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Chris Karloff Interview

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Chris Karloff Interview

When Chris Karloff announced he was leaving Kasabian back in 2006, the official line was due to ‘musical differences’, but it was common knowledge that Chris Karloff and co-writer Serge Pizzorno had a number of issues that could not be resolved.

Karloff helped Kasabian write such classics as, ‘Club Foot’, ‘Cutt Off’ ‘LSF’ and ‘Processed Beats’ and is credited in part for Kasabians unique sound.

After leaving the band, it took Chris a number of years to find his feet and decide which direction to take his music. But after a move to New York and meeting a number of influential American artists, Chris is back at the top of his game with band ‘Black Onassis’.

The Black Onassis’ line-up is anything but conventional, with no frontman to lead the band, Black Onassis is a very unusual creation which could only have been set up by someone as imaginative as Karloff, with the band choosing to use a different vocalist on each track.

After the widely anticipated debut album ‘Desensitized’ was released last year, Chris is now back on the Road with a UK tour, with dates across the UK.

With literally days to go before their opening gig in London, we managed to grab Chris for five minutes to find out what’s been going on with the new band and how life in New York is going.

LM: You could have moved to anywhere in the world, so why did you choose to live in New York?
CK: I’ve always been fascinated by New York. It’s one of those cities I would see so much growing up on film and television, and I’d always wonder what it would be like to live there. And it was so opposite to what I was used to, so it felt new and exciting. It’s weird walking around and being able to identify all those places you see in classic films like Taxi Driver or Ghostbusters. I love that.

LM: Even though you live and work in New York you seem to have stayed close to your roots, do your ties with Leicester remain close to your heart?
CK: Of course! Leicester through and through. I still follow the team, we still try to go back as much as possible. Most of my family still lives there and it’s where I was raised. Wherever I go, there will always be a strong connection to Leicester and nothing will ever change it.

LM: From the actual conception through to the final release, how long did it take to put your debut album ‘Desensitized’
CK: It took around two and half years to get it together. I took my time with it. That’s the nice thing about starting from the beginning again without a label, or really without any expectation that an album is even coming. You aren’t up against any deadlines and you can take as much time as you need to make it feel right. And I feel like all that time really helped the album develop organically without forcing it. I really wanted to get back to basics with this album so I drew a lot of influence from artists that made me want to write electronic music. Artists like Krafwerk, Aphex Twin, and The Prodigy.

LM: As soon as you listen to Desensitized it is very clear it has the ‘Chris Karloff’ touch, however do you worry about it being compared to your previous projects with Kasabian?
CK: I don’t worry about the comparisons at all. I’ve always said I’m really proud of what I did with Kasabian and I stand by it. It’s natural to compare, because my work with them up to this point is the only exposure people have had to my music and what I do.

LM: You have various dates for the 2014 UK tour, is there anywhere you are looking forward to playing at in particular?
CK: All of them, but Leicester is an obvious standout for me. It’s like a homecoming. I have a lot of friends and family that haven’t seen me play live in a long time (all the Black Onassis shows have been in the States up till now) and I’m really excited. It will be like a reunion. And I have always loved playing Glasgow, there’s such an amazing energy there. They are always up for it.

LM: Black Onassis don’t have a lead singer and instead use guest vocalists. How do you plan to work this into your tour? Do you have any tricks up your sleeve?
CK: It’s a different experience I guess. People are more accustomed to seeing bands with that conventional line up, so we had to make sure we were supplementing it with a really thoughtful visual experience. My friend John Carlucci and I have spent countless hours creating really cool visuals to go along with each song.

LM: What are the future plans for Black Onassis as far as a second album goes?
CK: I’m always writing new material so I already have some things up my sleeve for a second album. But for now, I want to try to focus on getting this one into more hands and playing live.

LM: Do you have solo projects lined up away from the band?
CK: Not at the moment, I think I should focus on making this thing work first!

LM: Finally, Is there anything you really miss about being so far away from home?
CK: Tons of things! Of course my family and friends. Also the smaller things like going down to the my local pubs in Blaby or down the fish and chip shop.

Black Onassis will start their tour this coming Friday in London before heading to venues across the UK including Leicester:

Feb 21 Koko London
Feb 25 Bodega Nottingham
Feb 26 O2 Academy 2 Leicester
Feb 27 Academy 3 Manchester
Feb 28 Eiger Studios Leeds
Mar 01 Nice N Sleazy Glasgow

Find out more and get tickets via the Black Onassis Facebook Page

Interview By Danny O’Callaghan