Karnivool: Listeners Can 'Hear The Desperation' On The Latest Album

Andrew Goddard discussed the obstacles encountered during Sound Awake's making, the oft-made comparisons to Tool, and his recent stop at SXSW 2010.

Karnivool: Listeners Can 'Hear The Desperation' On The Latest Album
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The band that could easily be described as Australia's best-kept secret is quickly becoming a household name in the States a particularly satisfying feat for a band formed back in the late 1990's. Karnivool, whose blend of progressive rock/metal has already garnered a bevy of honors including five West Australian Music Industry Awards, has once again proven on its latest record that it's not afraid to venture into creatively daring territory. Incorporating unusual effects and an assortment of time signatures, Sound Awake is a must-hear to anyone who appreciates a diversion from the usual songwriting format. Karnivool guitarist Andrew "Drew" Goddard explained to Ultimate-Guitar that his band's new record was a direct result of collaborative songwriting. In the past, Goddard and vocalist Ian Kenny handled the bulk of the material, but Sound Awake's complex, multifaceted sound indicates that something very unique occurred when a few more sources of inspiration were thrown into the mix. The songwriting and recording processes were certainly more laborious for Goddard, but the fruits of those sessions have earned rave reviews and a nomination for Album of the Year by Australia's J Awards. When Goddard recently talked with Ultimate-Guitar, the musician discussed the obstacles encountered during Sound Awake's making, the oft-made comparisons to Tool, and his recent stop at SXSW 2010. UG: There has been a lot of talk about the musical departure that you took during the making of Sound Awake. How did the songwriting process change this time around? Drew: Themata, our previous record, was mainly a collaboration between myself and Ian Kenny. Mark, our other guitarist, joined three-quarters of the way through the process. Our drummer Steve came on board after it was finished. I actually played the drums on that record. Just thinking about the collaboration between me and Kenny, our records have changed over the years. I think the main thing that happened was we just became a band, and that was the first opportunity we had to write as a unit with all five members showing their own inventions for the collective part. There was a lot of jamming and experimenting in the room together. So many things happened, feeding off of each other's energy in the room. We just pieced together the jams. Who were some of your personal musical influences that might have changed the way you approached songwriting? There was lots of stuff. As a band, our influences are really broad. There are all sorts of stuff. If you were to spend a week with us in our tour van, you probably would be pretty surprised and shocked. We try to shock each other in our diversity! Personally, I listened to as much new music as I could handle. Sometimes you need to be in a certain space and a certain environment. A band like Pink Floyd I've always kind of liked, but I've really just now become in the right place and in the right state of mind. I listen to it and say, I really get this now. That had a big influence on some of the more ambient, jammy kind of sounds. With Themata, we grew up on the whole grunge thing in the 90's and jammed out to Nirvana. There was also a lot of metal stuff that played into that. Kenny was a big Carcass fan. Then there was a pop sensibility that kind of creeped into Karnivool at the right time. Our drummer loves soul and old blues. There's a bit of everything.

"On Sound Awake we really wanted to make it a lot more three-dimensional. We wanted to make something that you could crawl inside of and look around from different angles."

