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Basketball, Books and the 1980s: An Interview with Kalimoto

by tonydoug wright

A few months ago, I had the pleasure of reviewing Kalimoto's Multicore album (see review). Kalimoto definitely has a unique sound that is comparable in ways to Oasis or Crowded House. Their songs are perfect indie pop that reflects those crazy but memorable teenage/early adult years. Band members Al, Joe, Mark and Rob were kind enough to answer a few questions via e-mail. Thanks, Kalimoto.

Your biography states that Kalimoto was decided upon as a band name during a basketball game. Who is the best hoops player in the band? Are you serious players or just an easy-going bunch?

We normally play '2 on 2' after band rehearsal, as it's a good wind-down and whilst we play, we usually discuss band issues and ideas - although we haven't played basketball for a while, because the rehearsal room we practice at these days doesn't have a basketball court. Probably just as well though, as a couple of times 2 of us have received hand injuries right before gigs and/or recording! Joe is arguably the best hoops player; he should've got a contract with a team, haha! None of us are nowhere near Michael Jordan standard though! No, we're not serious players, although we are all rather competitive when it comes to any challenge: basketball, football (soccer), Playstation, Frisbee, I-Spy, you name it! Generally speaking though, we're an easy-going bunch and we're very good friends...we think this is one of the key essential catalysts of being in a band. We enjoy hanging out and playing together, which is great.

I noticed on your web site that the band just covered 'The Chauffeur' by Duran Duran for an 80's cover album. Did you choose the song or did someone else suggest it?

Well, our US label, Souvenir Records, wanted to compile an album of cover versions of songs from the 1980's, and asked us if we would be interested in submitting something. We were definitely up for it, especially as all 4 of us take a lot of our influences from bands/artists from that decade, a decade which spawned and/or nurtured so many different music genres.... new wave, hip-hop, new romantic, Goth, acid house, electro, synths to name but a few, as well as an endless list of great artists like The Smiths and U2. All of these have had an impact on us in some way or another. Souvenir left it up to us to decide what song we would like to provide, on the premise that it was from an artist that collectively inspired us. After much debate (normal for any band!), and a short list of about 20 songs(!) from lots of different bands, we all finally agreed upon 'The Chauffeur' by Duran Duran. We all really admire Duran Duran (coincidentally Rob saw them a couple of weeks ago at Wembley and they were superb), and all love the song, which should've been a single in our opinion. When we initially recorded the song several months ago, subsequently we felt that perhaps it was worked on an angle that was perhaps too similar to the original version. There's nothing wrong with doing a cover of a great song, but only if it's done in a new style, otherwise it's pointless. So we scrapped the first take and did it again completely from scratch with a completely new feel, approach and 'Kalimoto style', and we were very happy with the outcome. We're happy to say the label liked it too! We hope Simon Le Bon and company like it too, if they get to hear it.

Multicore was a fantastic album that earned great reviews. Are you feeling any pressure while recording your second album? Do you have a working title?

Thank you very much. Well, there is that old cliché about the difficult second album! But we feel extremely positive about the follow-up because we feel that we have all matured as songwriters and musicians over the past year or so, and virtually all of the songs that are in-line to be on the 2nd album are brand new, very fresh indeed. The only pressure is fitting in rehearsals and recording for album 2, alongside rehearsing and promoting album 1. There aren't enough hours in the day sometimes! But we're up for the challenge (like we said earlier, we love challenges!). The working title is 'Some of them are Killers', whether that will become the ultimate title, we shall see. We have a lot of songs to choose from provisionally, but we will whittle it down to a combination of the best songs and ones that give the whole album a good flow and overall feel about it. We'll cross the selection bridge once we have all the songs finished. We're very excited about it, that's for sure.

What do you have lined up for the summer? Gigs? More recording?

Most of this summer (vacations aside) will have a focus on recording the 2nd album, so no other gigs are planned at this stage until after completion of the LP. Once we have finished that, then we are looking to do a lot of shows, hopefully a summer festival appearance in the UK as well.

Is anyone in Kalimoto reading a good book? Any suggestions?

Rob: I often read several books in parallel! I've just finished reading American Scream - The Bill Hicks story by Cynthia True -he was a comedic genius that the world misses; and at the moment I'm reading High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (again), which is a very funny and poignant book (I enjoyed the film as well); Dear Boy - The Life of Keith Moon by Tony Fletcher, which is a fascinating and emotional read, the guy was just incredible; and The Smiths - Songs That Changed Your Life by Simon Goddard, which is a book which focuses on all of The Smiths' key songs and the background behind them. I love to find out the roots, thoughts and background of an artist, I find it very inspirational.

When can we expect a Kalimoto US Tour?

We're hoping that we will get over to the USA later this year. Once album 2 is completed, then we will be in a much better position to focus on the opportunity and make that step.

Rob: I love the USA, and I'm very eager to get to play over the 'other side of the 'pond'', as indeed we all are.

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Issue 23, May 2004

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