May 26, 2020

HCTF interview: It's Karma It's Cool

English upbeat power pop quartet It's Karma It's Cool recently released their first full-length, Woke Up In Hollywood. Lead singer James Styring kindly answered some questions via email about the recording sessions.

The listening experience of an album is quite different from an EP. Did you spend much time on the sequencing?

"Yes, I think it's important to keep the interest throughout an album. It's a journey and you have to pace it right. You can detract from some great songs if the sequencing is wrong. I always try a few alternatives, before deciding on the final running order. I think it's similar to putting a set list together for a show, you need to grab an audience's attention from the start and keep them with you till the end."

Did you enter the studio with all the tracks in their definite form?

"All the songs were written and demoed before we got into the studio, but nothing is 100% definite, there's always room for new ideas. If something works and improves the song, we'll go with it, if not, at least we tried it. Quite often in the studio environment, as you hear a track coming to life, new ideas and ways of approaching the song present themselves."

The music is firmly rooted in power pop and psychedelic rock, but the band keeps an open ear for other genres as well. How do you make that work?

"As a band, we've always said we don't really want to be labelled. If you label yourself, you kind of limit yourself. I guess we're a guitar pop band at heart, but we allow our influences and the songs to go where they want. We all share a love of melody and harmony etc, so that will always be priority, but we like to experiment and be as creative as possible, especially in the studio. I think if we were to break it down and start analysing ourselves too much, we might lose that initial creative spark."

Besides a bit of ska I noticed a Television-inspired Guitar bit in Bubblegum Monsters and a few George Harrison licks in Wooden Buddha (plus a snipper of an interview with Buddy Holly) . What artists are your biggest influences?

"We all come from slightly different places musically. On paper you might not think it would work, but somehow it does. I think that's what keeps it interesting for us, and hopefully, the listener. I'm sure you can hear some of our influences in the songs, and you've just mentioned a few, but we don't set out to sound like anyone really. We just do what we do. The ska thing is a great example of experimenting in the studio. Martyn, our guitarist, had previously played trumpet in a ska band, so we thought we'd add that flavour to the mix."

There a three guest musicians on the album. Rex Broome played 12-string guitar, Lannie Flowers guitar, and Brian Barry harmonica. How did get in touch with them?

"We'd always wanted to work with those guys, so we figured now would be a great time to ask them. It was just a case of talking with Rex and explaining what we had in mind. He said yes straight away (thank you to Big Sir Records!) Our mutual friend, Stephen Schnee, pulled a few strings to get Lannie onboard (and we have to thank Spyderpop Records for allowing it to happen) And I'd known Brian for a few years, having played with him at The Cavern Club, in a previous band."

America features quite heavily in the lyrics on Woke Up In Hollywood. The title track and American Sushi obviously, but also in New Age Eve and Ghosts of Rome (which mentions the 500000 Woodstock visitors at Yasgur's farm). Were those songs inspired by the idea of a country were the sky was the limit back in the day?

"Pretty much so. When I was a kid growing up in the UK, America was always this magical place - all the best tv shows, movies, comic books etc came from there. I knew with a title like 'Woke Up In Hollywood' there would have to be several references to America, a recurring theme almost. And it's a great country to write about. I hope one day I get to go."

You have to come up with other means to connect with your audience. Now that performing live is not a viable option in the near future, Any ideas how that can be done?

"All I can say is that we're all in the same boat. It's very frustrating at this time, but we must live in hope that things will get better. And not just for musicians, of course, but for everyone. We can keep the music alive and people interested through social media etc, and spend our time writing new songs. 'Woke Up In Hollywood's' official album launch was meant to be at The Cavern Club, but obviously that never happened - you just have to stay positive. Every band on the planet is currently writing their next bunch of songs."

Woke Up In Hollywood is released via Kool Kat Musik.

» It's Karma It's Cool on Facebook

HCTF review of Woke Up In Hollywood

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