A conversation between Ezekiel Ox and Ian Kenny

If you haven’t already listened to Ezekiel Ox’s new EP Cheering Bombs From Deckchairs, stop what you’re doing and go listen to it now. Ever since we first laid ears on it last month, we’ve had it spinning on repeat.

The Melbourne-based artist has just embarked on a national tour in support of the new EP, but before he takes his new songs around the country, he caught up with Aussie music legend Ian Kenny (Birds Of Tokyo, Karnivool) to chat about their history in the Perth music scene, jumping off balconies, pet turtles, and a whole lot more.

As he embarks on a national tour in support of his new EP, Ezekiel Ox caught up with Birds Of Tokyo and Karnivool frontman Ian Kenny for a chat.

EZEKIEL: Do you remember the first time we met. And what are your recollections of it?

IAN: I remember the Grosvenor back room, a venue in Perth in the early 2000s, and I remember seeing you perform before I met you. That’s my memory. Maybe I’m a little off, but what I remember is watching you perform with Full Scale Deflection and just tear the arse out of the Grosvenor backroom which was a pretty infamous venue back then for all bands of our sort of scene coming up and cutting their teeth.  And it was ferocious! So, yeah, you scared the piss out of me before I met you, that’s what I remember! (Laughs)

In the early 2000s, I saw a show of yours and I saw you leap off the second level balcony into the crowd. It was most excellent, the craziest shit I’ve ever seen. Just before you jumped what was going through your mind?

EZEKIEL: I remember the show you’re talking about. It was the campus band grand final. And it was Full Scale Deflection indeed. What was I thinkin when I got on top of that…? For those that know from Perth it’s The Globe, it’s very high. Part of you is thinking “I hope that they catch me,” obviously. But I was thinking, how hard can I rock this fucking crowd!? As I always do, whenever I’m on stage. So, they would have been the two things, I hope I don’t die or break a leg, but after that, really, I’m just thinking how can I give people a show, how can I create something special in a moment that they’ll remember, which 20 years later you still do. Which is very gratifying for me.

EZEKIEL: Do you think that the human race will survive past 2300?

IAN: We will I believe. But it’s ah… it’ll be interesting to see who we are then or what we have become. See what tech’s taken over our bodies and our minds. See what we’ve spliced us to help us with. Hopefully, it’s something to be proud of, but it could be ugly, could be real ugly. What do you think music will sound like in 2119?

EZEKIEL: It can go two ways. It can either be that people use the technology and the internet, tutorials on YouTube and stuff to develop their own musical skills and talents in a way that leads us to a world where everyone plays music all the time together, which I think would be brilliant, and people were more involved in music. Or we can continue down the path that we’ve been going on, where we will see massive cuts to funding, we’ll see artists that simply can’t survive and you will end up in a world where music is controlled by a One world government and you’ll be listening to the same fucking opera that you’ve been listening to in the last thousand years, and there won’t be much creativity. So let’s go for their former not the latter on that one.

EZEKIEL: In the early 2000s, I was at your house and you let me hold your turtle and I dropped him…

IAN: You did, his name was Butters…

EZEKIEL: I remember everyone being quite upset including the turtle. I just want to know, has he forgiven me, and also how’s the hero and a half shell going now?

IAN: I would say Butters, the turtle that you dropped at my house, has forgiven you. Butters was a good guy. Where is he now? I had to give him back to the pet store that I bought him from reluctantly because he was a cool dude but my touring schedule kicked off and it really ramped up and I just wasn’t home. Which kind of sucked but, you can’t have turtles man if you’re not there, they need a lot of daily little cubes of meat and pats on the head, so I don’t know what happened to him. Maybe got sold on to someone who loved him like I did?

IAN: If you can make up a dream band of any Australian artists or musicians who/what would it be?

