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Kora - Pump Up The Volume

Author: Huwston
Friday, 17 August 2007
Kora are a five-piece band of brothers (four brothers and a keyboardist to be precise) based in Wellington and Whakatane, New Zealand who are embarking on their first headline tour of Australia. Having an almost golden path paved for them by friends Fat Freddys Drop, Trinity Roots, Shapeshifter and Salmonella Dub (amongst many, many others), Huwston finds out if they’ll make their own waves, or paddle in the wake.

Speaking to lead singer Laughton Kora, one thing is immediate: these guys pay their dues. Whilst the subject of similarity never comes up, Laughton is quick to note that his countrymen have done amazing things in this country by way of great music and hard yards.

“Salmonella Dub have been doing it for fifteen years,” he says. “We always think about that. Holly Smith has just hit up Blue Note in New York and Barnaby Webb from Black Seeds has just done a tour in Brazil. The doors that people are opening up around the world… they take a lot of New Zealand music over there and spread the word.’

How does the band feel about doing it on their own now- They have been here before, but never headlined.

“We’re a bit scared, aye,” he admits. “The other times we’ve gone over we’ve supported Salmonella Dub and Dub Conspiracy crew. We did one hit with two shows in Melbourne on our own, but this is the first full tour on our own, so we’re a bit nervous.”

Surely though, through crossing the Tasman a few times they’re comfortable in their surroundings and are getting an idea about the subtle differences city to city.

‘The shows have been good for the amount of people that showed up,” he says. “Plus we got to tour with our idols and we got there and played 3000-5000 [pax] venues. The amount of people that come out of the woodwork who we, like, used to go to school with or are family friends with is crazy, and they bring their Aussie friends who hopefully get into it.

“Every time we’ve had distortions on our guitar when playing in Australia, people have gotten in to it more. Sometimes when we go into a long journey vibe the feedback we got was that it was a bit monotonous. That’s what dub is though, sorry!”

We notice the similarities in perception of Sydney to Auckland and Melbourne to Wellington and go on to discuss how the band’s shows are never the same. Considering that there is “no fixed abode” the band don’t rehearse and spontaneity seems to be a huge part of their allure.
“Since we’ve been together [four years] we’ve had only six rehearsals,” he says.
Sometimes it’s like we just do really long sound checks!”

The band’s EP Volume went platinum in NZ just recently and their album is not far off from release.

“It was supposed to be a promo thing so we could get on festival bills, a little throw away promo tool,” he admits. “It helped us to learn to work in a studio because we are definitely a live band. The three days it took to record was not long enough but it has not left the charts since it entered so…” he pauses, “…maybe there’s not enough independent labels!’

It’s that kind of understated New Zealand humour and charm that will have these boys fitting in nicely with their countrymen who can call Australia home anytime they damn well like.

WHO: Kora
WHAT: Play the Gaelic Club
WHEN: Saturday 1 September