Karnivool interview (Ian Kenny)

"We constantly challenge ourselves when writing music. For us, that’s what keeps things fresh and exciting"

12/07/2013 @ 12:28
Karnivool are one of these bands that give you a hard time to describe to someone what they’re about, so you usually just end up stating that they’re awesome. Which is true. As their third album "Asymmetry" is about to be released, we had the chance to ask their singer Ian Kenny a few questions and although his answers were a bit concise, it’s obvious that the band’s spirit is to reinvent itself with every release. And that’s something every open minded listener has to respect.

KarnivoolHello Ian from Greece and Rocking.gr. If I am not mistaken this must be the first time you’ll be talking with a Greek magazine, right?
This is the first time my friend. I am a Greek rock site virgin!

I have to say that I am really glad to be able to talk with you, as I consider Karnivool one of the most unique and exceptional bands of our time.
Thank you. The pleasure is all ours mate.

Karnivool - AsymmetryYou have your new album coming out soon and you seem to take the exact opposite road from the one someone would expect you to take. You’ve created some even more challenging and difficult music, although in most cases when bands establish an audience they gravitate towards more safe choices. Would you agree with that?
We constantly challenge ourselves when writing music. For us, that’s what keeps things fresh and exciting. If you start to play things safe you may lose some of that struggle that can be felt and heard in music and to us that’s pretty important.

Progressive rock/metal has always been my favorite genre and although I have heard my fair share of progressive music, your new album is still giving me a hard time to fully understand it. But, then, I really enjoy listening to it, as it has the anticipated Karnivool quality in it. Could this be a risky album for you?
I think every record Karnivool makes is a risky move. Every record is different and there is about 3 or 4 years between releases so it’s almost like a new band each record we release.

KarnivoolYou, also, use a lot of strange song titles, adding 'obscurity' to the whole approach. How come you choose such song titles? Is there a common theme or idea behind the lyrics of the album?
We try to find a title that compliments the song best. Sometimes, it’s a lyric related idea and sometimes it’s a summation of the narrative of the song. And... sometimes we find words that are too good to not use at titles.

Then, one thing I can’t help noticing is that there is no stand out track in the vein of "Themata" and "All I Know". You know, the kind of song that someone can stick to even though he may not get the whole idea of the band or the album. Is that because you didn’t want such a track or it just didn’t occur?
This record is all about finding balance. We weren’t so focused on the micro but more the macro. We want a record where the strength lies in its entirety, not just key tracks.

KarnivoolThe video you released for "We Are" is quite impressive. Only a few bands today dare to invest their money on big productions. Tell us a few things about it and why you chose this particular song as the first single/video of the album.
"We Are" is a song that everyone in the band has a connection with, so it felt right that "We Are" would be the first video clip for "Asymmetry". The director is Chris Frey who has directed all our video clips and the band is very happy with his work on "We Are".

Another significant difference this time around is that you didn’t have Forrester Savell on board. I am a big fan of his work and everyone talks about the phenomenal sound of "Sound Awake". How come you didn’t collaborate this time?
It was a decision by the band to work with someone different on "Asymmetry", because we were chasing different sounds and approaches this time around. We wanted to change things up and see what other results the band can achieve.

KarnivoolNick DiDia handled the production this time and he has collaborated with some huge artists. How did you approach him and what did he add to the final product? Also, what did he think about your style sound wise?
I think Nick was the guy for "Asymmetry". He gave some really great outside perspective through the process of the record and basically encouraged us to capture the performance, capture the struggle and fight so the songs have life. As a band Karnivool can over think it’s self into knots. Nick did his best to defuse this.

I was watching a bootleg video from a show of Karnivool in Brisbane and the crowd was simply amazing. Especially the end of "All I Know" was phenomenal! Are you that big in Australia? You, surely, deserve to be bigger in Europe in my opinion...
We are lucky in Australia. We have an amazing fan base here. Europe is something we are working on. So far the shows there have been amazing too.

KarnivoolHow challenging is it for you to provide your crystal sound on a live performance?
We’ve been working on our sound and Karnivool's live show for years now, so we have it pretty locked down. We had the same FOH mixer (sound guy) Luke Willot for years too, so we are in good hands in the live area.

Recently, I wrote an article for the prog/alternative scene of Australia. You can take a look at my choices here and you might recognize the one at the top. Would you add any album or band that I may have forgotten on the list?
Sure - I’d add sleepmakeswaves, Forstora and Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving.

Ian Kenny (Karnivool)Mike Portnoy has spoken highly about your music. As part of the prog scene have you ever been fans of Dream Theater or their music never appealed to you? Which progressive bands would you point out as your favorite?
I’ve never really listened to a lot of prog rock. The first alternate/prog band I got into was Soundgarden. I’ve never really listened to much Dream Theater, but they do create some pretty crazy shit.

You played on several European summer festivals. Which one was the most impressive and why?
Download Festival at Donnington, UK was fucking unreal. 110,000 people over three days is mental. We ended up drinking a beer that some guy back stage brewed for Mastodon, it was called the Black ...something? I can’t remember... it was fucking potent.

Ian Kenny (Karnivool)You’re coming back in Europe later this year and you’re touring with TesseracT. In a recent interview with them -before the tour was announced- they told me that they are fans of Karnivool. Are you familiar with them and the 'Djent' scene?
Yeah, we are familiar with the djent scene, though I think it’s a silly name. TesseracT are bad ass. Bands like TesseracT, Periphery and Animals As Leaders are really pushing the TECH side of heavy sound. It will be interesting to see if it sustains or eats it’s self.

That’s it Ian. Thank you for your time. It’d be great to see you soon in Greece my friend.
Bloody pleasure!