EZEKIEL: My dream band of all Australian nationals? It would have Chris Cheney on guitar. Having said that he does play solo in the Over-Reactor albums, so I’ve been lucky enough to already work with him, but we’re talking about a dream band so, Chris Cheney on guitar. It would probably have… oh man, your drummer Steve would be up there with the guy I’d choose, but I think I’d have Dane, Dane from Osaka Punch at the moment, on drums. Off click though Dane, thank you very much. On bass guitar probably John from Karnivool because he’s such a great player, he’s got six strings and we’d have a good giggle on tour. I’d obviously be singing in some capacity but let’s throw another singer in. Jeez, you’d have to go for Chrissie Amphlett wouldn’t you? I’d have to go for a dual front man attack Ezekiel Ox and Chrissy Amphlett. And on Keyboards I’d have Eddie Perfect, who’s just opened Beetlejuice on Broadway, so I’d definitely have Eddie on keys.

EZEKIEL: What would you say is the hardest, the most difficult song out of all the hits that you’ve written, to perform?

IAN: Due to the nature of what Karnivool does it’s usually Karnivool stuff because, it’s just pretty demanding, I feel it’s pretty demanding music and it always demands a certain type of performance so… maybe something like Change or Deadman. They’re pretty dynamic pieces of music, they’re long, you need some stamina. I think Deadman clocks in at over 10 minutes and I’m pretty sure change is up there too, so by the time the song finishes I’m physically pretty cooked after that. A lot of Karnivool stuff is pretty tough to sing I’m kind of constantly swapping between falsetto and chest voice and you know, it all depends on how I feel and how fit I am on the day. But yeah, not always an easy sing in that band.

IAN: What have you learned from being in multiple bands?

EZEKIEL: I have learned from being in multiple bands, that it is important to listen to others and it’s important to have different perspectives as you create. But it doesn’t always lead to happiness. Sometimes you have to suffer for your art. I would rather be with a professional person that I don’t necessarily want to be friends with, but I get the results with, than I would be with friends or family who aren’t getting the job done. I think probably the main thing I’ve learned is that I should go solo, so that’s what I’ve done. I’ve basically taken all of those lessons over the last 20 years and I’m now a solo artist so that’s been really important.

IAN: Tell me about in recent memory, your best gig and why?

EZEKIEL: It would be the Mammal comeback show, because it was a hell of a lot of energy heading towards us at that point, and we just did one show at Max Watts in Melbourne and it was obviously sold out. I think it was 20 minutes after it went on sale or something, and it was just a big night for everyone involved. And I don’t think we disappointed either. You know, I know it didn’t disappoint the crowd and I got to give my Mum a kiss when I was onstage up on the balcony and it was just a really great night. Something that felt like it put a full stop on a bit of stuff that had been going on in the previous seven years. So that would be the most memorable.

EZEKIEL: And I think the one that everyone would like me to ask is, why is Karnivool taking so long to put out this new album and how’s it all going? I’m just asking on behalf of me and a million Karnivool fans…

IAN: The next Karnivool record is in the wings, I’m actually here in a rehearsal room as we speak, we’re going to kick off shortly. So I can tell you it’s coming. I don’t know what it’s going to be, I don’t know how long it takes. I wish… I think we all feel this in this band. I wish we all had the control or the power to wield things in the direction we want them to but it’s very much a collective here and shared creative space and ideas. And then we could get into the psychology of the band and that’s just… no one’s qualified for that, (laughs) but I don’t know, what I can say is we don’t make anyone wait on purpose. And what I will say too is that we feel as frustrated as maybe Karnivool fans feel as they wait but, as we get through it we always find things we love about what we do, and at at the end of the day it’s worth it to us. So I hope that answers the question…

Catch Ezekiel Ox live at any of the following dates:

Thu 30 May – Sooki Lounge – Belgrave VIC
Fri 31 May – Republic Bar – Hobart TAS
Fri 07 June – Stag & Hunter – Newcastle NSW
Sat 08 June – The Vanguard – Sydney NSW
Sun 09 June – RAD BAR – Wollongong NSW
Wed 12 June – Byron Bay Brewery – Byron Bay NSW
Thu 13 June – Black Bear Lodge – Brisbane QLD
Fri 14 June – Northcote Social Club – Melbourne VIC
Sat 15 June – V8 Supercars – Darwin NT
Sat 29 June – Enigma Bar – SA

More info here.