By Herb Powell
Unbelievably Bad Contributor
Cosmic Kahuna have been a nonstop riffing force the last three years, since their grimy birth onto what would be become the bands primary ménage – the notorious Old Bar in Johnston St Fitzroy. A bar where one of the members currently works, one of the members lives above of, and the third member is never too far away at any given time.
An all out wrecking crew of long hair, hard hitting riffs and fair to say, over the top, slaughtering drums. Some say a clusterfuck of punk, rock’n’roll and heavy metal, but I’d go with more of just a frenzied sound of unique Melbourne underground rock’n’roll without the fake aesthetics and rubbish Australiana appropriation needed to gain such a title. Cosmic Kahuna are real, and on the cusp of unleashing their debut full length into the world.
UB hit up their four string major rager Adam Scarmozzino to give us the word on what this three-headed beast that is Cosmic Kahuna is all about.
So, you’ve done some hard yards the last few years after forming, and you’ve found yourselves in a spot now where you’ve got an extensive number of shows and tours under your belt, and you’re now equipped with your first full length LP. Was this always your plan, or are you guys more the ‘take it as it comes and see what happens with it’ type of band?
I think when we started the attitude was ‘take it as it comes’, then we started getting more shows and people were responding to it much more enthusiastically than we expected. So we decided to get more organised and really commit to recording and playing as many shows as possible wherever we can.
This new LP you’ve titled ‘Paintstripper’. Personally, I sort of see that as a statement of your overall sound, and in a way, your attitude of what you display as Cosmic Kahuna being not necessarily a throw back to a more geniuine period of time for underground rock, but a presentation of something that is honest, bullshitless, unpretentious and ‘stripped’ of any of that wankery, yet still packing plenty of corrosive poison that can be hard to swallow for anyone not quite expecting it. Am I kind of on the money here? Or am I thinking too much…
Yeah, that’s an accurate description. The title was Jack’s idea, and I think it’s a pretty bad-arse word to sum up our first album. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re just trying to write hard rocking, potent songs that we enjoy playing live, and I think because we’re only really writing for ourselves it makes that honesty come through. We also wanna come up with something we haven’t heard before, and combine our influences into something a bit harder and faster but still familiar in some ways.
The first single for the record is called Stay In The Garage. That’s a pretty pissed off song, what are you so angry about?
When we first started in 2014 almost every show was with a ‘garage’ band, when I think of garage music i think of Ted Nugent or something really riffy, but what I was seeing was not that. So the title is a silly piss-take, saying that garage bands should just stay in the garage. We’re not actually angry about it though – it’s just a funny title. The actual song is more looking at playing in a band and having doubt in what you’re doing and falling into the trap of caring about what slot you fall into genre wise or whatever. But its pretty light hearted really, it just sounds pissed off cos we like playing loud fast shouty tunes.
What was it about Goatsound that had you sold on it? And how did you find working with the notorious Jason PC?
Working with Jason was an absolute pleasure, we had decided on Goatsound because there had been a few albums we’d heard from there that sounded amazing, King Parrot’s first album being one of them. We also wanted to kick it up a notch and go somewhere a bit more professional than we’d done before. We’d heard from a few sources that recording there can be pretty intense but we got through it in a breezy four days, we’d been playing the songs for a while so nailing them down was easy. Jason also liked what we were doing and has since helped us out with gigs and stuff, smiles all round. That big gay porn book is a bit weird though, I thought he’s a happily married man, I’m sure it’s just there as a conversation starter.
I love how you guys opt for Aussie artists to produce the bands imagery and the affect that has on the bands overall asthetic. Is that something that’s important to you guys? And while you’re at is, spill the beans on how Mike Foxall came to be the man in charge of whipping up that sick looking record cover.
Yeah, it’s very important to me to have killer artwork, it’s always been heavily interwoven into the music we’ve all listened to growing up – whether its Iron Maiden or Hard-Ons type stuff. We never made a conscious decision to go for Aussie artists though, we’ve got so many amazing artists in the scene like Glenno, Marty Schneider and Mike Foxall that it just made sense to ask them cos they’re legends that play in great bands and do amazing artwork. We met Foxall a couple years ago, our first Sydney show ever was with The Neptune Power Federation at Frankie’s. Since then, we’ve played with them a couple times in Sydney and Melbourne, he’s a good mate and an insane artist so it just made sense, and the fact he likes the band meant he was enthusiastic to do the artwork and did a killer job.
I know you guys wear your influences pretty heavily on your sleeves, and you’re obviously not too shy of busting out a sneaky cover in your live sets. Can you let the Unbelievably BAD readers know who you rate as being influential on the band? Do you feel its important, and in a way, respectful, to rep these influences as hard as you do?
Jack and I grew up playing in metal bands and listened to heaps of thrash and death metal and some of the newer stuff so I think the aggression from that is burnt into our DNA forever and always comes through. Dozey’s way into Dinosaur Jr and stuff like that which is where he gets his crazy shreds from. For Kahuna as a unit though a lot of it came from discovering Australian bands we weren’t as aware of in our younger years like The Meanies, the Hard Ons, the Powder Monkeys, Celibate Rifles, I could go on and on. Then there’s also a lot of classic rock and roll stuff that plays part like Deep Purple, Motörhead, and Black Sabbath, obviously all punk classics like Black Flag, Circle Jerks and Bad Brains, newer stuff like Lecherous Gaze and The Shrine, heaps of shit. Also bands we play with, some of our riffs got a hell of a lot sexier after doing a residency with Grim Rhythm. As for being respectful, I’m not sure, is it respectful to bastardise a Deep Purple riff for a two-minute punk song? Maybe not, we just wanna get the same kick out of playing our songs that we do from listening bands we love.
What kind of a stupid name is Cosmic Kahuna anyway? Were you half way through thinking of it before you remembered Cosmic Psychos was already taken? There ain’t no waves in inner city Melbourne last I checked..
Believe it or not I actually thought of the name before hearing the Cosmic Psychos. The original plan was to be a stupid fuzzed out surf punk band with crazy cosmic sound effects, that only lasted about two songs, so now we’re stuck with this silly name but people seem to like it so it stays. However its also the name of a Disney colouring book, so the day could come when Mickey Mouse and his team of high priced lawyers come knocking, that’s gonna suck.
Paintstripper is out Friday, October 6. Catch COSMIC KAHUNA on their upcoming tour.