Kula Shaker

Kula Shaker

interview by Stefano Bartolotta
Few days before Itanian dates, scheduled On February 25th at Alcatraz, Milano, and on February 26th at Orion, Rome, we had a quicjk Q&A via email with Crispian Mills. We chose to send not many questions, because the band is already busy touring. The replies, however, open a window on some behind the scenes stories and on how the band approaches the making of an album.


Since your reunion, you mostly avoided to do the things you did in the Nineties, and I think it’s the same in this album, despite the title.

I think a 20 years is an anniversary worth marking, and, like a marriage anniversary, by it’s very nature there’s a sense of nostalgia, mixed in with ‘We made it this far!’ For any creative work, nostalgia can still be productive so long as it is balanced with a sense of optimism for the future. The band definitely feels like it’s breaking new ground on this album, despite a 20 year celebration.

 

Also, the 3 albums you did since the reunion are quite different, you took quite a lot of time between one and another but probably it was important to gather always new ideas.

The songs, and the playing of the music has always led the album process. The album is rarely a pre-meditated artistic project, but more a self portrait of where you are in your life. I think every album we’ve made says a lot about us as people and as a band. ‘Peasants, Pigs, and Astronauts’ for instance, is a great record, but it is the sound of a bunch of kids going completely insane.

 

Despite all the differences, everyone can immediately recognise Kula Shaker, and I think this is not only becuse of your voice, but it’s a general sound attitude.

Yeah, we play loose. The looser the better. And usually, with an eye for the theatrics of a story.

 

In this album, there is something that reminds me of The Jeevas and it’s the first time this happens.

Perhaps that’s 33 Crows. I wrote it with Simon Roberts from the band Bucky. We also co-wrote a song on 1234, the Jeevas record, which was called ‘Ghost (Cowboys in the movies)’.

 

Almost all of your songs are credited with two songwriters, how does this multi-people songwriting process work?

We work it out. Myself or Alonza usually starts a song alone, and we help each other finish it, either together, or with the whole band, thrashing ideas out at high volume.

 

I saw you 3 times live and it was always wonderful, you really seem to enjoy performing on stage. Do you actually like it more than working in studios or do you like these two dimensions the same? How much the warm feedback from fans influence you? I still remember when you played in Milan in 2006 at Rainbow Club, the atmosphere was full of love from us to you and back.

First and foremost Kula Shaker is a live band. That’s when you get to see the big picture. The audience are the other half of the gig. For instance, it’s very difficult for us to play a song like Govinda without an audience. It’s all about that exchange. There’s real magic in it.

 

September will mark K’s 20th anniversary, do you think there will be a celebratory reissue/tour?

We’ll keep playing for the rest of the year. We’ll also release new music as we go. I don’t know how long we’re going to do it for. All I know is, right here, right now, we’re on a mission to rock....

Discography
K (Columbia, 1996)9
 Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts (Columbia, 1999)6,5
Kollected - The Best Of (Columbia, 2002)
 
 Strangefolk (Strange F.O.L.K., 2007)6
 Pilgrims Progress (Strange F.O.L.K., 2010) 6,5
 K 2.0 (Strange F.O.L.K., 2016)7
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