Australian rockers Karnivool recently released a new EP called Set Fire To The Hive. Let me be the first to tell you this is one hell of a smoking disc. Taking their influences from bands such as Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots and Meshuggah the band has created a brand of metal that is as original as it is infectious; it even includes a terrific horn section that mixes things up and showcases their diversity as musicians. I recently caught up with guitarist Mark Hosking to discuss the band and the new EP and what is in store for the band in the near future.
Many of your songs are so hard and intense that I am sure they translate well into a live setting taking on a whole new life in front of a live audience. How does it make you feel when the emotion and power that you envisioned in the recording studio, come to life while playing in front of a crowd?
Mark: It’s an amazing alchemy to translate something as you say from the studio to the live arena. We really back our live show and ourselves as musicians so we have a lot of fun with the live stuff. Trying to replicate the necessities but make it as fun and expansive as possible to a live audience. It’s a great feeling when that works for sure, by the nature of its intricacy that doesn’t always happen perfectly! But that’s what makes a live show so amazing, the fact that no one performance is the same as another; we’re trying to incorporate more of that spontaneity and creation in the live show.
Could you tell us where the name Karnivool comes from?
Mark: It’s not an interesting story. It’s just a name, created by one of the first band members of the band who is no longer with us. Funny how things stick!
Can give us any insight into the kind of themes that are present on the EP?
Mark: We don’t generally make the themes of the music transparent, we love people to draw their own emotion and direction from the music. There are some obvious drives that push the music, “Set Fire To The Hive” is our ‘open your f$%#ing eyes’ song, by far the angriest song we have ever written, we’re not a political band but we do want people to be aware of what is around them and make their own informed decisions on things. We’re big truth advocates and we try and reflect this in our music.
When can fans expect a full-length effort?
Mark: February 16th the album is being released. The best album we have created so far. We’re excited about what we’ve put together and where the music is taking us is exciting. It’s layered and textured and full of all the things we love in music, we don’t write with any template or limitations so the songs are expansive and empathic. We’re all such large lovers of music and that is represented in what we have tried to create in Sound Awake. We are really proud of it, and think you will like it. It’s a grower, give it time but we promise it will reward the listener.
Are there any tracks on the EP that are favorites or that have good stories behind them?
Mark: “Deadman” for me is a great live track, the entire middle section we transformed from one live jam without editing it, we feel like we really captured a moment in the jam room and wanted to express that directly so we cut nothing it’s a long song at over ten minutes but we love the expression it makes.
This record takes chances artistically. Especially with the addition of horns in track the track “Roquefort.” How hard is it to take chances with your music in an industry that is declining?
Mark: Depends what you mean by declining. Music is not declining, people are not listening to less music, and that is our industry. Not the charade of record sales and ticket sales that is supposed to represent what we do. Music is as popular as ever, for us it is hard to watch the pop bands come and go but that is just another part of the whole spectrum. We would be writing music for ourselves if no-one bought our albums, and that’s what makes it feel so right I guess.
What benchmarks do you use to determine when you have written a good song or to determine that a song is finished?
Mark: Leonardo Da Vinci said ‘art is never finished, only abandoned’, you can take a lot from that. We debate that amongst ourselves but what he means is important. The parallel argument is the ‘bell curve’; if you work too long on something, you miss its peak. I think you need to know when to walk away from something and say, look it’s not perfect but I can see we’ve achieved what we’re trying to achieve. Also the eye of the beholder means that one guys satisfaction is another mans dilemma… its hard, but that’s what group music is all about… you’ve got to keep it exhilarating and fun, the rest just happens.
What has been the most memorable moment of your career so far?
Mark: It’s really hard to say, we just only two days ago got back from a world run that saw us playing sold out shows in Auckland, LA, NY and the UK which is fantastic and feels so amazing to do, we know we have a lot more to offer and know the future will be great fun… how good is music?
Every band has its musical influences. What are some of the other bands and artists that have greatly influenced you guys and your music?
Mark: We all have such different backgrounds in music. The original influences I guess are bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden, Stone Temple Pilots, Meshuggah but we love so many bands and styles of music. The most important thing in music is diversity of influence, and we love a great deal of styles and players.
How much roadwork do you expect to be doing this year? Are you looking at any particular bands you will be touring with?
Mark: Our plan this year is to get to as many places and play as many shows as we can supporting the new album and representing the band in the best light we can which we feel is our live show. Some things are on the cards already and we will be playing near a city you live in fingers crossed so keep an eye on the website… other bands? Not sure yet but we’re coming! We love meeting people and sharing stories on the road, that’s another part of what this is all about.