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Journal RSS journal posts · 2024 · 2023 · 2022 · 2021 · {and before that

Peter Kernel

Aris, Barbara and Ema

Panico Panico! This is love!

 | pall youhideme
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A chat about Music, life, hearts, whiskers, with the three folks from Peter Kernel, finally at their second full length record, a follow to that one called How to perform a funeral (cfr. komareview), that I still love a lot to listen, such it is full of sensuality and nihilist rage.. the new record, White Death & Black Heart (African Tape / On the Camper Records, due to October 3rd, 2011 - preorder here), is one more brilliant expression of their sense of freedom, love, and melancholia, experimented through an art-punk syncopation of guitars and bass, boy/girl vocals interplay, intimate lyrics, adrenalinic percussions.

Now, press play downhere, taste a preview, and read below our chat.


komakino: Hello there! I see your army has recruited someone new, and lost someone else on the road. This kind of things always happens, and - no will to be intrusive - but, can you tell us what's actually happened?

PK: Hello Paolo!

Aris: It's hard to stay alive as an anonymous band. You try to do your best and take things seriously, you work full time at your day-job and sacrifice all the rest of your free time for the band. There's something chemical between band members, a magical feeling makes things like long hours of driving, waiting, lifting seem to fly. And of course you have to love what you're doing, for real At the beginning things worked out well, we were two couples, Anita & Däwis and Barbara & me and we spent all our time together. Then Anita broke up with Däwis and things started to go downhill. Anita left the band in may 2010 for obvious reasons.  Suddenly in June 2010 we received and email from Spencer Krug from Wolf Parade asking us to open for their one month European Tour that fall. Barbara and I were very excited, Däwis on the other hand was worried. His new girlfriend couldn't take vacation for a month... So he wanted just to do one week of concerts, so that his girlfriend could come.

Barbara: We were totally shocked! We insisted to go for the entire month, it seemed crazy to not do the whole tour. Däwis left the band at the end of July, just a few days before we had to give an answer to Spencer.
Aris and I were in crisis. For a moment we saw the end of Peter Kernel with a fabolous tour ahead. After 5 years of believing in something so strongly we couldn't understand or accept it's ending for such a stupid reason. It seemed unbelievable.

Aris: After a few days we decided to try to look for another drummer. We auditioned a couple drummers but really didn't have feeling, it seemed impossible to replace Däwis.
Then luckily a friend of ours who plays in a metal band gave us the contact of his drummer: Ema. I wrote him a message at noon, and we made and appointment for that evening. A 1.95m tall, super slim, twiggy guy with dreadlocks  walked in the door. As soon as we saw him we thought: "he's really cool!"
We put on one of our songs and he just played it. It was crazy! He had listened to it just once and he knew the song, plus his way of playing it was rich and gracious. We were so relaxed, that night we understood he was the guy.

komakino: How much of Ema there is in the writing of these new songs? - Ema, did you already know Aris and Barbara before joining PK?

Barbara: With Ema we felt free to try some special things we always wanted to do in our music, but none of us were technically able to do. His easiness in playing drums made things fresher and immediate. We wrote and recorded "White Death & Black heart" in 2 ½ months: a record for us.

Aris: We usually are very slow composing, because I'm paranoiac.

Ema: I had seen Peter Kernel live once,  but I didn't know them personally. I found strange but fascinating what they were doing. I didn't know this kind of music at all.

komakino: Since How to perform a funeral, you haven't lost much time.. The Ticket EP in 2009, the experiments of Il pomeriggio non si sa mai bene cosa fare, last year.. a european tour with Wolf Parade [> flickr].. is there anything else I forgot to mention?

Aris: You're right, we are always doing something or thinking of doing something. When it comes to the band we are workaholics. We do our own videos, graphics, t-shirts, badges, ... We never take a break because we love doing these things together.

komakino: You jumped from the diy spirit of On The Camper rec to AfricanTape.. I was wondering if the new record was ready before the deal with AT, or however, you would have ended up releasing it as it is?

Aris: On The Camper Records is our personal label, and in spring 2010 we wanted to do some promotion for the other bands. That's how we met Julien from 5 roses Press and Africantape. After a few emails and calls our working relationship became a friendship. When we decided to record the new album I told him about it, though the idea was to publish it for On The Camper.
As soon as we had the rough mix i sent Julien the files just to ask his opinion, knowing that Africantape have super bands technically great and really alternative.

