Interview: Crispian Mills (Kula Shaker) – 'This tour is a strange experience in time travel, the past, present and future all mashed together'
Psychedelic Britpop rockers tour their classic album K
Kula Shaker took Britpop into exciting new psychedelic directions. Starting life as The Objects of Desire in the early 90s after vocalist / guitarist Crispian Mills (son of actor Haley Mills and director Roy Boulting) became firm friends with bassist Alonza Bevan. After TOOD disbanded Mills headed to India before a reinvigorated reboot as Kula Shaker with a new expanded lineup inspired by classic 60s bands and Mills' backpacking adventures. Debut album, K, was released 20 years ago powered by mind-expanding singles 'Tattva' and 'Govinda' it topped the UK charts. Unfortunately the band split in 1999 but thankfully reformed in 2006 to record three new albums (including 2016's K 2.0) and hit the road again.
We caught up with Crispian Mills to find out why their current tour means so much to the band.
Can you tell us what you have planned for this tour?
1996 was the release of our first album K. So 2016 is our 20 year birthday. This is the culmination of the anniversary playing K in its entirety. We've got 20 years' worth of material but the idea of playing an album from beginning to end in the way it was designed to be heard and listened to because it was one of those old school albums that had a beginning, a middle and an end and was created in the days before Spotify and iTunes shuffle. I can't believe we've never done it before. I guess we were too scared as there's a lot of atmospheric theatrical stuff.
What was it like going back and examining the album in such detail?
All the songs on that album were a rite of passage from boyhood into adulthood. They were the songs I wrote just at the cusp of my adult life, when you go back when you're a dad yourself and look at those songs they have a whole other layer of meaning which I couldn't appreciate at the time.
What did you think of the Britpop label? You sounded very different to most of the other bands in the genre.
At the time we felt we were very much doing our own thing and there was a huge difference between Kula Shaker and Oasis or Blur, but actually looking back we were all birds of a feather because we were influenced by live bands, similar records and so many of the Britpop bands were 60s and 70s influenced. The classic golden age of rock'n'roll. So now I can see there was a family spirit.
What led to the split in 1999?
You have to die to live and you have to die to be reborn. We never really played the career game and paid a price for that, we were always very idealistic about the music leading the process, what fools we were, but that was our journey and it was important for us to start again in 2006 when we started our own label. You have to free yourself of the yoke of being part of the industry. The industry can really suck the marrow from your bones if you are not careful. We played at the solar eclipse in 1999 [in Cornwall] and it seemed like the best time to end, to have a break.
And how did the reformation come about?
Because we're family and we are all best friends and we all know each other very well and you don't ever really leave your family. We all managed to appreciate each other and grow and we're getting on better than we ever did.
You released K 2.0 earlier this year how did you see that record continuing the themes of K?
It's a companion piece to K, it's the sequel, the reboot. We were kind of taking the piss with the title because it's the age of updates and inbuilt obsolescence. So we did find it amusing that K was obsolete so you have to buy K 2.0. It's a continuation of the journey, learning life's infinite possibilities that never end.
It was really important to the band that we spent the first ten months of the year with the new record, before the K tour, because the band really is alive and kicking and it's important that you let the band breath before you do the nostalgia thing. Though this tour is a strange experience in time travel, at some of the shows you get a sense of past, present and future all mashed together. It's been a lot of fun.
Kula Shaker play the O2 ABC, Glasgow, Sun 18 Dec.