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Kora - They Are Family

Author: Nina Bertok
Monday, 6 April 2009

As close-knit bands go, they don’t get much tighter than Kora; families are like that. 3D’s Nina Bertok spoke to vocalist Laughton Kora about sticking together, and persistence in the face of skepticism.

Many a band will tell you they’re ‘like brothers’ – but rarely will they share a bond like New Zealand reggae-hip-hop-metallers Kora. So much so, in fact, that according to vocalist Laughton Kora, they hardly even practice… “In nearly five and a half years that we’ve been together as a band, we’ve probably had ten rehearsals,” he states matter-of-factly. “It’s true. We don’t practice because it feels like we don’t need to. It’s the brotherly thing, being family, you can count on them on stage. You know where they’ll be at sound-wise and there’s no stress. Sometimes before a show we’ll all clap together at once to see if we can do it as one in time. If we can’t even clap together, then we’re in trouble.”

So far this clearly hasn’t been the case, with Kora taking Europe by storm and going back for more following the band’s Australian tour this month. “Last year we played in Europe and we noticed how tight we were on stage,” the frontman remembers. “I think mostly it was because we realised that here we were on the other side of the world and all we had was each other, so that whole thing of being a little bit scared and being brothers came into it again, I think. The only person that’s not related is our keyboard-player Dan McGruer. I remember thinking the venues were so huge in Europe, they’ve really got their shit together and they’re open to anything. Whatever you need as a band, they’re cool with that, they’ll get it for you. Over in New Zealand, everything is such a stress! Obviously, we got right into the food as well, in Frankfurt we ate Frankfurt sausages and in France we had the snails – they’re really nice and chewy.”
Considering what a large blend of genres Kora’s music consists of, it isn’t hard to believe the band sold out cities like Amsterdam.

“Our music has a lot of different elements in it, from reggae to hip hop to metal, our first album [self-titled, 2007] really showed that, and in Germany and places like Amsterdam, they really got into the metal element of what we do especially. We sold out Amsterdam, they really enjoyed our sound and came up to us saying, ‘wow, we thought you were a reggae band or something’.”

Kora attributes his band’s success to simply sticking to its guns – when everybody else said it wouldn’t work, it merely added fuel to the fire. “From day one, we played what we wanted to play and not what other people wanted to hear from us,” he says. “People dissed us and said you couldn’t put that many genres into one band. There were people that didn’t like it and we had people who like our reggae element getting pissed off at us. People couldn’t seem to get their head around fusing different styles together and it’s like, ‘but dude, show me your iPod and I guarantee it’s so fucked up!’ Sometimes it does seem like people can’t accept evolution in music and I am sure that if we’d listened to other people and band managers, we would have totally gone the wrong way.”

WHO: Kora
WHAT: Play the Coogee Bay Hotel / the Great Northern, Byron Bay
WHEN: Friday 10 April / Sunday 12 April
MORE: myspace.com/koraroots

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