The premiere of the third and final album from the Leeds/Jyväskylä based instrumental duo KHUDA created a perfect chance to arrange an interview with two interesting individuals who work in the field of experimental music art and instrumental drilling :) Despite the 1500 kilometre divide the separates them as individuals, together they have performed over 400 shows in more than 30 countries, sharing stages with a bunch of influential post metal and post rock bands. These fellas have been carving out an unholy body of work since their formation in 2007; drawing on the brooding, angular influence of bands like HELLA and RUSSIAN CIRCLES and setting their sound against an imposing progressive metal backdrop. A body of music populated with astonishing, bold compositions driven by the ambition and percussive/rhythmic attack of guitarist Tom Brooke and drummer Steve Myles. If you’re down for some dynamic instrumental post-metal, then you should immediately dive into their twisted tunes.
Hi guys! What’s up? How are you? :)
Steve: Hey Karol, hope you are doing well! Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, all good here thanks, just putting the last few things together before we head out for the weekend. Let me introduce Tom too!
Tom: Hey Karol! Our pleasure, thanks for having us!
So, let’s get to it. You, dear Sirs, are on the verge of unveiling the highly anticipated farewell chapter of KHUDA’s existence, aren’t you? Dubbed “Molasses Constricts The Clinostat”, your final record has been in the works for some time know, right? How does it feel to almost have it out?
Tom: Yeah, ‘Molasses…’ is coming out at the start of next week, and you’re right… it’s taken a while, so we’re really excited (and a little bit relieved) to finally get it out there! We wrote the songs during our last year or so of being an active band, and recorded them in early 2013 in an awesome warehouse in the suburbs of Leeds (which has now become Blueberry Hill Rehearsal Space!). The process after the initial tracking was a little bit stop start, as we were basically spread across three countries (the recording engineer Pedro Mendes is from Braga, Portugal), and there were a few delays over the last year which were out of our control! But yeah, finally we’re here, and soon the album will be out for the world to hear… it feels great!
Steve: It’s been an incredibly long road, we initially wanted to get the release out a couple of months after our (now premature) final gig last year but circumstances just didn’t allow for it. I guess in the long run it has worked out as we have now had an excuse to play a couple of gigs/ an opportunity to get together a few times to re-visit the material with a years worth of exposure to other things which has been awesome. The relief either way is huge!
Some might say it will be hard to believe you when it comes to things “final”, haha. Is it quite certain that KHUDA will no longer offer new recordings and live shows by end of this decade? :)
Tom: Well, you can never say never, and a decade is a long time… But at least in terms of new recordings, at this point it feels very unlikely. We haven’t ruled out playing live on occasion though if the circumstances allow! We enjoy it too much to rule out anything definitively… I guess that isn’t a bad thing :D
Steve: I guess the writing process would be a little too complicated as it stands, Tom has been out there for a couple of years now and I have only managed to get over there the one time, it’s not like we can just hop on a train or pull an all-night drive to meet up and go over some ideas :) That being said though you never know what our circumstances will be like in 10 years’ time. We made a mistake last year by deciding resolutely that we would not be doing anything ever again without considering properly how much we would miss being active so it’s probably better just to leave it to circumstance to decide for us hah.
Oh, not at all, haha :) So, Prugelprinz must be very proud to gave this very special release in its catalog. Were you approached by some bigger labels?
Steve: heh heh we don’t really need anyone else, Prugelprinz has looked after us since right near the start, it fits right into our ethos and more to the point we just get along really well with the guy that runs it. Working with them has ensured that we can conduct ourselves however we want without really having to answer to anyone for better or for worse. I’m fairly certain that we are happy sticking with that arrangement :)
Tom: Either really proud or really stupid… :D But in all seriousness, Litty (Prugelprinz Records) is a real character, and a great guy. Without his support over the last few years, we probably would never have even been able to hold a Khuda Vinyl in our hands, and it means a load to us that he has helped us again! We’ve never really been interested in searching around for any bigger labels… The setup we have with Prugelprinz is everything a DIY band like us needs! :)
Ok guys… times change, people change. I wonder how your inspirations have changed. How much of your latest influences went into the making of this record?
