The Story

BIOGRAPHY

“With the band naming itself after a drug, expectations of ecstasy and let-go are going to be exceedingly high. Thankfully, Ketamine is expressively addictive.
Ketamine soars, so much so that if I were wearing headphones that seduced with their music whilst I leapt from a cliff, I’d expect to fly.”
– Wicked Rock, July 2004

Critically-acclaimed exponents of rock, Ketamine, played its second-ever live performance to a full house at the renowned Metro Theatre in Chicago, USA. This was the result of submitting songs to Act IV 2001 – a Smashing Pumpkins tribute concert held annually to give unsigned bands the opportunity to prove themselves in these hallowed surrounds whilst paying tribute to an iconic band. A mere seven bands were chosen to perform at this event, with some eighty acts from around the world competing for these limited slots each year.

The band was the brainchild of founding members Shannon Hope and Jason Every. Within three weeks of its sudden and remarkable inception, the duo had recruited the session musicians to rehearse their tribute show covers and newly penned originals for the USA tour, recorded their Smashing Pumpkins cover of “Disarm” (which was selected for the tribute album to be released at the show) along with their first original track entitled “Stay”, and firmly lodged themselves in the South African media. So well was Ketamine’s performance received by the audience and organisers alike at their American debut in July 2001, that not only was the band re-elected to play the tribute show in 2002, but they were furthermore honoured with headline act status.

During their brief sojourns in Chicago, Ketamine members were lauded and approached by that city’s high-profile recording engineer and producer Bjorn Thorsrud – of Smashing Pumpkins and ZWAN fame, among many others for whom his skills have helped earn Billboard USA chart hits. In an interview with Barney Simon from 5FM, Bjorn described what he thought of Ketamine when he first saw them at the 2001 Chicago concert: “I was actually pretty amazed. I didn’t know they were from South Africa until after I heard them play. I was sitting watching the show with Billy Corgan and we were listening to the songs – y’know some of the songs people were doing that were different. It was pretty fun, and then Ketamine played an original which I thought was a Pumpkins song and I asked Billy, “which one was that, I can’t remember it?” He goes “it must be an original ‘cause it’s not one of mine”. It was such a good song and had such good energy, I couldn’t believe it and I go, “where are these guys from?” He’s like “South Africa” and I was like, “you gotta be kidding me”.”

Having kept in close contact since their first meeting in 2001, Thorsrud worked with the band on the pre-production of their material. This ongoing correspondence regarding the musical direction of Ketamine peaked in December 2003, with Thorsrud traveling to South Africa to produce a 5-track EP with the band. Mixed and mastered by Manny A. Sanchez (who also boasts a modest artist biography including the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Incubus, Oasis, and Dave Matthews), “A Perfect World” was released independently in June 2004.

Ketamine received extensive radio playlistings, both internationally and locally, during their brief independent career, with tracks receiving airplay on South African stations 5FM, East Coast Radio, UCT Radio, TUKS FM, Red Cap Radio, and SAFM, and international airplay on Live365 in Canada, and Radio Sumadija in Serbia. Their 2001 single “Stay” (the original track that had caught the attention of Bjorn Thorsrud) charted for nine weeks on UCT Radio’s SA Top 10, reaching and maintaining a high of number 2 for three weeks, and charted within the top 10 positions on the Top 30 for a total of nine weeks, reaching a high of 6. All five tracks off their 2004 EP release earned airplay on stations around South Africa, Serbia, and Canada, and the band received a profile feature by Barney Simon on the World Chart Show on 5FM in December 2004. In addition, the band’s live performances and recordings were flighted on M-Net, DSTV, ETV, and Swiss TV, along with numerous interviews, reviews, and features in various local and international print publications.

Further to regularly gigging around the South African club circuit, Ketamine featured high on the rosters of major festivals and events since its inception, including Woodstock IV, Rock Concert 2, Siemens Mobile Wave Tour, Flux New Year Festival, Rock Show 2002 at Carnival City, and Splashy Fen Music Festival where they headlined the opening night in 2004.

In spite of their remarkable successes and irrefutable promise for a propitious international career, the group disbanded in 2006. Ketamine’s short whirlwind career and unexpected split, however, set the stage for Miss Hope’s solo incarnation two years later.

