EMQ’s with KULL
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with Sheffield, England based Epic Symphonic Black Metal band, Kull. Huge thanks to all of them for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
[C]: Chris Maudling – Guitars.
[W]: Wak – Drums
[J]: Jonny Maudling – Composer/keyboard player. Kull basically picked up from where Bal-Sagoth left off.
[M]: Alistair MacLatchy – bassist for Kull. Kull formed from the remains of Bal-Sagoth, after Tarkan stepped up to sing for us in Liverpool in 2011, when the previous guy decided to be absent.
[T]: Tarkan – vocalist and lyricist. I was a Bal-Sagoth fan for many years before getting to know everyone personally following my move to Sheffield to pursue a History & Philosophy degree back in 2000. Around the same time, I formed the band Extreme Maggot Infestation (later renamed Dyscaphia) with me on guitar, Wak on drums and a couple of other friends. Some years later Wak was poached by Sagoth after having a few changes to who took the throne for them. It wasn’t until much later that I stood in for Byron at the last minute to play Liverpool back in 2011. It wasn’t my finest moment but I couldn’t give up the opportunity to share the stage with some of my favourite musicians and help out friends at the same time.
Following this, I started attending the weekly Sagoth rehearsals and gradually Kull came into existence from there.
How did you come up with your band name?
[M]: Don’t really know, I wasn’t at that meeting!
[C]: It fitted with the tone and narrative of the material.
[T]: We knew the kind of connotations we wanted with the name; something direct, to the point – a short, sharp shock ,if you will. But also, we wanted something that spoke of the Bal-Sagoth legacy. For those who aren’t aware, the name Bal-Sagoth is taken from the writings of Robert E. Howard – most commonly known as the creator of the character Conan. He was also the creator of another hero – almost a prototype of Conan – a little darker in some ways, a little more introspective – Kull seemed to fit both with the lyrics I was beginning to write at the time, it was short, direct and for the uninitiated kind of continues the great metal tradition of misspelling band names…Maybe we should add some umlauts.
What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?
[J]: UK Sheffield. It used to have a bit of a scene, and there are some notable bands from yesteryear which hail from here. It’s the North that gives the music its metal edge.
[C]: England/South Yorkshire. The metal/rock scene has declined over the last 10 years but we are fighting to keep it alive.
[T]: London born but have lived all over the place. Nowadays I consider Sheffield as my adopted hometown – although currently not living there. I must admit that I had already drifted from being part of any real scene and am pretty unfamiliar with the individual local happenings. Having said that, there are interesting bands coming up all over the country. We’re not a very big island and seemingly growing smaller all the time. I don’t see subdividing the UK metal scene into regions as necessarily helpful. We’re in this together after all and there are plenty in all sub genres of metal pushing the envelope and doing some really interesting things.
[M]: Sheffield, and the metal scene is probably best described as “Underground”. There’s Terminal Sun, and Eoten who are very good though.
What is your latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)
[T]: Our debut album “Exile” (out on Black Lion Records) – hopefully, we’ll have the follow up completed in the not too distant future.
‘Vow Of The Exiled’ (Official Visualiser)
‘Set Nakt Heh’ (Official Visualiser)
Who have been your greatest influences?
[J]: Everyone I ever got into, Geoff Love, Holst, Thrash/Death, 80’s contemporary, Classical, Tangerine Dream, Queen, The Police, John Peel, to name but a very few.
[C]: Metallica, Slayer, Kreator, Emperor, Deicide and many soundtrack albums.
[W]: Greatest influences on me and my playing style were probably Deicide, Fear Factory, Machine Head and Metallica.
[M]: Any of the musicians I have played alongside over the years (too many to list). You learn more from playing with other people than practicing alone.
[T]: I always find this difficult – In terms of lighting the fire of music and making me want to pursue that it’d have to be everything from Michael Jackson to Max Cavalera – those people that at some point made me look up to them. When it comes to lyrics/vocals etc, again it’s a melting pot. Robert E. Howard of course features prominently and has influenced what I’ve done with Kull as well as some solo tracks here and there. Michael Moorcock, Iain M Banks and a history of reading various historical text and esotericism also play a significant part. Coming to performing with what were certainly childhood idols at one stage, obviously Byron influenced my approach to the style I heard when presented with the Maudlings’ music. Added to that, however, and as someone who never really tried to be a vocalist, I try to learn new things from wherever I can – amazing metal vocalists abound these days; Psycroptic’s “Sceptre Of The Ancients” is a masterpiece, for example, and vocalists like CJ McCreery & Travis Ryan (off the top of my head) are phenomenal, although I’m unsure how much of an influence any of that has really been on my own style.
