Pigs & Astronauts' is basically "12 songs with different sounds
and textures and things like that." Crispian says, tongue-in-cheek:
"We wanted just to have an excuse for Paul to do pig impressions!"
sat beside him, does a pig impression, very well might I add. He's obviously
had lots of practise.
continues more seriously (although you never can tell with these guys):
"A lot of the best things with the band have happened by accident
and the title happened by accident as well. Somebody suggested it. It
was just a sketching - Dan Abbott's artwork. He did all the artwork
for 'Sound Of Drums'. And 'Govinda' happened by accident... and the
name Kula Shaker happened by accident. We just went with our tradition..."
accidents" Paul adds.
all accidents" according to Crispian.
certain songs can be linked to certain subjects - for example, 'Golden
Avatar' is based on a 16th century Indian saint and 'Timeworm' is about...
you've guessed it... time ("going round and round in cirlces"),
there is no major theme to the album, and no thrusting statements to
take heed of.
doesn't matter what sort of music you're doing, unless you're just playing
it to be totally banal, everyone puts their ideas and what they feel
into the music and it just doesn't work when you take the music away
and you start analysing it and trying to work out what you meant in
the first place when you sang it or when you wrote it. It just sounds
so much better with the music."
picks up from Crispian. "I think the best thing about music is
that people take their own meaning from it."
some tracks it seems that the music even took more of a leading role
than the lyrics. 'S.O.S' was an excuse for the boys to "end up
screaming at the end of it". Reveals Crispian, "We were almost
laughing the whole way through it because it was an opportunity to just
moan and get really horrible keyboard sounds and make everything distorted,
even the drums."
Pigs & Astronauts' is a difficult album to play live, Crispian says.
"It takes a lot of preparation and a lot of rehearsing.
band took as long as it needed to record the follow-up to 'K'. And as
well as the album they also recorded a soundtrack for the film 'Reflections
Of Love', so they've been busy almost constantly.
you feel any pressure to repeat the success you've already had?
put pressure on Paul to repeat the success." It's now Jays
chance to try out the wit. Paul is, it seems, the guy most likely to
have the mickey taken out of in the band. Perhaps it's just because
he's a drummer. You know what they say about drummers.
"The main pressure was just on us to make a better album than 'K'.
We didn't really have much opportunity with 'K' to spend much time planning
the album and planning recording. It was really rushed. We did three
songs and they released a single and it went into the Top 20 or something.
From that point on we had to finish an album and we were up against
time. It was like the end of Flash Gordon. So with this there was time
to make a better album, to not answer the phone and so on...
puts a lot of pressure on himself".
album was recorded on a houseboat on the River Thames with Bob Ezrin
at the helm. It was quite difficult to record, as was their debut.
"You get on a boat and you're recording a track and producer Bob
was or there's the beautiful Shenai playing at the end of 'Time Worm';
it's not even us, it's...
something refreshing about the album... You know how sometimes you finish
an album and a week later you really can't listen to it anymore because
there and the lights start swinging and you realise you feel a bit queasy.
You're like 'oh what's going on?' and then you remember you're boating.
It was a good opportunity to get some exercise. Normally in a recording
studio the only pastime you have is pool and other boring pastimes.
This time we had a motor launch. We went out riding around and rowing
on the Thames. It was good."
with Bob Ezrin was "quite an experience. He's very musical and
he took on the captaincy of the whole project. He looked after us. We
had a very honest relationship with him and lots of slaggings off."
of swearing went on" interjects Crispian.
he also knows how to make a record" continues Paul. "It was
an education I think, for us. He enjoyed working with a new, young band...
of the reasons that the band didn't work with John Leckie ('K' producer)
again was because their schedules didn't match. Bob Ezrin's CV included
Pink Floyd, Kiss and Alice Cooper. Therefore... he was the man for the
Ezrin's a rock producer, he's done rock bands. He's also done people
like Lou Reed and Peter Gabriel. He's a very musical person and he's
into ideas and themes and into making albums as opposed to just singles.
was much more of a hands-on referee kind of producer. John Leckie sat
back and let us get on with it."
'K', the band concede that they weren't fully aware of what was happening
around them, almost being in their own little bubble. This time, although
they're still not too conscious of outside energies, they feel that
what they have come up with is more 'real' and honest to themselves.
They also had a lot more fun with it.
much more true to ourselves with this album than 'K'. We had more opportunity
to express the band on an album as opposed to the first one which was
more like a club band with a few festivals here and there and suddenly
recording their live show. We've put a lot more of the ideas and sounds
that we love on the record. you're so familiar with it because it's
your voice and you're playing and you're just so close to it that you
can't stand the sound of it... Parts of this album we're not even there.
There's Gauri Chaudhury singing on 'Radhe Radhe' and Hariprasa Chaurasia
playing flute on 'Namami Nanda-Nandana' somebody else that we really
admire, so we can listen to them. It's things like that that I can really
enjoy knowing that it was nothing to do with me."
single 'Mystical Machine Gun' has a lot of curious samples regarding
Armageddon and the end of the world.
says they were having a laugh. "Jay had these walkie-talkies that
they were using at the studio and Jay was leaving them in the loo and
people would go in the loo and when they were in there he'd go "We
are watching you" and we started playing around we 'Armageddon
alert, Sarg.' We'd already practically recorded the song when suddenly
all that kind of stuff got put on it - 'Don't panic, it's just the end
of the world, it'll be alright'. We had a lot of fun".
March the band headed out on the road again for a full tour of the UK
followed by shows in Europe and further afield. When asked about their
stage presence, Crispian tells an amusing tale about a mishap that occured
one particular evening.
got carried away at a little gig we did in Nottingham. It got really
hot in there and there was a thin film of sweat over everything on stage.
I got over-excited and I ran over to Jay's organ and jumped on it like
'Jay, I'm here! I'm really enjoying this concert' and I fell straight
off and went straight into Jay and my guitar came off and I broke half
of the equipment. Had to do the rest of the gig without a guitar. It
was really embarrassing."
say they prefer doing small clubs to big stadiums but maybe that's because
they haven't yet had the immense success that leads to headlining stadiums.
Sure, they've played festivals like Glastonbury, but that's hardly the
same thing as a night or two at Wembley.
rather do six nights at a small place, personally." says Jay.
"It sounds better. We have more fun and I think the audience has
more fun as well."
Forum - that kind of size." pipes up Crispian.
"When you're just watching a TV screen and hearing this distant
noise at the back it's not really a gig is it? You could just stay at
told us when you do a world tour everybody gets really, really bored
of the sight of each other and bored of the same old songs every night
and people just end up sleeping with each other, so we've made a rule
to not sleep with each other!" Crispian laughs.
we're really drunk." adds Jay.
has fame changed you? Or indeed, has it changed you?
"Have we changed?"
"Your hair grew."
"Yeah, my hair grew."
"It's not something you ever sit around and think about or talk
about. It's not an issue. It's still four guys making music. Some of
the things around you change but what you had at the start between the
four of you doesn't change."
always been very cynical. It's just helped feed our cynicism."
true. We're always very suspicious of the 'believe your own bulls**t
trap, so we're constantly every step of the way watching out for each
other, slagging each other off, not letting anyone get out of hand"
is Crispian's answer.
frontman was quoted in one monthly magazine as saying that 'Peasants,
Pigs & Astronauts' is 'like different groups of people all in search
of something'. So... final question... what are they in search of?
"Love... magic... The things that make life that extra dimension,
less easily obtainable but inspire people to go on living.
hope they find them.