Thursday 28 June 2018

INTERVIEW: A year and a half in the life of Kurokuma

Blowing brains wide open since the release of an early two track demo in 2014, Sheffield based atomsmahers Kurokuma have made quite the impression on the doom scene, supporting the likes of Crowbar, Trap Them, Conan, KEN Mode, Skeletonwitch, Goatwhore and Samothrace.  

As well as tours with Dvne and then Vinnum Sabbathi in 2017, it seems that despite the gap of almost two years since the release of their acclaimed debut EP “Advorsus” Kurokuma have built a solid foundation based upon their devastating lives shows and unrelenting work ethic.  

Now as we begin to the enter the second half of 2018 and although they have never been away, Kurokuma are set to make some big announcements and we felt it was appropriate to get the scoop.  I recently hooked with Kurokuma drummer Joe E. Allen to chat about the roots of the band and what the future holds.  Check it out below 

Can you give us an insight into how you started playing music, leading up to the formation of Kurokuma?

Joe: Jake and myself have known each other since we met a long time ago at Corp in Sheffield. After I moved back from Japan more recently we were hanging out, smoking, listening to Electric Wizard, jamming, you know. Isn’t that how all doom bands start? We also wanted to make sure we were adding more exotic instrumentation and rhythms into the mix. We found our exotic bassist, George through an online ad after our original one left.

For those people unfamiliar with your band, are there any bands on the scene past and present that you would use as a reference point bands to describe your band, and who or what continues to inspire you and push you to try new things?

Joe: It was originally Black Tusk, Black Breath and other bands that start with Black. The more primal, rhythmic elements came from listening to “Battle Against Clown” from the Akira soundtrack, me playing the taiko drum in Japan and a shared appreciation of South American electronic music. Also George being a percussionist as well helps.

We have pretty high and adventurous standards when it comes to what passes as worthwhile music. Seeing off-the-wall bands like Granule and Birushanah recently in Japan feeds the creativity. Our music is meant to represent raw power at its core. All music is an inspiration. In fact, anything at all is - you can draw that power from anything and anywhere and then put it back out for the people.

Since the release of your well received debut “Advorsus” in September 2016 can you summarise what you guys have been up to over the last 18 months or so. Any highlights you’d like to mention and any forthcoming announcements you’d like to share with our readers?  

Joe: A lot has happened since that. UK tours with Under, Dvne and then Vinnum Sabbathi from Mexico. “Siege of Limerick” in Ireland last year was our first show abroad, then earlier this year we did Japan with Conan and Granule, then Iceland for the 4/20 weekend…

Japan was just as dope as you’d expect. Probably more actually. The fans were receptive to us and Conan, especially cos it wasn’t a kind of music they were necessarily used to. We had a team of people linked to “The Doom Doc” following us round and they’re working on a short film. I’ve seen clips and it’s gonna be a nice piece exploring touring, as well as Japan’s metal scene and cannabis culture there. It’ll be out later this year.

And we’ve got a video diary we filmed ourselves in Iceland coming out very soon. We were there for a 4/20 event with the Icelandic premiere of “The Doom Doc”. A lot happened that weekend, including one of the members of Morpholith getting arrested haha. So that video diary will be out at the start of June along with the release of “The Doom Doc” on DVD, finally.

Soon we’re playing in an actual cinema down in Bristol soon for another screening of “The Doom Doc”. That’s with 11paranoias, Under, A Horse Called War and Shrykull - five bands all featured in the film. That will be sick, visuals and the lot

Then we have our first release in over a year and a half coming out in August on Doom Stew Records. They’re based in San Francisco and run by the drummer from Brume.

Does anything spring to mind when you think about the completion of your upcoming record and how is the mood in the camp at present?

Joe: We’re enjoying everything that’s happening right now, soaking it all in. But we’re very pleased to finally have some new music to put out, and on vinyl this time. Feels like a very long time since “Advorsus” came out and we don’t really play those songs much anymore. We’ve gone to town with this new release - it’s a concept EP and it’s pretty special. I mean, check the artwork for a start.

It’s all based on the Dope Rider strip from High Times in the 70s. We got in touch with Paul Kirchner - the creator and artist - and he was very into the idea so he let us use any of the art. The lyrics in one of the tracks are from one specific Dope Rider story, and that whole story is printed in full on the lyric sheet insert. It’s gonna be a very nice thing to hold in your hands, especially for fans of beautiful and surreal art.

What stands out as your overarching memory from the recording sessions?

Joe: We recorded it with Sam from Slabdragger down at “The Cro’s Nest” in Croydon. It was a funny few days for a few different reasons which I won’t go into, but looking back on the positives Sam has a really nice place where we stayed and the weather was hot so it was a good, sweaty time.

One thing that sticks out was having to dash to see this guitar tech guy after Sam was hearing some weird notes on George’s bass during recording. This guy has a little shop and has worked with bands like Judas Priest. After getting it reset the bass was sounding perfect. We did a couple of experiments with South American instrumentation as well, some of which made it onto the final mix.

We ended up taking the tracks to Chris from “Skyhammer Studio” and he did a mix that left the two tracks sounding nice and big. It’s been a very long process up until the release but that’s what can happen, ya know.

With you new record in the bag, how is your schedule shaping up over the next 12 months?

Joe: This August we hit up Eastern Europe on tour, including Rockstadt in Romania and Brutal Assault in Czech Republic. We’re playing with Converge twice so I’m gonna ask Kurt Ballou if he wants to record our next release. Also gonna get a photo with Danzig.

We have a split EP planned with some friends of ours on a notorious Sheffield label. We’re recording a cover we’ve been working on and some deep, dubby cuts.

Then we do a UK tour with a dope powerviolence band from Japan, announcing that officially soon. Then a handful of dates with Boss Keloid. We’re on about going back to Japan, maybe Ireland again. We might be just about ready to record an album at some point next year...

We also have one more track left over from that last studio session so we’ll be putting it out on a split with a certain Mexican band - you can probably guess who if you think hard enough.

Finally, do you have any last words?

Joe: Big up THE SLUDGELORD and the Sheffield sludge crew.

The End

Band info: facebook || bandcamp