Reading’s finest Sundara Karma have had a whirlwind of a summer so far, embarking on a hectic festival season, performing stadium-worthy anthems at a plethora of festivals up and down the UK, including Glastonbury, Live At Leeds and Blissfields. So naturally, it only seemed right that we had a good ol’ catch-up with the boys at Truck Festival.
We sat down with new favourite frontman, Oscar Lulu, and drummer Haydn Evans, reflecting on their earlier days as a band, festival successes and their mysterious yet-to-be-named debut album.
You’re about to take to the main-stage at Truck Festival… Would you say this is a home-coming gig of sorts for you?
O: For sure, we’re definitely local. A lot of our mates are here today, and it certainly has that homely vibe about it. It’s kind of reassuring going out on stage and knowing that there’ll be a few of our hometown fans there at least.
Are there any artists/bands playing this weekend that you’d recommend music fans look out for in the future?
O: Our mates The Amazons, and the Palm Honey boys – everyone should check them out at some point.
The mighty debate – Northern or Southern crowds?
O: So basically Reading or Leeds then? That’s the divide isn’t it? Nowadays, they’re equally as good to be honest. But at the beginning, the first time I felt a kick was in Manchester at our sold out show at Gorilla. The North of England is always wild, and travelling there, there’s always an aspect of adventure and excitement to it.
How has festival season been for you guys so far?
H: It’s been really cool actually.
O: Glastonbury was definitely a massive highlight, it was nuts! We played the Williams Green stage, and had a lot of fun afterwards too. We got to watch Beck after our set, but then the mud started to move which was a bit mad.
Sundara Karma formed when you were all in your early teens. What was it that got you into music in such a big way at a young age?
H: I think there’s always one specific thing, and I think for us it was definitely watching the movie School Of Rock. Jack Black was the man.
Do you feel as though the earlier years of the band were crucial to the point you’re at now?
O: Definitely. Every single moment that has led up to now define who we are as a band. We’re really proud and love what we’ve done so far. I guess at the end of the day, to do something well you’ve got to have experience, and in order to have experience you’ve got to have made some mistakes along the way.
Would you say you’ve achieved the sound that you once strived for in the earlier days of the band?
O: When we first started we had no clue what kind of sound we wanted. One single would go one way, then the next thing would go the other – but as we progressed we were able to rein it in and understand what was best for the band’s sound. We’re still constantly building, and I think our debut album that comes out in a couple of months’ or so will show this. It’s definitely a lot more focused though. I would hate to be pressured into it sounding a certain way, luckily for us it’s been a free and creative process.
Which artists, past and present, have influenced Sundara Karma’s musical style?
O: So many, it’s often hard to choose. I would always say – Pink Floyd, The Cure, Bowie, Joy Division – everyone really. Anyone who’s had something to say has always influenced us massively.
How does the writing process work as a band, are there any themes that crop up when writing?
O: I guess I’ll bring songs to the guys – I really rely on them for their taste and to tell me if they think something’s good or not.
H: There’s different themes to all the songs, but it’s usually a collective theme of youthfulness which influences Oscar massively when it comes to writing.
O: I find it really hard to walk away from something, say if you go to an art exhibition and you’re really inspired – I find it hard not to be motivated to create something because of that experience – that’s how my mind works and the songs come from that kind of thought process.
You have a very dedicated and energetic fan base. Were you ever really passionate about an artist/band growing up?
H: Oh god – Cage The Elephant, at one point in my life when I was about 15 I was like argh, I want to be in a rock band! I absolutely loved them.
O: My Chemical Romance would have to be mine – I was really, really passionate about them – bearing in mind I was about ten or eleven ha! They were definitely my gateway band.
If you were organising your own festival, who would you choose to headline and why?
Both: Fleetwood Mac for the Friday night for sure.
O: Daft Punk on a Saturday, that would be sick – the crowd would go absolutely mad.
H: If this question was dead or alive… Then I’d go with Luther Vandross! That would be a dream.
What can we expect from Sundara Karma over the next couple of months once festival season comes to an end?
O: More music. We have an album on the horizon, but not for a while yet. I mean, it is finished but it’s just the timings and the behind-the-scenes bits.
Have you decided on an album name yet?
O: Not as of yet, we’re still thinking it through at the moment. It’s kind of like a tattoo, you have to consider it wisely otherwise you’ll be stuck with it for the rest of your life.
Any parting words of wisdom for festival-goers?
O: It’s all on the outside.
H: Stay out of trouble, basically.