Interview: Kula Shaker

You probably know this band who made it big in the 90s when they released some of their biggest singles ‘Govinda’ and ‘Tattva’ during the whole Britpop invasion during the rise of other bands like Oasis and Blur. Kula Shaker was creating Tamil-infused psychedelic Britpop music, which started in 1995 and got disbanded 4 years later. The band later reformed and released Strange Folk in 2007 and their latest Pilgrim’s Progress this year. The band will be heading over here this coming Thursday and we managed to speak to the bassist Alonzo Bevan before they rock our stage.

Hey guys. How has your week been?
Good thank you. We’ve been rehearsing for the tour.

How did your ‘sabbatical’ from 1999 till 2004 influence your current materials?
We all played with different musicians during the break as well as being exposed to different record collections, this obviously had an influence on us as musicians and song writers. However there is a certain chemistry and dynamic when we play together that remains unchanged.

Were there pressures to produce Pilgrim’s Progress?
We recorded and produced Pilgrim’s Progress in our own studio, we also have our own record company so unfortunately for our manager there was very little pressure for us to finish the record. He would call up and hassle us every time the latest deadline had past however he was very patient considering it took over a year to make…really must work a bit faster next time.

What does the track ‘Peter Pan, RIP’ really mean?
The good thing about any song is that it means something different for each listener. The main theme in ‘Peter Pan, RIP’ is of growing up while remembering and maintaining a connection with childhood.

What’s the most personal Kula Shaker song?
That’s a hard question to answer. I guess our early songs like ‘303’ is quite personal because we’re singing about our time living together, the great characters and friends we knew and the adventures that we found.

What are the must-play songs at your shows?
I would say the older songs like ‘Govinda’ and ‘Tattva’. I don’t think we’ve played a show without them. Thankfully we still enjoy playing these songs and we always try and keep them fresh, mixing things up and changing arrangements.

Do you have any ritual before playing a show?
No naked chanting or anything like that. We normally just have a nice cup of strong tea.

What’s the biggest difference you noticed in the music industry?
When we started, the music industry was still a mighty beast and the internet was just a baby. We recorded on 2″ tape machines and generally lost money touring in order to promote an album. Nowadays the industry is much smaller and the internet is a mighty beast, we record on computers and give away recordings to promote a tour. The writing process and the way we record is thankfully pretty much the same.

Which new music acts are you currently checking out?
I’ve been listening to a lot of Jacques Brel recently, although I don’t think he’s very new…in fact he’s dead.

What’s the best thing about your job?
I get paid to do what I would be doing if I wasn’t paid.

The Dalai Lama recently turned 75. Would you say your music has aged appropriately?
We never made music to fit into a particular scene or because it was fashionable. Good music is timeless although the way it’s produced can sometimes give away it’s age.

What do you really, really want?
If this is an offer then a U47 microphone would be nice, otherwise world peace and some redistribution of wealth.

Any plans for world domination?
I think we’ll leave that to the evil corporations.

What’s next for Kula Shaker?
A film sound track, some more shows, another record? I don’t really know.

How much do you know about Malaysia?
Very little I’m afraid. I’ve heard it’s very beautiful and I know there’s a bridge connecting it to Singapore. Hopefully I will learn a bit more when we come and visit.

Kula Shaker Live in Kuala Lumpur will be happening at KL Live on Thursday, 5 August 2010. Check out for more about the band and for more on Soundscape Records.

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