An interview with Sundara Karma
Ahead of their gig at O2 Academy earlier this month, our deputy music eds caught up with frontman Oscar and drummer Haydn of Reading indie band Sundara Karma to talk Viola Beach, joke answers, and turning into a lobster…
How’s the tour going so far?
Oscar: We were in Birmingham last night, it’s the second night of our tour but we’ve been on the road with Two Door Cinema Club for the past two weeks…
Yeah, you played the Guild!
O: Yeah, it was fun! So it doesn’t feel like the second night of the tour, it feels like the thirtieth night!
How was touring with Two Door?
O: It was fun, the crowds were great!
The first time we ever saw you was October 2015, in The Magnet in Liverpool. At the time you weren’t as well known and the gig was really intimate, so how would you say you’ve progressed as a band since then?
O: I guess more people come to the shows, that’s quite an obvious thing that’s changed. There’s been quite a natural progression, so I don’t feel like anything’s happened too quickly. It’s hard to see the progression when you’re in it, but just seeing the venues get bigger is cool.
Yeah, the Magnet’s tiny, so playing here is a big step up!
Haydn: I remember that show quite well.
O: See, I don’t, because I was so drunk!
It was a really good show, it was cool!
O: Apparently there was a fight!
H: Yeah, there was!
Yeah, you guys stopped the show like ‘We’re not having any fighting in here!’. At that show we were hanging out with Jack and River from the late band Viola Beach, and they were saying you were one of their major influences, you were a band who they really loved and looked up to…
O: You know what, we put a club night on once and they played and I remember I was speaking to the guys and they were just the friendliest dudes, and they said they loved the demo version of The Night, or the B-side.
Do you guys have anybody who influences you?
O: [whips out his phone] I’m sure we have. I’ll just have a look through my phone. Literally, just as you walked in I was playing Death of a Ladies’ Man, by Leonard Cohen, and right there it says The Lemon Song by Led Zeppelin, so I dunno, that’s probably the best indication, just what I’ve been listening to recently.
H: Lenny Kravitz.
O: You love Lenny Kravitz.
We really love the album, how have you found the reaction to it? I know people who went to see Two Door Cinema Club and were more excited to see you guys…
O: Really? That’s crazy, that’s so flattering. It’s been good generally, the reaction.
H: It’s always quite nice to see someone really fucking hating it though!
Do you get many people who actually hate it?
H: Not so many, but there’s the odd people.
O: If someone doesn’t like something, it’s funny how much time people give explaining why they don’t like something.
H: Almost more time than people give explaining why they love something.
O: There’s a seventeen minute long YouTube video of someone just dicking on the album…
H: Taking no prisoners either! I respect that.
O: I do respect it.
How was the recording process of the album? How long did it take?
O: We did it in bits, but I suppose if we condensed it all together…
H: Maybe like three weeks, four weeks? Overall.
What would you say your favourite songs were off the album?
H: Mine kind of changes every so often. I like playing Watching From Great Heights at the moment.
O: Yeah, it seems to go down quite well. What’s your favourite track?
Deputy music ed Holly: I really like Flame.
Deputy music ed Chloe: [gets v flustered over the idea of one of her favourite bands asking which song of theirs she likes best and forgets every single song Sundara Karma have ever made] That’s a really good question! I don’t like being asked questions, that’s normally my job!
Deputy music ed Holly: We like Vivienne too, that’s like the first song we fell in love with.
Deputy music ed Chloe: [finally remembers a Sundara Karma song she likes] I like She Said, as well. We watched your Live Lounge, how did that go?
O: It was okay. It was pretty terrifying, to be honest with you. Probably one of the most scary things we’ve ever had to do.
H: Because it’s actually live.
O: The thing is, it is live. Like, you go into a room and there’s hardly anyone there, but then you start thinking about how many people could potentially be listening.
We listened, in the library in the middle of revision! We loved your cover (of Bruno Mars’ 24K Magic), were you happy with how that went?
O: Yeah, we really loved it! Again, some people don’t like it.
H: But you can’t please them all, can you?
O: I think it was mainly Bruno Mars fans who didn’t like it!
You’re doing loads of festivals this summer, is there any that you’re particularly looking forward to?
O: We can say Bilbao, thing is we don’t know what’s been confirmed yet.
H: We can say Bilbao, what’s the other one that we got told about?
O: 110 Above? We’re headlining that!
H: Yeah, that’s the first festival that we did last year, and now they’ve invited us back to headline it! That’s a cool little festival, I like that one. It’s in Leicestershire, isn’t it?
[They then take it in turns to pronounce ‘Leicestershire’ in weird accents]
Do you prefer doing the more intimate festivals or the bigger ones?
O: I think a bit of both, you can get quite jaded with too much of the same, so it’s nice to mix it up. I don’t know which one I prefer though, again I think it depends on which one we’re doing more of, it’s kind of one or the other.
Where did you get your band name from?
O: Just a lot of acid! Nah, I’m joking. Do you want the serious answer or the joke answer?
H: We have many joke answers.
Serious answer first? I’m intrigued as to what joke answers you give!
H: Well, it works better if we give you one of the wrong answers first. One of the answers we give is that it’s from a fortune cookie.
O: Or that it means ‘Cheerios’ in Japanese. And then the real answer just isn’t very interesting. We just really agree with the sentiment. It means ‘beautiful karma’. We wanted ‘karma’ to be in the band name, but all of the other band names we had felt a bit lacklustre compared to the one we have now.
If you were going to be an animal, what animal would you be?
O: You’d be a lobster?
H: Nah, only because of that film where the guy turns into a lobster. I wouldn’t wanna be a lobster actually. I’d wanna be a fish.
O: Maybe just like, a dog? That’d be a chilled life, I wouldn’t mind that. You wouldn’t have anything to worry about!