It had to be double checked. Must have re-loaded the page twice before feeling somewhat convinced. All evidence pointed to the fact that there was indeed a new Kal Marks EP due to be released already this fall.
After the superb Universal Care LP we could not be more excited about a new release from the Bostonian veterans of noise. We managed to get our hands on an advance copy of the EP but even after the splendour that was the Universal Care Album last year, we couldn’t believe our ears. The Let The Shit House Burn Down EP is Kal Marks taking that proverbial extra mile. It pushes the limits of Kal Marks templet in all directions at once while still sounding perfectly coherent.
How could this be possible so soon after an album that by our calculations must have burned through the creative potential of at least half a dozen of normally gifted songwriters. Where does this new material come from and by what black magic was it conjured into existence? We pulled every string we could find and luck would have it that Carl Shane, founder, guitarist and vocalist of Kal Marks, took some time out of his obviously busy schedule and answered some of our questions.
“We had all the songs for the last record, ‘Universal Care’ finished by early 2017 and we recorded in March. So we’ve had a lot more time to write than it would appear.” Carl Shane explained. Fair enough you might think but then he goes on to tell us, “We’ve been building up a library in this time, so this new release is only 5 songs out of 20 something songs and ideas we’ve been saving up.” Yeah, that’s more than a song a month if we got our maths right. That sort of pace could of course be reasonable if your doing it in a paint by numbers style but that is clearly not the case. Some garment or sum such seems to be really really Itchy. Mr. Shane did offer some further insight to his process, “It’s easier to write music when I feel like I got something fresh. Like a new chord or method. I’m more excited to work. If it’s just the same old stuff it’ll be very slow moving, and we might give up on it. I also don’t have to much going on outside of music, so if I stay relatively inspired it’s reasonable to continue with a steady work flow. I also have bandmates that are extremely helpful in completing a song.” I guess we still can’t entirely rule out witchcraft …right
It seems to us that there has been quiet an evolution through the three previous Kal Marks albums in tone but perhaps not actually in subject matter. If there is an agenda it is somewhat elusive and hard to pin down. English isn’t our first language so we can’t always make out for certain if lyrics and song titles, especially on Universal Care, are sarcastic and witty or just sincerely ambiguous. Springtime in January seams outright earnest and political whereas Universal Care comes off as a pun of sorts (kind of like the band name). “I think there’s a decent amount [of] humor [in our] lyrics. Being funny and being serious can be fluid to me. Comedy can bring light to something that is otherwise dark and tragic. Politics aren’t super crucial in our songs, but if it’s on my mind, I might sing something on such [topics]. Honestly I’m never taking a political stance though, just commenting and questioning. We have an agenda but there’s no knowing how well a tour is going to do. I think we’d have a more extensive agenda if there was more interest in us. Unfortunately we can’t play for free any more and It’s hard for us to really connect with people. Far as creating music, it’s kind of [an] unspoken rule to continue making music, and continue to make different records. I don’t think we could continue if we stayed doing the same old thing. We’d just be bored. So I guess the main manifesto is to not stay stagnant.” Mr. Shane explains, further remarking on making art in general that, “I really like artists that live for the art and the challenge. Somebody that stays true to their vision and isn’t [too concerned] with how well it sells. I mean we all want our records to track well because it’s nice to connect and make some money, but it’s not the catalyst for doing it. Priority one is building a body of work that is unique and true to your being. I think about Tom Waits, Fugazi, Prince, Kim Deal, Charles Bukowski.
Staying on the subject of other artists, we can’t avoid the fact that Boston is and has been for quite some time now, a hotbed of indie goodness. However, somewhat surprisingly to us Mr. Shane tells us, “Boston is a little different for me now. A lot of bands have broken up or moved. Also I’m getting old. I’m not at shows that often. I’m not super aware of what’s going on [in] the community. I’m more concerned with my own work. I couldn’t even tell you if [the Boston scene is] fractured. I’m a little out of the loop. Currently it’s awful how expensive it is to live around here. I can’t see myself living in the city much longer, and then I’ll be completely out of the loop. I’m pretty sure there will always be something cool going on here. There’s no shortage of talented young people moving in here.” Alas, all is not Boston that Indierocks, “[Exploding in Sound’s] roster is filled with really friendly, kind people. So it’s easy to get along with all the bands.” Kal Marks have after all been touring with other EIS acts such as Pile so that does make a lot of sense
Speaking of… everyone knows we are nuts for live shows. This spring saw Kal Marks make the trip over the Atlantic but to our horror there were no dates in Scandinavia and we missed out. “Europe and the UK were amazing. Much better than touring the U.S. no offense. It was really accommodating and the crowds were so excited. We’d like to do [it] again as soon as possible. We’d like to do more of Europe and hopefully get out to Ireland the next time we do a UK trip.” Mr. Shane lets us know, giving us equal amount of salt-in-the-wounds-treatment and hope for the future
As perhaps a teaser trailer for things that might come Mr. Shane tells us a little about their stage performance, “We are quite loud. We got a lot of energy on stage. If you like our records we really appreciate it, but I don’t think you can fully understand us until you see us live. I really don’t want to bore people. If they paid a couple bucks they deserve a solid show. So I throw myself around, Alex looks insane on drums, Mike’s bass is in your face. I haven’t set myself on fire yet or anything, but we try to entertain. I can’t really explain much beyond that. You just have to see it. Our music might be dark, but it’s a fun time. I’m just happy if anyone digs the set. So if we sell some merch and someone says ‘good job’, I’m satisfied.”
From all accounts we’ve found they are doing a “great job” on stage and legend has it that live they are one of the loudest and heaviest “indie rock” bands out there. Seems like there is a good chance of Carl Shane being satisfied after most every gig since on top of that there is also their very unique merch. Kal Marks have some of the most awesome T-shirts visuals we’ve seen. “I tend to have friends with morbid senses of humor that also make art. They’re the ones making us shirts and videos. “Mr. Shane declares a bit matter of facts and totally without boasting as well he might be entitled to, he then continues, ”Visuals aren’t priority for us, but we have to sell shirts to make ends meet. In this case I’d rather have a good looking shirt that is a bit humorous.”
After all this, our fingers are of course even more tightly crossed that it will not take too long ‘til next time they find their way over here. Mr. Shane reassures us by telling us a little bit about what in his mind is next for Kal Marks, “We already have enough songs for another full length. We have a tour this fall and after we’ll be really focusing on fine tuning them. We’ll probably record on the earlier side of next year. After that I plan more touring. Whenever the next LP is out we hope to do the full US again and eventually Europe and UK.”
Well … we sure can’t wait to hopefully get a chance to see them live over here sooner rather than later, ‘til then we of course will have the excellent new EP Let The Shit House Burn Down to sustain us. It will be out on Exploding in Sound Records September 27th. Pre-orders are available from Exploding in Sound.