Wednesday 24 April 2019

An Interview With THE CAPTAIN From KAL-EL

Norwegian Fuzz/Spaced Out/Stoner Rockers KAL-EL have steadily been making a name for themselves over the last few years with their most recent albums Ecopshere and Astrodoomeda winning acclaim within the Fuzz/Stoner Rock community. 

This has lead the band to being signed to Argonauta Records and playing countless gigs over the last few years.

However the band has experienced a few lows recently and I wanted to catch up with the band to see how things are doing within the KAL-EL camp. I'm happy to say that THE CAPTAIN who provides vocals for the band give me this very cool and honest interview where we discussed the recent obstacles the bands have faced and what the future holds for KAL-EL.

Hi Kal-El Thanks for doing this interview. How are things with you today. Been a while.

Hi Steve, thanks for checking in on us. Yeah, been a while indeed. Glad to see you decided to continue the good work with updating the community on new bands, releases and all the good stuff. There is not many warriors like you, and we need every single one of you guys. Thank you!!

Well, even if we don’t seem to be very active as of late on the surface, there has been a whole lot of activity behind the scenes. We have been hard at work in the studio making our follow-up to the well received Astrodoomeda. We immediately felt the pressure of making a «good follow-up record» with everything we saw happening after the  Astrodoomeda release, getting invited backstage at Ozzy Osbourne show, getting messages from Tony Iommi, mails from Blasko and so on, but it all kinda faded away when Liz became very ill. 

To the point that she has to sit out several shows. She is not giving up easy, so she’ll fight as long as she can, and we, of course, support her in every possible way. She is now and forever our sister, a vital part of the family, and we do whatever we can to give her time to get through this. She, on her side though, has said that this train called Kal-El needs to continue, so we have our brother Torp stepping in whenever we need to travel without her.

Things have been really busy with KAL-EL recently with Rolf Thore (Guitarist) leaving recently. What happened there. Are you still on good terms with Rolf. As he was a major part of KAL-EL overall sound.

Yeah, second blow lately. The family bit took too much time, and with two small kids, touring ate him more and more to the point he flat out threw in the towel. We fully support his decision, and there is NO bad blood between the remaining Kal-El and Roffe. He will continue to be our brother, the same friend he always has been, just outside the band now, taking care of his family.

As for the sound, yeah, he certainly had a distinctive way of bending the guitars to his will, with a lot of the current sound being a part of that. However, even if a certain play style go away, the music and the riffs will remain. Rest assured that it will be every bit as heavy and melodic as it’s always been. Even more so with two guitar players!

You’ve added a new member to the ranks with Kristoffer «Doffy» Ranawerra. And you’ve also added a 2nd Guitarist to KAL-EL as well with Josh joining recently Did you know both Doffy and Josh before they both joined the band

Doffy has been a friend of the members of Kal-El, for as long as I can remember, with Bjudas playing drums in his band, Borderline Case, for several years. When Roffe decided to call it quits, his name came up pretty fast, and he quickly came around joining us full-time. His other band is pretty far away from our sound, so he went out and bought all the heaviest fuzz boxes he could find, just to come as close to the Kal-El sound he could, and after a few rehearsals we pretty much agreed upon the fact that we had our guy.

Josh played in a band called Leafy, which at some point in time did support for us, so we kind of knew of him. When we decided to add another guitar to thicken the live sound (even more than with Roffe), he was one of the guys showing up for audition. We had been through long sessions with guys maybe not totally understanding what our music is all about, so we where kinda taken off guard when he just waltzed in, knowing ALL the songs of Astrodoomeda, and whatever he could find on YouTube. And on the parts he wasn’t sure of what to do, he, with tons of confidence, just jammed along with killer improv stuff we just loved. After a brief discussion after the session, we knew we had our second guitar player, and man, the wall of sound live will blow you away.

What does Doffy and Josh bring individually to the KAL-EL sound.

Beside being the same kind of bad humour, easy going, good people as the rest of the band (!), it will definitely up the game on the technical bit of our music. Roffe was never a solo guitar player (he is a firm believer of delivering power cords only), and he always cringed when he had to come up with something solo-ish. Now we got two players, both capable of ripping killer solos, so that’s one aspect of the music going forward, that will have the biggest impact.

If Doffy is a more «delicate» guitarist with deep psychedelia solos, Josh is a more brute power cord player with great knowledge of the genre and the riff. Have no fear though, Kal-El will never become a guitar solo type of band, the mighty riff will always be the catalyst for the music, but perhaps the solos that do appear, will be somewhat more technical than they’ve been before.

Argonauta Records have just released your 2015 album Ecopshere on Vinyl. Nice. Congrats on that. So how did that idea come about to release the album on Vinyl. Was it your idea or Gero at Argonauta Records.

