THIS weekend is a varied and interesting one…
that is for damn sure! I have been getting to know Kasai better and ask about the extraordinary album, Guns to Shoot. They tell me about the album’s themes and how the songs came together; how the band themselves all found one another – I ask whether there are any gigs on the cards.
I learn which new artists we should seek out and whether, in the mind of Kasai, Rock and Alternative is healthy and making a comeback – the boys each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
We are fine, thanks. A pretty good week working on a new batch of songs together at our bassist’s flat.
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
We are Kasai and we play genuine, old-school Rock ‘n’ Roll: so; a simple four-piece setup with screamy vocals….and the occasional, with much reluctance from Jay, second guitar on some songs.
Talk to me about Guns to Shoot. What are the themes and ideas that influenced the songs?
Mostly, personal stuff which is irrelevant to everyone else. We like the listener to make up his/her own theme or story to our songs.
Is there a cut you’d each select as a highlight from the record?
Benzo: We talked a lot about what is our favourite and, usually, we can’t agree. I think one track - which is little special touch for all of us - would be Run.
Jay: Mine would be Guns to Shoot, Rose and Run…
Jack: Yeah; Run - although I’m pretty happy with how most of them came out.
How did Kasai get together? When did that spark come?
When dinosaurs ruled the earth (circa 2003); Jack and Jay started Kasai (or ‘The Juice’ as we were previously known as). I think we both were (just) bored with our lives and the life choices we had made. But, we had ideas that we could make into songs. So, we hooked up, started a band and, many lineups later, we are Kasai - with Benzo and Rich.
Although…we could be a real-life version of Spinal Tap with our live music experiences (smiles).
How does a Kasai song come together? Do you all pitch in or do will someone take a song and bring it to the band?
It’s a bit of both, really.
Someone brings an idea which can be a short riff and then the band builds a song. Or, someone could bring in a 90%-ready song and we just put finishing touches to it. The discussions could be very zen and peaceful to a full-on heated argument about where a song should go. But, we enjoy it nonetheless - apart from when Jay sulks. Jay’s sulks can last for weeks.
Usually, they are resolved when one of us buys him a lolly; ruffles his hair and tells him that we do still love him. He just needs to work on his behaviour, sometimes. He then wipes the snot from his nose; we have a cuddle, agree that Jack is right and move on.
Jay: I just want to say, I’m not happy with this response (sulks).
Do you think Hard-Rock and Alternative sounds are struggling right now? How do you stand out from the pack, would you say?!
If you’re not one of the big bands from the '80s and '90s then, yes, it’s really hard to get a crowd for yourself because the dynamic has changed. We think grass-roots live music is struggling generally as people don’t venture out too much - and we talk about this in our song, Get Out, which is the first track of the album.
How do we stand out? Honestly; we don’t do anything special. Our music is honest and that has taken us to the U.S., India (yes…you read that right) and to the Middle East to play shows. I hear we have some fans (maybe, one) in Japan, too. I think one of the things that have improved us over the years is focusing on enjoying what we are doing as much as possible. We all get lost in the music we play. We have a lot of respect for each other as musicians and jamming together is a bit like a mini holiday from all the boring stuff in life.
Once upon a time, we cared a lot more about how we looked, what our image was supposed to be; how to improve our stage presence etc. Retrospectively, we think giving a s*it about that stuff probably made us worse. It is much more fun now and we like to think that comes through in our music; particularly live.
Where are you heading on tour? Where can we catch you?
We play in London normally and our next gig is at The Islington (in Angel) on 14th July. We are also excited to be playing the Big Red (Holloway Road) on 21st September with our mate Jamie Sloane’s (from Whisky Blood) band. We want to do a few festivals (if offered a last-minute slot) but we aim to play in the U.K. and some venues around Europe generally.
Is the stage where the music comes alive would you say? Do you all love the thrill of performing?
Definitely. I think there is a magic of playing live no matter what the genre. But, for us, playing live to a live audience is brilliant.
What do you hope to achieve in 2018?
Some more exposure for our album, Guns to Shoot. I think we have a great album and the lack of exposure is a killer: it is, unfortunately, about ‘who you know’ rather than ‘what you can do’ in the industry.
Having said that…we’ve already started to work on our next project so this year is going to be exciting.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
You don’t normally remember the best ones. Perhaps one was when some Dutch Osho Rajneeshs (yes, the Wild Wild Country ones) approached us when we did a gig in Pune, India (in 2009) saying we reminded them of Led Zeppelin and that we should play at The Ashram. We wanted to but we had another gig to play so we passed.
But, they came across as cool people.
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Musicians we would love to support: we would say Clutch, Guns N’ Roses; Slash, Derek Trucks; Q.O.T.S.A. (Queens of the Stone Age), Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin etc. etc.
Rider? Too long a list to type here - but most of it is for Jay…
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
1) Don’t do it to become famous – and…
2) All members of your band should learn a DAW as it helps with the writing.
3) Don’t be a c*nt. There really is no excuse.
IN THIS PHOTO: Bad Mother Earth
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
I Think music IS the chill away from life. Bence likes to stick his willy in a toaster while reciting The Lord’s Prayer. He says it focuses his 'chi' - the weird bastard.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Jay: Down in the Flood - The Derek Trucks Band
Benzo: Touch My Blues Away (Live) - Jessy Martens and Band
Jack: Milkcow’s Calf Blues - Eric Clapton (awesome cover of an awesome song - play the original, too).
Rich: Grace - Jeff Buckley
Jay: Can I just say, on behalf of the band, thank you, Sam, for your time in interviewing us. All of your readers can download our music for free for a limited time…