Tom: Well, we’ve always just written music that has felt fun and interesting for us at the time. In our earlier days we basically just jammed stuff out, played it live a lot until things stuck, and then put it on record. I think that this time around, we actually did spend a bit more time fitting things together, and thinking about how things flowed etc… That being said, I wouldn’t say that our influences or inspirations have particularly changed over time, we’ve just tried to get better as musicians, and songwriters, and hopefully that has helped to progress our music forward a bit :D
So you think this new records is an accurate representation of yourselves? Is it safe to say that the emotions floating on the record are all yours? Or is it the other way around and you like to think that your compositions represent the environment you tried to catch?
Steve: So much of this stuff is circumstantial, ideas come from places that you don’t even think of as being influential at the time. It is also completely subjective, what one song means for me isn’t necessarily the same as what it means for Tom but that doesn’t make either point of view any less legitimate. That’s one thing that I love about instrumental music, it can mean as much or as little as you want it to. But yeah I guess it’s a fair representation of who we are/were at that point in time after that series of events and was also affected by whatever was to come next and our thoughts on that too :D
Tom: Yeah, ‘Molasses…’ at least in terms of sound is definitely the most accurate representation of our sound that we’ve managed to get to tape! And it’s probably a bit of both, there were lots of things and ideas flying around, which ended up in there somehow :)
Steve: It was awesome to play together again! After such a long break the material definitely had a freshness to it that I guess we had managed to squeeze out by playing so often. Having been working on a couple of new projects in the last year it was fun to take what has been learnt and re-applying it to the Khuda stuff. Its hard to know how well it was received but most people watched all the way through and they clapped long and hard so maybe that’s the best indication hah hah.
Both of the festivals were great to be involved with, completely D.I.Y open minded and definitely in it for the right reasons. We are both close to the operation of KHF in fact we ran the rig for the weekend between us and have done so for the last couple of years and I did allot of the final graphic design. It’s a shame that it looks like it won’t be happening again, the financial risk was massive but I hope that Paul (KHF organiser) can rest a little easier knowing that the fest was a joy to be involved in and everyone who attended had an incredible weekend!
Pfingst Fest is the perfect example of the punk network on the mainland, awesome food, really open minded, great variety of bands and an enthusiastic audience. This was the second time we played the fest and probably the 10th time we played the Juz, the place has always been a bit of a spiritual home to us. Could not recommend making the pilgrimage over there next year enough!
Tom: Like Steve said, it was incredibly fun to play together again! And also to get a nice chance to spend some time too as friends!!! We were a little apprehensive before the first show, as it had been such a while since we’d played live! But luckily things worked out, and the atmosphere at both the gigs was great! Kin Hell Fest is our home crowd, and scene we’ve both grown up in, and Mannheim is basically our second home… they couldn’t have been any better!
Despite such a variance in the line ups, both festivals represented the true spirit of underground, independent music, DIY… or whatever you wanna call it… it’s everything we stand for, and it was great to be involved in that again!!
Tom, what’s the story behind your moving to Finland? :)
Tom: I met a Finnish lady… fell in love… etc :D It’s a cheesy love story I guess… But yeah, that’s how things go, and on balance it was a lot more possible for me to move out here to Finland than her to the UK!
Was it hard for you to adapt to the new environment? What’s the toughest part about living there?
Tom: Well, it has taken a couple of years to find my feet here, but I guess that is totally to be expected, I think the years after we stopped touring were always going to feel a bit strange wherever in the world we were living, as it was su ch a big part of our lives! I can’t think of anything specifically tough about living here, although of course, not getting to regularly see my friends and family in Leeds is pretty difficult at times!
I’ve been to Norway and Sweden several times, but never to Finland. Have you visited more cool places in Scandinavia?
Tom: We played a few gigs, in Sweden & Denmark (as well as Finland), and there are some really cool places! Stockholm and Copenhagen are both interesting cities, and there is an awesome alternative gig/culture centre in Aalborg, DK too, called 1000fryd! The whole of Scandinavia is beautiful!
Steve: Yeah that part of the world has always been really kind to us, I guess that’s why tom ended up nesting there. I would probably have ended up somewhere a bit warmer given the chance but each to their own.
