I felt a huge sense of pride last year when Karnivool’s 3rd album ‘Asymmetry’ debuted at number 1 on the ARIA charts. As a fan of the band I thought I’d share my thoughts on their success and highlight what your band can learn from the way Karnivool have grown their career.
Karnivool are so important for Australian music right now. They are showing bands of all genres that music doesn’t need to fit into a certain style or framework to achieve commercial success.
Understanding a bands journey to success can help provide a blueprint for your own band. In the case of Karnivool I think there are three key ingredients that have played a massive part in their journey and ultimately their success. Hopefully your band can try and apply some of the same principles;
Integrity in music begins at creating art that you absolutely love and believe in. It doesn’t matter how long the song goes for. It doesn’t matter how soft or heavy the music is. In fact it doesn’t even matter whether it is any good or not. Because music is only a matter of opinion…and the only opinion that counts is yours!
Karnivool are a great example of this mentality. They have crafted their sound over the over the past 16 years. Slowly building up their fan base through years of touring. They have never wavered from creating the type of music that they all love. Rather than worrying about the accessibility of their music they have simply followed their hearts and carved out their own path in the Australian music landscape.
So what can your band learn from from Karnivool’s approach?
To begin with; Don’t think about writing songs to get on Triple J or commercial radio. Instead ask yourself.
- Is this song fucking awesome?
- Is it exciting or emotionally engaging?
- Is it fresh and different?
- Is this song going to be amazing to play live?
- Does this song make me feel something?
Once you start triggering emotions, feelings and energy in your music you’ll start writing more creative and interesting songs. Ultimately its these songs that will get you noticed, leading to airplay, killer live shows and more opportunities for your band.
Put the same level of integrity behind your music as Karnivool do and you’ll give yourself a much greater chance of success.
Undying belief in what you do can be challenging. Pursuing a career in music isn’t always seen as a ‘sensible’ choice. Pressure is often felt from family, whilst over the years friends buy houses, nice cars and go on holidays. This is where the true believers are found out.
From Januray 2003 to January 2008 myself and the other members of Gyroscope lived on a base wage of about $250 a week or $13000 a year. Whilst we were pursuing our dreams and having a great time doing it we also had to hold firm and believe that we were good enough to make it. Having supportive and dedicated bandmates goes along way in maintaining this belief.
Karnivool are true believers. They take 4 years between releasing albums. Each album pushes new musical boundaries, often challenging both old and new listeners as they progress in sound. They do all of this on the notion of believing in what they do. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to write an album. They don’t stop until its perfect in their eyes.
I saw this attitude first hand in years from June 2006 To March 2009. At the time both Gyroscope and Karnivool were writing albums at The Hen House. In this period of almost 3 years, Karnivool were at The Hen House almost each and every day working on music that would become their second album ‘Sound Awake’. Their process for writing music was at times painfully slow but I can honestly say that every note of music they created was laboured over and loved…If it takes years then so be it. Karnivool believe in the music they make and have an undying belief in what they do.
Believe (deeply) in what you do as a band and other’s will begin to believe in the music you create.
Your dogged belief in what you do will become the unifying glue that holds your band together in the tough times and the unexpected setbacks.
Karnivool have some of the most loyal and amazing fans in Australia. Many Karnivool fans have been to numerous shows. They own multiple T-Shirts. They write mini essays on the Karnivool Facebook page about which album is best. Loyal fans allow bands like Karnivool to earn a living doing what they love.
But how do you inspire this sort of loyalty in people?
It’s not easy. I think loyal fans are the most precious thing a band can foster. It takes years of cultivation and trust. It requires a certain amount of integrity from the band and a certain amount of belief from the fan.
Bands can also help the process along by getting to know fans. Meeting them at the merch desk. Interacting on facebook and getting them involved in the creation process. Hen House band Lionizer are doing a great job of this right now with a Pozible page getting people to be involved with funding their next E.P.
Strive for integrity as a band. Let it show in the way you present your music. Let people feel it when they see you live. Believe in what you do as a band and hopefully you can inspire people to follow your band with the same energy and passion you put into your music.
Congratulations to Karnivool. They are a great example of where hard work, integrity and belief can get you.
Good luck everyone and never stop believing that your band can make it.
The Hen House Rehearsal Studios
Karnivool Themata tour
Thursday, April 30 – University, Wollongong
Friday, May 1 – Panthers, Newcastle
Saturday, May 2 – Metro, Sydney Sold Out
Sunday May 3 – Metro, Sydney
Thursday, May 7 – The Northern, Byron Bay
Friday, May 8 – The Coolangatta Hotel, Coolangatta
Saturday, May 9 – The Triffid, Brisbane Sold out
Sunday May 10 – The Triffid, Brisbane
Tuesday, May 12 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne Sold out
Wednesday, May 13 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne Sold out
Thursday, May 14 – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne
Friday, May 15 – Kay Street, Traralgon
Saturday, May 16 – Wool Exchange, Geelong
Tuesday, May 19 – The Gov, Adelaide
Thursday, May 21 – Discovery, Darwin
Friday, May 22 – Metro City, Perth