Kerretta are an unusual band, to say the least.
At first glance this pair trio of normal-looking New Zealanders may not seem very threatening, but put ‘em behind a very simple drum-bass-guitar combo, and suddenly the band is unleashing instrumental rock epics not too far removed from the likes of ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead or Pelican. Yet, like those bands, Kerretta never really rock out just for the sake of making eardrums explode. Instead, the three-piece spend much of their time fretting over dynamics, build, structure, and texture. In another world, “Dinshah” (from their remarkably strong new album Vilayer) would be the kind of dark mood piece that Chino Moreno would love to howl over, but the group’s strict no-vocal policy instead leaves the emotional interpretation up entirely to the listener—a tough move to make commercially, but something that makes much more sense when Kerretta’s unabashed love of a good hook comes sneaking through each and every one of Vilayer‘s songs.
Touring the album like mad while still riding off of an incredible post-SXSW high, the trio debated and argued wildly about the answers to PopMatters’ famed 20 Questions series, but ultimately revealed to us which Gregory David Roberts book made them cry, why booze is the cause and solution to everyone’s problems, and the incredible Star Wars character George Lucas never got around to creating ...
1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?
Shantaram. Its about a criminal leaving his past life behind and starting a new life in the slums of India. Why does it made me cry? The book is so heavy. I’ve been lugging it around on every trip I’ve been on for the last year. I’m sure I’ve pinched a nerve in my neck due to the extra weight in my backpack. I’m still only a quarter of the way though ...
2. The fictional character most like you?
That’s easy: I’m a 50/50 blend of Chewbacca and Han Solo really. I could have saved George Lucas money and played both parts. We also have a Sithlord/Moth Tarkin on drums and Ewok/Obi Wan on guitars.
3. The greatest album, ever?
Shit, I’m doing this interview in the van crossing the plains of Kansas and that question has just started a mass band debate ... hey, at least we are still talking!
So ... for me it would be Faith No More’s Angel Dust. Dave (our guitarist) says Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and ol’ drummerboy says Jesus Lizard’s Liar The musical taste of Kerretta’s members are a mixed bag perhaps—that’s probably how we come up with such a tasty musical stew!
4. Star Trek or Star Wars?
Refer to Question #2. Still that first last Star Trek movie wasn’t too bad ...
5. Your ideal brain food?
Been inspired by people and ideas that are innovative, not chasing the tails of others which I think unfortunately happens a lot in music ...
6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?
7. You want to be remembered for . .?
Hopefully for being nice people ... and making spontaneous ideas turn into reality: that’s a great attribute to this band. Someone will say “Let’s do this!” and we will instantly try to make it happen. I guess that’s why we have done so much in the three years of our existence ... avoid procrastination!
8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?
Again, those who innovate. There’s so much paint-by-numbers stuff out there ... it’s always the bands that start new musical movements that we have the most respect for and history normally dictates that those who do start musical chapters are often still there well after the rest have faded out ...
9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?
A Hanbacca Star Wars action figure!
10. Your hidden talents . . .?
Twisting interviews around to become imaginary Star Wars trivia.
11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?
Take what you do seriously but don’t take yourself too seriously! Such good advice ... Fender should have it engraved on every guitar they make.
12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?
Right now I would say it would have to be my drum kit: I’ve just started playing drums this year. I’m sure this will improve my bass playing further. But really it’s pure musical delight. Probably the most enjoyable musical revelation since picking up my first bass all those years ago ...
13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or . . .?
Whatever is clean. And black.
14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?
George Lucas ... I could pitch him the idea of me playing Hanbacca! I bet he’s gonna try to redo Star Wars again before he dies, right?
15. TI’me travel: where, when and why?
There’s no point at all: live for the day.
16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?
The answer to everyone’s problems is at the bottom of a bottle ... or perhaps the start of them. Depends.
17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or . . .?
Easy: good friends ...
18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?
Maybe not right now as we travel though more desert, but being on tour is the greatest way to travel and meet exciting new friends which is exactly what we have been doing.
19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?
Better you than me.
20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?
Our new record. Really looking forward to it. It’s already taking on a life of its own, I’m sure it will end up very different from Vilayer. That’s just how is with this band ...