There is definitely a lush, ambient sound throughout Sound Awake. Were you experimenting with quite a bit of new equipment during the recording to perfect those sounds? On Sound Awake we really wanted to make it a lot more three-dimensional. We wanted to make something that you could crawl inside of and look around from different angles. I think the best way we could do that was to create layers and space, in which effects play a big part in. Themata was very in your face and everything was close-miked. There were stuff like delays and reverbs. There was a space and a third dimension. When you start adding delay, there's a space you create and can swing around in. The main thing is that delay is not a normal thing for the human ear. It's an uncommon thing to hear something echoing back at you, so it immediately puts you in a strange environment and a natural crawl space. Forrester (Savell), who produced the record, he would sit in front of the monitors. He would literally get into that space and was sneaky about where he would place every guitar. He could sort of see that three-dimensional jamscape that we were aiming for. It's all visualization and placing in the right spot. The creative choices you made in terms of time signatures come up time and again when discussing your music. Were those results of piecing together different jam sessions over a long period of time? Sometimes we would change direction in the middle of a jam. I think what we try to do is that it really comes from a seed. We want to make sure that the seed and the original idea grows into something that's as interesting as possible, whether it's a drum beat or a riff or a lyric or a melody. A lot of times it does start with an interesting rhythm because Steve has a very unconventional way that he approaches the rhythm. Often he'll just start playing something that has a strange time signature. A lot of people ask if it's a conscious thing. We don't sit around and calculate it like, This is going to be 7/8 or 7/4. Were there any songs that you wrote for Sound Awake that were at one time halted by a creative roadblock? Probably all of them! A song like Goliath, that was a song that came together the quickest. A lot of the songs take a lot of twists and turns. That was just a result of having so many ideas and combining them together. It was quite painstaking a lot of the times and confusing. But a song like Goliath, it has the same rhythm the whole way through. It inspired whole song and it flowed out really quickly. The rest of the tracks wereyeah. We had our struggles! But that kind of made the songs what they were because we were banging our heads against the wall. I think you can kind of hear the desperation in the songs. It was sometimes pretty desperate piecing them together. That was just part of the learning curve for us. This was the first album that we've written as a unit, and we learned a lot about each other and our roles in the band. I'm kind of looking forward to the next one. For those players who want to recreate the sounds or tones heard on the single Set Fire To The Hive, what would you advise them to use? For that buzzing riff, I've got one of my favorite bits of equipment in that riff actually. They're from Fuzz Factory, which make crazy little pedals. In that case, you kind of ramp up the gate and the compressor. It makes a nasal sound that kind of sounds like a buzzing insect almost. It's a combination of the hammer-ons and the pull-offs the guitar, which created that swarm of angry bees kind of effect. It's more about imagination and gear comes second. You choose your gear to fit your imagination. When you transition to your live show, it is difficult to recreate any of the moments on Sound Awake? Yes and no. It's always going to be a lot more raw at a live show. We do our best to keep a polished, high aspect that essentially is Karnivool. Things are always going to get roughed up a bit, but that's part of the live environment.

"I think the main thing that happened was we just became a band, and that was the first opportunity we had to write as a unit."

One topic that often pops up on Karnivool's message boards is the debate on whether or not you sound like Tool. Is that something that bothers you or do you take it as a compliment? I'm cool with Tool because they're an amazing band. Apart from their latest album, they have a good sound. With an album like Aenima, they've been a big influence on me. I do think there are a lot of differences between ourselves and Tool. I think there are also similarities. We both write dark, exploratory music that doesn't stay in a verse-chorus-verse structure. I think there are differences, too, but yeah. I'm cool with it. At the same time, I don't want to be in their shadow. I don't want to be in the shadow of any band. If it keeps coming up, obviously we are going to do our best to try and shake it. The comparison, as much as I respect what they do, I would like to be a different band. I know we're going to get Tool comparisons. It could be worse! You recently played the SXSW Festival. How was that experience? It went great. SXSW is incredible. That was our first time there. It was great just walking out on the streets and soaking up everything that was going on. You can just walk into a bar and there's a big-name act playing on an intimate stage. We've been on the road for about two weeks, and we've got two weeks to go. So far the crowds have been unbelievable. I know you'll likely be supporting Sound Awake for awhile. Can we expect another lengthy tour in the coming months? We want to play as much as possible. We're looking into going back during your summertime or a little bit after. In the meantime, we're heading back home. We're going to shack up in the studio and start getting into writing again for the next record. That's sort of our main focus at the moment. It's just to keep moving there. We want to play for new ears and come back over here as much as possible. I can't wait to come back, as it's just been unbelievable so far. Interview by Amy Kelly Ultimate-Guitar.Com 2010