I love what I do because I’m honest about it, and I’m not out to prove myself as a woman, but as a musician. It’s not about being the only girl in an otherwise male rock band, but rather about making music that means something. We all sweat the same on stage anyway.
– Shannon Hope, Salt Water Girl Magazine, November 2003

Recorded Works

DISCOGRAPHY

CREDITS

Written by Shannon Hope and Jason Every
Produced by Bjorn Thorsrud
Recorded at Springvale Farm, Durban, South Africa, 6-15 December 2003
Engineered by Rob van Laren and Alan Judd
Mixed and Mastered by Manny A. Sanchez
Mixing Assistance by Mark Berlin and Paul Long
Mixed at Gravity Studios, Chicago, USA
Released Independently, 2004

Voice & Keyboards by Shannon Hope
Guitar & Backing Vocals by Jason Every
Guitar by Barry Corden
Bass Guitar by Dirk Slabbert
Drums by Gareth Gale

Studio Demos

LIVE STUDIO RECORDINGS 2001 - 2005

In addition to their official release of “A Perfect World” in 2004, Ketamine recorded another 52 songs in studio and compiled seven demo discs during the course of their short career (that’s a total average of 1.6 albums or 11.4 songs per Ketamine drummer). Below is a selection of live studio demo recordings engineered and mixed by South African legend Dave Birch at Tropical Sweat Studios in Durban. The collections were made available to audiences at live shows and featured various tracks, including their singles “Stay” and “Reflect In You”, as well as a few early versions of songs later reworked for “A Perfect World”. In 2005, the band released a live DVD of their performance at Splashy Fen Music Festival entitled “The Ache That’s So Unfair”.

Feature Compilations

SPECIAL APPEARANCES

Ghost Children [2001]

“Disarm” (Smashing Pumpkins Cover)

Engineered and Mixed by Dave Birch
Released by ACT IV

Wicked Rock [2002]

“Stay”

Engineered and Mixed by Dave Birch
Released Independently

C-Weed 3 [2003]

“Reflect In You”

Engineered and Mixed by Dave Birch
Released by Universal Music

Press Reviews

WHAT THE CRITICS HAD TO SAY

  • 'What I like about Ketamine is that they do everything with a bit of class and they come across as incredibly professional for a young band. I was fortunate enough to get a sneak preview of some material they’ve recorded and I’m getting more impressed by the minute.'
    Nashen Moodley, Sunday Tribune, 2001
  • 'Ketamine is by far the best new South African rock band I’ve seen in ages.'
    Nashen Moodley, Sunday Tribune, 2001
  • 'The performance was tight, the songs well-written and executed with flair and imagination, and Shannon has both a lovely voice and a powerful stage presence.'
    Nashen Moodley, Sunday Tribune, 2001
  • 'Ketamine played downstairs at Burn recently, a new direction for dark rock – pleasant touches of electro-synth with Souisxie Banshee-esque posturing… rock ain’t dead, it just needed a new flavour in the mix.'
    Hedmekanik, Top Forty Magazine, 2002
  • 'I am a big fan of Ketamine, and it’s clear to me that they will go on to be one the country’s major rock acts. Their performance on the night was tight and proficient.'
    Nashen Moodley, Sunday Tribune, 2002
  • 'If you missed this year’s Splashy you lost out big time, with the likes of Ketamine ruling the roost in the marquee on Friday.'
    Daily News, 2003
  • 'In The Shape Of A Heart, with its lush walls of guitar and rolling progression has a wonderful sense of completeness. The chorus erupts out of a melancholic wash of yearning guitars, with Shannon Hope’s vocals strong and emotional. Wonderfully solid and confident, the track never hesitates and knows exactly where it wants to go.'
    Helen Walne, Daily News, 2003
  • 'Keep your ears peeled for Ketamine’s new single. If it doesn’t move you, you may have to reconsider the state of your humanity.'
    Helen Walne, Daily News, 2003
  • 'The mix is balanced, the sound so holistic it makes you wonder just how far this band can go – I’d put my money on the Superbowl. Keep your ears peeled for Ketamine’s new single.'
    Helen Walne, Daily News, 2003
  • 'A Perfect World is a monster to rival many albums with its rich and powerful sound.'
    Native Noise, 2004
  • 'Ketamine are one of the few bands in South Africa that truly care about, and act towards, the greater plan of live the music and be successful within it. Ketamine emerged to fill the gap that Durban bands have created (on one side hip-hop hard rock and on the other punk jostling with pop rock) by being straight-up rock ‘n roll.'
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2003
  • 'A Perfect World makes me proud to be a rocker.’
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2004
  • 'With the band naming itself after a drug, expectations of ecstasy and let-go are going to be exceedingly high. Thankfully, Ketamine is expressively addictive.'
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2004
  • 'Ketamine soars, so much so that if I were wearing headphones that seduced with their music whilst I leapt from a cliff, I’d expect to fly.'
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2004
  • 'It’s been wonderful to watch the progress of this band from the beginning; from those heady days of Smashing Pumpkins covers to great melody-filled songs like ‘Stay’. ‘A Perfect World’ is their third development and the evolution that I’m most comfortable with.'
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2004
  • 'The track ‘In the Shape of a Heart’ takes pleasure to the enth. The build-up is strong, and when the powers of rock ‘n roll come crashing in at the 4 minute 30 second mark, you’ll believe all that I’m saying.'
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2004
  • 'This is one of South Africa’s greatest releases that belongs in those echelons of Fetish, Seether and the Springbok Nude Girls.'
    Mike Hampton, Wicked Rock, 2004

 

Photo Gallery

A PICTURE PAINTS A THOUSAND SONGS

© Shannon Hope 2017