True true :) I’ve experienced it, too :) See some of the places I went to a couple of years ago at http://norge.fotolog.pl/
Ok, and what about Steve? Does your lady approve this old relationship? ;) Is he welcome to visit you from time to time? ;)
Steve: hah hah of course!! At least I hope so ;) We’ve all been spending time together for a fairly long time now so Tom and Tiia (his Fiancée) are both part of the family. My girlfriend has always been really understanding and supportive, it’s definitely been tough at times spending so much time apart but she has been out on the road with us before so really knows the routine.
Apart from reuniting KHUDA from time to time, what will you be doing professionally in Finland?
Tom: Well, I’ve actually been really busy over the last year building a recoding studio in a converted barn at our new home in the countryside… Hopefully things will work out with that, and it will be my future! I’m really lucky to have a fantastic space and great location though, and can do really good deals for bands too so feeling really optimistic… (you can check it out here: www.tonehaven.net & on facebook).
The atmosphere, the nature and the feel of Scandinavia is opposite to this whole digital party we’re currently in. Steve, is it conceivable for you to believe that you’ll be one day playing nothing but electronic drums? :)
Steve: Hah hah no chance, not for one moment. I seem to be regressing gear wise, definitely prefer really gnarly kits these days, probably up for down grading even further. Had a go on a couple of electronic kits a few years ago with mesh heads that were kind of OK but you just can’t hammer them the same as an old junker. Not to say there is no place for live electronics but its just not for me at this moment in time.
Guys, I’m curious about one more thing.The new album proves your ability to create magic. How do you translate it to your live set? How tough is it?
Tom: Haha, its very kind of you to say that Karol! I have to admit, it’s pretty simple, especially with the help of a few loop pedals… all of the songs were written and played live before we recorded them, and whilst we definitely cheated here and there, they are pretty much recorded exactly as we would play them live… We of course make some mistakes here and there… but we try make up for that with energy, and hope people enjoy the gig :)
Steve: Yeah tom and the looper lay out the framework and then we play over ourselves. It definitely fixes and creates a few problems, think we managed to get the most from it by always using our own backline/same stage (or lack of) stage set up. Consistency is key.
Ok. gentlemen. No more bothering. Let’s wrap it up. Considering all these years spent together as KHUDA, did you achieve all your goals?
Steve: In so far that we set out to play a load of gigs and go to a load of places then I think we managed to do so, we could always have gone further and for longer but that kind of attitude just leads to never being sated. We met some people who will be life long friends and we saw a side of other cultures that we would never have experienced if we had just being “travelling” in a traditional sense. As far as growth as a band goes we sold some records and made some people happy and that’s good enough for me.
Tom: That’s a tricky question! I wouldn’t say we had any particular goals starting out… but we definitely were incredibly lucky to get to travel to some amazing countries, and play for some of the greatest people we’ll probably ever get a chance to meet! The whole experience of our time touring has played a big part in making us the people we are today… and I definitely look back on it with a massive amount of satisfaction :)
What’s your best memory from KHUDA’s history?
Tom: Totally impossible to pick just one, because there were so many great times! Although I have to say that we had some really special times in Greece… Getting to swim in the warm sea, play gigs and meet some of the nicest people whilst also digesting quite possibly the best food in the world is a pretty magical combination.
Steve: My favourite tour memories happen to involve swimming too, particularly the coast just off Rijeka (Croatia). The best gigs we ever played were the ones where things had conspired to have us arriving moments before our set time. The sheer panic of not knowing whether you will get to play combined with the relief of having made it seems to be the recipe for the perfect set. You might not always play your best but you really mean it.
It’s really hard to think of specific times as it all kind of moulds into one another but you end up having a special relationship with the act of going from one place to another so quickly, you never really have the chance to left unstimulated by your surroundings and the constant fresh social interaction is invigorating. In short my best Khuda memory is being in Khuda.
It has been a pleasure speaking to you. Thank you for your time! :)
Tom: Thanks to you also Karol! It’s been our pleasure… take care & all the best with IDIOTEQ!!
Steve: Thanks for chatting with us Karol, take it easy :D