What first got you into music?
[J]: My Parents record collection, probably a Geoff Love soundtrack thing.
[C]: My parents all made us (myself, brother and sister) have piano lessons at an early age. There was always a classical guitar lying about and many albums.
[W]: Essentially, it was hearing “Appetite For Destruction” and watching Heavy Metal Heaven on VHS, it was a live G’n’R concert hosted by Elvira.
[M]: My Dad was a guitarist in a band, and there were guitars all over the house – it was inevitable that I would follow the same way! The first band I ever really got into was Status Quo, which sealed my fate as a rocker and led me into metal some years later
[T]: In my earliest years it was all about Michael Jackson. As I grew it was discovering bands like G’n’R and then Sepultura and going on from there.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
[T]: It’d be interesting to do something with Voices – I can’t imagine how that would turn out!
[C]: Hans Zimmer probably.
[J]: It’s not really a desire of mine so I can’t really say. Maybe Tony MacAlpine?
[M]: I’m with Chris on this one – Hans Zimmer. His music is inspiring and varied, and lifts any film that he scores. I saw him live a few years ago, and it was probably the best concert I’ve ever seen.
[D]: Dino, right up to the moment he decides he wants to change the patterns.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
[W]: I’d love to have been around to play one of the old Monster of Rock festivals back in the day, things were different back then, somewhat less sanitized. Now I couldn’t decide between Download, Hellfest or Wacken.
[J]: Like the rest of the guys probably Download but any metal fest is always good.
[C]: Download would be great and it is in England.
[M]: The old Monsters of Rock at Donington (pre-Download). Back when there were only six bands and one stage – sometimes less is more!
[T]: It would have to be Wacken for me – I’d love to return there as not just a fan but an artist. With that or 70,000 Tons of Metal.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
[J]: None have been weird. Maybe a box of postcards from a country in the East.
[C]: A crate of Belgium beer. Not very interesting I know.
[T]: Other than maybe drinks after a set, I don’t think I can recall any. That doesn’t mean I didn’t get them, mind…just that I can’t actually recall.
[M]: Never really had one. I recall a case of Trappist beer in Antwerpen though.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
[J]: Keep open musical minds.
[M]: Never vote Tory
[C]: For all those loyal Bal-Sagoth fans and the newcomers to Kull, thanks for the support over the years. We have loads more to do for all you guys and hope to see you in the live arena very soon. We appreciate every one of you.
[T]: Thank you for sticking by us and showing us so much support over the last few tumultuous years. Your loyalty and fervour speak volumes!
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
[W]: Neil Peart.
[T]: This is such a tough one. So many talented people seem to have gone in recent years. For sheer personality, though, it would have to be Lemmy. He was the link between old time rock and roll and the current metal scene and a symbol of everything metal. Absolute legend that seemed he would outlive us all. Unfortunately, it was not to be.
[J]: There are a few, Cliff Burton, John Lennon, Sid Vicious, Jimmy Hendrix, Bon Scott.
[C]: Freddie Mercury.
[M]: Chris Cornell – the best vocalist ever.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
[J]: When it comes together & when it doesn’t.
[W]: Playing live shows for me nothing feels better, and the worst…waiting.
[M]: Playing live with my friends is the best feeling. Tinnitus is the worst feeling – wear your earplugs people!
[C]: Beginning as a rag tag unit and improving our live skills over the many rehearsals. It’s like levelling up and nothing feels like a good practice. The bad points are just playing way below par and bad stage sound. You have to be well rehearsed and 100% committed all of the time or there really is no point.
[T]: I love almost everything about actually being a musician form the initial composition to seeing how a song morphs and develops with others’ input to playing a show and connecting with fans.
What I hate isn’t really about being a musician as such but rather how its value is reduced to nothing by the society in which we find ourselves. Save for the upper echelons of controlled, corporate product, everyone kind of expects it for nothing. The value of a cd, a song, a gig – it’s nothing. We used to steal our music by tape trading etc. Now we expect it for free from the source itself. We used to save up for weeks to buy an album that we had ordered in and cherish every moment of that record – the cover art, the liner notes, the lyrics and the music itself. Now we begrudge paying 99p for a download.
