Pulkas Interview

Last time round you read the Medulla Nocte interview. Or you should’ve done. Now we have the Pulkas interview that took place the very same night. So we return once more to Derby. Unlike the Nocte interview, we’re not in the stretch limo this time, instead we’re in the room with the removable door that appears to double as the changing/store room at the Victoria. And present with me is Luke, vocalist from UK hopefuls Pulkas. He’s only just finished another set on their first headline UK tour. The album, Greed, has been out for all of about a week, and he’s agreed to do an inteview for YAZ. Does life get any better?

First time I saw you was in January on the NextGen tour in Sheffield. I’d heard the name for a long time, and it felt like there was always this “album due any time now” feeling. Was there any real delays there.

Um, the idea was, when we first signed with Earache was to release it around early ‘98. It’s only been delayed about a week, but it does seem to have been a long time coming. People have said “look, when’s it coming out. You’ve been signed for a long enough now”. But there was a plan behind it. There was one weeks delay, but that was due to pressing problems down the plant, some fuck up with the machine or something. So it’s ended up coming out on a Bank Holiday Monday, which I was like “fuck, no way”. People will have to break into the shops and nick it or something.

We planned it, we wanted to hone it down you know, get the live stuff sorted out. We had the discussions with Earache and worked on a long term strategy. We looked at all the planets, and they were aligned, so we were like, “right, that’s the one, do it.”

No pinball going on with the planets then, and them spinning off everywhere.

Exactly yeah. There’s just a massive war on Venus going on, and that’s like good for us.

Right, I only managed to get my copy of the album today, so I’ve not really had chance to listen to it properly, so I haven’t come up with any indepth or interesting questions. So is there anything you’d like to say about the album. Musically, lyrically, politically.

Politics for us, it’s pretty obvious. All politicians and all politics are full of shit, so there’s not really any need to get into that. But the way I personally get into it from a lyrical point, there is a social commentary going on, but it’s not really in your face. It’s a level where it’s saying ok, the government is responsible for this and this and this. I sort of take it down to the levels where it comes down to a singular person idea. You know, where it’s saying this is how the government would affect this person specifically. It’s not like a broad “yeah this is what’s going”. I think most people know what’s going on. I don’t think there’s many people that we can reach that’s say going suddenly go “oh yeah, you’re right.”. It does fuck us off the whole situation of life generally. We don’t like what’s going on anywhere, from a government level down to a totally personal level. But the lyrics, y’know, it’s just like paranoid nonsense really. Do you think there’s a reason to be paranoid at the moment.

Well my view on politicians is pretty easy, I think they should all be shot. But, we’re “celebrating” now a year of this New Labour government, would you say that anything has changed for you since they’ve been in power?

Well obviously not, not personally y’know. But again I do believe that you’ve got to go with someone y’know. You’ve got to go with the best shot out there. You do need laws, you do need shit out there, otherwise there’s just going to be chaos and everyone will die. So Labours done nothing personally, but maybe in the long term, schools, national health etc they’ll start sorting it out. As long as people have the patience. They’ve made some massive fuck ups. This millenium dome. They were told before they came in power by the tories “do you want to say ok about the millenium dome”. There’s this project coming up, we’ve got to order the steel or whatever for construction. It was basically along the lines of “we’ve got to order it tomorrow, we know you’re going to get in power. Do you still want it?” And Labour had the chance to say “no, stop it now”, and then we wouldn’t have to waste all this money. And Labour still said “yeah, let’s still go ahead.” So you get this Millenium Dome for billions of pounds, along all the other shit.

Do you think the Millenium itself is anything to actually celebrate?

It’s just another New Year. I mean it’s all just to do with some guy called Jesus. No one really pays attention to that sort of thing anymore.

But it’ll be a commerical winner for some people.

Oh totally. Well we’re thinking of cashing in ourselves. Playing in the car park on the back of a flat bed truck.

Like I said, I don’t want to particularly labour (groan, sorry) on about politics, but there are also these new measures being introduced to try and deal with music, and the industry, and getting people into “proper jobs”. Do you think they’ve interfered too much with the arts.

