There’s nothing worse than a band with sounds and influences that are completely one-dimensional. However, up-and-coming London band, Keroscene, definitely don’t fit that description. Keroscene are a four-piece band with a sound that’s a combination of post-punk, shoegaze, pop, psychedelia, classic alternative rock, noise rock, and more.
Despite only officially releasing six tracks (including their latest singles “I Can’t Do A Thing” and “Like The First Time”), they’ve already caught the eyes of the British music press. Clash Magazine called them “a loose knit bundle of creative types, resulting in something special” while Gigwise described their sound as “mammoth.”
Like Gigwise, I was also immediately impressed with how big the band’s sound is, despite the fact that they’re very much a DIY band in every sense of the term. And they don’t just master the big, anthemic, emotional songs (“Like The First Time”) either, they’re also able to deliver songs that are more like hazy, transcendent, out of body experiences (“I Can’t Do A Thing”).
I knew they had a really eclectic array of influences before (such as Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, David Bowie, Jane’s Addiction, etc.), but after interviewing the four guys from the band, I was even more impressed with their wide sphere of influences. The band is made up of David Troster (vocals, guitar), Franco Bondi (guitar), Edd Wilding (bass), and Jake Sorbie (vocals, drums) and I talked to them about how they first came together, their favorite bands, the music industry, their dream festival lineup and more.
How did you guys all meet each other?
Jake Sorbie: We all played in various bands in London. Francesco and Dave met each other and started making music together in 2011. Dave lived in Soho at the time and we used to write and record there. I joined the band once we started playing live shows and Edd joined us a few years after that once we became Keroscene.
How long have you been playing music and at what age did you know that you wanted to pursue music professionally?
David Troster: I started playing guitar around 12 or 13 years old. Music was always a big creative outlet for me. When you first start out, all you want to do is emulate your favourite records. So, I would just spend hours in my room playing Sabbath riffs. In terms of the “professional” component to it, I think that it was more of an artistic progression rather than I desire to turn “pro.” We get a big thrill out of being a band, writing songs together, and playing shows. The music and the chemistry between us is the most important thing. When you start to view music through the prism of the industry, it can get a bit frustrating. So for now, we are just doing our thing. But we’ll let you know when we get the call from Jools.
Do you remember the first record that you bought?
David: Gorillaz – Gorillaz
Jake: Deftones – White Pony
Franco Bondi: NOFX – Punk in Drublic
Edd Wilding: Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
You guys have mentioned 90’s bands like Sonic Youth, Fugazi, Smashing Pumpkins, and Butthole Surfers as influences, but I also hear a lot shoegaze in your sound. Do you take influence from any of those classic Creation Records shoegazers?
Edd: Yeah, we are big fans of Creation Records. My Bloody Valentine, Swervedriver, Ride, Teenage Fanclub, The Jesus and Mary Chain, and Slowdive are all big influences. That whole sonic guitar experimentation aspect to shoegaze is definitely at the core of this band. But we always felt that shoegaze as a genre was a bit too languid and anaemic in parts, so that’s why we feel more a connection with the US noise rock scene than the Creation stuff because it just rocks out a bit harder.
The music for your song “Regret” particularly reminds me of The Smashing Pumpkins, but the vocals really remind me of Gaz Coombes from Supergrass. Are you influenced by any Britpop bands or does your sound tend to be more American influenced?
David: Thanks. That’s a real pleasure to hear. We love Supergrass, possibly the most underrated Britpop band of all time! I like it when you can feel a sense of culture in rock music. I think that’s the big differentiator in quality, being able to capture a sense of a country’s zeitgeist, like Blur, Pulp, and Supergrass did in the 90’s. I was born in the states and moved to London when I was about 4 years old, so I guess in a sense, I sometimes feel like an American imitating a Brit or vice versa when I write or perform. So, maybe that explains the Smashing Pumpkins via Gaz Coombes thing.
What song of yours are you most proud of so far and why?
