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Cobra Khan

Cobra Khan

Interviewed by
Courtney Sanders
Monday 21st November, 2011 12:36PM

Cobra Khan release their new full length album, Adversities, today. UTR caught up with Milon Williams to discuss the new record, how it's a progression from their earlier efforts and how it provided the band with a new lease of life.

You’ve got a new album, tell me a little bit about writing and recording it.

OK, well it was written the same way as the last album – Helgorithms – a year after that album came out. The process was the same insofar as me having some spare time over the summer holidays and just belting them out and demoing them at home and taking then taking them to the rest of the gang and seeing what they thought. A couple of songs had ideas added to them. We went really gung-ho on it after that, and made a solid plan, booking York Street in May 2010, but we didn't finish them off until January the following year; it just drew out completely because Evan Short our bass player had a lot of jobs on, so when he put his hand up to produce the record he was doing stuff like the David Dallas album and the PNC album, and because that’s his bread and butter we didn’t want to put any pressure on him to finish it. We just kind of rolled with the punches a bit and tried to finish it off as soon as we could. It ended up taking a year in bi-monthly intervals a couple of days at a time which was kind of strange having written the songs in 2009, it was really easy to feel disconnected from the whole process. Now that we’ve got there in the end I'm absolutely stoked but don’t recommend doing it that way again.

I'm really glad that we did stick with Evan to finish it off regardless of how busy he was because he achieved exactly what we wanted. We had a few line-up changes over that time and ultimately feel better with where we are now as a band and are determined to tour this one and play it to death and do a lot more with it.

Does the album as a whole still resonate with where you guys are at as a band right now, even though the writing and recording process was so drawn out?

Absolutely. In a way it feels like a sequel to the last record as far as the way it’s structured and the facet that it takes all sorts of twists and turns; it isn’t consistently one dimensional. I think it will continue to resonate for as long as we’re happy playing those songs and I’m not sure if we'll structure the next record in the same way.

It’s funny thinking about the structure of things; the first four Metallica records are all structured in exactly the same way – not to compare ourselves to Metallica – and you start to wonder why bands stick to the same formula. Not sure if we’ll stick to it again but Adversities is really similar to Helgorithms in that way; there’s so many departures. I guess it depends on how patient we are with playing these songs live.

The album is pretty diverse; was there anything that you went into this album knowing you wanted to achieve musically?

In another interview we got asked how important it was to progress our sound on this album, but we’ve always kept to the same kind of feel because we don’t want to project an identity crisis with the band. The way we have progressed with this is with the production approach we took with this record. On the last record the producer was pretty gung-ho with doing guitar layers and things; he's a total audophile and gets pretty heavy on it and even though he did a bang-up job he wasn't particularly familiar with our style. Evan knew more about where we wanted to go. So that’s pretty much where we’ve evolved to now; you can expect the same kind of vibe moving forward. It’s a more simplistic approach even though it took forever to record; it was just getting into a room together and trying to whack them out as quickly as possible to get a band-in-the-room type of feel.

If you had to describe the new album musically, what would you say?

The songs have a thrashier sound to them and there’s a bigger sense of urgency. This record has an uncomfortable feeling about it, but in a good way. If anyone liked the last record I think they’ll like this one. It wasn’t intentional to go to the next level in terms of being heavy or whatnot because we still wanted to make it diverse. The keys are a lot more driven on this one. Sarah (Fox) came in at the end complimenting the vocal parts and everything, and I think we may have rushed the last record in that department. The guitars are a lot more hard-edged and a lot rougher. We’ve got a new drummer Ant (Davies) who I play with in Lord of Tigers so that’s a different sound.

Ultimately I feel like every instrument is fighting with each other in the mix and it took me a while to get used to it and then I slowly began to understand that’s how it should have always been.

Were there any particular influences that you were drawing on?

The influences still remain the same and are fairly consistent. The darker and more ambient edge is always taken from nostalgia; some proud moments and some real guilty pleasures. To me that can translate a much darker feel than a guitar bludgeoning your ears in and I wanted to incorporate that on this record because I didn’t want it to be a thrash record while not steering away from our origins too much. Killing Joke and Siouxsie and Creation Records artists that are of a shoe-gazy bent are artists I admire. Those bands helped another decision which was to get Sonya (Waters) to come in and do vocals on the record. I always talk about those bands with her and I wanted to get her on there to create a departure from that thrashier, heavier stuff. I’m totally influenced by the guests on the record; like Sonya and Ryan Thomas who I played in Sommerset and Lord of Tigers with too. I guess in a way that’s wearing my influences on my sleeve by having them on the record.

Speaking of people that you admire and that you are influenced by, you’ve opened for some rad people in the last couple of years. Tell me about those experiences.

Yeah well I know Sarah was gaga over the fact that we were opening for Helmet, she had a massive ear-to-ear with Page Hamilton after the show. Playing with bands like Helmet and Doom Riders and Misfits once-upon-a-time is funny; we’ve come to realize who our fan base is. When the crowd is a bit older they're a bit more appreciative of where we were coming from. I’ve almost realized that our music is fully dated in a sense and not necessarily a bad way to me, but it’s definitely got that kind of an edge to it which some people don’t understand at all and some people do. That’s been the biggest realization that I’ve made is that playing with those older bands, so basically if bands from that era keep coming and we keep opening for them then it will be sweet.

What are the future plans now the album is out?

We’ve shifted our attitude somewhat and we basically really want to tour the pants off it. We’ve got a lot of plans but life does get in the way for us; some of us are in the film industry and some of us are in the music industry and we know how demanding those industries can be so we have to balance out what we want to do. Our plan of attack is to tour February or March next year with a sprinkling of shows in-between. We're going to try to get off our butts and go to Australia early next year, we’ve all been itching to do it.

We all got super comfortable for a while and got lazy in the sense that a lot of gigs that were coming our way didn’t seem to really tickle our fancy so much and we took that real selfish approach of 'it’s just not worth doing' but since we’ve finished tracking this one it’s more like 'no no no let’s be realistic here, I know we’re getting older but we need to start doing something!'. There’s a new lease of life and there's a stronger sense of determination to go and get it out there.

Some bands thrive off playing live and some don't so much, do you consider yourselves a 'live' band?

It is now. We used to think we could be those studio guy and we’ve never really been a band that’s sat down and planned world domination and let’s drop everything and tour relentlessly, because we could have all done that in our early twenties or whatever. I played bass for Antagonist in Australia recently and they’re young and that bummed me out because that made me think 'woah that’s it for me' - they were just like ‘yeah we’ll just totally quit our jobs and go overseas’. They had this sense of determination that I had in my early twenties and since we’re all in the same age bracket it's hard to bounce off each other like that. Even though the last record came out in 2008 we still had that really lame attitude. With this record we really do want to do as much as we can while not sacrificing our jobs or our lives or our careers.

We definitely looked at ourselves as a band who could get away with being a studio band once upon a time but we realize now we do miss playing live and especially coming back from this tour with Antagonist I want to keep doing that sort of thing and taking that approach on the road. Even if it’s going around New Zealand all the time; it’s not a question of where it's that the work ethic just really inspired me to get out there and keep going with that, so here's hoping we do.

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