Counterfeit spots Kartica, one of Sheffield’s newest bands, standing at the side door of the Frog and Parrot , smoking a crafty fag.
Within seconds of meeting them, it was immediate who the frontman was; he even had the Manc-twang to go with his swagger. “I’m not from Manchester!” said frontman Matt Hook, “My family’s from Liverpool, but I was brought up in Sheffield. I think I sound Manc because its half way!” he explained. The band mainly derive from around the south of the city; unusual as Sheffield bands go, with most currently coming from the north and the west of the city. So how did they meet? Kartica talk us through their formation,
“I knew Joe through his cousin,” says Matt, “We’ve got identical music tastes,” adds lead guitarist Joe Troughton, “Mine were his cuppa tea and his were my cuppa tea… our first practice were at the end of 2007, but we weren’t together properly as a band until 2008, because we needed a drummer.
“You need to be on the same wavelength or you’ll just lose interest.”
“We also had a guy who ‘claimed’ to be a bass player,” remembered Matt, “Then, luckily, we found Paul [Nicholson, bassist] in September ‘09 and Adam [Clay, drummer] in October ’09. We’ve had this set up since then really.” So is this the winning formula, Counterfeit asks? “We did our first proper gig as we are at the 100 Club in London around October 2009 and the last 6 months have just felt so right,” confirms Matt.
“It’s been hard to find the right members,” admits Joe, “You need to be on the same wavelength or you’ll just lose interest. Adam’s perfect, he’s exactly on our wavelength. Paul took to us like a duck to water,” continues Joe, “His enthusiasm kick-started us again to be honest. The old bass player was a miserable bastard!”
“Joe had to show him the bass lines!” laughs Matt, “Where as Paul can manage them all by himself.” Counterfeit certainly thinks reading bass lines is a crucial prerequisite for any bass player in any band. Take note kids.
Paul may be an enthusiastic bass player, but he certainly aint an enthusiastic interviewee. Or it may just be that he’s drowned out by the ever-enthusiastic Matt and Joe show, as these two particular band members certainly seem to have plenty to talk about. “We’ve got about 25 songs at the moment,” Matt tells me, “We’ve only recorded about 15 of them though.” I ask them whether song writing represents a challenge to Kartica. “Certainly not,” replies Matt, “Song writing’s never really been anything we’ve struggled with- I don’t know if other bands do.”
Matt’s certainly got a point, and to be fair, if this conversation has anything to go by, band songwriter’s Matt and Joe certainly don’t struggle with words. “We’ve got an endless supply!” smiles Matt. So that’s the words covered, what about Kartica’s sound? “Now we have 5 people on the same wavelength it should all work out,” Joe tells Counterfeit. “We know from the old demos that we’re improving- we’ve learnt lessons along the way,” adds Matt.
Counterfeit moves on to the name- what does Kartica mean then? Matt explains, “We didn’t want a ‘The’ name; we wanted a good name… Kartica’s just a made-up word really. We didn’t want to bring up any images or raise any preconceptions- we are Kartica!” They certainly are Kartica, although Counterfeit prefers the scrapped suggestion of ‘Lord Barker and the Minions’.
So we’ve covered the words, the sound and the name, where they came from and how they came together, but Counterfeit wants to know how the Kartica seed blossomed into what it is today? What was the water of inspiration? What was the sun-cheeiine of influence?
Well, we’ve given you a hint already; these boys were brought up on a staple Britpop diet of Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, The Verve and The Stone Roses. Counterfeit can’t argue with that line-up, although many will. Kartica explain why such bands were crucial to the group’s sound. “Because they convey hope,” answers Matt, “They make you feel on top of the world- that’s what music we’re trying to make.”
But isn’t that the easy way? Hasn’t this all been done before, asks Counterfeit? “Everything’s been done before,” sighs Matt, “And there’s a fear in Sheffield because of that… I could stand there with a keyboard up my arse and say if people don’t like it they don’t understand, but our music they do understand. What’s wrong with that?”
Indeed. Counterfeit agrees. We’re all for originality but some people do take it too far. Whats wrong with recycling good music? In the words of Oscar Wilde, “Talent borrows, genius steals.” In Counterfeit’s Kartica gig review, our Meg Stickland noted the bands heavy 90s influence, but also the “scratchy guitars… soft sounding vocals and a tough deep drum beat,” which they added to create their own sound.
Going back to the bands recycled Britpop tones, Joe explains the mood of their music, “Everyone’s happy when they’re pulling together, that’s what we’re about, we’re inclusive we’re about uniting people.” So have how’ve they got on uniting their audience? “Luckily there’s been quite a bit of hype about us through our friends and friends of friends of friends- getting interested people involved,” explains Matt. “We did our first main gig at the Red Rooms, but we’ve also played at Plug, SoYo and the O2 Academy. So we want to get outside of the city more really,” adds Joe. “We played Manchester Night & Day and Zanzibar in Liverpool, recently,“ points out Matt, “Oh, and pub in Nuneaton!”
“We were meant to play at this shitty pub in Nuneaton and we were ten minutes away when the pub run and told us it was off, so we thought ‘nice one, fuck it, let’s find a pub and say we’re a band from Sheffield, we’ve got all the gear and we’ll play for free.” Needless to say the plan worked and Kartica ended up playing to over 100 people. Good blagging skills lads.
So what else does 2010 herald for Kartica? “To remain as passionate and as tight knit as we are now,” Joe clarifies. They also need to get their name out, but they seem well on their way already, “We mainly rely on word of mouth,” says Matt, “But we have a Facebook page with 900 fans now and a good gig following. We try to giveaway free CDs when we can too.”
“And if it’s a good gig we’re sure to see them again!” asserts Joe. “We’ve had a lot of good feedback,” he adds, “But the music business is on its arse at the moment. The only way of getting anywhere is by grafting.”
“The chances of being best band in the country are minute,” admits Matt, “But we’ll keep on trying. I love being in this band.” Kartica don’t seem to rate they’re chances, or is Matt just being modest? Counterfeit tries to clarify whether they’re confident or not?
”We’re our biggest critics,” affirms Joe, “You put yourself in a band and you’re there to be shot. We try the best we can. But overall we aim to have a reyt laugh.” Matt adds, “We’re not the over serious, melodramatic types… We’ll take the piss out of ourselves, we can have a laugh. Other bands sometimes act like they’re too cool.”
“They take criticism too hard too,” says Joe.
“As far as we’re concerned it’s us against the world,” declares Matt.