WOW, is the best way to describe seeing Karnivool live! They took a small club and made it feel like an arena and I mean that in a good way. They sounded stupendous and the personalities and stage presence of all the members was just perfect. Karnivool has the right amount of everything and that is pretty much impossible to find in today’s rock bands. The absolute best show I have seen at Club Hell and let me tell you there is just something so darling about sound check being done in Australian accents. Yes, I do love accents and I could listen to that Australian sass for eternity and never get bored with it, so keep it coming boys. I’ve already introduced you to their new album, SOUND AWAKE and they touched upon a good part of it live and I was certainly happy about that since it has not left my player since I reviewed it. It is the perfect music for whatever you want to accomplish on any given day and I mean anything, insert you day plan here_____.
Live on stage the musicianship was immaculate, they came in strong and never plateaued only evolved. Karnivool is intricate yet interesting and they bring their alternative progressiveness into the forefront. They played all of my favorite songs, “New Day,” “All I Know,” “Set Fire to the Hive,” “Simple Boy,” and “Themata.” The lead guitarist, Drew Goddard’s pedal board was a force to be reckoned with and once power was established he went for it. Drew either likes playing without shoes or the rug finally won. Steve Judd was drumming so fanatically that his shirt flew off. What is it with this band and nudity? Mark Hosking and Jon Stockman were stuck in the opposite corner of the stage and I didn’t have an awesome view of them but their playing spoke for them. The front man, Ian is a prodigious vocalist. He was spot on live and when you listen to the album you really want to know how he is going to pull it off and believe me he does that and more, completely amazing! Not only is Ian exceptional in his vocal abilities but he has some pretty classic stage moves that borrow from the robot and the famous don’t stand in my invisible dance circle I’m feeling the air. Ian performed wearing his glasses that resemble the ones in the episode of SEINFELD that Jerry Seinfeld has to wear and they just added a whole new level of charm to him. Ian knows how to work any look and I do hope he brings back the ponytails. I can’t say enough about how unbelievable this band is. Go out and see them for yourselves!
INTERVIEW WITH KARNIVOOL
Lena Lamoray: It is very rare that I get introduced to band as incredible as you (thank you so much Nicole and Tim), in fact the last time that happened it was with another Australian band, Sydonia. Have you ever heard of them? They are great guys!
KARNIVOOL: Yes, they are cool guys.
Lena Lamoray: Have you guys ever toured together?
KARNIVOOL: No, in fact we don’t often get a chance to catch up. I remember the guys from Melbourne before we moved to Perth. Yes, very cool guys and great music as well.
Lena Lamoray: How has the tour been so far?
KARNIVOOL: The tour has been absolutely killer! About four weeks ago we came from Europe and spent about two and a half weeks there but we came to SXSW the music festival which was ridiculous. Ridiculous but cool because there were just so many acts and so much to see and you never really end up getting a chance to see anything. We did about four or five days there and then worked our way around the country. It’s been amazing. It really has been amazing.
Lena Lamoray: This question probably won’t apply to you because it’s for the singer but..
KARNIVOOL: I’m a bit of a singer!
Lena Lamoray: How does your vision of the band today compare with the original vision from 1997?
KARNIVOOL: They very early stuff? I don’t know if they really had a vision back then. I think a lot of the vision started with the final lineup of this band. When it was finalized for lack of a better word, I came in about six years ago and Steve joined about five years ago and then some members have been on for ten and seven years. Oh my God I’m old! We kind of define it as the start of this cycle , this manifestation of the band and I think that is when the real vision of what we want to do in this band occurred. I would call that the real second coming of this band, I don’t know something ridiculous like that. I think that is when the band really took on its real face of what it is today. It has been an interesting journey in doing what we want to do just how we want to do it and SOUND AWAKE was a huge steppingstone for us because it was a step in the right direction of completely starting with a blank canvas. What do we want to do as musicians and how do we affect the way we approach music and expressions and all that exciting stuff. It’s still an evolutionary thing for us, SOUND AWAKE was great for us and now that we’ve finished it we are sitting around saying, alright what do we do next? Music is just a very broad thing you can take a lot out of it and put into it so it is still going.
Lena Lamoray: SOUND AWAKE was just released in the US a couple of months ago so how does this tour compare to the last time you were here?
