A global pandemic, a guitarist leaving the band, and limited recording facilities were all the recipe for what was supposed to be a disaster (but thankfully didn’t). The latest release from Danish Band Kuko De Kobra was made after the band’s guitarist Martin J. Andersen had left the band and so bassist/vocalist John Sharling took the tough decision of making a new Kuko De Kobra record but on his own this time and as a studio project. I had the pleasure of interviewing John after I wrote a review for the new album as well (that you can find here).
- Hello and Welcome, Sir. First of All, I would like to congratulate you on the new album. It really sounds fantastic and I loved it so much. How Were you expecting people to receive the album and react to it?
Thank you for the kind words – I am thrilled that you liked it. I was not really expecting any reaction at all to be honest. Kuko De Kobra is a one mand army these days and because I am quite reserved I have a hard time getting the attention I deep down feel the music needs. I really am awful at promoting.
- Allow me to backtrack a little bit and ask you about the previous records. How was the recording process compared to this album?
Underdog Chorus is the first time I was really on my own recording and producing for the most part. I am by no means a technician but I can plug my guitar into my iPad which I basically what I did for this album. It was a great learning experience. I was also lucky enough to have ”My Serbian Connection” Ivan Mircovic play drums and mix the tracks. He did a great job I could not do.
For the first three records I went into some great studios with some experienced musicians and producers. Making the first two albums was great – the third one became quite stressful even though I truly enjoy the results. But just because I chose to do Underdog Chorus more or less by myself does not mean I am done going into real studios when the songs call for it. In fact the upcoming fifth Kuko album was recorded in 2022 in the wonderful Angioni Studios just after I finished recording Underdog Chorus. It felt good to record two albums in a year. Liberating. And exhausting too.
- So Underdog Chorus is a pretty unusual name, and so are the names of some of the tracks and their lyrics. Would you like to tell me the inspiration and name behind them?
The album title is quite old and used to be part of a song I never finished. But I liked the mental image of underdogs singing and barking together. Just because you are small does not mean you have nothing to sing about. And yes, I do see myself as a kind of underdog.
I usually try to write lyrics that are in a place between the mundane and the abstract and I like putting in references to everything under the sun. This time I am singing about Chernobyl, trolling neo-nazis and good coffee used as suicide prevention among other subjects.
But at the heart of things I almost always write about communaction and relationships in all its many forms even if I am describing meeting a lovely but also intimidating Sopranos character in a psychedelic swamp.
- The bass guitar sounds very powerful and I would really appreciate it if you could tell me the gear you’ve used in recording the guitars and drums here too and any additional instruments.
I used GarageBand for my iPad and just layered whatever sounded good to me.It was all trial and error. Fortunately most of the presets sounded alright and just needed a little tweaking. And then Ivan did his thing which probably made the sound better. He is a powerhouse drummer, but since I am in Denmark and he is in Serbia I have not idea how his set-up is.
- I don’t mean to confiscate your band to one genre, but if you wanted to describe Kuko De Kobra to a person who’s never heard them before then what genre would you call this album?
I really like to describe most of what I do in Kuko De Kobra as Power Pop with added guitar. I really feel a lot of pop music could do with added guitar.
- I can hear a lot of inspiration in your vocals from people like Chris Cornell and Scott Stapp…Have I got this right or are there any other artists that you had and mind when writing those vocal lines?
I really don’t know Scott Stapp – but Chris Cornell was a huge influence on me. Other than that I would say the Roger Daltrey, Bon Scott and to a lesser extend Dio have influenced me in how I go about singing.
- I would like to say that Good (The Goldberg Complications) is by far my favorite track from the album because of your powerful vocal performance on it. If you could please tell us how and when you learned to sing with so much grit and distortion, and how does one maintain their voice without losing it when singing this heavily?
I could not tell you much about the singing technique. I just warm up a little and go for it. And some days it works, some days it does not. But when I recorded the songs my condenser microphone just could not handle it. It was more or less the last song I did. So I had to come up with a solution. I ended up standing while holding a Shure in my hands as far away from my mouth as I could. In the other hand I was holding the popfilter. And then I moved the microphone and popfilter as I sang to get a somewhat cohesive signal. I must have looked absolutely silly.
- Is there any hope that we will ever see the songs of Underdog Chorus in live shows with session musicians or maybe new members in the band any time soon?
I’m afraid this is not going to happen soon. People are busy and I understand. But I would love playing live again.
- If there was a single artist, living or dead, that you would like to collaborate with, who would it be?
David Lynch, hands down. Ian MacKaye from Fugazi a close second.
- What are some of your favorite venues around the world or let me say…venues you dream of playing at?
I have not thought of that. If I was to play a sold out show to 500 people anywhere I would be pleased.
- Lastly, I would like to know what future projects are in the making, if any, and what direction you plan on taking Kuko de Kobra from now on.
The fifth album is ready and in 2023 I am planning on releasing Kuko De Kobra material every month on the 23rd. So I keep busy.
Thank you so much for giving us some of your precious time today. It has been an honor to have you with us and we wish you a successful run with Underdog Chorus and all the other future projects you are bound to make.
Thank you as well.