Sound is the factor which holds it together, words spoken by the almighty Karnivool. This is a band that you can sit back to for some easy listening, or you can jump around to them in your living room or more than likely, you can just be in awe of the intricate sections that make up each track. Whether it is on the CD or in the live environment, Karnivool will most likely blow you away every time. With Karnivool coming close to being in existence for 20 years, I had a chat to guitarist Mark “Hoss” Hosking, about the ‘Pre-Animation Tour’ and album number #4.
So Hoss, are you doing anything exciting today?
I guess it’s what you’d call exciting [Laughs]. We’re just at the studio today, we fly to the east coast tomorrow so we’re just having a cheeky 3-hour rehearsal. Then we’re packing up our gear and freighting it over to the east coast to start the tour. I wouldn’t say exciting, but getting shit done is what I would say.
Karnivool has been a band for almost 20 years. In fact, next year is 20 years, isn’t it?
Definitely feels like it. I think the band has been around for close to the long, but I joined halfway through writing Themata. That was like 14 years ago, so it’s a sentence, it’s not murder but it’s manslaughter type sentence.
Is it a growing process, or is it easy going?
It’s definitely a challenge. We’re all very musically differentiated people but when we come together it’s an amazing process. It’s just throwing everything in a pot and stirring until something good comes out.
How was South Africa for the band?
We did a Little club show in Cape Town and a medium sized club show in Johannesburg, and it was amazing. That was one of those places we’ve wanted to go, you know? You have the short list of places you want to play in your life and South Africa has been on that list for a long time.
Your Australian tour kicks off in just a couple of days, at this point do you get nervous ot get the pre-tour jitters that you must have once gotten?
It’s a different type of nervousness, you want it to be a good show so the blood is pumping but it’s not so much nerves anymore. We’ve done enough shows now to be pretty confident in what we do, but there is defiantly a little pump of the blood. You want it to be a great show and we back out live show I guess, so it’s been nice to pull this thing together again, and go back out on the road.
Have you gotten any new music that you’re bringing out on this tour?
We do man, we’re going to play some new stuff definitely. We’re trying to get prepared now, so we can hit the studio for the rest of the year and record this thing.
So, is it all written?
No, not all of it, but the majority is. We still have a fair way to go but we’re going to start recording bits and pieces. I don’t think we’ve ever gone into a studio with a completely written album. By the nature of how we write and record, we tend to convolute things. We’ve hit that critical mass where we can see how this can come together and how this can happen. So it’s starting to get a bit exciting.
How does the writing process work for your band? Is it an all involved scenario, or more of one person being the main driving force?
There’s not really system there. Drew I would say is probably that main contributing songwriter in the band, he probably comes up with most pieces. But in saying that every song is different and put together in a different way. Some come together in jam room as a band, some come together by individuals bringing ideas in or little duets working on things. We write the majority of the music and then we get vocals on top of it and that changes the form of the song, and then we go back and rebuild it. Then we keep adding layers and pulling it apart and put it back together. I don’t think any song we’ve written has been written to same way twice.
From your back catalogue, what it your favourite song on CD, and if it’s different, what’s your favourite live?
That varies all the time. Recently I’ve been really digging Aeons both as a song and to play live. I’m really appreciative how that song come together, as we tried so many different forms and then the final version was a fall back on an older version. Then you let it sit for a while and then you play it and you go, ‘This is fine, this is great, how did we miss this?’ And then we play it live and got used to the roll of it and it just started to really grow on me. Sometimes as a guitarist you don’t get to put all your emotions into a song when you’re playing live because you have to wriggle around it and play all the intricate pieces live. But with that song you’re pushing through the emotions with all the rolls and stuff.
What’s one piece of gear that you couldn’t live without? Excluding your actual instrument, of course.
I want to say my memory man, but I haven’t actually used it for the last couple of tours. It’s a digital world these days and everyone is trying to save a dollar here and there. I don’t want to say it, but the Axe-Fx has been a great friend to me over the last year and a half for recreating the analogue sounds.
I don’t know if you’ve heard of English band, Toska, but they are heavily influenced by your band. How does it feel, and what kind of reaction do you give when you discover you’ve influenced a band heavily to either start or change their writing style to sound like your particular sound?
How does it feel? It feels scary. I appreciate it but I mean maybe they should go back a few years and listen to some older bands that we’ve been influenced by that really knew how to make heavy music, heavy. The makeup of this band has a wide, versatile influence base that allows us to do what we do and bring it together. I find if you’re wearing your influence too much on your sleeve, then it’s time to stop and listen to some other music, it’s diversity that’s the number one key. But it’s definitely humbling.
Lastly, do you have anything you hope the band gets to do or receives in the future? Maybe to headline a particular festival or to receive an award or something like that?
We’ve always wanted a Nobel Peace Prize, but I don’t know if that is actually going to happen. One of us might have to finally get that chemistry degree we’ve always talked about. Drew’s here, and he seconds that [Laughs].
Karnivool are touring nationally right now! Dates below. Tickets here.