It’s just days after Karnivool have won their first-ever ARIA award, the Perth powerhouse quintet’s third studio album Asymmetry claiming victory as the Best Hard Rock/ Heavy Metal Album at the 27th annual awards ceremony, and they’re only now beginning to recover from the celebrations.
“Only just,” rumbles guitarist Andrew ‘Drew’ Goddard two days after an evening in which Karnivool “drank alllllll the beeeeeersssss” according to a Facebook post relaying the subsequent toasting following their “unexpected” win.
“We were pretty rusty for a few days but it was good fun,” Goddard adds. “I shook Molly Meldrum’s hand so I can tick that off my bucket list…I only just realised it was there after I did it.”
Rubbing shoulders with icons the calibre of the ever-Akubra’d Meldrum and sharing podiums with pop stars at the popular industry’s night of nights is not something Karnivool would be accustomed to, let alone high on their priority list.
But as Goddard concedes, their ARIA win means much more as a symbolic victory as it does a careerist dot point.
“Only because of what it sort of means to everyone else,” he explains. “It definitely means a lot to us, but it’s just one of those things where it’s almost like it validates us in other people’s eyes.”
Just as Asymmetry debuted at #1 on the charts upon its release in July, the ARIA recognition represents a wider vindication.
“I chalk both of them down to a greater win for rock music and touring bands,” Goddard remarks.
“I don’t want be one of those people to smear shit all over the X Factor/karaoke stuff but I just see that they’re just missing out on the funnest part, which is playing to no-one and doing shitty pubs for years, building it up – slowly building a following.”
“To have it finally recognised as a culmination of our efforts and the loyalty and the passion of the people that have followed the live music scene and see it grow from an organic place is pretty awesome,” adds Goddard.“…it validates us in other people’s eyes”
“But for a lot of people, that’s the first time they’ve really understood that Karnivool has been an actual band for a while,” he continues. “Just ‘cause it’s really…the ARIAs is what permeates through to the households of Australia.”
Those same households would be more familiar with Karnivool frontman Ian Kenny’s other radio-storming rock group, Birds Of Tokyo. After being touted for ARIA glory (with six nominations), they walked away empty-handed, leaving Kenny’s formative band to be thrust into the limelight.
“I’ve had people from primary school I haven’t spoken to [in years] contact me going, ‘oh, so the band’s going alright!’ Good to see they’ve been paying attention,” deadpans Goddard.
In fact, the 30-year-old has dedicated half his life to Karnivool – as one of the founding members back in 1998 alongside Ian Kenny – and is largely responsible for the band’s sonic DNA, including writing the majority of their 2005 debut album Themata (where he also played all the drum parts).
Nearly ten years later and the band have taken their time to craft their third studio opus, building upon the textural and structural might of 2009’s Sound Awake.
Asymmetry’s chief achievements find the five Karnivool members (Goddard, Kenny, along with bassist Jon Stockman, drummer Steve Judd, and guitarist Mark ‘Hoss’ Hosking) pushing into new territory while imbuing their delivery with a raw, more human sound, an element that Goddard says “was definitely a conscious thing early on.”
This goal was reached by taking a break from long-term collaborator Forrester Savell to work with famed Aussie producer Nick DiDia. “It just made sense to try and capture the natural sounds of the band in the room,” says Goddard of the album’s visceral approach.
“It’s also a reaction to the way I see a lot of music going, even heavy progressive music to me is losing a lot of the human characteristics, gridlocking everything and cutting out all the air between the guitar, the strums, and all that…I think we’re a rock band at the end of the day and we just wanted to capture that.”
Rather than go for a purely ‘live’ sound, however, Asymmetry better offsets the group’s fondness for sophisticated, sometimes experimental, soundscapes with commanding, technical musicianship (clue’s in the title).
Perhaps none more so than Goddard: “I definitely don’t discriminate when it comes to digital and analogue. I definitely go into both realms,” he explains.
“I love the sound of something artificial, that sounds inhuman, but to me it’s about context and in the juxtaposition up against something that’s human.”
“I still want to be able to hear that it’s happening from someone’s fingers…so you can hear the drummer sweating and pushing and pulling off the beat. It needs that grounding.”
A beast that radiates complexity isn’t usually the kind of creature that scoops the ARIA pool, but while it seems that 15 years of musical alchemy has finally come to fruition, the award recognition is hardly an end-point in the band’s methodology, explains Goddard, but merely a chance to stop and reflect on their creative journey.