I don’t really know enough about that. I’m not so focussed in on politics at the moment. The arts have had a bad time for years anyway. And so anything that’s going on, it’s going to take years and years to sort out. Be it music, be it arts, schools or whatever. But yeah, the governments have been fucking up the arts for years y’know. They don’t give a fuck with training people. They don’t get a chance. We play gigs abroad quite a lot. And they’ve got quite a good system for it. Especially live. Live you get paid top money, you get fed, you get a drink and you get accomodation. From really small clubs and venues. And we’ve been doing this for a while over there, and yet the album only came out 2 days ago. But we’ve been playing over there for quite a few months, and the governments back up entertainments and the live field. The government puts aside so much money every year towards promoting live stuff. That’s pretty civilised. Bands can actually afford to live and play live. Whereas over here never going to happen. I can’t put down venues. I mean in England, bands always whinge about doing the toilet tour of England. But it’s fair enough. Landlords maybe don’t have the money to pay for all this sort of stuff, but over there the governments do subsidise the live scene.

That would be nice if we had something like that over here.

Yeah, but it ain’t going to happen.

Moving back towards the music. Shit I had a question in mind, and just forgot it. Ok then, instead of whatever that was, about the NextGen tour, how did that go?

That was great. I said it before to people, but every night I saw that set for free and it was a blast for all of us. It was the first tour of that sort of size for us, so we got to share a tour bus with Misery Loves Co. and was just killer man. We’d never been on a tour bus before. So there was all that, boozing up all night, and that side of things was fun, that fun part of being with the other guys, kicking back after shows. We were on first, we were like the warm up band. But that was ok, that was kinda the experience of doing it. You get offstage, have a shower, freshen up, and then suddenly there’s all these other bands playing. So that at the end of the night I was fucked all over again. Completely hot, sweaty. It was becoming a nightmare by the end of the tour, because you couldn’t get like a chill out time, because these bands were so good y’know. Free. People were paying the money every night, and we were doing in the pit moshing for free. It was a wicked tour.

Is there any chance of extending that, because in the UK there was only the two gigs, which when you’re talking NextGen, as in next generation of kids, is a bit of a let down, as most of them wouldn’t have the opportunity of getting to Shefield or London.

Yeah, we felt that. We could’ve done all of England, but I don’t know financially, because it costs a lot of money to do that. But we’d love to, course we would. I mean, we’d like to go out with just two coaches and us. And have the two coaches for us, and fuck the other bands y’know, just do it by ourselves he laughs. Obviously forgotten the stretch limo waiting outside for them, which is cunningly disguised as a transit van.

If you did it again, would you go with the same bands.

For me personally, and I can’t talk for the rest of the band, but for me personally all my favourite bands for it have split up. There’s no more ideal lineup for me anymore. Mine would’ve been Led Zeppelin, Janes Addiction Carl Perkins and us. Something along those lines. But yeah, we’d do it again man. And out in Europe there was enough vodka, so it’s worth doing.

At the moment you seem to be getting a lot of comparisons with American bands Tool, Deftones. How do you feel about that.

Well I’m flattered about the whole thing, but I don’t see the comparison at all. Anyone can do light and shade sort of stuff. But their sounds are completely different. I understand that people have to put a pigeonhole over you and have to put people in the right direction, “if you like this kind of music, you may like this.” But just call us hard rock. That’s what it is, it’s hard rock / heavy metal. It’s like Korn and Tool, they are a brilliant bands and I’m flattered by it, but it’s bullshit y’know, but the press have to do it. But you can’t always hear it when you listen to the album, for me it doesn’t sound like it all.

For me I could probably hear the Deftones comparison, and I’ve been listening to the album all day to try and pick up the Tool part.

Yeah, I mean those guys are totally out there on their own y’know. No-one can touch them and I wouldn’t want to try. And the Deftones, we seriously when we entered the studio to do the album, we’d written the album, got the sequence all worked out, all the bits inbetween, everything was ready. And then Colin Richardson, the producer, played us both Deftones albums. And it was the first time that we’d heard them when we went to the studio to record the album. And so when the press say it sounds like the Deftones, well it was just by chance y’know.

But there’s so many bands like that at the moment anyway. Do you think that there’s the element at the moment that the British bands always get compared to the Americans, and never the other way around. Do you think the American bands get it a little bit easier in the press than say you guys.

I think American music always gets sort of front billing in the press. But there are a lot of good underground bands out there in England. But American bands sell English papers, and they always have done for years. So there’s no reason why the UK press should suddenly start going to go on about UK bands, because they’re still not going to seel y’know. But I do blame the mainstream press a lot for the English scene not breaking through. And a few of the English bands that broken through, can’t mention any names, are so Americanised. American accents, that sort of thing. And I’m like, “you’re fucking from England man”. I don’t think it’s that they get it easier, it’s just the way that it’s going y’know. American bands sell the magazines. But a lot of American bands are pretty good as well.