KARNIVOOL: I think the last tour was more of an introduction of Karnivool to the US. We played and felt like no one had ever heard of us but by the end of the gig we felt that we had won people over. This time there are obviously more people and some have driven long distances to just see us play. There are people out there tonight that have been with us for the last three shows from New York to Philadelphia to here. There are people from Florida so we are getting the idea that we are making a good impression since they are following and checking us out over long distances. It’s amazing and a humbling thing to come so far and feel that happening so it’s good and a big step up for us. We hope that next time there will be another step up. It’s just nice to constantly expand your horizons and try to appeal to a larger, broader base of people. America definitely feels to us like it was in Australia a few years ago, we do really well in Australia now but in the earlier days we played pubs and small clubs to finally be recognized. It’s a very rewarding part of your career to watch everything grow and expand and Tetris packing the van in the cold is the very rewarding and the ultimate in packing.
Lena Lamoray: What was it like working with Forrester Savell?
KARNIVOOL: He’s great, I mean we’ve done pretty much everything that we have recorded with him as long as I’ve been in the band other than that one cover that we did and he was unavailable. We did THEMATA with him and that was an amazing experience for me and as musicians and producers. When SOUND AWAKE came around we always said that we would never do the same album twice we always have to evolve as people and musicians. We thought about other producers to come aboard and help us do what we have to do but at the end of the day we said honestly, look why wouldn’t we use Forrester? We are trying to change the sound but he’s just the person and we are all still learning so we invited him back and it was just an amazing experience and he has come a long way as a person, producer and mixer so it changed our style as musicians. It became a natural step and it really was a well thought out process and in the end we got to what we wanted to do. Also, because he has worked with the band before he understands what the nature of the beast is and it is a very chaotic world to get into, the world of recording and writing. He understands that area and in a way he sort of acts as a reference point of reality sometimes and he knows that quite well and doesn’t let us get lost in what we might be doing at any given time. He holds it together in a way that we need him and appreciate him and he has got an amazing ear for sound and he knows us. We have known each other for ten years so that is something that you get out of knowing a producer or mixer for a long period of time. We have heard the horror stories of working with producers and this is not one.
Shawn Marazine: When I listened to your new album and went back to your old album I noticed that this album seems more organic. Everything breathed more and even the sound. I’m a recording engineer and I could hear it all immediately.
KARNIVOOL: Yeah, that was a conscious decision with the band. There were actually a couple of tracks where we tried a bit of a live recording thing where me and Steve did bass and drums together to get that even more of an organic feel.
Shawn Marazine: Even the drums sounded more live. In the studio everything is so triggered and everything sounds like that.
KARNIVOOL: I think from a recording point of view we actually expanded more of it into the room mic sound. We wanted something that was a bit more guts or duet to the sound, not as clean.
Lena Lamoray: Has ALL I KNOW been used in any soundtracks?
KARNIVOOL: I’m not really sure, there is this one song that we have that was used in a movie. It’s got the guy that is the young Luke Skywalker and you know that Aussie girl? He plays a serial killer. Not to our knowledge, but there was definitely something used in a serial killer movie.
Lena Lamoray: I swear I heard it used in a SYFY movie.
KARNIVOOL: To be honest with you, I don’t think so but occasionally it sneaks into random places. We will hear it in the craziest places, it’s like what, why is that one here but it’s all good.
Lena Lamoray: What can we expect from your next album? Are you going to work with Forrester again?
KARNIVOOL: Something different. Oh we don’t know, Forrester at the end of the last record, was actually worried that we were using him exclusively that we were writing ourselves into a corner. We are not going to say any yes or no statements at this point. It just depends how we feel. I would love to work with him again. It’s going to depend on how the writing process goes and what we end of having as this package to take to the studio and how the whole process goes. It is not something that you kind of know when it comes to producing, it’s not something that you really know until you know the body of work. It is something that tells a story itself and needs the right touch. SOUND AWAKE definitely needed the Forrester touch. We are definitely excited about the next album. I think the end of the second album after THEMATA we thought that we would need to get away from each other for awhile but we spent a couple of weeks away and then sort of set up studio and worked which we didn’t think was going to happen because we spent six months recording SOUND AWAKE together in the studio. We have already started writing and messing around with ideas but we are excited about it. The whole process and timeline of the band seems to be pushing towards something that we can do to get more out of us.
