Bill Cummings 09/03/2009
Fearsome self styled "Shriekbeat" act KASMs are London-based Rachel Mary Callaghan, Gemma Fleet, Scott R. Walker and Rory Brattwell. All four members have been other bands: Rachel was the singer in spazzcore band Sin o the East, along with Rory on guitar; Gemma was in London based grunge-pop band Wolfie; Scott was in an ethnic/improv band called Aum Sahib and Rory was in quite a few bands, the most well known being short-lived NME favorites Test Icicles.
During their first year together they have played in New York, Paris, Berlin, Milan and toured the UK with contemporaries Televised Crimewave. They signed to Trouble Records (birthplace of acts such as Crystal Castles) in April 2008 with their first two singles 'Taxidermy' (which sold out all 2000 copies, touching number 12 in the charts) and the primal suggestions of recent single 'Bone You' convinced us that KASMS were a band to be reckoned with, At one moment grasping at the juddering Halloween punk of The Cramps, and allying it to the progressive aggression of Sonic Youth and shaking you out of your stupor.
GIITTV's Bill Cummings and Fliss Collier caught up with KASMs hypnotic front-woman Rachel Mary Callaghan who has been accused of making "assaults on photographers and members of the audience" (The Guardian, January 2009) for a chat about life in one of Britain's most propulsive new noisy bands.
Hello, how are you today?
Hey, I'm great thanks. Had a really long lay in.
Why the name KASMs?
Because we are deep maan, well we were gonna call ourselves VOM, which is not so deep but we had an argument about that and we half heartedly agreed to call ourselves Kasms.
Who plays in Kasms and what do they do?
Gemma Fleet plays bass, Rachel Callaghan on vocals/noises, Rory Brattwell on drums/guitar and Scott Walker on guitar/drums (not at the same time).
You met each other at a gig; do you recommend this as a place to find musical accomplices? Or are internet band classifieds a better route?
I never really understood the classified ad thing, I only ever see ads like: "band with upcoming gigs requires guitarist influence include: Slayer, REM, Oasis and Stone Temple Pilots." I don't see the attraction to join that band. I think you are much better off starting a band with friends who you have a similar music taste to, regardless of their musical ability.
What makes Kasms different proposition from other acts you may have been a part of?
Kasms is a lot more natural to other bands that we have been in. There is not one person writing the songs and a big masterplan, we all go into a room and make a big racket and it just works itself out. We have a pretty relaxed approach to the way we write our stuff.
What gives you the impetus to go so wild on stage?
They lock me in a dark box and the only time I see the outside world is for gigs so I get a bit excited and like to make the most of it.
So far I believe you've been recording your work live, what do you think this brings to the recordings? And do you tire like us of over produced music that's had the guts removed from it?
That's the reason why we tried to keep it as live as possible, we wanted our record to be a document of how we are and how we sound live. All bands first records should be like this. Spending two months getting every instrument take perfect then taking the song to pieces and jigsawing it back together and finishing it off with a slab of auto-tuned vocals doesn't make a very exciting listening experience in our opinion.
There's a few good noisy new bands about at the moment - any favourites?
Male Bonding, Not Cool, Health, The Pharoahs, Cold Pumas, HTRK. The list could go on, there seems to be a lot of good bands at the moment (all with
varying degrees of noisyness) it makes a nice change.
What do you make of this so called 'Goth' revival people are tagging onto you and various other new acts?
Its not really something we want to be a part of, our music has certain dark elements but I would never call us a goth band. When we started out playing gigs we tended to play with a lot of the same bands each week, bands which they now say are part of this gothic/ darkwave movement or whatever you want to call it. Out of all of those bands there are probably only one or two which you could call 'gothic'. We definitely like goth and it's not insulting to be described as gothic but we don't sound anything like the Sisters of Mercy.
Are there enough women in music right now? Does/ should gender matter?
I think there is a hell of a lot of women in music today and gender is really not an issue these days. Obviously woman in bands will always struggle with pervy old dudes trying take photos up their skirt but I don't see any reason why girls can't make music and as far as I can see there's nothing holding them back these days.
Is music a healthy occupation these days - what things would you like to change to make things better for the artist?
Haha I don't know if the word health would spring to mind. If anything my health deteriorates with each gig, I counted 7 bruises on my leg the other day after a gig. Obviously if you are looking to make a lot of money then a career in music is probably not your best bet. It's a shame that no one buys records anymore but on the upside at least the majority of people will be making it for the love of it and not for the cash.
Are you ambitious to express yourselves and get yourselves heard, or to sell loads of records? Or maybe both at the same time eh? It might be nice.
We want as many people as possible to hear our music, that's what we made it for. If we sell anything on the way that's a bonus!
So you've got this new single out 'Bone You' it's really primal, it grabs you round the throat from its first bar, was that your intention? Is there a sexual inspiration behind the track? Or Have I completely misread that if so I'm currently blushing?
I guess the sexual connotations are obvious, Kasms is a very primal sounding band, we like that you noticed that. If it was any more primal we'd have to get a gorilla on timpanis!
How far along are you with the album? When can we expect it to be released?
DONE! It's called 'Spayed' and its gonna be out April 27th on Trouble Records.
KASMs release their much anticipated debut album 'SPAYED' through Trouble Records on May 4th.
See KASMs live:
14th Reading Oakford (Plan B night)
28th London 93ft East
16th Nottingham Radar
17th Winchester Railway
24/5th London Camden Crawl