"We’re close and love what we’ve got." Karnivool talk album #4 ahead of SOTA Festival

"We’re close and love what we’ve got." Karnivool talk album #4 ahead of SOTA Festival

The state of Karnivool to come.

In todays digital music world, there's often a pressure on artists to release music at a constant pace - stay active, keep people interested, give them new shit. Sadly that modus operandi often comes at the behest of quality. Not so for WA prog-metal stalwarts Karnivool. "Casually" releasing a new album roughly every four years over the better part of two decades, it's definitely a case of quality over quantity for the five piece.

Fortunately for fans and the music world as a whole, that four year cycle is marching rapidly towards their next LP, a follow-up to 2013's Asymmetry - an album that scored the group an ARIA for Best Hard Rock/Heavy Metal Album. Since that album's release they've toured the world extensively, culminating in last year's Australian tour and followed by a Deftones Aus' tour support.

WA will once again be breaking bread with the group this Monday 5 June for the epic State Of The Art Festival, and we caught up with guitarist Mark Hosking to find out just how that album is coming along, what drives the band 20 years into their career, and how having a number of other projects outside of Karnivool for the different band members definitely works in their favour.

Matt Hosking on their recent Bunbury trial run:

it was out first show in 160 days or something. A chance to brush off the cobwebs and remember exactly how to play some of these songs we haven’t played in a long time. It was actually really good. We’re not the greatest band at rehearsing for shows - we tend to get sidetracked... We played a couple of new songs we’ve been working on. So it’s a good chance when you’ve spent a lot of time in the studio working on something, it’s amazing what taking it out and playing it in front of an audience can do.

On how album number four is coming along:

We write fairly complex songs and they do take a long time to make happen. We’ve found that four years is generally a great average for us, for better or worse. It just needs to be that way. We’re on four years this year and we’re just gonna do our very best to pull it all together. It seems to work on its own time frame. Some of that is to do with the style of music and what we’re trying to do with it. It’s just the way we do things. Some of the band are in other projects and when we’re together it’s always this convoluted experience that’s amazing and painful at the same time.

We love the material and what we do have, we do need a bit more to be completely satisfied with putting it out on a LP, so that’s the project for however long it takes. We’re close and definitely love what we’ve got. We’re so excited. That’s the other hard thing – we get so excited but we know we can’t release it until we have the full package. We have many finished songs but we can’t present them to the world until we know where they fit in with the rest of the new stuff. We’re in the studio every day and it’s all coming together and we’re getting some real good visuals on what it will be.

On whether albums get easier or harder the older you get:

You have this dream that you learn with experience, and you go, 'Okay I don’t need to do that hard bit again because I’ve already done it, so I can bypass it'. But the reality is that sometimes bypassing it is really taking out an important piece of the puzzle for us. Often times we’ve taken out that hard bit and completed a song and then been like, ‘fuck what’s missing?’ And it feels like the song’s half there. All the bits sound great, but there’s something missing... It’s painful when it happens but you’ve gotta respect the process a bit. I don’t think any of us are pretending it’s a glorious enterprise, and it’s tough work. 

On what drives the band in 2017:

I think the driving force is what it’s always been, which is really just music. It’s this thing you do when you want to push the boundaries on something. And for us those boundaries always come back to music. In saying that, we’re not trying to re-invent the wheel either, we’re just taking what we know and can do and what we love from those aspects and putting into something that comes out as something new to us. We’re a band that has always said we’re never gonna make the same album twice. And that might piss off the amazing people that have stuck with us for so long. It’s kinda just what we have to do. It’s definitely a lifelong project this one. We’ve never set an end date or ever said we have to release an album every four years, it just takes however long it takes, whatever it is.

For us and I guess every band, we consider why are we doing this or what’s next. And the comforting thing about this band is that it’s always just constant for us. Which is nice. When we first started doing it one of the first things we said was that everyone’s gotta go out and do their things musically. We’re not gonna say you can’t go and do this project or that project, this is just something that we’re all very lucky to have and come back to. And that has done nothing but great things for this band – there’s no walls or boundaries, which is a necessity for music like this.

On keeping it fresh with their various other projects:

We’ve all got various projects going on, some successful some not so, some small, some large, and that’s all part of it. You go and do it. Sometimes your projects are doing it just as difficult as Karnivool, and there’s flip sides to that and fun to be had. All of it’s eye opening. It’s all what we have to do. We’re all very different people in this band, individuals coming together. And I would hate to think what the band would be creating if people weren’t able to do those other kinds of outlets. I think it’d be quite spiteful and one directional [laughs].

On their upcoming set at SOTA Festival:

These WA Day things are always amazing. Such a great music scene in WA. We do definitely feel we’ve benefitted from the isolation factor. We’re our own little Seattle over here. It’s an amazing day and some amazing talent. And to be able to play last on something like that is an amazing thing. And I’m just looking forward to catching up with a heap of people I haven’t seen in ages. Perth should be very proud of all the talent they have.

On when the album might come out:

We have a very solid studio sketch in terms of getting it all done and nailing it down. That’ll all depend on how it goes but whether it’s at the end of this year or the start of next year it’s definitely coming. We won’t make any promises. We love what we’ve got and we’re very excited about putting it out in the universe.

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