Chris Daniel chats to Karnivool guitarist Mark Hosking about the band’s upcoming album and national tour, which is set to hit the University of Newcastle’s Bar on the Hill this Thursday.
After the release of their 2013 album Asymmetry, Karnivool are back to road test new material on their national Pre-Animation tour. With promises to blow the roof off UON’s Bar on the Hill, their show will feature music both old and new, just a taste of what is to come.
The Perth five piece announced the string of national shows after high demand by the Australian public. In an interview with guitarist Mark Hosking, he gave insight to the bright future ahead and what we can expect from the national treasures.
“I was told I would get a phone call from someone who wanted to talk about Yaks, but i don’t really know too much about them. My understanding is that they are big and hairy, and I like the way they look, but that is about it.” – Mark Hosking
What has happened between the release of Asymmetry and now?
“We started writing new material almost before the release of the last album, because there was some carry over that didn’t make it onto that record which we realised we could use, so the whole process just kind of rolled over and we kept working on it. Sometimes there was a period of about 6 to 7 months where nothing happened and we all freaked out, but then another period where everything came together. We always say it’s going to be quicker, but it never is, so we should probably stop saying that. At the moment we are starting to get to that critical mass where we are looking at the material and pulling it all together.”
What is the forthcoming album like, are you able to describe it?
“We generally take tangents with a lot of our music, but I feel like a lot of this new music is not as tangentral (if that is a word) as the stuff that we have done before. We took a look and said, hey, let’s just take it back a bit, back to some of the stuff that we used to love writing. All in all we just starting writing and waited to see what came out of it, and we have had fun with it. If I was to describe it, it’s a big, heavy, riffy album; obviously there is a long way to go on it, but I like what we have got.”
Does it differ to Asymmetry, or does it follow the same theme?
“It’s always different, but in saying that, this is as close to our older stuff that you will get.”
How did you approach this new music? Considering some is carry over from your previous album, how did you make it sound different?
“Only about 1 or 2 pieces are carry over, so about 99 per cent is completely new. Our writing process is very convoluted in the way we do things. Every song we write is completely different to that of before. From writing as a band, to writing individually, to writing in pairs, to writing on a computer or in a studio, we don’t have a set way of doing it and that’s one thing that we have learned to appreciate because it’s a little more organic.”
With that in mind, do you prefer playing new music or some of your older stuff?
“It always changes for me; it always depends on the vibe and the tour. I always enjoy playing some of the stuff from Asymmetry because it’s really different, but all of our songs have a different feeling when I play it. For me at the moment I think AEONS, because it’s a really fun song to play and one I really enjoyed putting together in the studio.”
You recently played shows in South Africa, what was their reaction to Karnivool?
“Really good, really awesome. It has been on our list of places to go for a long time coming, so when we found a booking that we could trust, we took it without hesitation. We played a couple quick shows, one small venue in Cape Town and a larger one in Johannesburg, both of which were amazing. Everyone was singing along to our songs, which I find is unbelievable because we find pockets of fans all around the world that really appreciate us.”
The shows on this tour are really intimate. Do you prefer playing these smaller shows or would you rather larger venues or festivals?
“Every show is different. The smaller ones are great because you can see everyone’s faces and their reaction, making it a little bit more emotional. Places like Bar on the Hill, which we played at a while back now, it’s small but it’s a venue we personally appreciate to play in because of that reason. The bigger shows are a little different because it’s like a spectacle, though its not as emotional, there are a thousand amazing things going on around you. These smaller shows have a lot of power and intensity so it’ll be fun.”
Over the years, Perth has had some outstanding bands breaking out; honorable mentions would of course be Karnivool, Birds of Tokyo and Tame Impala. Do you feed inspiration from other bands in the area, or are you solely dedicated to your own sound and ideas?
“We do feed some inspiration from other bands, but we all have such different tastes of music, and that’s the thing that draws us all together and produces the sound of Karnivool. The music that drives us is more progressive influences. We are always trying to incorporate those influences in our music, without having to wear them on our sleeves. Perth bands do that quite well, maybe because of the isolation from the rest of Australia. It gives them a chance to craft their own sound before they start wearing their influences too heavily.”
Some bands that I have interviewed always shrug when I ask them where they find their inspiration and claim that it ‘just comes to them’. So where do you think your inspiration lies?
“It’s always an interesting question that one, a lot of people shrug because I think they don’t want to analyse it too much. Inspiration comes from everyday life, from the people you meet and the books you read. Our inspiration usually comes from the conversations we have with the band and generally chatting about an issue. I guess the inspiration is guided by what is already in your subconscious. We take more inspiration from people than we do with objects.”
Before we finish up, I want to hear some of your weird band experiences. What would you consider to be your worst onstage experience?
[Makes sound of embarrassing flashback]
“When we were touring Asymmetry, we finished a show in Italy and Steve and I were throwing a football around, which is where I broke my index finger. I didn’t realise it was broken so I toured Europe with a broken finger. When I got back to Australia I had to have it pinned and put into a cast. So with my most important guitar finger in a cast not being able to use it, I had to relearn all songs with my three fingers and my thumb. I had to do that entire tour with my finger in a cast, which sucked because it made you feel like the shittest guitar player. I loved the challenge but I hated the outcome.”
Do you have any honorable weird band experiences?
“Oh many many many. Most I couldn’t tell you but yeah, just the usual antics. Talking about Tame Impala, we picked up Tame Impala on one trip in Europe because we looked out the window and saw a broken-down bus with the band standing outside. We left some of our boys behind and picked up the Tame boys who were currently rushing to get to their set. No one has broken anything major, no one has gone to hospital so I guess that would have to be my personal favourite.”
Finally, for someone who hasn’t heard of Karnivool before, what song would recommend to fire an obsession?
“I guess the number 1 song to listen to is New Day, because it shows just what our band is capable of. It’s not too heavy and not too light and just gives a bit of an idea of who we are.”
Karnivool will be hitting the University of Newcastle’s Bar on the Hill on Thursday 16th June. Limited tickets are available here.
Feature Image: Karnivool band members. Photo from Karnivool, no changes made.
Design by Richard O’Regan