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Karnivool: Back For Thirds

Australian prog rock band Karnivool return to India for their third trip, the first to promote their latest album ‘Asymmetry’


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Karnivool vocalist Ian Kenny in Pune in 2013 | Photo Credit: Monisha Ajgaonkar

Karnivool vocalist Ian Kenny in Pune in 2013 | Photo Credit: Monisha Ajgaonkar

Of all their experiences while visiting India during their last trip in 2012, Austral ian prog rock band Karnivool’s vocalist Ian Kenny recalls one of his tour highlights of becoming a fan of Old Monk rum. Says Kenny over a Skype call, “We got to Bombay, we did the show and we met some really cool people after the show. Really great music people and they introduced me to this rum called the Old Monk. And man, that thing kicks like a mule.” After a heavy night of partying and being introduced to Indian rock and metal, Kenny and the band just about made it back to their hotel in the morning and caught their flight back to Australia. Adds Kenny, “It was hectic, man. I’m not even endorsing that — we don’t do it all the time, but that was a good one.”

Kenny spoke to Rolling Stone India from Perth ahead of their three Australia shows before a Christmas break, following which Karnivool heads to India for a third time, slated to play three shows in Chennai, Delhi and Kolkata. In addition to hitting new cities [Karnivool played at IIT Bombay in 2011 and at the Bacardi NH7 Weekender in Pune in 2012], this will be the first time that India fans will get to watch Karnivool perform songs from their third full-length album, Asymmetry, which released in 2013.

While Asymmetry was Karnivool’s toughest, most mind-bending album that took time to sink in with fans, Kenny says it was also a difficult album to create and then take to the stage. Says the vocalist, “We can now play the whole record as a live band. Asymmetry is a pretty demanding record, man. It’s demanding to play, and it’s demanding to listen as a record too.” He does agree that their new songs, much more intricately constructed and layered, not just aiming for grooves and hooks, opened their music up to a different audience, even though it may have perhaps alienated existing fans. Says Kenny, “I think Asymmetry challenged a lot of people. I think we might have lost a handful, but at the same time, we gained another handful. We’ve got these brand new fans who are like, ‘What the fuck is that?’ You want to make records that will affect people and if they’re polarizing people — like splitting them right down in the middle — that’s cool. You’re lucky enough to stumble across something like that and you’re like ‘Fuck, that’s cool’.”

With Asymmetry over a year old now, Kenny does mention that the band is rehearsing as well as working on new material every time they’re in the studio. The band were in Budapest in November, where they were working out new ideas. Kenny says, “They’re starting to look like songs, but still really early.” In addition to working on Karnivool material, Kenny has also been writing with his other project, alt rock band Birds of Tokyo, who are set to release two EPs in 2015. Kenny says that both projects are running in the back of his mind at all times. “You gotta do your best to keep them separate. If it takes up a lot of CPU, your brain can only take so much.”

With three back-to-back shows this month and another show in the works in Mumbai, Karnivool are here in India for a week. While they are playing at IIT Madras’s annual cultural festival Saarang, Karnivool are also being brought down by Delhi-based events company Up Your Arts and the fourth edition of gig series The Festival in Kolkata. Says Kenny, “I think we look forward to getting back to India more and more, each time we get the chance to return.” In March, Karnivool begin their 14-date European tour with UK prog metallers Monuments. Kenny tells us of his hectic schedule, “Sometimes we do about six shows in a row. It’s pretty backed up. I gotta be careful. If my body goes down, my head goes with it. It’s like ‘Oh fuck, I don’t wanna get sick’.” However Kenny adds that Karnivool bassist Jon Stockman is a superhero on tour. Says Kenny about Stockman, “He can just go and go and keep going. It’s like he’s indestructible, man. He’s made of some strange alloy that I’ve never heard of. It’s not even named yet. I don’t know what it is. He’s from a different breed.”

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