56 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    Kornholic
    "Im cool with Tool because theyre an amazing band. Apart from their latest album, they have a good sound." It seems like I'm the only one who thinks 10 000 Days is one amazing album. Do you guys have any clue why 10 000 Days is so "unpopular" among many Tool fans?
    pocockg
    Drew has given credit to Tool in other interviews for influencing his ideas on song structure and "space", I think you'll find he is a big Tool fan if I remember reading correctly...
    spitonastranger
    don't care for this band particularly much but i'm loving all the interesting music coming out of aus at the moment.
    noodles_wazaman
    Maddddd!!!!! Karnivool kick arse. I've seen him say in other interviews that Adam Jones is one of his favourite guitarists too, so I am pretty sure they are right into Tool. From what I hear Drew is pretty keen on Meshuggah too
    friendly fire
    As an aussie I'm so proud of this band! They have finally broken the aussie trend of exporting bands that are just bringing back some old sound. mmmm let me see Silverchair->Nirvana, Jet->Beatles/70s driving rock, Wolfmother-Led Zeppelin/sabbath/hendrix
    ParasiticTwins
    fantastic band, would love to see them headline as opposed to when i saw them as an opener. tool and isis similarities aside, they really are a great talent.
    JD Blue Venom
    I loved the sound of them since i first heard them supporting skindred, as first i thought the singer reminded me of Fair to Midland, i dont really hear any tool in them at all besides that 'third eye' sound about them, but tbh if my shitty band were being compared to tool id have a big grin on my face for days aha
    rkroxpunk
    Amaaaaazing band, going to see them 7th July hi-fi bar woo! Buuuuut:
    Theyre from Fuzz Factory, which make crazy little pedals
    Zvex is the company that makes the pedal Fuzz Factory. Fuzz Factory is not a brand. FYI this is the pedal that Matt Bellamy from Muse is famous for having built into his guitar (Dont confuse it with the Kaoss pad)
    nicksword87
    It's weird to think these guys weren't well known 4 years ago. used to watch them at BDO in perth as a warm up band. Now look at them. Keep Perth bands going!
    ajaxender12
    Looked em up on youtube after reading this, immediately bought Sound Awake. Havent found a band this good in some time.
    SheKILaDZE
    with all the praise you guys have given this band I'm definitely gonna check them out...
    SOADriff
    so glad that i can say these guys are from my hometown. Fucking love how dark the new album is, keep it up guys.
    skull78
    Kornholic wrote: It seems like I'm the only one who thinks 10 000 Days is one amazing album. Do you guys have any clue why 10 000 Days is so "unpopular" among many Tool fans?
    First I have heard this negative criticism for 10000 days. Love that album, love Karnivool Sucks I missed them at BDO. Drugs are so hard to get these days before festivals
    Sherlock_Bones
    SheKILaDZE wrote: with all the praise you guys have given this band I'm definitely gonna check them out...
    Damn, I actually miss the day when I discovered these guys: it was magnificent.
    rkroxpunk
    Kornholic wrote: "Im cool with Tool because theyre an amazing band. Apart from their latest album, they have a good sound." It seems like I'm the only one who thinks 10 000 Days is one amazing album. Do you guys have any clue why 10 000 Days is so "unpopular" among many Tool fans?
    Personally I like 10000 days a lot. A lot of the Tool fans don't hate it so to speak, but it's pretty much always their least favourite album simply because to them it sounds very (can't think of the word) produced? It's somewhat lacking the raw energy that albums such as Lateralus and Aenema had. Honestly I agree on that front, Those two albums sound a lot less like the producer had a part to play in it, in saying that I still think 10000 days is a sweet album. Another thing to note is that 10000 days they had a new producer who was well known to be guitar orientated and therefore Adam Jones took on a more heavier metal tone as opposed to his previous grunge tone, which is another complaint of fans. Personally I love them all! And ye Karnivool and stuff to do with the sort of conversation about Karnivool etc etc.....
    jlhasglassjaw
