I got a chance to speak with the lovely Ian Kenny from my favorite Australian band Karnivool. Karnivool is touring the US right now so go out and see them! I thought I was going to have to wait a couple of years to see them live again but luckily, the remarkable men are back for an encore headlining tour. To say that I am stoked is an understatement! This week I got to photograph Adam Lambert and I got some one on one time with the very attractive and vocally gifted Ian Kenny from Karnivool. Kenny, Steve, Hos, John and Drew are all immaculate musicians. Kenny’s voice is so flawless and pure and what a swell guy to talk to. I will have to say that out of all the years that I have been interviewing people he won as my favorite person that I have ever interviewed. We spoke about Sound Awake, touring, NASA, groupies, public speaking, angry pets, playing on a ferry, and so much more! Give yourself one last summer gift and go and see Karnivool live! Feel free to send me a thank you note after you do because you WILL be thanking me and them for being so damn awesome!! YOU’RE WELCOME!
INTERVIEW WITH IAN KENNY FROM KARNIVOOL
Lena: How is the tour going so far?
IAN KENNY: Our tour is going really well thanks. We’ve been in the states for two weeks. We started in Vancouver and then worked our way down the west coast and to the bottom to New Mexico, Arizona and we cut across and we’ve just crossed the border into Florida. We’ve got an interview with a TV station tomorrow morning so we’ve got another seven hours in the van until we reach our destination in Clearwater. I think that is where we are headed for.
Lena: So you don’t have a bus?
IAN KENNY: No, we are in a van with a trailer but it’s pretty comfortable. It’s like a deluxe van and it’s got flip down DVD screens and bench seats so we can sleep and stuff. It’s pretty cool.
Lena: That’s good so at least you are touring in style.
IAN KENNY: Um, (laughing) I guess you could call it that.
Lena: What can your fans expect to get from your headlining set that they didn’t get when you were an opener the last time you were in the US?
IAN KENNY: The last time we were here we were supporting another band so it wasn’t really our show to be honest it was a bit of us doing our thing and then getting off in a half an hour or whatever. With our own shows we are far more comfortable and then we get to play for what we consider a decent time and then really perform at each place. That’s what KARNIVOOL is all about. It’s very different when we are completely in control of our own shows. When you are supporting other bands it is never really your show, you know what I mean?
Lena: Yes, I saw you at Club Hell the last time you were here in RI. Everyone left after you guys played.
IAN KENNY: Yeah, we just made it and didn’t play very long.
Lena: Yes, your set was very short that is why I am so excited that you are coming back to my area.
IAN KENNY: Yes, what gig are you going to?
Lena: You are going to be playing in Allston at Harper’s Ferry. That is the show that I am going to.
IAN KENNY: Oh, you will have to come and say hello when you get there.
Lena: Of course, I interviewed Mark and Jon the last time you were here. They were very nice.
IAN KENNY: Cool.
Lena: You have an amazing voice with flawless pitch and perfect control so does it come naturally to you or is it something that you have to work hard to maintain?
IAN KENNY: I guess what it is comes naturally, just whatever it is I have because my mom was a singer and her side of the family there are all types of musicians so it is just in my blood I think. You know once I got serious about music I looked into what the voice is and I learned how to breathe properly which is an important part of singing. I have not had any lessons. I just read stuff, to be honest and then put in the practice time. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right but it seems to be working.
Lena: Yeah, you have an amazing voice so you are doing it more than right!
IAN KENNY: Oh, thank you.
Lena: You have ruined CD reviews for me. Every time I try and review something I go it’s not
KARNIVOOL, I don’t care. Seriously, you guys are just so good!
IAN KENNY: (Laughing)That is a good thing, right?
Lena: Yes and no because now I am finding it so difficult to review them because they are never as good as yours.
Lena: How does your vision of the band today compare with the original vision from 1997?
IAN KENNY: Oh, well we are in completely different worlds nowadays. I think when you start a band and when you are a punk teenager you have all these wild visions of what the band will be but it all changes. In the beginning, it was very misguided but I think nowadays we have a handle on what the band has become and where we are going with it. We’ve been a band for nearly ten years and sort of at the midway point of that time we had a lineup change. We added another guitarist and changed our drummer and it completely changed the absolute message of the band and the whole feel of it for the better. That’s a tough question because we kind of feel like we’ve only been a band for the last five years because we have new players that have really changed the dynamics. That’s just it, music is forever changing.
Lena: Of course, you always mature as a band.
Lena: What is your favorite television show and star?
IAN KENNY: I watch nature documentaries. That’s what I like to kill my time. I don’t really watch TV, too much. I’m not much of a show guy but I do it to kill time in the car. If I am really interested in something I’ll watch nature programs, Discovery Channel and National Geographic. I’m very curious of how the world works and especially about the animals. I have a massive respect for animals, their level of respect and the simplicities that we as humans seem to fuck up. My hero is David Ettenberg (sp?), I could listen to him talk about peanuts for hours.