Franco: Our next single which we will be putting out soon, “Our Time”, is one of our favourites. We all feel it’s a definite progression in the band’s sound and is the closest thing we’ve done to a defining song yet.
I think my favorite track of yours is “I Can’t Do A Thing”, especially the opening guitar riff. How long have you guys had that song and did you immediately know it was a great song after writing it?
David: I came up with the riff a few years back when we were on tour with Marilyn Manson in our previous band. It was our first attempt at doing something more overtly psychedelic and I didn’t want to fall into the trap of doing a 60’s or 70’s pastiche. It was a very ambitious track in terms of its arrangement and the sheer volume of tracks and overdubs going on in the mix. It all came together in the end, but I’d probably say we learned more about recording from “I Can’t Do A Thing” than any other track, in terms of what we liked and how we wanted to work going forward.
Your latest release was a track called “Like The First Time.” What can you tell us about the writing process for that track and its accompanying music video?
Jake: We wrote “Like The First Time” a few years ago. Dave and Franco put down the demo on a four-track in their old flat, and we’ve always been really happy with the immediacy of the lyrics and the simplicity of the chords, which combined, created a mood which we love. The video aims to reflect this mood, with the idea of being lost, alone, and drowning, but in a familiar and colourful setting.
When writing songs, do you take inspiration from other places besides music like politics, philosophy, film, or books?
Franco: We love the process of translating things that aren’t music into songs. It could be a great line from a movie that we sample, a book that becomes part of our lyrics, or a photo that creates a mood and sets the tone for a new riff. We feel that’s the natural process of creating some sort of art, where everything that leaves a mark on you then becomes part of your work.
If you could put together your dream festival lineup of any current or former artists, who would you choose?
Jake: We’d like something relaxed to start the day. Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young would be a super-chilled start to the day, then maybe Tame Impala bringing us into the evening, and headlined with some fuzzy 90’s stuff like The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, My Bloody Valentine, and probably put some exciting noisy bands like Cloud Nothings or The Wytches in there.
What are your ambitions for the band and how would you define success?
Edd: Success for us would firstly be being able to quit our day jobs and focus solely on the band. If we could create music and tour constantly, then we’d be very happy with that. Our ambitions are changing all the time, but fundamentally we all believe in this band and each other and as long as that continues we’ll keep creating music and playing shows. Everything else is a pipe dream.
What do you guys make of the fact that streaming is now the dominant way that people consume music, does that bother you at all or is it just a matter of getting people to hear your music?
David: The whole music business is a bit of a clusterfuck at the moment and there is a whole plethora of reasons why major issues remain unsolved. Artists continue to get screwed in a variety of ways, labels both big and small continue to hemorrhage cash, and fundamentally no one knows how to develop and break new artists any more! The whole landscape is in a state of flux and what we are currently left with is a very safe, generic, teenybop version of pop culture where former disney stars do MDMA and pretend that they are the shit! We live in an age of developing the product first and then try find the market. In our opinion, the music industry is at the mercy of the technologists. So, while we are talking about Spotify and YouTube today, there will be something else in the future that will be the hot new platform, meanwhile the music industry will continue to stumble along and try to stay on top of a crisis that has been unfolding since 2001 with Napster. In terms of our band, we will just keep riding the storm as best we can, but I think now more than ever, the ethos of a lot of punk/hardcore bands like Fugazi and Sonic Youth is more important than ever, releasing material, playing shows, and not trying to actively appease anyone other than ourselves and fans.
Finally, do you have any upcoming releases or shows planned for 2017?
Jake: We have tons of ideas that we’re currently working on, so you can expect the beginnings of an album at some point in the next 12 months. In terms of gigs, we plan to spend as much time as we can on the road. The next few months will be mostly local shows around London with the intention to do a UK and hopefully a European tour at the back end of 2017. Further on from that, we just plan to keep growing as a band and as musicians and see where the journey takes us.
Thanks for taking the time for an interview. Best of luck with everything and I hope I can catch one of your gigs soon!
Keroscene: Our pleasure!