Lena Lamoray: So, are those special Australian cell phones, they are so (ZOOLANDER) small?
KARNIVOOL: Ha, ha. No, it’s AT&T, I got it in Austin.
Lena Lamoray: Ha, ha. I’ve just never seen a phone so little.
KARNIVOOL: I do have a small one in Australia (laughing).
Lena Lamoray: What country has been the most interesting to tour and can you share some funny stories?
KARNIVOOL: I think America is definitely the most diverse and Europe is pretty diverse as well but over there you go to a different country and here it’s a different state. In this run we started in Finland and then went to Sweden and had to cross through on a ferry in the middle of winter and it was this massive ice breaker. The whole Baltic Sea was just frozen over. The whole thing was frozen so it was just plowing through the middle and that was pretty freaky. Not as freaky as the cover band that was playing on the ferry, it was this shitty middle aged Polka type thing.
Lena Lamoray: So you thought that was going to be the last thing you heard before you died?
KARNIVOOL: Yeah, that’s what we were thinking. I think anywhere you go in the world you are going to find wackiness and we tend to attract wackiness. It’s in the nature of what we do. The most wacky story has to be when our sound guy met this chick in Tallahassee on the second or third show and the second to last show he married her in Georgia and took her back to Australia. Yeah, that’s pretty rad, I give it to him and they are still together.
Lena Lamoray: I’ve always wanted to visit Australia. What is great about Australia compared to America?
KARNIVOOL: You should, I think Australia has a lot to offer as a country. It’s a newer country so it’s got that built in appeal and there is a lot of open space and a lot of the cities are still small in comparison. Perth, the city we come from is a small town and it has that small town appeal. The beaches, the Australian people and it does have its own sort of culture that involves drinking a lot of alcohol and barbeques. We are very laid back so don’t expect anybody to be on time.
Lena Lamoray: How big are the bugs?
KARNIVOOL: How big are the bugs, ah where we are from you are pretty safe but the further you go north in the rainforest and stuff there are massive spiders and snakes. Big spiders and snakes, big orange and blue spiders that have massive hairy legs. At home, on my wall I’ve got a stuffed tarantula and it just sits there all spidered out.
Lena Lamoray: Are you neat the zoo where you can hold koala bears and stuff like that?
KARNIVOOL: Koalas are actually pretty rare in Western Australia but they do have a couple down South there is a place in a town called Denmark and there is a zoo there where they have koalas.
Lena Lamoray: That must be where everyone gets their pictures from. I always see pictures of people visiting Australia holding koalas.
KARNIVOOL: Kangaroos are everywhere. They are a road hazard you can hit them very easily. Like deer in America.
Lena Lamoray: Are they aggressive?
KARNIVOOL: They can be. There are different breeds, there are brown kangaroos and big reds. There are a lot of horror stories about car crashes because they can break the windshield and there is a good chance they will end up in your car and then you are fucked because their kick is terrible and they kick to get out. You’re in a bit of trouble, it’s pretty dangerous! They are pretty cute, though. I was down in Denmark and I got out of the car and there was this big red kangaroo and he was just standing there and he didn’t move he was standing his ground. If you go up to them all they will do if they are aggressive which is not very often, depending on which season it is, is lean back on their tails and punch you in the gut. It doesn’t just maul you like a lot of television shows where they show them just beating the shit out of people.
Lena Lamoray: Did you get that on video?
KARNIVOOL: No, you can still do it at zoos and stuff, they will come up and try and hug you through the fence and then they will try to squeeze you and you have to keep them away. They are fun. We eat kangaroos. Koalas eat eucaluptous leaves and it works as a sedative drug to them. They get stoned on it so they just hang out in the trees and eat the leaves all day. That’s not a bad life really. We do eat kangaroos in Australia and it’s a very different kind of meat. He hates it and I love it, it’s very gamey but it’s fucking good. It’s like massaged, Japanese fillets.
Lena Lamoray: What do you enjoy doing on your time off?
KARNIVOOL: Sleeping, we generally get all the sleep we didn’t get on tour. We take out our Wii’s and play. Our time off is very brief and when we get it we hang out with family and friends. Occasionally, I go over to his house and we barbeque.
Lena Lamoray: Do you know what your next single is going to be?
KARNIVOOL: So far, “Set Fire to the Hive.” That’s our new single, so I think that is what we are going to drop.