“It doesn’t really change much for us, we’ve been having a party the whole time, but it’s sunk in. To be recognised in front of your peers in Australia, it’s pretty special.”
Some of those peers includes fellow Western Australian natives Tame Impala, and while it may seem that they’re in a very different scene from Karnivool, “Perth is such a small place,” Goddard points out, “you run into everyone at some point.”“I definitely don’t discriminate when it comes to digital and analogue”
Describing them as “an insular bunch of fellas… a great band and lovely dudes,” Goddard recounts that it wasn’t in the WA capital that the two prog-loving bands encountered each other, but abroad.
“It’s kind of funny, we ran into them in Germany. They’d just finished a US tour and there was a bit of a mix-up with their freight and they had to miss the first festival, which we were doing, and then on their way to their second one their bus broke down,” recalls Goddard in a heartening story.
“We passed [them] on the side of the road and we thought ‘I think that’s Tame’s bus’, so we swung back around,” he continues.
“We hadn’t met before so we were standing on the side of a cornfield in the middle of Germany and said ‘nice to meet you properly’, threw them on our bus, attached their trailer to ours, and managed to get them to the show just in time.”
Having finished a heavy bout of international touring of their own across Europe, Karnivool are set for quite the homecoming: the Polymorphism tour.
Partnering three titans of Australian “progressive/alternative/heavy rock, whatever you want to call it” (as Goddard puts it), Polymorphism features Karnivool, Dead Letter Circus, and sleepmakeswaves on an 11-date national trek.
“I think people who dig this style of music in Australia have been waiting for something like this and it’s cool to finally get it together,” notes the ‘Vool guitarist.
“We’re good buddies with all of the guys in both bands. We dig what they do and there’s mutual respect. It’s going to be fun,” he buzzes. “Lots of shenanigans I’m sure; just a great bill.”
With the ARIA win under their belt, the Polymorphism tour doubles as a victory lap. For a group hailed for their enthralling live show as much as their rich studio work, it offers a triumphant chance to hear the award-winning Asymmetry material come to life on stage.
While Australian audiences have already experienced some of their third album live, Goddard explains that four months of international shows has hardened Karnivool’s newer epics, including two of his set-sprawling favourites.
“Well, ‘Sky Machine’ is one of them,” says the guitarist. “That’s sort of become one of my favourite Karnivool songs now playing it live. It’s just felt like we’ve really understood it only after playing it on this last European tour.”
The other is Asymmetry’s penultimate epic, ‘Alpha Omega’. “We only really just figured out how to nail that song,” Goddard concedes.
“I feel like we didn’t quite do it justice on the Australian tour [in August] so I’m looking forward to doing that one again and playing it with even more conviction.”
Karnivool Australian Tour 2014
Karnviool & Dead Letter Cricus Polymorphism Tour w/ special guests sleepmakeswaves
With special guests sleepmakeswaves
All shows over 18’s
Tickets for all shows are on sale now from www.karnivool.com.au/tour
WEDNESDAY 08 JANUARY 2014 – THE PALACE THEATRE, MELBOURNE, VIC (18+) – LIMITED TICKETS STILL AVAILABLE THURSDAY 09 JANUARY 2014 – THE PALACE THEATRE, MELBOURNE, VIC (18+) – SOLD OUT
SATURDAY 11 JANUARY 2014 – MARQUEE, BRISBANE SHOWGROUNDS, BRISBANE QLD (18+)
SUNDAY 12 JANUARY 2014 – COOLANGATTA HOTEL, COOLANGATTA, QLD (18+)
WEDNESDAY 15 JANUARY 2014 – CEX, COFFS HARBOUR, NSW (18+)
THURSDAY 16 JANUARY 2014 – NEWCASTLE PANTHERS, NEWCASTLE, NSW (18+)
FRIDAY 17 JANUARY 2014 – ROUNDHOUSE, SYDNEY, NSW (18+) – SOLD OUT
SATURDAY 18 JANUARY 2014 – ROUNDHOUSE, SYDNEY, NSW (18+) – NEWLY ADDED SHOW on sale now
SUNDAY 19 JANUARY 2014 – WAVES, WOLLONGONG, NSW (18+)
THURSDAY 23 JANUARY 2014 – RED HILL AUDITORIUM, PERTH, WA (18+)