KARNIVOOL The promise of Praxis

It’s only a week to go before Karnivool kick off their Praxis Australian tour at the Prince of Wales, Bunbury next Thursday, May 16. The tour culminates in two huge shows in Freo, at Rock Rover on June 8 and 9. They promise to give us a sneak peek of some new tunes as well as their typical high energy, high impact show. 
MELISSA KRUGER caught up with guitarist Mark Hosking to talk about what Karnivool have been up to lately.

Hoss, thank you so much for taking the time to talk to me today…

It’s my pleasure mate.

What have Karnivool been up to lately?

Well there’s been a little bit of studio time, which has been awesome. Very rarely do we all get in the same room these days, but we still try to make it happen as often as possible. We’ve got our own studio here in Perth and a bunch of other studios that we kind of moonlight about back and forwards from so we’ve had a lot of studio time in the last month or so and we’re still smashing through it before this coming tour… I know it’s been a long time but we’re still precariously working on the next album release which hopefully will be sooner rather than later.

That’s brilliant news. I was going to ask you about the next record, because I know you used to refer to it as your ‘Olympic Period’ and we’ve missed that by a little bit now…

Yeah, we’re a little past that one! Now we’re into the… what is it? It’s like the Winter Olympics or something now.

Do you reckon we’ll get to hear some new Karnivool during this tour?

Absolutely, yeah. I mean we have played some of these songs live before, we’ve always been a band who are very happy to road test material. We definitely feel like it’s all come a long way since the last time we played some of this stuff live and there’s some other stuff to play as well. Yeah, we enjoy taking it out there and getting reactions and seeing what people think of it, what they like and dislike. We don’t always take it on board but it’s nice to hear it sometimes anyway.

I guess there’s no better way to see if it’s going to be a banger or not?

Well, that’s it. And more than that, I think you’re watching the crowd and you’re feeling whatever’s going on. You feel bits that work and bits that don’t work, you know? We’ve always said we are a live band and we enjoy playing live and it’s a very different experience to recording and trying to put something down on tape so. You FEEL the energy and the highs and the lows and sometimes when you’re chasing a certain feeling in a song it’s nice to know that that can work and react with human beings.

What kind of changes can we expect in terms of musical style in new Karnivool?

Yeah always hard to say with us! I mean you know, we’re obviously fairly selfish songwriters but in saying that, there are elements that we did enjoy from the past of Karnivool that we’re trying to sort of give new energy and give new life to. It’s certainly not an avant-garde jazz album… you’ll know it’s Karnivool that’s for sure. It’s heavy, it’s vibey, we’ve taken what we feel is the best parts of what we’ve done in the past and just chucked it in a big pot and twisted it. Who knows what’s going to come out the other end! From what we’ve pulled together so far, I like where it’s going, and I don’t think people will be… disliking it.

Tell us a bit about how you guys came up with Praxis as the name for this tour…

That’s a very good question. Well, it wasn’t my idea but I do love the concept and I love the name of it because naming tours is harder than naming songs sometimes because you don’t want to give too much away. You want the name to be something that strikes in the direction in which you’re going but also giving a bit of idiosyncrasy, catching bits but leaving other bits completely alone and unfelt so, you know, it’s a strange title. It’s another strange word.

Apart from road testing a few of your new songs, what are your hopes for this tour?

Just to have absolute and complete and utter fun, to be honest! The studio is where we put our heads down and get to work and getting out and playing live is the fun, flipped coin of that. It’ll be high energy shows, a lot of fun and just a chance for us to get out and play to some people we haven’t seen for a long time really. It’s exciting to get out there and play some more shows.

Any shows you’re most looking forward to playing?

Ahhh they’re all pretty special! They’ve all got their special energy, I mean – Darwin – it’ll be nice to get back up there again… I guess you do enjoy going to places you don’t get to very often. The stranger places are always fun but then coming back to crowds that clearly enjoy the music is also a blast as well mate so yeah, every show is different, and every show is fun.

Given that Karnivool was born in Perth, is there something a bit special about playing here? Did you guys leave your Freo shows till last on purpose?

Yeah, it’s usually at the start of the tour or the end of the tour. I think last time we did Perth at the start of the run, which to be fair, is not always our best show cos we’re still sort of warming into the material and getting it ready. The end of the tour is often more a lot more packaged, so it’s nice to get a chance to play Perth at the end of the run this time. it’s also a sort of homecoming as well. Perth shows are always a bit special just because they are Perth, that’s where we’re all from, where we all live now it’s definitely a… magical experience. Every time.

Do you have a favourite song personally that you like to play live?

Aaah… I think that changes all the time, to be honest mate. The new stuff I really do enjoy playing, there’s particularly one new song that kind of has a name and kind of doesn’t at the moment that is a lot of fun to play live so there’s that and then going back um, we are trying to do something a bit different this tour as well cos we have toured the same kind of set for the last couple of tours so, playing some abstract songs that we haven’t played for a while will be fun as well, but… I think it depends on your mood. It’s very much mood music so depends on what you wanna do and what you wanna hear. I love like the Aeons, long floaty songs that allow you to get a bit of emotion into a performance but, yeah it changes. It changes a lot!

What have been some of your proudest moments as a band?

I think some of the international touring is an obvious one. Playing places like India, South Africa, Russia, all these strange places just having people know you and know the music and getting an emotional response out of them, different cultures and different people from so far away is an amazing experience. Some of the bigger festivals – the same kind of vibe where you don’t know if the crowd is your crowd and when they turn out to at least partially be that it’s a win, so these moments are great. And even just studio moments when you’ve finally got something in the can is an amazing experience to feel that sensation after such a long, especially for us, long time working on something to finally hear a packaged song is quite exciting as well.

Who are the craziest bands you’ve ever toured with?

Craziest bands! Ahh nothing too crazy you know back in the day we were probably the craziest band but as I said, we’ve mellowed a bit. It’s probably gotta be some of those American tours. I remember we did a couple of tours with Skindred in England and the US and they weren’t a crazy band but they did teach us a lot about being on the road and having fun and how to have fun so that was awesome. Back in those days it was usually us that ended up getting in trouble more than other bands but nowadays I guess you sort of toss a coin and then you become the… not so much the teachers, but… the guiding hand.

You’ve stepped into the mentor role now?

Yeah, a little bit! A little bit. You get to that point where you see bands going so hard and you’re just thinking oh man you can’t keep this up, there’s no way, there’s just no way! We’ve tried!

Personally, who would you say are your most influential musicians?

The band is super eclectic and we all have very different inspirations and whatnot, for me personally… I kinda grew up with blues, soul, Donny Hathaway, all those kinds of people but in saying that I was that guy in high school with that weird mixtape that jumps from a Sam Cooke song to a Meshuggah song to, I don’t know, Peter Gabriel – people would just look at me confused but I love that. I still love that about festivals, to me the best festivals are the ones with totally different bands in the lineup. To me that’s an amazing feeling to go straight from someone super heavy to someone super mild and you know, soundscapey. That’s when music offers its best for me is when it’s so different but yeah, they’re probably my biggest influences.

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