Lena: Do you watch any American shows when you come here?
IAN KENNY: I watch shows that come around like pop culture shows. I’ve been watching “Breaking Bad”, have you heard of that? I watched that today and it was pretty cool, very well done. I’m watching “True Blood” because let’s face it’s about vampires, tits and ass so it’s fairly entertaining. I do like vampires and the romance behind being a vampire. Do you know what I mean? That’s about it really. I watch “Modern Family”, it’s quite funny. The dad of the family is hilarious.
Lena: What is a typical day like on the road with KARNIVOOL?
IAN KENNY: Oh, let me tell you how thrilling it really is (laughing), it starts at night for us, it starts with us running into the show and checking in and having some food and beer and then having a good time. Doing what this band does and at the moment because the distance between shows is pretty big we sort of leave the show, pack up and jump into the van and we try and kill a few hours on the road at night before we check into the next hotel before the show. We are a pretty nocturnal bunch to be quite honest with you. We drive and then it rotates to the day and we get up at mid dayish and then head to the venue and repeat the cycle. We do stop and do things that break up the cycle a lot like we spent a whole day at NASA yesterday in Houston. I am actually wearing a NASA t-shirt right now and I bought a NASA thermos for my hot tea. We like to go to theme parks when we can or we hit the beach whenever we have time. Time’s a severely precious thing on the road and we are very lucky if we get to do something outside. I guess that is what you call rock n’ roll.
Lena: So, you are into NASA…
IAN KENNY: Yeah, it’s pretty funny right! We did a show in Austin and we thought you know what NASA is in Houston so fuck it, let’s hire a car so we hired this Dodge Challenger. It was a brand spanking new car so we got up really early the next morning and myself, Hos, Drew and Jon headed out at 7 am and jumped in the car and sped all the way out to Houston ahead of the other guys and we spent the day at NASA kicking around and then went to the venue in Houston to do the show. We then took the car to a quiet compound and did a few burnouts because let’s face it, it is a pretty nice car and if you are going to hire something you might as well trash it a little bit (really cute laughing). Things like that!
Lena: Really fun stuff but no time for groupies, right?
IAN KENNY: No, not really to be perfectly honest, god that sounds sad (laughing)! No not really, it’s a pretty fucking intense schedule that we stick to. Yeah, so we can’t get any girls anyway because we are just a bunch of nerds so we just take cars to car parks and trash them.
Lena: Oh, you guys are adorable! I love the accents and the glasses, really cute.
IAN KENNY: Oh yeah, thanks!
Lena: Will you be bringing back the ponytails?
IAN KENNY: Um, yeah maybe one day, I don’t know I’m constantly changing my hair because I like to change. I’m kind of looking a bit shabby at the moment, I have a beard.
Lena: A beard, you’ve got to shave that by the time you get to MA.
IAN KENNY: (laughing) Yeah, we’ll see.
Lena: And grow some ponytails because that is a sexy look for you.
IAN KENNY: Yeah, I’ve had a few comments on that so they might have to return one day.
Lena: Your glasses are sweet.
IAN KENNY: To be perfectly honest I don’t need them really. I just like them. I just buy stupid shit when I am touring to keep myself entertained. I keep losing them so I have to keep re-buying them. I guess to be honest with you, it’s kind of a performance thing. I like to put them on when I’m on-stage because it invokes a certain type of character and allows me to feel a bit silly therefore distracting myself and really allowing myself to sort of show my true colors on-stage and have some character about me.
Lena: Do you get nervous on-stage at all?
IAN KENNY: No, not anymore. I definitely have a certain energy in the gut but not nerves anymore it’s more like anticipation like, fuck we’ve got to do this, it’s exciting.
Lena: Yeah, I do not know how you do it.
IAN KENNY: Yeah, we can play to 20,000 people and not bat an eyelid but if you put me in front of a room of people to public speak on a topic I would be shitting my pants.
Lena: (Laughing) Oh, that is me, too! I am not good at that at all!
IAN KENNY: I would have to really know my topic and put in some pretty good ground work and be quite sure of myself or else I would be fumbling words. It would be terrible!
Lena: Yes, pretending that people are naked does not help at all, either.
IAN KENNY: No, because then I picture myself naked and I’m like crap…I’m naked in front of everyone (laughing)!
Lena: Not only do you front Karnivool but you also front Birds of Tokyo so how do you manage your time between both bands? Can we expect a US Birds of Tokyo tour?
IAN KENNY: To answer the first part of the question, it’s very demanding and it’s all that I have time for right now. The touring and recording is brutal. Birds just put out our third record a couple of weeks ago in Australia. Yes, Birds will tour but it’s just about working out the best way to introduce the band to this side of the world. It takes a lot of planning to be honest.
Lena: Birds Of Tokyo is great, too.
IAN KENNY: Thank you!
