Thanks, meat. Thanks for hamburgers, thanks for pulled pork, thanks for sausage. And thanks for giving the members of the Australian band Karnivool the brains to write their thunderous and beautiful U.S. debut release, Sound Awake, and the nourishment required to stave off the kind of weak bones and throats that would snap under the strain of performing it.
Yeah, they credit meat for their skills, or so I’ve chosen to infer after interviewing the three awesome fellows pictured above in Austin recently (the rhythm section was conspicuously absent – perhaps acquiring meats for the band?).
“We’re avid meat eaters,” singer Ian Kenny told me. Sweet – I was sick of talking to people that preferred leafy to meaty. But Karnivool aren’t just meat eaters, they’re meat theorists. Ian told me that he’s heard a case being made that links the real acceleration in the ascent of man to the point at which we began to eat meat. Does he concur?
“Well, it’s a theory, what with the expansion of the brain and all.”
Ian, you can play the “it’s a theory I’ve heard” card all you want, but I know where you stand and I’m right there with you. But it’s not just him: Mark Hosking introduced himself to me as “Hoss,” and while I’d bet he claims that his nickname has to do with a shortening of his last name and isn’t a reference to Bonanza (the show, not the shitty steakhouse), I’m going to reject that reality and replace it with one of my own choosing. And in my reality, it’s all about the Ponderosa (the ranch in Bonanza, not the other shitty steakhouse).
So we’re all in agreement, and the greatness of Sound Awake should be added to the long list of meat’s accomplishments. As if it’s a surprise that meat had a hand in creating a record that delivers huge sound that’s still carefully crafted and beautiful, dotted with hooks that work without sounding like someone cracked open a jar of Velveeta.
The only real question, then, is when they’re in need of meat’s super powers, to which meat do they usually turn? Fillet. All three of them. Fillet. Which surprised me, frankly, as personally I prefer to select a nice fatty bastard when I peruse the steak aisle.
“Really? This isn’t about being ‘heart smart,’ is it?” I asked them.
The answer horrified me. Apparently, there are actual ads being run all over Australia that try to convince people to choose lean meats over fatty. Jeebus Crisco, what’s next? Trying to cut down on STDs by claiming masturbation is funner ‘n sex?
“It’s constant; this ‘eat lean meat’ campaign,” said Hoss.
So after begging them to select the fattiest cuts and grinds they can find the next time they hit the market, I asked them about some of the meats they’d enjoyed on their current tour. I’d already heard from their road manager that they’d eaten reindeer on an ice-breaking ferry heading to Finland; I’d also heard about the time he threw up after dusting a case of Guinness.
“You don’t want to do that – I scared the hell out of myself. It was fucking black.”
“We had the opportunity to try antelope,” Drew told me. As well as kudu, springbok and ostrich. None of which I’ve tried, which kind of pisses me off, even if the ostrich wasn’t as good as the rest according to Ian. The springbok though, they all agreed, was fantastic, so that’s on my list now. Thanks guys, like I’m gonna find any springbok at Publix.
Before we headed off on our separate ways we talked a bit about crap restaurants, a staple on most tours, and Ian told me a story about when they had dinner in Germany at, of all places, an Outback. Which is about as Australian-traditional as Foster’s (which is closer to Australian for urine than Australian for beer).
“It’s shit, of course,” he said. But even in Germany the servers take the theme seriously. “The waitress kept calling us ‘mate,’ in a German accent,” he laughed. So now an Outback in Germany is on my list too. Bastards.
Karnivool’s meat-fired album Sound Awake is brilliant and available pretty much everywhere. You need it, so go get it and listen to it with a steak and a Guinness.