The band was born in 1994; it was the brainchild of long-time comrades Shane Pennicott (Lead/Rhythm Guitar/principle song writer), Grant Merricks (Drums) and Phillip du Toit(Bass) as the founding members. They were infused with the guitar talents of David Kietzmann (Rhythm) and Cliff Crabb(Vocals), and so Agro was born. Within the first two months of forming the band they had their first live appearance, February 1994 in Yeoville, Johannesburg, SA.
After a few years of playing their local club and festival scene, Agro went into studio to record their first album; " From Within ". It was released in 1995, although primarily an Indy band, they did have the help and funding of now long time management team from Evolution Music, Alan and Yvonne Pennicott. The Song "Lean on Me" reached No. 7 on the International Rock Charts on a popular National Radio Station. There was also a video of "Lean on Me" which was released and aired on National and Satellite television stations.
Tragically, David (Mountain) Kietzmann was taken from the band and his family in a tragic motor vehicle accident. His memory will live on forever in our hearts and minds.
Many months after the tragic loss of David Kietzmann, the band made a decision to enrol the guitaring abilities of long time friend and colleague, Daniel Lambinon. New material was written and the band went back on the road. This culminated in the birth of the second album " Eyes " in April of 1997 (which David Kietzmann had done the rythem guitars before his passing.). It was a highly anticipated release and the CD Launch was a huge success, at Club Icon in Johannesburg, SA. The band went on to tour the album nationwide. It also got extensive radio play on National and Regional radio stations.
In 1999, Phillip du Toit and his wife decided to start a new life for themselves in the United Kingdom; the current bass player Robbie Riebler replaced him in February of 1999.
In between live shows the band was hard at work on new material over the next few months, and went back into studio to record the third album " The Tree ". With a firm line up and a few years of hardened campaigning under the belt, this effort culminated into a much more mature and serious Agro. The album was launched in Johannesburg in November of 1999, although it was a late release for the year it still made the top 5 albums as voted for by the listeners of a major national radio station for 1999, and this against international releases. The album was toured successfully in 2000 and featured in many publications, including Rock Hard Magazine, July 2000 edition where the album scored an impressive 8 out of 10.
Fresh off the South African national tour for " The Tree ", the band had an opportunity to tour Germany in August of 2000. The highlight of this German Tour was the honour of playing alongside some of the biggest names in Heavy Metal worldwide at the Wacken Open Air Festival outside Hamburg, where 50 000 heavy metal enthusiasts from all over the world gather to watch this awesome annual event. The band had the privilege of playing on the Black Stage just as Freedom Call was finishing their set on the main stage alongside. The European audiences warmed to Agro wherever they went, their unique style and hard grinds interested even the hardiest of music fans, and so Agro began to tap into an international market for the first time.
Inspired after their European experience, the band decided to diversify their sound and employ the services of a keyboard player, Enoque Carrancho to broaden the sound and break into more creative ground. Enoque had done studio work for the band on " The Tree " album, and was a good friend; he became a part time member of the band at the end of 2000.
With new creative drive and inspiration, the band set about recording their fourth album " Forthcoming ". With the added dimension of sound with the keyboards added, now fully integrated into the music, released in 2003, " Forthcoming " proved to be Agro's true coming of age album, where they stood up to be counted as seasoned musicians in the underground scene of their genre. The CD Launch for the " Forthcoming " album was one of the largest seen in Johannesburg, with successful National tours and international tour of Botswana, to attend the annual AIDS awareness concert sponsored by their government, video releases and press coverage, the album also had European distribution through Lost Agony Records, it was also available for purchase to international fans directly from the band website, where the album drew attention from Japan, to Australia, Argentina and the United States.
Sadly at the end of 2003, it came time for Enoque Carrancho to depart; he and his wife immigrated to Canada, where he now features in the Canadian group Destiny Calling. Accomplished musician Nikolai Vassilev replaced him on a fulltime basis.
2004 was a milestone year, ten years of Agro and four albums under the belt. The band felt they owed it to the fans to come up with something a little special, enter the unofficial fifth album "Gouda than Hell". Although this album is all in the name of fun, a tongue-in-cheek celebration of music and ten years of Agro enjoyment. A culmination of songs that were performed live exclusively and some select cover songs that have been Agro-ized and put together to form a brilliant, yet fun album to celebrate 10 years of brotherhood in steel. Released in 2004 , the album was not toured, as it was an unofficial album released solely for the enjoyment of the fans.
In 2005 efforts were shifted and concentrated on broadening their international standing, they were invited once again to headline the annual International Aids Awareness concert in Botswana. Agro returned to B# Studios in Benoni, Johannesburg, SA, for the 5th time to start the recording of their sixth and latest addition to the Agro catalogue, " Ritual 6 ", in December 2005. Barely a month into recording, Daniel Lambinon, very sadly and reluctantly announced his retirement from the band. With heavy hearts we bid him a sad farewell.
With Daniel gone, and only the drum tracks recorded, the decision was made to record the album with one guitar, which gave the overall sound a new edge and pushed the creative envelope to its limits. With the recording close to complete and no replacement found for the rhythm guitar, a decision was reached that the band would stay with the five piece line up, it brought a new edge to their live performances and sound, and it opened a new avenue for creative experimentation.
Their sixth album, " Ritual 6 ", promises to be a creative and rock solid release, that won't let the hardened fans or any new Agro recruits down.
In early 2006 Agro joined the Armageddon Records fold, based in Doerpstedt, Germany. The recorded tracks were mastered in Stage One Studios in Hamburg, under the skilled hand of Michael Hankel (Holy Moses). The album " Ritual 6 " is due for release on Friday, 13 October 2006, alongside Armageddon favourites Tourettes and Reckless Tide. A European tour is on the cards shortly after the album release.