Lena: When you are involved it’s always fantastic!
IAN KENNY: Excellent (said Mr. Burns style from The Simpsons)!
Lena: Sound Awake takes you on a real emotional journey, so did the lyrics come from personal experiences?
IAN KENNY: Yeah, it comes from a few different angles. There were three or four years between records and that was a big slab of life by then so a whole bunch of shit happened to me and the band as well. I’m a spokesperson for the band and I’m very close to the people in the band so I’m always happy to take on other people’s feelings or if someone has any other ideas or thoughts about what needs to be said. It’s definitely personal stuff and then you are just looking around to the modern age on what people might connect to and suggest a good idea. I honestly think that is the thought, let’s change and get connected as one unit, let’s say and we could be capable of amazing things. It’s part of a dream but I definitely think it is achievable and I believe in unity on all fronts.
Lena: Who would be your dream artist to support on a world tour?
IAN KENNY: Radiohead, I don’t know what the rest of the band would offer up but myself, I would love to tour with them. They are just so unique and expressive and a bit of a chameleon sort of band that I always seem to find something new on their record. They keep on surprising me. That would be really cool.
Lena: Let’s talk about pets, what do you have?
IAN KENNY: I can’t have a pet at the moment because I tour pretty much like shit, nine or ten months out of the year so everything I have dies. So, I’ve got a pet rock that just sits in my apartment but it’s a pretty demanding rock, though (laughing).
Lena: Does it pee on the carpets?
IAN KENNY: Yeah, it shits on the bench and gives me the eye every time I come home, like where have you been? What have you been doing? Feed me! Steve is a dog person, he loves dogs. Drew is a massive cat person and he has a couple of cats. Hos also has a cat. Jon is a cat guy as well. We are a cat band!
Lena: I love animals so I always have to ask.
IAN KENNY: Yes, I do too. I have this massive infinity with animals. I would love to have an animal in the house. I’ve had dogs, fish, turtles, birds as well but that was a couple of years ago because now it is just not fair to have anything. It just doesn’t work.
Lena: I have chinchillas.
IAN KENNY: Are those the things that look like a cross between a guinea pig and a rabbit?
Lena: Kind of but more like a squirrel.
IAN KENNY: I’ve seen one of those and they can make really intense noises.
Lena: Yes, he barks like a dog.
IAN KENNY: Yes, I’ve heard it.
Lena: Do you have those as pets in Australia?
IAN KENNY: No, do they do anything or do they just sit in their cage?
Lena: Yes, they come out and they are very loving. They will play with you and take dust baths.
IAN KENNY: Oh, I remember we went to a house party after a gig and this girl had a chinchilla in a pen or cage or whatever you call it and Jon tried to pick it up and it made this shrieking noise like it was going to die. I think he must have scared it or something.
Lena: My guys are very friendly and they would not yell at you.
Lena: What is next for Karnivool?
IAN KENNY: Well, we’ve got another couple of months in the country and then we head back to Australia to write some new stuff. It probably isn’t going to happen while we are there this time because we are heading over to Europe in December and we are probably going to spend the rest of the time in Europe and when we head back to Australia it is kind of the Australian summer festival touring circuit that will lead us into the new year and then when that’s done we have to start buckling down and approach the new record.
Lena: Oh, I can’t wait to hear it!
IAN KENNY: Yeah, I don’t think it is going to be out as soon as people would like but the music is fairly particular and I can’t wait to get back to the studio.
Lena: Well, you have certainly given me enough to work with. Would you like to add anything to the interview?
IAN KENNY: Well, I’m sitting outside of Starbucks looking at a sunset somewhere in Florida and it’s warm and humid as hell and I’m happy, I’m good.
Lena: Yeah, you obviously like the warm weather.
IAN KENNY: Yes, I love it! Before we came out to the states we spent a week in the UK doing this festival called Sonisphere and it was cold. Not, cold, cold but I am really digging this. It’s so hot, it’s like 108 degrees, it’s brutal.
Lena: (Realizing that I never even introduced myself since I was stoked to be speaking with the singer of my favorite band so I did so at the end of the interview) I’m Lena, by the way. I just realized that I didn’t even introduce myself.
IAN KENNY: It’s bloody nice to talk to you, Lena.
Lena: It was a pleasure to speak with you and I can’t wait until Harper’s Ferry.
IAN KENNY: Yeah totally, when you get there come and introduce yourself, alright.
Lena: Are you excited about performing on a ferry?
IAN KENNY: Yeah, I think it’s going to be cool. We’ve done it once before on a ferry and as long as no one gets too pissed and falls off we’re good.
Lena: It’s just a club, I’m just kidding.
IAN KENNY: Yeah, I know!
Lena: (Laughing because I totally got served, the joke was turned on me) Ok, you got me then! Some people have actually thought that it’s a ferry but it is a pretty nice club. It has a nice stage and lighting.
IAN KENNY: Awesome. Thank you!