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Karnivool: “That’s the role of art…to make things f**king better”

As fans of Karnivool will know, this isn’t a band of mere mortals- How can it be? Surely beings from our realm couldn’t write music like that. Be that as it may, we can safely assume that while on our world, in Mooro, they abide by our natural laws, our physics – they experience the passage of time in a linear fashion. So, despite any potential supernatural-ness, their current situation is no doubt a baffling and interesting one for them…

Karnviool closed off 2021 with the Blu-ray release of Decade Of Sound Awake, a live performance paying tribute to their utterly genre-defining album. All the while, they were looking forward, writing new material, releasing the brand new single ‘All It Takes’. Those things on top of the 18 months (and counting) of stomach-turning uncertainty and helplessness. All this momentium leads them to their headlining slot at the upcoming Monolith Festival 2022.

BLUNT caught up with Ian Kenny, who was good enough to explain how The ‘Vool got their heads around it.

So, was it a head fuck revisiting Sound Awake in full for the performance, having to dig back to the past 10 years?

Yeah. It’s like stepping back into something so familiar, but there’s a lot of distance between then and now. Like trying the shoes on again, and just trying to figure out how to do the laces on this whole thing. But once you get off and running… that’s It. was just the enjoyment of playing that thing live and sinking into that record as a whole. Once you get there, all that shit falls away man. That record as a performance piece is… like I forgot exactly what it takes and what’s in there purely from a playing point of view.

We were just enjoying it. It’s a pretty demanding performance just to get from start to end, but… it’s fun.

I got to a couple of interviews you did around the time of the release 10 years ago, including the one you did with BLUNT. You had a plan, a real intent with this album. I was wondering with being able to revisit it, did you actually get to enjoy it as a fan?

I think you hit something there dude…

At the time, we were so consumed with the investment, as in a creative investment going into what we were trying to achieve on Sound Awake. It was all consuming. And sometimes you don’t get to see those things, and feel them when you’re that close to it.

That’s where the sheer joy of playing this thing, and relearning it as well. It’s like, “Fuck, are you sure it goes like that?” Karnivool man, when you’re up the front of that thing and it’s on, and everyone’s playing well, it’s just the shit. I guess that’s what I’m saying. it was a privilege. It was just a sheer joy, you know?

While you’re digging deep into this moment from a decade ago, you’re simultaneously making new music – carving the way out for the next 10 years of Karnivool. What was that like? Did you find it created this really wonderful chaotic climate to create in?

It’s very hard to separate yourself sometimes, because a whole lot of energy goes into getting Sound Awake up to scratch live, right? But you know you’ve got this track already sitting there that you’ve just waiting for an opportunity to share, but that’s very new. You’re pulled in different directions.

Talk me through ‘All It Takes’. You’re asking questions that seem very pointed. Are they questions that you know the answer to? Or questions that you’re trying to find answers to?

It’s very much a look at our process as a band and as guys, trying to meet at the creative center. It can just ask a lot and take a lot, and sometimes you gotta weigh up is this worth it? Is this the right thing? All those sort of questions and ultimately, yes it is. Because the other side of it is so rewarding and so fulfilling, but it’s just getting through that and sometimes you gotta dig in. And as I said, and just do all it takes to get through the other side and we’ve been at this a long time and we’ve learned the value of that. Where it comes at a bit of a cost sometimes to your heart and your soul, not to get too heavy or anything, but it just does.

So it’s kind of about that, just looking in and it’s become our own little mantra for just having that thing that just keeps ticking. Just fucking get through it man, you know?

That’s so interesting, because The Vool creative process is very complicated, I imagine. 

It wasn’t planned like that at the beginning.

I think the intent there just came through as we really sunk into the piece of music. But in the beginning, I think it’s more all those samples and stuff that Drew was doing and that main riff, that fucking rolling stomp thing was just so attractive in the beginning. It’s fun. It’s heavy as fuck.

You guys are both thinkers and feelers. The world has given us plenty to think and feel about of late. Where do you guys want to go next? We sort of have this whole new wild frontier to ‘Go and get yours’, there’s no rules anymore. What excites you about moving forward now?

Yeah, right on. I love that. I don’t know right now.

We’ve got a few other pieces of music that could follow on from All It Takes, and maybe we just develop the intent on that sort of stuff, but I don’t know. There’s so much just happening the last two or three years for people just to chew into… and heal.

The game’s changed, the rules have changed. I feel there’s a massive reaction coming to the way we’re all operating at the moment. I think that’s going to be something to speak about and talk about and be involved with, I guess is where art can come into this next phase of things. And yeah, if that hits our camp, which I’m sure it will, we’ll dig into that.

As creatives your role in society is going to become more crucial. Because we need you guys to recontextualize all the shit into these three-to-four minute things that we can actually consume and process. I think that the creatives of our society are really going to be leading, or at least guiding us, through the next sort of…whatever-the-fuck.

I hope so. I hope so.

I mean, it’s not an easy job for anyone who has to take it on, but I hope so. I think that’s the role of art. It’s got to be this mirror. It’s got to be this reflection to things, to say it another way, show it another way, feel it another way and share. Again, just trying to make things fucking better or maybe not. Maybe we just turn it all on its head. Just stir some shit up, I don’t know…

…We’ll find out.

Decade Of Sound Awake is out now
All It Takes is out now

Catch Karnivool at…

Monolith Festival 2022

Tickets availalble now.

Saturday, 12th March
Bella Vista Farm, Sydney
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, 19th March
Eatons Hill Outdoors, Brisbane
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, 2nd April
Reunion Park, Melbourne
Tickets: Destroy All Lines

Saturday, 9th April
Red Hill Auditorium, Perth
Tickets: Destroy All Lines