Karma to Burn, the recently reformed stoner rock trio from West Virginia, have a certain aesthetic purity to them � the songs are (mostly) instrumental riff-a-thons given simple numbered titles. New album “V” is their second since reforming and continues to mine the furrow that served them so well on past classics like “Wild, Wonderful Purgatory” but with some added vocals courtesy of Daniel Davies. Make no mistake though; this is no lumpen pile of guitars: the songs are structured in such a way that new shades reveal themselves over time and are continually exciting. R13 caught up with the band via email to discuss the record and their upcoming UK and European tour.
R13: Karma to Burn have been back together for only a relatively short while but you’ve already released two new studio records. Are you making up for lost time?
Karma to Burn: I believe we are just scratching the surface of our full potential as writers. Before we were distracted by many many different things – right now, its just about creating and getting it on live.
R13: Was there a specific moment when the band got back together when you just knew it was all clicking?
KtB: As soon as we started writing 41. I felt great about it and it had definite Karma to Burn vibe.
R13: Were you at all concerned with tainting the band’s legacy?
KtB: Not really, as long as it’s all 3 of us doing the tainting and not 2 out of 3 or 1 out of 3 like so many of the “reunited” bands, hehe.
R13: The band are starting to incorporate more vocals into the Karma to Burn brew; were you finding the instrumental agenda a bit limiting or have you just found the right vocalist in Daniel Davies?
KtB: We just don’t want to be limited. We want to be able to do whatever we feel at that time. At this time I feel like we explored Daniel’s full range and there really isn’t any need to approach that direction again.
R13: Do you use the same methods for writing for all Karma to Burn songs whether they have vocals or not?
KtB: Yessir. Although we do add more riffs to the instrumental tracks. We tend to leave some space in the vocal tracks.
R13: Are you pleased with new album “V”?
KtB: Definitely. We tried some things we never tried before. I regret not being able to try Jimmy D as an instrumental track but we will approach that some day I am certain.
R13: From what I’ve heard so far it sounds like a beast! How was it recording with John Lousteau?
KtB: Lousteau is the beast. He managed to reel in the live atmosphere and sound effortlessly and immediately.
R13: Why did you end up choosing to cover ‘Never Say Die?’ � is it not a bit risky covering Sabbath?
KtB: Of course, Sabbath are the zenith of hard rock. Paying homage to a band like them is tricky; the main thing for us was to enjoy the process and try to learn while attempting to view the song from their creative reference frame.
R13: Are you looking forward to another trip to Europe this summer?
KtB: Definitely. It’s been a blast as always. The crowds are always wound up and the weather is always completely unpredictable, not to mention, you never know when the bees will attack.
R13: Will you playing some of your non-instrumental tracks live with Daniel?
KtB: Daniel has run his course with us. I doubt we will play with him in the line up again. We had a good time but we really feel we explored what he could bring to the table.
R13: Are there any bands you want to catch when you’re playing the festivals?
KtB: Oh man, we always manage to see something that makes our heads spin. Like last year, I saw Limp Bizkit and 10 years after the first time I saw them and puked I figured for certain they would be amusing as in an irrelevant joke type of amusing, but instead the amount of boneheads that still think they are good was absolutely mind blowing. This year I will probably have my mind reamed by people who still watch rap live like it’s a viable form of live music.
R13: Finally, as a band with a million riffs can I ask do you have a favourite? Mine would have to be the opener on ’20’ or maybe ‘5’ � it’s very difficult to choose.
KtB: Oh, it really changes day to day as we become more acquainted with the subtleties of each riff live. Right now I think 47 is peaking with us as players, and I have a new appreciation for 5. You are just like me. Hehe. Anywho, thanks!
Karma to Burn are clearly a reinvigorated act making the most of their second chance. Catch them on tour in August and prepare for a thoroughly sore neck and mile wide grin.