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CVLT Nation Interviews KEN MODE

I’m pretty sure that everyone knows that one of the raddest albums to come out this year was Venerable by KEN MODE, via Profound Lore. This release laid it all on the line, and they have committed themselves to tour the world. CVLT Nation is ultra excited to bring you an interview with heavy noise warlocks KEN MODE. I must say that Jesse brought his A-game to this interview, so check it out after the jump!

What up Ken Mode, how are things on the road?

Things are ok. We’ve been home for a few weeks at a time over the past 4-5 months and we’re in the middle of a 3 week tour down to Dudefest in Indianapolis, followed by eastern Canadian dates with the Great Sabatini after having just got off a month tour of the US with Deafheaven, punctuated by a performance at Hellfest 2011 in Clisson, France. I’m tired, but psyched for things to come.

While you were creating Venerable, was there anything you wanted do differently with it than what you have done with other albums in the past?

With Venerable, we were really looking to make a statement as a band. We wanted to blend all of the best aspects of what we’ve done in the past, while still moving our sound forward. It had to be heavy and it had to be vicious.

One thing I hear on this record that stands out is the layers of sound that play off each other in an almost chaotic way…can you explain how you create this sonic tension?

Perhaps this sonic tension you’re referring to is a result of us having bass lines and guitar lines that aren’t necessarily playing the same thing..? I always wanted to model this band’s guitar/bass interplay after bands like the Dazzling Killmen and ‘Willpower’ era Today is the Day, so utilizing ugly chords with basslines that do more than just hold down the rhythm was paramount, and always has been.

Photos by Bruce Bettis

When listening to your music, one word keeps coming to my mind – juxtaposition. Is this a concept you work with when creating songs?

Not particularly. To be honest, when we’re beginning the writing process for an album, I rarely have any concepts in mind. It’s entirely free flow in the beginning, with specific concepts coming into play later on to help round out the feel of the record. At this point, I’m starting to forget what it’s like to write a song as since we finished ‘Venerable’ I’ve been basically teaching new bassists our material in every spare moment. I haven’t actually written a song in almost a year and it’s killing me inside!

Is there a special dynamic to your band, since you are brothers? What are the pros & cons?

Trust, understanding, and common goals; these are pillars for strong bands, and working with my brother, who has been my best friend since the day he was born, takes those specific attributes to a whole new level. An obvious pro here is that I have a bandmate that I trust, completely and fully with all facets of my life. Not many people can say that about their bandmates, and for that reason, I feel incredibly lucky. As long as our goals are congruent, this band is an unstoppable wrecking ball. I suppose the biggest con is that so frequently it’s the two of us against the world. We’ve worked with six bassists in the past 5 years (four in 2011 alone).

If you could pick any band from the past to tour with, who would it be & why?

Are we talking specifically from the past? I have mixed feelings about a question like this, because the selfish part of me would love to be on tour with the Melvins at any point between 1986 and 1992, but from a professional aspect I don’t know if I’d feel comfortable with that. They were unstoppable in that period, and I don’t think any band can touch what they were doing, and I wouldn’t want to look like a total chump in comparison!

Photo by Ed Battes

What emotions come over you while you are performing, & what equals a killer show for Ken Mode?

I want to be able to say things like frustration, horror, desire, sorrow, pride, etc – which I’m sure I have fleeting feelings of throughout a set, but a lot of the time I think I’m almost in a cathartic state of neutrality. The best sets are when all emotions seep out unconsciously through my hands and throat, putting my mind at ease for that 30-40 period where nothing else in the world matters. It’s all about the transfer of energy for us; and we detest having that transference interrupted.

What would you say are some things or experiences that influenced the lyrics on this album?

I tend to pull from many different sources when seeking inspiration for my lyrics: Learning how to cope with getting older, “growing up” and the abstract concept of what it all means; growth, self-introspection and awareness; frustration with religion, relationships and achieving one’s goals. Since the music itself in KEN mode is always the primary motivator, I’ve always felt my lyrics are rather self-indulgent; hopefully some people can relate to some concepts to make the listening experience more fulfilling, but in the end, I really don’t care – as long as I feel that they are up to my standards, I’m happy.

Is there anything outside of music that you enjoy on a creative level?

Creatively speaking unfortunately music is pretty much my only outlet. I used to draw and write, but it’s been a long time since I’ve been actively pursuing either of those. Once the KEN mode baby was birthed almost 12 years ago, it became my main priority, creatively speaking. I have other outlets for energy release, such as practicing muay thai, but I don’t think that’s really what you’re asking about here!

Your album Venerable sounds like you are really letting the listener in. Was this something happened organically or was it something you intended to do?

If you’re referring to lyrically letting the listener in, I think that’s something I’ve always done to a certain extent; though the past few albums have definitely driven my point’s home a lot more directly. I write about subjects that inspire me in order to construct sets of lyrics that, as distinct pieces, satisfy my creative needs; so given that, yes, it is definitely something that happens organically.

Are there any closing thoughts you want to share with the CVLT Nation readers?

Thanks for reading, and check us out on tour if you get the chance! Thanks for the interview!

CVLT Nation would like to thank Ken Mode for the epic interview and tunes!

All photos by Bryan Proteau except where noted.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. kyl

    August 3, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I watched these guys preform at the New Black in Calgary, AB. Goddamn, the lead guitarist made a lasting impression on me. If I had to use one word to describe his delivery of “Never Was” it would be conviction.

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