The International Karate Plus
Bill Cummings 08/04/2005
Formed from the ashes of Mo-Ho-Bish-O-pi, Cardiff 's The International Karate+ are named after "an early 90's computer game". Their Debut ep "Karate Kills" gained rave reviews from everyone including this here webzine. They have toured relentlessly in the last few years racking up over 1,000 gigs in their existence proving that hard work and dedication to a craft isn't totally lost in the music business. Their sound has been described by some as fusing "the sounds of XTC with Steve Malkmus' haunting vocals" and their songs are pixies-esque spiky, melodic, indie pop ditties that are a direct call to arms to the listener; songs you can cut out and keep.
I caught up with frontman and lead Vocalist Richard Arnold for a chat. I started out by asking him when he met the other members of the IK+ "Along time ago in a galaxy far far ah bollocks. I met Mike back in 97 at art college in Cardiff where he spent most of his time 'Having a break' or 'making a brew' I met Chris in d'vinyl records around the same time and convinced him to leave UNI, go on the dole and move in with me so I could afford the rent". The subject then moved onto what bands have influenced their sound "mainly early 90's American indie bands, or so I'm told so frequently. Also some 80's stuff but Chris (drummer) has a massive record collection so I guess he would have a much more varied answer."
I wondered if the experience of Mo Ho Bish O pi had - in being signed to V2 then splitting up -had shaped the way the band had approached the IK+ project? "After mo-ho I just wanted everything to be a lot simpler and more natural; once you're signed you start thinking about other people which is never a good thing." Welsh bands seem to have found it hard in the last few years after the Death of Cool Cymru and the South Wales music scene seems to be struggling a little. I ask Richard what he thinks of the scene at the moment.
"Poor at the moment compared to 8 or 9 years ago. Maybe I don't get out enough but as far as I can tell the barfly has killed any sort of indie scene."
Given that, is it harder to put on your own gigs like the Tsunami benefit gig you recently organised and headlined in the Welsh Club? "Really hard especially with the barfly putting live music every night of the week, it's overkill".
In the last year you have toured around the UK a lot, supporting the likes of the Rakes, and Modey Lemon does this amount of touring help you perfect your sound? "Playing with a load of bands up and down the country can be quite interesting and at the very least it can help you come to realise exactly what you don't want to sound like", Says Richard.
In November 2004 they spent two months in a studio crafting songs for their new album, and according to Richard they have "actually recorded an album" they are now "just looking for the right label to release it. Fingers crossed it will be out this year." Taken from these sessions is new single 'Nexus in a Chain of Thought' - arriving on limited red vinyl on the 4th of July on the FF vinyl label and backed by two great b sides. I asked whether Nexus was a good representation of their sound "Of one aspect of our music, yes but we have loads more songs that sound totally different." Richard replied.
I finished off by asking the hard touring IK+ what their future plans were, "We've just finished an 8 day tour, which was really good, we've got a handful of dates through out July and plans are underway for a tour kicking off mid August." Thanks for talking to us and good Luck with the tour and single "Thank You" says Richard.