There was a letter some time ago in Kerrang! about them covering Will Haven and saying “this sort of music shouldn’t be covered in the mainstream press. It’s to be discovered. If you cover them then they’ll sell out.” Would you agree with that kind of perspective?

Well I don’t see any reason why not. I mean we’re just a heavy rock band or metal. That’s bullshit. I mean, maybe Smash Hits isn’t going to touch us, but the press is the press and if they want to write about bands. I’m not into this thing about bands selling out y’know. It’s beyond the bands. Y’know if someone wants to write about us then it’s beyond our control. Musically we’re not going to like, Nirvana when they kicked it big, so many people got fucked off with the band saying they sold out. And it was like “well they haven’t really, they just write fucking brilliant music”.

Yeah, sell out seems to occur when all the people that you’ve spent ages telling to buy the album suddenly buy it. Or the radio station you’ve slagged off for not playing a band suddenly start playing them. So they become what you’ve wanted them to be, and then you start accusing them of selling out as a result.

Yeah, you want your bands to succeed. If they don’t get the press they’re going to split up, cos they’re going to be skint and can’t survive. At this point, Paul from the Nocte enters the room. Now they’re a band that’s going to split up soon. We’ve got some info on you Paul informs Luke. We’ve got some blinding stuff on you Luke counters. At this point I rember that Paul had said to ask Pulkas something, but I’ve totally forgotten what. So the man helps me out. Ask them about being a wuss and see what you get.

Ok then, so are you a wuss.

Absolutely man. I’m an intelligent guy. You run at the first sight. You go. Paranoia man, it’s just a heightened sense of awareness. That’s a cool way of getting out of it.

Oh yeah, don’t mess with Medulla Nocte, because apparently they’re the hardest band in the world, and whenever they play gigs, they want people to get up and fight them all the time. Their singer Paul reckons he’s the hardest guy in England claims Luke, much to the hardest guy in Englands amusement. I think. Either that or he was going to fight him afterwards. No reply to that then Paul.

No, certainly not. I’m not going to get involved in it, it could end in tears. We’ve been friendly for awhile, so we’ll try and keep it that way.

Nah, I mean Medulla Nocte are the coolest bunch of guys man, respect to them.

Medulla Nocte and Pulkas combined, there’s no harder mixture. Yeah, it’s kinda like The Spice Girls meets Mammoth counters Luke to Pauls amusement.

Only a few small questions left I think. Any views on remixes at all?

Yeah, we had a remix done, can’t remember who it’s by, well, one of the guys is from Leechwoman. He took part in it, there was two of them. They did a remix of Control and it sounded great, and that’ll be coming out in the summer on a Earache album. But I think it’s cool. For us if we had control, we wouldn’t have a whole album of remixes y’know, you might as well go and write another album. It’s fun, but to release them y’know, it gets to the point where fans will buy anything.

Yeah, cos my worry is a label wants to put out a new single, and remixes of three tracks is the cheap way out. At least in terms of the concept.

Yeah, you have to pay, and a remix is like £800. Nine Inch Nails, the album Broken a few years ago, and then Fixed. That was the ultimate in remixes, like don’t bother anymore y’know. I was so fucked up when I bought it, there was no way you could beat it. None of the songs sounded like the original, so that’s the way to remix. It’s cool, just in your bedroom.

Ozzfest, got any opinions on it.

It’s great. If I can get a ticket I’ll go and see it.

But what about the lack of UK bands on there. There’s Pitchshifter.

Industry again.

Cos Neurosis have pulled out and been replaced by another American band. It would’ve been nice to see a British band instead.

Yeah totally. We’d love to do it, but there’s shit loads of English bands that deserve to do it ahead of us. What a pisser man. But it is a great bill. But the best band that was on it have pulled off, Neurosis. So many people should be opened up to Neurosis. You don’t get the chance to see them over here very often.

I mention having seen them at the small Disco II sectin of Rock City with Entombed.

Neurosis in there! Fucking hell man, what a fucking gig. But the Ozzfest is cool, as a package coming over. To get them all on the same bill is great. But why can’t we play.

So finally, plans for the rest of the year.

Well we’ve got loads of European stuff coming up. Basically going to cover everywhere in Europe. Jules is going over to New York to do some press, and hopefully get over there sometime. But Europe is really the main target at the moment. We’ve done some good groundwork and had some killer press, so it’s like let’s get over there. It seems like they want to see us. The beers good. So just touring, right the next album.

And drinking a well earned beer is where we leave the man, to look forward to another night of comfort in the stretch limo. And I head back to Nottingham.