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
[J]: I’d make the popular radio stations play more diverse music instead of the banal mediocrity that they currently do.
[M]: Manufactured music – I wish that they would stop programming backing tracks and auto-tuning vocalists, and get proper musicians playing actual instruments again.
[C]: Give more radio play to all types of music. Corporations are sacrificing art for a quick buck.
[T]: See above! I don’t know what the solution is, really. Technology has moved faster than the industry could ever have hoped for. I would like to see a greater diversity of music, especially here in the UK. With the internet people are continuously discovering more music that they love and may never have heard otherwise. Yet this fails to be reciprocated in our culture as the conglomerates and the media have a stranglehold on what actually reaches the people – for the most part churning out lowest possible common denominator detritus to make a few quid.
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
[W]: Machine Head – “Burn My Eyes”.
[M]: That’s tough to narrow it down to one, but I would say Pink Floyd – “Animals”.
[J]: Queen – “Greatest Hits”
[C]: Slayer – “Reign In Blood”
[T]: I don’t know how I can possibly reduce it to one but…*flips a coin*…Deicide – “Serpents Of The Light”!
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
[M]: I miss vinyl – there was a sense of occasion when you bought an album back then. I stream most of my music these days though – it’s more convenient.
[W]: I only really listen to music when I’m travelling, so, downloads all the way for me.
[J]: Vinyl for collecting, Download/Streaming for convenience, CD’s for the car, tape-no.
[C]: Not cassettes, they were not robust enough and the fast forwarding/rewinding was a hassle. CD’s are basically a hard copy of a download, but I prefer not having to store a mile of CD’s. I do miss vinyl and the whole size of the purchase; I could look at the album artwork and inlay notes for ages.
[T]: I will always have a soft spot for cassettes – despite the fact that they were shit – there’s nothing better than listening to something you recorded only to be graced by something totally incongruous that you forgot you had recorded over.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
[T]: For me this probably goes back to one night in Derby. I can’t remember where. I can’t remember when. But I was there. Alcohol might have been involved.
[M]: London Astoria 2 in ‘97, when Bal-Sagoth supported Emperor.
[W]: Close one, Brutal Assault was one of the biggest for me personally, but I don’t think anywhere I’ve played was better than Finland, both Helsinki & Turku, amazing fans there and possibly the most welcoming places I’ve ever been.
[J]: London LA2 with Emperor, Bloodstock 2002 wasn’t too bad either.
[C]: Bradford Rios for Bal-Sagoth back in 2002. I will get back to you with Kull as we only have played twice.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
[C]: Something to do with motorbikes, either teaching new riders or road racing.
[J]: Some kind of education thing.
[M]: Gaming or building model tanks.
[W]: I have no idea, I’m terrible at everything else *jokingly.
[T]: Being a dad and running a business takes up pretty much all my remaining time. What would I like to be? Either an author or an artist of some kind.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
[C]: James Hetfield, Glen Benton, Valentino Rossi, Sylvester Stallone and Bob Lazar
[J]: Bill Hicks, Vangelis, Stanley Kubrick, Oliver Hardy and Roland Rat.
[M]: Iain M Banks, Hans Zimmer, Mike Patton, Bill Bailey, Scarlett Johannsen
[T]: Brian Blessed, Stephen Fry, Lemmy, Aron Ra and Victoria Coren Mitchell.
What’s next for the band?
HRH Vikings and writing the follow up to Exile!
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
All the usual fare – you can find us on the usual streaming sites, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, now that I’ve set up a new one after being hacked.
Jaffa Cakes! Are they a cake or a biscuit?
[T]: They are a cake but only in the same way that a tomato is a fruit.
[M]: The clue is in the title.
[J]: A small wet cushion that tastes of chocolate. Probably a cake?
[W]: Which option gets taxed the least?
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
[J]: Cheers to all the believers that are with us, more good stuff to come!
[C]: Thanks for the interview and to the fans again who totally get what we are about.
[M]: It’s a privilege to still be able to make music with the guys in Kull, after all the years we have been together, and even more of a privilege to have the chance to share it with you lot!
[T]: Thanks to everyone who supports us and have stuck it out for the last few years. Rest assured the follow up is coming! Alea Iacta Est!
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