Interview: Sundara Karma

Sundara Karma

sundara karma gaz jonesWords: Gary Lambert

Photos: Gaz Jones

Generally within the first three minutes of meeting a band you have a good idea as to how the interview is going to go. When Popped Music met Sundara Karma at the end of an intensive tour, as the band’s collective target was to play three more gigs and then “sleep will be like a holiday”, the atmosphere was tense, tired and yours truly was filled with dread. This multiplied as Oscar, singer and attention catcher of Sundara Karma asked “can we just do the interview in here”. We were in a large and cheap pub in the heart of Liverpool’s student district and the idea of trying to conduct an interview and photo shoot in there was almost as depressing as the bar itself. “To be honest, we have arranged with another bar down the road to use their beer garden for the shoot, so if you will just trust us, we will go there instead”.

 

The band agreed to it I think out of sympathy for the pitiful tone in my voice, but this favour to us changed everything. Everybody had bits to do, a phone call to make, a face to wash, some texts to read or a cigarette to smoke and then we reconvened in the doorway. What had happened in those two minutes baffled me, but the change in the whole band was massive. All of a sudden everybody was filled with life and as we walked to McKenzie’s Whiskey Bar it felt like we had been invited into the lives of some very close friends. Afterwards it was explained to me that the biggest drain on the band when touring is the quiet times. And when all of the band are having a quiet time together it intensifies. So making them move to another location broke the brooding spell (I’m taking a part credit for the fantastic gig later that night too).

 

sundara karma gaz jonesOnce the photo shoot finished, we sat down in our beer garden with some delightful libations braving the chill and threat of rain and started to talk properly. Although the band were playing Liverpool and London, all eyes were firmly fixed on the last day of term, the hometown show. “It’s the first time we have ever sold out a night out in Reading based on pre-sales only. It’s going to be madder than our Reading Festival after party that we had at the same venue. This one is going to take days to recover from. It’s a two hundred capacity venue and the cap has been hit. There isn’t even room for one more. And to be honest, if a friend hadn’t known that we were playing that wouldn’t be that close. We’ve been looking forward to this for a while”.

 

With two EPs under their belt, Sundara Karma have shown a smart, educated progression thus far. The structure of their music generally reflects the state of their career at present which has followed an upward curve. “We are really busy with it at the moment, it has taken a lot of hard work but we are now at a point where things are happening non-stop. After so many years of trying, we are now actually looking forward for a time we can just sit down and relax. We are all childhood friends so we have been doing this since we were about fourteen. We have had quite a few name and style changes, but we have been in it together since we played shitty pub gigs like you do when you’re kids and they will put you on. It’s always been this, no matter how many different names”.

 

The name they settled on, Sundara Karma, offers an eastern mysticism which is not apparent in their music. “The name means Beautiful Karma and it comes from a language called Parlay. It covers our view that if we are nice people then everything will turn out alright”. The band symbol of the sun fits in with that and makes me think of a hippyish insignia inspired by the stylised logo of anti-hero legends Black Flag. However the band have had a different take on it recently, “Someone said it is just the brightness button from a Mac, so we will not be able to trademark the shit out of it sadly”. For me though it is well cooler than that and represents a simple happiness that these four laid back gents emanate. The band have all had the logo tattooed on to them – and invited me to join them for my Black Flag reference. I declined.

 

sundara karmaAlthough the band are very happy-go-lucky in the general demeanour, there is distinctly an edge to them, a sharpness as they realise that this is their chance now. The brilliantly titled EP2 was recorded in just over a week at a studio in north London. Four songs, including a more playful number with Marika “We have improved a lot in the studio. Previously we would go in and sit around and wait for something to happen, now we are a lot more focused. Everything is tracked, although often drums are recorded as live so to give people a guide for their recording”.

 

The focus for 2016 seems to be very much to continue along the path which has been guiding them well so far. “We want to continue touring as much as possible and selling out more shows. But most of all we want to put out a debut album that we can be proud of. We don’t really care what other people say about us so if we are proud of it, then that will be the dream. That would be success to us”.

 

When asked to sum up Sundara Karma in three words, I was expecting something a bit deeper than “lots of bantz”, “really fucking great” and “holy fucking shit”, but that is the key to Sundara Karma; great guys making good music and enjoying what they’ve worked to get. And if they keep believing that making themselves feel proud of what they produce is the most important thing, then they might just get a bit of beautiful karma shining on them in return.

Sundara Karma are on tour:

23/02/2016 – Thekla, Bristol
24/02/2016 – Bullingdon, Oxford
25/02/2016 – Talking Heads, Southampton
26/02/2016 – Moles, Bath
27/02/106 – Patterns, Brighton
28/02/2016 – Portland Arms, Cambridge
29/02/2016 – King Tut
s, Glasgow
01/03/2016 – Sneaky Pete
s, Edinburgh
02/03/2016 – Think Tank, Newcastle
04/03/2016 – Gorilla, Manchester
05/03/2016 – Leadmill, Sheffield
06/03/2016 – The Wardrobe, Leeds
07/03/2016 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
08/03/2016 – Rainbow, Birmingham
09/03/2016 – Waterfront, Norwich
10/03/2016 – Dingwalls, London
11/03/2016 – Sub 89, Reading 

Nothing But Thieves Support :

31/03/3016 – 02 Institute, Birmingham
01/04/2016 – 02 Shepherds Bush, London
02/04/2016 – 02 Ritz, Manchester
03/04/2016 – Waterfront, Norwich
05/04/2016 – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham
06/04/2016 – Riverside, Newcastle
07/04/2016 – 02 ABC, Glasgow
08/04/2016
– Leadmill, Sheffield
09/04/2016 – Trinity, Bristol
30/04/2016 – Live At Leeds, Leeds

Watch the video for A Young Understanding here:

 

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