    As an Aussie guy in a Progressive-Rock band i can't be more proud of what these guys have done... In truth i havnt always been a fan, but i really love the thought they have put into the compositon of SOUND AWAKE BUT!!!!! Like TOOL they do sound!!! Even more so on the new record than the last... And its not just the Rhythms or the mood, but its the actual Tones that have been used by each instrument & the guitar & vocal effects & tricks... They're all TOOL-as-****, dont get me wrong i love Tool & I love Sound Awake but if a band truly wants to break away from such a strong comparrison wouldnt you think they could have done without the "TOOL BASS SOUND", TOOL Drum Fills & Maynard-esque Vocal paterns... Personally i feel that Tone is as important to defining a recorded work as anything else (when; trying to break such a long standing comparrison)... Good band, Good Album... & Ian Kenny can pretty-much out-sing any vocalist i've ever seen live... He is a rare talent; he is powerful live; like a mix of Maynard, Patton, Kensrue & Belemy)
    jlhasglassjaw
    ha ha, wow, thats alot of spelling mistakes... Sorry all, that was my first comment and i didnt realise that there is no "comment preview" on UG... Rock...
    lern2swim
    Kornholic wrote: "Im cool with Tool because theyre an amazing band. Apart from their latest album, they have a good sound." It seems like I'm the only one who thinks 10 000 Days is one amazing album. Do you guys have any clue why 10 000 Days is so "unpopular" among many Tool fans?
    My issue with 10000 Days is simply that it's not enough of an "album". They took the little interludes that they've always done and built them to encompass waaaay too much of the album. There's simply not enough actual songs. Considering how long they take between albums I'd hoped for more than just a bunch of stuff that I could have come up with by fooling around with Logic while tripping for a weekend.
    Muzak
    haz_uk wrote: these guys will be huge in a few years time.
    These guys are huge. just, taking time overseas. In australia they're massive. all their shows sell out so fast they open up 2nd and 3rds in almost every city. not to mention you read about the awards they've already got here. anyways, going to see em in 1 month. excited as they're my fave band. I'm wondering what sound awake is gonna be like live, but i'll be happy no matter what they play.
    Muzak
    noodles_wazaman wrote: Maddddd!!!!! Karnivool kick arse. I've seen him say in other interviews that Adam Jones is one of his favourite guitarists too, so I am pretty sure they are right into Tool. From what I hear Drew is pretty keen on Meshuggah too
    One of them was pretty keen on Messhugah. On Karnivool's album themata, their song Scarabs is Meshuggah-esque sounding.
    OneOfKind
    guitarsftw wrote: kinghate69 wrote: are we sure that isnt Jake Gyllenhall? I was either gonna say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or a very hairy Jake Gyllenhall (e-cookie for the first to notice the reference).
    Colbert's comparison of Gyllenhall's Prince of Persia to Ahmadinejad?
    BKGMorley
    SOADriff wrote: so glad that i can say these guys are from my hometown. Fucking love how dark the new album is, keep it up guys.
    its not too dark
    andre k
    Such an amazing band. However i thought that they would be more a lot more "into" (for lack of a better word) Tool. Kind of disappointed with his answer to that question.
    mfkr360
    are we sure that isnt Jake Gyllenhall?
    No dummy, Jake Gyllenhall is in Cynic. Duh
    guitarsftw
    kinghate69 wrote: are we sure that isnt Jake Gyllenhall?
    I was either gonna say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or a very hairy Jake Gyllenhall (e-cookie for the first to notice the reference).
    Sherlock_Bones
    Nice to see a familiar face on the front there. I love these guys soo much, managed to get my friends listening to them and loving them. NEED MORE KARNIVOOL!
    berko
    Themata and Sound Awake are among my favorite albums of all time. these guys are so professional and cool... i really don't understand why they don't get more recognition
    hSn
    Awesome band, they put on one hell of a show when i saw them in Oslo!
    Barto1361
    I love this band, their influence on me has been very huge. Very cool interview.
    slipknot4adam
    berko wrote: Themata and Sound Awake are among my favorite albums of all time. these guys are so professional and cool... i really don't understand why they don't get more recognition
    100% agree with you! best CDs i have heard in years! i am looking forward to many many albums from this band to come. Watch some live footage (particularly Themata live at a festival i believe) it is damn near perfect. his vocals in that song are as good as i think they could be for how high energy and difficult there are, and on top of being a great frontman he is so focused and actually cares about the notes and doesnt get too lost into the moment of "playing live" the balance is amazing. super tight, super awesome band!