Interview with Kula Shaker
20 years ago, in 1996, Kula Shaker released the album “K”, which became the cult album of Britpop and was sold in 2 million copies. The fifth album “K2.0”, according to the leader of the group, Crispian Mills, has incorporated the best of all the experiments with the styles that the group performed: from the psychedelic sound of “K” to the folk elements in the previous album of the group “Piligrims Progress”.
During a 20-minute interview with Crispian, catching a cold, Matthew Sherne was able to discuss the new album, his preference for analog equipment and the reasons why well-known bands should take more risks.
Why did you decide to name the new album “K2.0”?
This year, our first album “K”, which determined our entire creative career, turns 20 years old, and it seems to me that the 20th anniversary is a good reason to turn back and see which way you went, where you started and where you came from. In general, at first we joked that we would call the album “K2”, and the mountain will be depicted on the cover. And now we are really publishing an album with a cover that says “K2”. In this case, “K2.0” looks like “K20”, which recalls software updates and indicates some kind of obsolescence.
I have not yet listened to the entire album, but the first songs I heard seem somewhat minimalistic compared to the previous album. How would you describe the sound of the record?
We are very proud of “Pilgrims Progress”, writing it was very cool. Finally, we felt we were in control of the recording process. Recording rock groups is not an easy task, it’s difficult to do everything as it should, it’s hard to catch and transmit energy and atmosphere, all this requires experience. Before that, we had some progress, but on the whole, we always felt that we were still learning, that we were still somewhere in the middle. During the Pilgrims Progress, the music itself guided us. The album came out much more folk, the compositions were more focused. I think on “K2.0” we recorded the most important and best elements of everything we did. So there is something from Pilgrims Progress, from K, and from our other albums like Peasants, Pigs and Astronauts.
On your Facebook page you posted photos of analog mixers. Does this mean that you prefer analog equipment to digital?
Personally, I – yes, and many people involved in studio recording agree that rock and roll sounds better when using an analogue. I don’t know exactly why, this is one of the secrets of nature, but if you have any good preamp and various such devices, your group will sound better. Many say that they do not see the difference, but after mixing the song and connecting all the sound layers, the result is really better.
Yes, in an autobiography, John Fogerty (leader of the Creedence Clearwater Revival group – ed.) Says that analog film is better because it saturates better than digital.
Exactly, the matter is in saturation, a special sound appears, what is needed for rock and roll. You can make such a sound in digital form, but after recording, it’s kind of like applying an effect to a song. So it turns out some kind of external fraud. Some use Pro Tools and Logic, and make awesome music, such as Mark Ronson. He cuts a bit on a computer, but he still has a lot of lamp equipment, so he has both instruments and vocals sound warm, as if the film was saturated.
A musician once told me that he had never heard a better sound than vinyl through a tube amplifier.
Taunton has an excellent John Dent mastering studio. He has a gift for sound. To demonstrate the terrifying difference, he can turn on any of his albums, for example, Bob Marley, on a vinyl record through lamp equipment, and you will hear and feel a great sound. And then he will turn on the same on digital media, and you just want to shoot yourself, the music will sound so different. We lost a lot, and it is clear why Neil Young was unhappy with the advent of the disks. We have lost a lot in the qualitative measurement of sound.
Is John Dent the owner of Loud Mastering?
Yes, that’s him.
He mixed the last album of PJ Harvey and King Crimson.
Yes, he is a legend, especially in the western part of England, so that all musicians west of Swindon know him.
In 2010, you were one of the directors of the film “Incredible Fear of Everything”, are you going to continue to work with films?
Yes, I was always somehow involved in the movie. “Incredible Fear of Everything” was the first film I made, but I wrote scripts for many years before that. This is a kind of movie in development, locked in a dungeon. It takes a very, very long time for the film, I’m sure that someday I’ll shoot something else and release the film from the dungeon.
It seems to me that the drawback of the entire film process is the complexity of the politics of this business.
Yes you are right. Scenario development is a very long matter. The draft that you wrote is the first step on the long road to what you will eventually shoot. Finding financing is a real nightmare.