Perth and metal music are the breeding ground of some today’s most excellent Drum and Bass producers and musicians around.
I was able to catch up with Shockone aka Karl Thomas – who to most people seems to be the new kid on the block – but in reality is one of the oldest Perth producers around.
Music Feeds: You were in Pendulum before becoming Shockone?
Karl Thomas: I was the drummer in Pendulum; we were a bit like the Deftones, melodic new metal. We played as a band for 4 years. Rob did his thing and Pendulum did the Pendulum thing and ran concurrently for a while but then they blew up and I was left not really knowing what I was going to do. Jake and I made a decision to give Shockone a go.
Originally there were two of us in Shockone. It was weird at first because we spent years together as a band and we had an EP ready. There are all these songs in the vault that nobody has heard.
MF: Had you always been in bands before being an electro producer?
KT: My dad’s a sound engineer and my mum is a bass player. They bought me a drum kit at four; I was in a band with them at the age of 6. The first thing I ever played on stage was Psycho Killer by the Talking Heads. I used to sing a lot when I was younger but stopped for some reason.
MF: So, how did you get into DnB?
KT: Rob, Gareth and Jake (from Pendulum) were in a metal band together, we stumbled across a party I thought was going to be progressive dance but it turned out to be one of the MFI parties in Perth and by the end of the night we were hooked. After that we started going to the Drum club and other DnB parties. Back in the day it was the dark heavy sound, similar to metal that we were attracted too. Soon after that Rob started to produce DnB and it went from there really.
I’ve been producing DnB since 2004 now. A long time considering how long people think that I have been around. The EP with Polygon on it was actually my 12th release, which people don’t realise. It’s very rare that the first thing you work on is an overnight success.
MF: How did Polygon get picked up by Triple J?
KT: The weirdest thing happened. The artist who designed the artwork for my EP, who is also a friend of mine, posted on the Triple J forums saying how good my stuff was and Richard Kingsmill emailed him asking where he could get my music. So my mate emailed me asking if there were any marketing plans for my record and, if not, could he send him (Richard Kingsmill) my music?
In a matter of about a week this all happened. I was actually on the dole at the time and they had told me that I would need to work at Outback Jacks and I just thought…no way I can’t do this, so I gave up the dole and a week or 2 later my stuff was being played on Triple J. The universe will always provide as long as you are open to it, my Mum has always told me that.
MF: How did you feel when your record was played on Triple J?
KT: I was buzzing, I even buzz now to think about it. It’s the ultimate thing as a kid growing up in Australia. But the next thing is BDO, my dream is to play on the national tour for BDO.
MF: What advice would you give to new producers?
KT: I would say that perseverance is key; I’ve been writing music my whole life, actually I was on the dole up until a year and half ago but you really need to persevere. Focus on developing your craft and skills.
My biggest point I have with new music producers is don’t have a plan b, because if you have a plan b for your life you will inevitably end up doing it. It will be hard, and you may be poor, but you will probably be happy. I didn’t have a plan b because I’ve never known anything else other then music so my options were that I could be poor or not so poor but either way I’d be making music.
Once you immerse yourself fully in what you want to do you do it better and get what you’re looking for. Keep going and eventually it will happen. You need to have some talent obviously but most people have talent and not the courage to exploit it and harness it.
MF: In which Australian city would you say you get the best response?
KT: Sydney has surprised me because I hadn’t played here for so many years, and I’ve been here 3 times in the last 6 months and it’s always been amazing.
MF: Do you have a bigger following in the UK and Europe compared with Australia?
KT: I used to but that’s not really the case anymore. Before Polygon came out I’d done 3 European tours already. I played all over the place and because there is so much DnB over in the UK and Viper is also based over there I struggled to get shows over here, but got shows over there, it was weird.
MF: Are you going down the Dubstep route on your next album?
KT: At the risk of jumping on the bandwagon, yes, I’ve been working on Dubstep for ages. My next album is going to be half Dubstep, half DnB and a there will also be a few House tracks on there.
MF: Do you test your new tracks on the crowds at your gigs?
KT: Yep, the 2nd track of my set on Friday was the 1st single on my album but nobody knew it and it got a great response. I did that with Polygon and the weird thing was that it didn’t go down that well. I was playing Polygon for at least a year before it went to radio, the weird thing was it didn’t get a huge response, I didn’t think it was the greatest track, but I never think my music is that good, because I find it hard to judge, and then it went on to radio and blew up and all of a sudden it was the biggest track of the set, and I was like, I’ve been playing this for a year so why weren’t you guys like this before? But it’s all about what people know. It’s good to see the response that I’m getting from stuff on my new album.
MF: What can we expect from Shockone in 2011?
KT: I’m putting out a full length album on Viper recordings later this year, just driving myself crazy finishing that at the moment. Then touring the album pretty heavily. Possibly a move to the UK at some point too but mainly focusing on the album right now. People may have heard the first single on the album which is out in May called Crucify Me, actually, it has me singing on it. My sister (Reija Lee Thomas) is also singing on about 3 tracks. She is doing amazing things at the moment with Kito and she will be moving over to the UK with me too.