Barbara: He called us the next morning super excited! That day he had been travelling and listened to the rough mix in loop for hours. We were surprised and happy, because we really respect him, also because he's Chevreuil's drummer and i listened to them a lot. So we decided to do the album together without losing that DIY approach. We still make everything by ourselves.

komakino: And why did you ended up to send the songs to be mixed by Andy Baker in Taipei? (And then the mastering by J. Golden in CA)? Was it, like, just the first name in the Yellow Pages?

Aris: We played together with Shannon Wright in France at the end of November 2010. Andy is her bassist and he records her albums. We love her sound, so the day after, during the breakfast we discussed the collaboration. He lives in Taipei so he mixed it there and we participated via web. Then Andy that proposed to do the mastering with John Golden, they're old friends. We didn't actually know him before but as soon as we scheduled the mastering date we found out he done a lot of great albums. He's very professional!

komakino: Anthem Of Hearts is loaded with those 'we don't care about..', and being the opening track of this album, it really sounds like a manifesto of your attitude.. like saying, you don't need anything else but Music, you're doing your own damned thing, - this is genuine sound self-touching, isn't it?

Barbara: In a certain way you're right. I just hope not to be misunderstood when i say "we don't care about…", I don't mean to be generally negative, or that I don't give a shit about anything at all, it's more about evaluating what we really give importance to and what not. Wouldn't it be nice to just take a break from everything that really doesn't matter? It would be fantastic to be able to just do very simple things in a very simple manner No bullshit. Just lay down and look at the sky. It's an anthem to simplicity.

komakino: How to perform a funeral, then White Death Black Heart, - a portrait of a black cat on the cover, - damn nihilists, what's wrong with you? Who loves the Sun..?

Aris: Ahahah we're scared of what's happening in the world. We tried to be positive and write fun songs but we're human beings with strange sensibilities. We can't say it's ok. It's not ok at all. And we use music to project our doubts and fears but at the same time to express our love for simple things. You see... there's also a positive side.

Barbara: Yes, we're fascinated with opposites. It's sort of the topic of our new album. That's why we make "silly" videos for songs with very serious lyrics.

komakino: Just kidding, I like the inside photo in the digisleeve CD, - it looks like you're having real fun together, I love it. I know everybody is asking, because of that thing of Adam and Eve, obsessing everyone: there's a couple in the band, right? I mean, Ema and Aris.

Ema: I didn't understand the question. Oh.. Someone's calling me.. wait...

Aris: Ahahah yes. We tried to keep it a secret for a few years, but now we can't hide it anymore. The song "Panico! This is love" on the new album is about Barbara and me.

Barbara: Yes, even if the real first time we met each other we hated eachother.

komakino: Aris' whiskers are real?

Aris: No, they're very short and thin black spaghettis.

komakino: Do you think is there any good reading you would associate with this new record?

Aris: Yes. It's ok to listen the album while you read the news.

komakino: Guitar geek talk: what guitars do you use? Pedal efx? I know it's like asking a magician his tricks.. in this case, feel free to lie.

Aris: I love my guitar. Everybody says it's ugly, but i don't think so, it just takes some getting used to. It's a japanese Teisco from '66. The pedals i use are: a crappy Beheringer Amp Boost, an analog Booster made by our friend Nick (, a Boss Digital Delay DD7, a True Bypass mad by Nick, a Digitech Whammy, an Electro Harmonix Holy Grail and a Boss Super Overdrive SD-1 (i use it rarely). We make music anyone can do, there's no reason to lie.

komakino: Why does Myspace sucks so badly now? Do you still use it?

Aris: I don't know, but i'm really thinking to closing it down.

komakino: Do you play guitar hero? What's of hero in playing a guitar-shaped game controller? (ok, it's just for fun, you can say) - Why some people don't give a fuck about making their own Music?

Aris: I don't know what guitar hero is, sorry. About doing their own music... i don't know I don't really listen to cover bands.

komakino: The Music you create, - do you think to know where it comes out from? The head? A black heart? Again, what is Music? I mean, its power is driving your life since years.. it's like following doctor's orders, but there's no doctor..

Aris: Music is something very personal. For us, it's just the need to express ourself in the simplest way we can. It's our way of feeling alive. We need to create, not just music, videos and t-shirts too. We want to be the sculptors of our lives and write the soundtrack of it.

Barbara: And if there's even just a single person that likes what we do we're happy. It means a lot to us.

komakino: Let's get back down to earth: so, what's the next step? I read you're setting up for a new european tour (hopefully a gig in Rome, too)

Aris: Next step: publishing the new album and playing as much as we possible. We're really excited about the tour. We still have to confirm some dates, but we're ready to go. To play in Rome would be cool!

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