I have had a good time…
finding out about Rival Karma and their new track, Little Something. Martin and PJ discuss how Rival Karma has evolved and changed since the start; the sort of artists they grew up around and take guidance from; whether there is going to be more material coming down the line – they recommend some artists we should follow and have a look out for.
The guys discuss working at Abbey Road Studios and where we can catch them on the road; whether they get any time to relax away from music; what advice they would offer musicians emerging; who they would support on the road if they had the chance – they each select a song to end the interview with.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Good, guys; keeping it ninja. We had a crazy weekend (we played three festivals), so this week has been the coming-back-blues-week…!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
Hey, guys. We are Rival Karma. Martin is on Vocals and Guitars; PJ is on Drums and Vocals. Lovers of Rock music. Being a duo, we are on a permanent quest to find new and original ways to make our music different. We have been called the "Fathers of Ninja-Rock" - a new style of Rock music...but, we’ll let you be the judges of that!
Little Something is your latest release. How did that song come together? What is its story?
Little Something is the story of a once-loving relationship that is left to nothing but crumbling ruins; the wistful attempt to hold on to a painfully-dead sentiment. It is a song that vocalises that moment when you come to realise that a relationship is over and wonder if there is anything left, anything at all, even Just a little something. Sounds dramatic, but we’ve all been there really. It’s an explosive mix of disarray, disbelief and desperation – and, sometimes, relief!
It was recorded at Abbey Road Studios! What was it like being in that space? Was it quite intimidating?!
It was everything a musician can dream of, really.
There’s definitely something in the waters over there. Martin was singing through Nick Cave and David Bowie’s microphone. It’s like soaking in years and years of history through the walls. It’s very intimidating. Luckily, we were in one of the smaller rooms away from the limelight, so we could concentrate on our music and not be overwhelmed by the circumstances!
Will we see more material arrive from those sessions in the studio?
Yes! We have one other track that will be released in this format and we hope to make it a bit of a recurring release (if the studio will have us again). We dream of having a yearly Abbey Road, or other legendary studios, live release so our fans can see what we’re up to.
Sam Miller produced Little Something. Was it cool working with him?
Sam is one of the best at what he does. He is like a magician of sound. His ears hear things you would never even imagine. He has a way of making you sound the way you want to sound and then some! He’s also become a friend now and we trust him fully with our sound. We’ll be working with him on our upcoming debut E.P. as well which we are super-excited about!
Rival Karma has slim-lined into a duo. Was there a reason behind transitioning from a band to a duo?!
There was no planning involved: it kind of just happened to us. Early last year, our bassist left then we replaced him with a friend of ours; then, in June, our guitarist left and we had to cancel a bunch of dates we had lined up as a full band over the summer. But, we decided to honour our acoustic gigs as a duo. We then rehearsed a couple of times plugged-in and music just started flowing out of us.
We had a Europe tour planned for October, which we refused to cancel, and after rehearsing for a couple of months we just decided to take on the challenge of playing as a duo over this tour - and the rest is history! We now honestly don’t picture ourselves as anything else; it’s so much fun! So liberating to just be the two of us on stage.
Can you recall the artists you grew up listening to? Which musicians sparked your ears?
Wow. This is a hell of a question.
Martin: I grew up listening to the American classics; my dad was always playing The Stones, Neil Young; Led Zeppelin, Dylan. But, I was raised in the '90s in the U.S. so that decade really heavily influenced my playing and life. I remember buying Before These Crowded Streets with my pocket money (I know that album by heart). Sublime was a big album for me as well; that haunting distinction between Ska and guitar - and his lyrics were out of this world. The Black Album was a slap in the face…Red Hot Chili Peppers released Californication when I lived in the U.S.; Nirvana erupted…and the list goes on. It was the best formative decade for lovers of all things Rock if you ask me.
PJ: Led Zeppelin and The Beatles were a big part of my youth and musical upbringing which explains my desire to come to London. Dave Matthews Band, Tracy Chapman and the whole acoustic scene of the '90s and '00s really influenced my playing - in their unique take on drumming and sound crafting. The Seattle scene of the '90s was a huge influence for me. Dave Grohl is a god, Dave Grohl is a god.
What do you hope to achieve before the end of 2018?
Honestly; 2018 is like a birth (re-birth) for us. We’re going to let our debut E.P. out into the world and we want to bring it to as many people as possible. We have three objectives for us by the end of 2018:
- Tour at least four European countries.
- Get played by Lauren Laverne on BBC Radio 6 Music.
- Bag ourselves a couple of festivals for next summer (because we love playing festivals)!
- Have a groupie ask us to sign her breasts - because that’s a bit of a milestone for any Rock artist, eh?
Do you think there will be touring dates? Can we catch you on tour?
Oh, there will be numerous touring dates! We’re still in the process of finalising the E.P. tour bookings - for after we finish recording the E.P. – but, in the meantime, we play all the time. We’re playing a really cool gig on 7th of August at The Monarch Bar & Venue in Camden alongside two bands we love and who have become mates, Romances and Big Peyote. It’s gonna be a rad night.
On 5th September, we’ll be opening for Malcolm Bruce’s band (Jack Bruce’s son - legendary Cream bassist) at The Camden Assembly. Those are just a couple of cool dates coming up. But, if you give us a follow on our socials, we’ll be announcing our tours soon!
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music – the one that sticks in the mind?
Martin: My career is actually quite fresh in music, so all memories stick to mind. But, I’ll say that recording at Abbey Road is a bit of a milestone for us - and I’m super-excited for people to hear what we’ve been up to as the duo!
PJ: One time at band camp, I stuck a flute up my pussy. Nah…kidding. No, but, seriously; in our last Europe Tour, we had a date in a church in my hometown in Italy. The date was sold out, all friends and family and my people were gathered to listen to us play an acoustic set. I must admit that was a very emotional moment - I’ll remember that one for a long time!
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
It would have to be Queens of the Stone Age, hands down. They are the living embodiment of Rock and Roll. They have taken this style of music to new heights in their last two albums.
The rider. Ah. It would have to be a whole bunch of fresh and ripe fruit! We love our fruit. We wouldn’t say ‘no’ to a quiet room where we can concentrate before the gig. For after? Just a bucket of ice-cold Coronas and some homemade guacamole (Abuela made if possible. Haha) with tortilla chips. I’d (Martin) say a good glass (or two) of Lagavulin. I can’t get enough of that sh*t.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
1 - Stay Ninja; 2- Keep at it; 3 - Don’t be an ass.
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Ugh; so many! Our buddies Swedish Death Candy, we love them; a band called Hot Teeth. We were blown away by their set at Rock the Boat at The Finsbury (which, by the way, is a really cool night to check out). We’d love to mention RavenEye as well. We opened for them in the past. They’re beast performers and lovely chaps!
IN THIS PHOTO: RavenEye/PHOTO CREDIT: Blackman Images
Do you get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Martin and PJ: We like to cook w, to explore the cities e tour in and taste their culinary specialities. That’s why we can’t wait to get back on the road. Martin almost cried tasting a slice of pizza in Rome. Seriously; I saw his eyes water...
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).
Martin: The Black Keys - Weight of Love
PJ: The Beatles – Something
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