After headlining the charts and making ARIA record history progressive rock cartel KARNIVOOL have much to celebrate with the release of their third studio album ASYMMETRY. A 14 track, 67 minute odyssey brimming majestic mystery and a paradox of both light and dark, the following of 2009’s SOUND AWAKE has set the bar with its melancholic yet buoyant gestures. Recorded in Byron's Studio 301 with producer Nick DiDia (Pearl Jam, Powderfinger, RATM, The Living End) the three-ish year wait since their last compilation has been well worth it. PEARL DAVIES caught up with bassist JON STOCKMAN to talk poly-rhythms, deflecting the influences of other current projects and the impact of having no words to say but allowing the music to speak for itself.
After the successful outbreak of their second studio album in 2009 Perth's Karnivool spent more than two years touring the critically acclaimed SOUND AWAKE. With the onslaught of touring pressures the boys found it a little difficult to get back into the writing process for their next album, as Stockman explains: 'Well the first two years after Sound Awake we just spent touring. We found it pretty hard to get back into writing so we tried to do a fair bit of that on the road, you know in band rooms and stuff. We had a few audio nights with our acoustics so we thought we'd attack some of those and bring them into the studio. We ended up getting a permanent space so we were able to go back and get our heads in there and work on the record, so yeah the last two years I guess have been all about the writing, in the studio, five days a week. On asking if any of the boys still maintained a day job, 'We do odd jobs and stuff to top up our funding but this allows us to spend most of our time doing our own music. We're very fortunate to do what we do, said Stockman.
With members spending artistic energy on other works (vocalist Ian Kenny's Birds of Tokyo) it was asked if this was a contributing factor to the bands difficulties during the writing process of Asymmetry. Being able to come up with organic material that fits in with Karnivool's branding, yet without mixing in the influences of other current creative projects to make Karnivools work purely ‘Karnivool’. 'No not really’, explains Stockman. ‘Anything we come up with is Karnivool. We just have to I guess, tweek what we're doing a bit more. In terms of the music itself I guess we have to give it a combined look over more so then it being just an individual pursuit. It's kind of what we do when we come together. We can’t iron out our individual input into something that's such a collective’. Taking us through the steps of their creative processes of their writing Stockman continues: 'I guess what we do is come up with a fair bit of it during a jamming environment, just messing around, weather we're doing effects or something different we tend to get graphically inspired or inspired by a fresh and weird sound. It could be a sync or bass or even a guitar, this then stimulates the rest of the instruments around it. This combines and makes our future music.’
Poly-rhythms - A poly-rhythm is the simultaneous use of two or more conflicting rhythms, which are not readily perceived as deriving from one another, or as simple manifestations of the same meter. This is heard throughout Vool's latest works. Stockman describes how they go about mixing two or more conflicting rhythms. 'Um, well I think it's something that we've come to just do naturally. We try not to think about it too much because if you do that, it just ends up sounding so bad and way too mathematical. It doesn't have any groove to it but when it just happens it seems to already have that sense of groove. It's in the moment, in a jam environment. It's a response to what someone else is doing, you know what I mean? Delays help a lot with that too, delay effects and stuff like that.'
With one of the Melbourne shows already sold out, The Vool's Australian tour list is short and sweet. On asking if they had somewhere else to be Stockman replies: 'I think it's because the venues we've chosen are just big venues, it's just mainland capital cities. It's just a short blast of intensity, smashing it out really. It's the album tour so it's in support of that. It's the first tour but we'll be doing more later on as well so they might be a bit more extensive. It works with what we're trying to do. It also works in well with time too, schedules with other bands and such. It's good too because it's got a certain amount of impact.’ With limited shows and news that this will be Karnivools only 2013 Tour the question beckons, when will they be back? 'Yeah well this will be our only Australian Tour for this year, we'll be doing some European tours. I guess we'll then take a look at next year with tours, nationally and internationally.
Surprising to the band was to see that they have an overwhelming Indian fan base. 'Yeah it was a surprise to us when we first went there, we have quite a significant following there. There's just a huge following for progressive heavy music. It was really quite humbling I thought when we first went there, to have such a large number of people know us and know our music. I've never felt so fortunate to be doing that so yeah, it's really cool.'
In an earlier tour Karnivool were impressed by one of their supporting artists 'Sleepmakeswaves', more so were they impressed because they had no vocalist. Out of all 14 tracks on Asymmetry four of these have no lyrics. ‘It assists with the overall dynamics of the album, the ups and downs. Flowing between different songs it provides a link so it's more of a natural progression. They are joiner pieces that help the narrative of the entire record.
Over the years Karnivool seems to reinvent themselves collectively throughout the last three albums. From the first album 'THEMETA', to SOUND AWAKE, and now their current album ASYMMETRY, Stockman walks thorough the different themes the three albums explore over time. ‘I think the first record was a lot of Drews (DREW GODDARD, Guitarist) writing. We were a lot younger when we worked on that so it was very textured and a lot of stuff was going on. When we came together for Sound Awake we were working together as a band and we had a lot more time to explore that process. I think we learnt more about musical space (with Sound Awake). With Asymmetry, if anything it was written in a shorter time period and we were looking at having more of a narrative base from start to finish. I think it's more tied in then any of the other records. With Themata we were more focused on the feeling. With Sound Awake I guess we were more fixated on the idea of sound patterns for more activity, and this last record Asymmetry is more focused on life itself to a degree, without sounding too corny. Some of the ways in which we perceive our lives and how it all ties together.’
Karnivools third Studio album ASYMMETRY is in stores now through Cymatic Records/Sony