Let’s find out what it means for Ard Matthews, to be Ridiculously Human.
Your fellow beings,
Craig and Gareth
Other relevant points discussed and mentioned:
The Bambuseae Rhythm Section – Check them out here
Simon Van Gend Band – Check them out here
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