Backstage with Kula Shaker

Aaron Coe got to grips with the reformed Kula Shaker baxckstage at the Junction. He spoke to frontman Crispian Mills and bassist Alonzo Bevan, with Paul Winterhart and Harry Broardbent lurking too.

Aaron: Why Reform after so many years apart? Did you picture yourselves reforming, with all the members busy with their own personal projects?

Alonzo: Well we all still stayed in contact and we still played together in some form or another, so it was something that came quite naturally really.

Crispian: Yeah we played a few shows as a three piece not really being Kula Shaker before it got announced.
Aaron: You have almost come to the end of this tour, how has it been so far?

Crispian: Good, yeah it’s been overall pretty good.

Alonzo: Yeah, they’ve all been good so far. 

Aaron: What’s it like playing all the old Kula Shaker back catalogue, do you feel the songs have aged at all? Or do they all still sound fresh to you?

Crispian: No they still sound really fresh to me, well I still feel fresh so not a lot has changed for me really playing them live again.

Alonzo: Yeah I agree, was a bit of a struggle at the start when we had to relearn everything, having to listen to all the songs and try to match up what we were doing, apart from that I think they still all sound fresh and interesting.

Aaron: The name Kula Shaker comes from the 9th century Indian emperor, and it’s easy to realise that India in many ways has a lot of influence over both the band and its music? What was it that attracted you to India before you travelled there, why not China or Japan or wherever?

Crispian: Ah, very good. Well I think its more of my own spiritual personal philosophy, I’d always been massively interested in India. Like there’s a lot of evidence that India is the starting point.

Aaron: Really?

Crispian: Yeah there’s a lot of evidence and facts pointing to India being the start of everything, the start of the civilisation, the first people, everything started in India and moved outwards. Also I like the ideas of karma, and the idea that you never know who you are going to meet down the same path. I guess it’s my own personal thing really.

Aaron: Although Kula Shaker has a very distinctive sound, I’ve heard a lot of people compare your sound to a 60’s sort of vibe. How do you feel about that sort of a comparison?

Crispian: Pretty accurate

Alonzo: Well we like a lot of bands from that era so yeah.

Crispain: You can’t not be influenced by other decades, you can’t pretend it never happened, but that’s certainly the home of that Hammonds guitar john bass full throttle sound. It comes from mid to late ‘60s, bands like Vanilla Fudge, The Doors, that’s where it came from.

Alonzo: Every band is influenced, the current music now sounds like the early 80’s, and even when house and dance music was really big all they were doing was ripping off German bands from the 70’s with that disco sound.

Crispian: Bands like….

Alonzo: Ze Kraftwork and Kann. You know Kann?

Aaron: No…

Alonzo: Its like a load of disaffected German hippies, they wanted to dream but avoided the blues scale at all costs…

Harry: Making sure that the music didn’t feel good in any way. It’s like looking for a concrete wall.

Crispian: But all those breakbeats you hear in dance you hear loads of that in Kann, they took the James Brown funk and just ironed it out into a ****ing autobahn of groove.

Harry: A rainy autobahn.

Alonzo: Yeah it was those little things, looping before there was sampling.

Aaron: If you could play with any musicians, dead, alive, whatever who would it be?

Crispian: The thing is about music there’s lots of musicians I like to listen to but to play with, what you gonna do?

Harry: They wouldn’t get out the way would they? They’d be hogging the limelight.

Crispian: So much about music is chemistry, you give each other space…ummm, there’s loads of people I’d like to watch. I mean of course I’d have liked to have seen Hendrix.

Alonzo: Elvis as a young boy, Aretha Franklin in the mid ‘60s.

Crispian: I wanted to go see Al Green, Al Green, Al Green’s gospel church, we tried to go. Half the band made it in a cab and the other half got stuck in traffic and the people who made it were euphoric.

Aaron: What kind of reception are you getting from the new record?

Crispian: Sometimes better than the old stuff. It’s going well.

Aaron: There hasn’t been a lot of promotion really has there?

Crispian: Well, there hasn’t been much TV, we’re independent so we haven’t got a lot of money to throw at it, we’re kinda taking it small steps at a time and building it a bit more like a new band would. Even though obviously we’re not new, we’re approaching it like a new band

Aaron: Which songs are you most enjoying playing at the moment?

Crispian: Changed every night.

Alonzo: The ones where all the equipment works.

Harry: Yes those are the good ones.

Crispian: We’ve had some technical problems on this tour.

Harry: Song of love has been a lot of fun recently, recently like the last couple of gigs.

Alonzo: Yeah that really comes alive.

Crispian: It’s become a showstopper in fact, we had to walk off, we said we can’t follow that.

Paul: We’ve got this song on the new album called Dr Kitt that was recorded in Alonzo’s bedroom, and we pieced it together as it was a studio track, and so we’ve been giving that a bit of life, manage to breathe some sort of band demonic into that.

Alonzo: It’s good at the end when songs have another life of their own.

Aaron: A lot of bands get a lot of success in Japan, you seem to do pretty well over there too, how do the crowds differ from the British crowd?

Alonzo: They’re more polite, when we were at the Fuji festival there was a Japanese metal band on and it looks like everyone is crazy, beating everyone up in the mosh pit, and then you look really close and they’re all respecting each others space and jumping straight up and down.

Crispian: They’re the best fans in the world though…they’re all really hardcore and read all the interviews and research you, make sure they know what you’re into, like Star Wars figures, golf, hardcore porn, whatever, so they can make sure they get you good presents. They are the ultimate fans.

Aaron: Have you ever played any shows in India?

Crispian: No… none, well I’ve played on my own but we haven’t taken the whole show over there. Nothing has stopped us really, the only people that go to India, ‘cause there’s not really a rock ‘n’ roll circuit. People like Tina Turner, Deep Purple, they’ll play a massive gig in Delhi. It’s not like gigs like this, they don’t exist there.

Aaron: Is it somewhere you’d like to play?

Crispian: Yeah, maybe one day, have a holiday while we’re there.

Aaron: While watching Top Gear the other night they were trying to find the best road, where is the 303?

Crispian: Haven’t you heard of Google Earth?

Alonzo: Its runs from London to Glastonbury, it’s not the greatest driving road, it goes past Stone Henge. ‘The 303’ is more just about the road, its a portal.

Paul: I come from Glastonbury, and there are a lot of people who got drawn there by the forces.

Crispian: There’s a lot of self-exploration and multi dimensional people. You can explore everything from your childhood to your naval, your relationship with god and life hereafter.

Paul: The only way to drive around London is on a bike

Alonzo: Which road won it on top gear?

Aaron: I think it was either Switzerland or Italy… in the alps somewhere

Harry: That’s cause Clarkson can open her out , open his Lexus out.

Crispian: You’d better go find your road then….



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