Karnivool guitarist Drew Goddard sips on an early afternoon beer at Perth’s Rosemount Hotel looking relaxed and perhaps even mildly excited.
He’s a pretty cool customer, but the fact remains, it’s the eve of the release of a new Karnivool album and these events don’t occur like everyday sunsets. Asymmetry arrives four years since the band’s last album, Sound Awake, which came four years after their 2005 debut, Themata. Welcome to the Olympic Games that is Karnivool.
“Yeah, we’re consistent,” Goddard laughs. “We do it in Karnivool time. We were looking at doing it in two years, we thought we’d do this one quicker, but it didn’t happen. It seems to be the case every time.”
It would appear to say something, though, of the band’s following – happy to be loyal and willing to wait that long between offerings.
“It’s comforting and gratifying for sure,” Goddard reflects. “We’ve got such a loyal fanbase, we know that a couple of people might drop off waiting for it and we know that there were a few people getting frustrated waiting for it this time around, especially in like the last six months, it’s like, ‘come on guys. What’s happening?’ But it’s also motivating, in a way, to get it done. But not as motivating as management kicking us in the arse. With a cattle prod. ‘Hurry up!’”
“It really is quite heartening,” vocalist Ian Kenny echoes via an email from Los Angeles, where he’s working with Birds Of Tokyo. “Karnivool are lucky enough to have some of the most loyal and sometimes fanatic fans out there. Karnivool fans are quite amazing.”
Karnivool have always made epic music, so it only makes sense that as the years pass and the band gets bigger, the musical dynamics grow ever deeper and wider. “It’s always a lengthy process. This time getting everyone in the same place was a big factor as well, because the long-distance thing was quite challenging when trying to build the juggernaut. It’s built and it’s ready to sail now, so we’ll see.”
The shipbuilding started shortly after the 2009 release of Sound Awake. A year had passed between Themata finishing and commencement of Sound Awake, so the band made a point of sewing some early seeds.
“The first seed was in Paris,” Goddard recalls. “I remember we came up with a drum beat idea which turned into the first song (‘Nachash’). That was early 2010.” It’s a revealing statement. The first album was the suburbs of Perth, now they have Paris.
“Mate, most of the seeds were formed in the luxurious surroundings of Perth’s Bayswater industrial area (laughs). There’s a good balance.”
Goddard says he misses the days when they could simply drive to each other’s houses to try out a song idea. A largesse, however, comes to the music from a global existence. “The geographical impairment is definitely a factor,” he says. “It can be frustrating, at times, to try and get everyone on the same page when everyone’s off doing different things, which can feed into the record. But like you mentioned, I dunno, I guess it’s more worldly. We’ve travelled a lot more since we were just driving over to each other’s houses and saying, ‘I’ve got a riff’. We don’t have the luxury of doing that anymore, calling up Ian and saying, ‘come around, I’ve got an idea’, there’s a lot of time we’ve got to use and it requires some work ethic. But the other thing is that Ian is a big motivating factor, he’s got such a great work ethic.”
As the member most often geographically distant, the Melbourne-based Kenny maintains that distance is there to be conquered. “I don’t think it’s changed us,” he notes. “It can sometimes be a challenge not having everyone on ground when writing, but we always find a way around it. There are many ways to communicate or get ideas across without actually being on ground.”
BY BOB GORDON