This is all on Gero. He approached us with the idea that he will reissue our entire catalogue on Argonauta Records, one record at the time. So, with Ecosphere out now on red special edition vinyl, I guess sometime next year or so, Pakal will appear on perhaps yellow vinyl? Who knows,

Gero runs that show, but we are very pleased indeed with the fact that Ecosphere now is available on vinyl. We are very pleased with Gero and his hard work for all his bands on Argonauta Records, and for him to re-release all our records under his umbrella, kind of tell us he is serious about keeping us around.

Are you pleased how the vinyl has came out. As the vinyl looks epic in the pictures you’ve posted on your Facebook Page.

We are very happy that our fans will get the opportunity to get it on vinyl. It looks killer with blood red vinyl, and the artist, Mr Voetman who made the artwork, always had vinyl size cover in mind when he made it.

You did a USA Tour back in 2018. How was that tour and how was reception to the KAL-EL Live Experience from the USA crowd.

It became quite a bit more than expected. We knew we had some record sales there, but for fans to travel by plane to get to our shows, covered with Kal-El tattoos was a bit overwhelming. The Captain had to give away his scene shirts to fans, and we were quite surprised over the reception. First night in Seattle with a sold out Sub Station kinda set the barrier, and with our brothers in Wizzerd as touring buddies, we had one a hell of a time there.

There is a so much to tell about that tour, much will stay on the road though (you know, what happens on tour, stay on tour :) ) but to bring up a few highlights; meeting Butch Vig, the producer of Nevermind in Seattle at our show, recording in a desert at sunset, millions of Corona, getting high on Cody’s porch in Visalia, playing Kyuss on 11 as we crossed the Nevada desert and meeting tons of good bands and people would be some of the things we will forever cherish from that tour

Do you have any future plans to return to the USA and do more gigs.

There are indeed plans in motion, so the answer is yes :)

Do you have any more gigs in Europe coming this year. I’ve seen a date in the UK later this year. Can you give more details of upcoming gigs and festival appearances.

We have a few gigs between now and the EU tour in October-November. The exact dates and venues will be announced when it is getting a bit closer, but due to Liz, we decided to concentrate on the new record instead of booking a lot of shows before the fall this year. We do a festival in Derby during the UK dates as well as a show in Edinburgh and Bradford.

We also have two major «fall» festivals in Netherlands and Belgium lined up, but not all in with details yet. The EU tour we do together with Wizzerd, and man, we look forward to hook up with those guys again

Other things happening is a few Kal-El members together with some local musicians will do a one time only Black Sabbath tribute later this year in our home-town of Stavanger.

Will you be recording any new music in the future. Or is too soon to talk about a new record from KAL-EL.

We dropped a single digitally last year, our take on the everlasting «Cocaine» by JJ Cale, and as I’ve hinted earlier in the interview, we have a new record coming this year, early October, where it will be to find. We are beyond exited to share this new music with our fans, and hopefully new fans, as its a more darker theme to it all this time around.
Even if its still in the sci-fi universe lyrically, its somewhat more about death and manipulation this time, and less «need for speed» joyride fun as «Spacecraft». The upcoming record had the work title «Quadrutopia», but will be named «Witches of Mars». The cover-art is all about done, and will be presented within a few weeks i guess.

The songs will be mixed and mastered by Ruben Willem at Caliban Studios during the summer months, so its kinda all hands in to finish the last bits of tweaking now.

After this release, we will tour and play a lot to get the new guys into it all, then again we always make new riffs, have plenty of ideas, but perhaps we need to let fans digest what we have released so far. Maybe an EP or a single now and again, but a full record might be a few years away after Witches of Mars. 

How do you feel towards Argonauta Records and All Noir

Gero is an ACE dude. He really genuinely cares about his bands. We hooked up while we played in Italy, but never had the chance to sit down and have a good talk due to busy schedules. We know however, that he has plans for us, and after teaming up with Mona at All Noir to give us brilliant PR coverage, we couldn’t be more happy at the moment. We haven’t really seen what Mona can do, as she came on board after Astrodoomeda, but I guess we will see the full power of her reach when we release Witches of Mars in October.

What we do lack though, is being on the roster of a booking agent. We haven’t really talked seriously to anyone yet, but perhaps we will contact some agents in near future so see if there is any interest. And also, perhaps as time go, a manager. As you know the Captain manages the band (as I have a hard time just letting other people fix stuff) but it does take a lot of time, and to be honest, I relax more and more and wouldn’t mind giving the right person to do the job. The band still exist, and I’m still on speaking terms with every member, so I guess it hasn’t been too bad so far.

Thanks for doing this interview. Before you go do you have anything to say to your fans. Best of luck with the new vinyl.

Spacers, please buy music and support the scene, and support your local bands and buy their music and merch too. There is probably great bands where you live that is just as good as any major acts, just kept in silence. Keep supporting, and together we build this underground of heavy riffs.

Thank you some much for reaching out Steve, keep fighting the good fight brother

Words by Steve Howe and The Captain


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