The relationship between Perth alt-metal act Karnivool and their Sydney counterparts, Cog, goes back nearly two decades. Karnivool and Cog released their respective debut albums in 2005, both of which made an impact on the ARIA charts and helped usher in a new wave of Australian heavy music.
Alex Wilson, the bass player and leader of Sydney post-rock outfit sleepmakeswaves, was one of the many thousands of aspiring musicians influenced by the example of Karnivool and Cog. The three bands are hitting the road together through August for the Monolith Festival tour, which also includes Ocean Grove, Plini, Reliqa and Yomi Ship.
Karnivool and Cog to Headline Monolith Festival
Ahead of the four-date tour, which takes in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth, Karnivool’s Ian Kenny reminisces with Cog’s Lucius Borich and sleepmakeswaves’ Alex Wilson.
Music Feeds: When did Karnivool first meet Cog?
Ian Kenny: We first met Cog in 2005-ish. I think we had just put out Themata. Before that record, we weren’t really reaching much outside of Perth. We’d been on a couple of little tours to the east coast, but it was all very much in-house to our fans and our hometown.
So, Themata came out and we did a tour on our own and that kind of went okay. And then the first time we realised what good touring is, is when we toured with Cog. It was around 2005 when we met you, the Cog lads, and got our head ripped off by that band. And it’s been happy days ever since.
Lucius Borich: We’d just released our album, The New Normal, and I think we had 30 shows or something, which was quite an extensive tour, and we asked the Karnivool guys to come on.
What I do remember was it was kind of like, “Oh we can’t get there, we haven’t got the funds.” And we were like, “You’ve gotta come and do this tour.” We really wanted to connect and make it a big deal.
It came together and that tour was obviously very special because we were releasing our first album, but the camaraderie that formed out of that was a great bond, a really good respect. The musicianship was supported wholeheartedly, which was great.
Ian Kenny: Absolutely. I reckon Alex you would feel the same, but you know those moments where you get out of your little world for a bit, meet another band that you have a kin with and it just gels together and feels right?
Then you realise there’s a scene; there’s actually a movement outside your little world. And that was our first sort, “Oh, right, wow – there’s some crazy, crazy good players out here and some really good music.”
Cog – ‘My Enemy’
Music Feeds: Alex, Themata and The New Normal came out around the time you were starting sleepmakeswaves. Did Cog and Karnivool influence you?
Alex Wilson: It’s probably hard to be fully honest about how much influence I’ve taken from those bands without sounding like I’m just blowing smoke up these guys’ arses. But the honest answers is heaps.
I remember going to see Cog play the Annandale Hotel – a matinee show, so I was like a bit too young to go for the full thing – and as a young guy wanting to start a band, that was one of the first moments where I’m like, “Oh, I’d love to have a band that sounds like those guys.”
I remember shortly after that, I think towards the end of high school for me, hearing ‘Life Like’ make it onto the radio. I think I was earlier on Cog because I’m from Sydney, and then Karnivool, as they got bigger, started coming down through triple j with ‘Life Like’ and the first couple of singles off Themata.
I think I travelled out to Penrith to see you guys at a theatre in Penrith, maybe in the first or second year of uni. That was with Sugar Army supporting, who I really liked as well.
Lucius Borich: Great band.
Alex Wilson: Yeah. By that point I was definitely like, “Australia has an amazing scene for this stuff.”
Music Feeds: Did it ever feel like competition between Karnivool and Cog?
Ian Kenny: Nah, I wouldn’t say that. It was admiration more than anything. Cog, through their music, and us being impressionable people, especially when we were a bit younger, we got so much out of being affected by what Cog music does to people. So, if anything, there’s more appreciation for it, that it’s there.
Lucius Borich: Oh come on Kenny, there was some UFC moments in there mate.
Ian Kenny: A couple of band room biffs.
Lucius Borich: No, the one thing about music is, I know they put it into some type of category to do with awards and competition, but that’s not what music’s about. You’ve got bands like Karnivool and sleepmakeswaves, it’s purely about exploration and the possibility of music and where it can take you.
Karnivool – ‘Life Like’
Karnivool, Cog, Ocean Grove, Plini, sleepmakeswaves, Reliqa, Yomi Ship
- Saturday, 13th August – Eatons Hill Outdoors, Brisbane
- Saturday, 20th August – Bella Vista Farm, Sydney
- Saturday, 27th August – PICA, Melbourne
- Saturday, 17th September – Red Hill Auditorium, Perth
Tickets on sale now.