It is barely February and there has already been a glut of great new albums. Jacco Gardner is on constant rotation here, Foxygen are IMO the most exciting new band in years and then for more mellow moments there’s Kontiki Suite’s On Sunset Lake.
The band from Cumbria (quick q any other bands from Cumbria – could only think of It Bites) has just released a gorgeous power pop/country album in On Sunset lake. For me its gentle harmonies conjure up the spirit of late 60s janglers like The Byrds and Flying Burrito Brothers alongside the much missed Cosmic Rough Riders and the wonderful London based band The See See. Music Man is the best place to start, a gentle slice of whirling psych that builds to a tremendous climax.
The album has just landed on Spotify too.
I had a quick bit of correspondence with Craig Bright from the band – detailed below. And you can also read more about them in the latest issue of the best music mag in the world Shindig.
How did you get started – were there other bands before etc
Each of the 6 of us have been involved in music and other bands for a while. Kontiki Suite originally started as a 3 piece which came together to develop the demos Ben had made over the years. Gradually over time we’ve pieced together the now definitive line up of the band which has been in place for just over a couple of years.
What is so appealing about west coast guitar music?
Melody. Harmony. History. I’m not altogether certain we set out to create music that could so definitively be described as west coast, but we can’t deny our love of that sound and influence it has had on us or the obvious way it comes through in our music. The west coast sounds extends to include various elements such as folk, country and psychedelia, all of which come through heavily in our music, but I guess ultimately we write pop songs, however they are presented.
Who are you influences? What bands do you like?
I’m sure that each person in the band would answer this quite differently, but I guess the two songwriters, Ben and Jonny, would have to have the biggest say in terms of influences. The obvious classic artists such as The Byrds, Neil Young, The Beach Boys, The Beatles, Bob Dylan and Buffalo Springfield. Individually and collectively we like a lot of bands, both old and new. As well as the influences, the obvious lineage through the 50s, 60s and 70s of the likes of Hank Williams, Townes Van Zandt, Nuggets stuff, Gram Parsons and Big Star play a big part, on through the 80s, 90s and more recent times with The Rain Parade, Ride, Teenage Fanclub, Super Furry Animals, The Coral, Spiritualized, Beachwood Sparks, Wilco and The Sadies.
Does coming from The Lakes shape your music at all? There’s a mystical quality about the area – does that channel itself into your music?
The Lakes is a a truly stunning place and its hard not to be inspired by it, consciously or otherwise. It was a conscious effort to try and reflect its eeriness and isolation as well as its beauty. Notwithstanding the weather, we do see a strange connection between the west coast/Laurel Canyon scene and our Lakes surroundings, no matter how tenuous.
There is a bit of a new psych movement at the moment. Are you mates with any of the other bands – who do you admire?
Yes there is. I sometimes struggle to identify true psychedelia in its many forms now, but I hear it in all sorts of great bands who are around at the moment such as Real Estate, War on Drugs, The Go, Beachwood Sparks, My Drug Hell, The Sufis, the irrepressible Olivia Tremor Control (RIP Bill Doss) and Circulatory System who continue to push on into infinity, The Paperhead, Allah-Las, White Fence and Tame Impala.
We would consider ourselves as friends of some truly wonderful bands kicking around right now, including Øyvind Holm’s Deleted Waveform Gatherings and Sugarfoot, The Lucid Dream, The Wellgreen, The Junipers, El Goodo, The See See, The Time & Space Machine, Beaulieu Porch and The Red Sands.
Which track on On Sunset Lake are you most proud of?
We are proud of all of the songs on the album, but probably feel that Music Man and See You In The Morning best encapsulate what we were trying to achieve.
How long was the album in the making?
The album is a culmination of the best songs written during the lifespan of the band to that point, all of which blended nicely together into what we hope is a good, coherent representation of what we are about.
What plans have you got for 2013? Touring? new material?
2013 is going to be a busy year. As well as releasing On Sunset Lake and all that goes with it, we are putting the finishing touches to our second album which could be coming out later this year (like minded labels, please get in touch!). Having learned a lot from recording and mixing On Sunset Lake, all of which we did ourselves, we think that our second album will go one step nearer to fulfilling our vision. Ideally we are looking to play as many shows as we can throughout the year in the UK and Europe although definitive plans have yet to be put in place.
Who is the most under rated band of the 80s/90s?
We would all answer that differently, and I guess it depends whether it means commercially or critically under-rated. I (Craig) could write a list as long as my arm which would probably be topped by the Olivia Tremor Control.
Are you Cotton Mather fans?
Absolutely! You’ve rumbled us. Kontiki is a huge favourite of some members of the band and in the humble opinion of some, Ok then, one member, is one of the finest albums ever put to disc.