Kipling have just changed their name from ‘The Kipling Conspiracy’. With a name like that, you might expect a riotous punk band, singing about the NSA and government cover-ups. On the contrary, Kipling is three blokes: two with long hair and post-hipster sweater tops, one with short hair and a t-shirt.
So, what brought on the name change?
‘With the new music we’re writing we thought a new name would be better. Also our mates told us to.’
You’ve been on the scene for, what, five years now? Do you feel that your music has changed in that time?
‘Definitely yes. Probably. Yes. We used to be a covers band.’
These days, Kipling are playing their own material – a weird mix of punk rock and sped-up reggae. Singer and guitarist Jack Conway has a distinctive English twang to his vocals, which gives the genre a tangy British flavour. Their sound has evolved over the years, but they seem to be settling in to a style with which they are comfortable.
I hear you’ve got new songs in the oven – tell us a bit about them.
‘We thought it’d be a good idea to be calypso band but none of us really know what calypso is so the resulting music is our interpretation of that genre mixed with our music. But it’s just as likely to sound like any other genre. We don’t know what we’re doing.’
How did you guys get together?
‘Christie and Nathan are brothers – since birth – therefore were forced to tolerate each other for most of their life. Christie met Jack at school. Nathan was jealous that Christie had a friend. They formed a band.’
Do you get on each others’ nerves after all this time?
‘Yes, regularly. Jack’s fucking annoying.’
How do you go about writing the songs? Is it an egalitarian collaboration?
‘We like to think that we write music together but really it’s different for every song. Sometimes it comes from us jamming and sometimes one of us starts an idea and the others join in. We write in the dark.’
The last time I saw Kipling was at the Loud & Clear night in Brick Lane’s Vibe Bar – a cozy haunt for local musical talent. They are fantastically energetic, funny and self-deprecating, chatting to the crowd and to themselves. Even this side of midnight, the guitar picks and drumsticks were flying and the the crowd visibly perked up.
So… lots of amphetamines or just coffee?
‘We don’t expect a crowd to dance if we’re not dancing ourselves. We got bored of taking our stage show seriously which led to us having a lot more fun on stage.’
I’ve seen you play in London but you’re based in Colchester? Tell me about some venues you really enjoyed playing.
‘There’s a great live music bar in Colchester called Tin Pan Alley which has an awesome atmosphere. When it’s packed out it’s sweaty and loud but it’s so much fun. A couple of years back our friend Ben Howard (not that one) gave us the chance to open the first Colchester Free Festival which was a real treat. It was humbling for us to open our home town’s first proper music festival.
‘We’ve really enjoyed playing Vibe Bar in Brick Lane with PluggedIn SwitchedOn recently and hope to get some more gigs around London soon.’
Christie you have your own solo project at the moment, it’s a very different sound to Kipling. Were you looking for an outlet for a different style?
‘I started my solo project because in my first year of university the band was spread across the country – Nathan, drummer, in Colchester, Jack, guitarist in Canterbury and I was in Kingston – so I didn’t really have an outlet for my music. It just started out as me trying to see what I could do with the stuff I had in my room in halls and now I’ve been gigging a lot around London. You can check it out at www.christieisaac.co.uk’.
So what’s next for you guys..?
‘We’re working on new material at the moment with hopes for a new release this summer. We haven’t released anything in about three years so this is really exciting for us.’