Interview by Sam Wood from Infinite Regression zine (IG @infiniteregressionzine)
First off, briefly describe how you all got involved in punk, I know you’ve all played in various bands for a while now.
Becky: I moved to Leeds 10 years ago and went to my first DIY punk gig at Wharf Chambers, since then I met people who played in bands and met Laura (who played guitar in my old band Hex) and she always wanted to play guitar in a band so we decided to start something together.
Cal: Practicing drums in the music classrooms at lunch every day.
Ben: When I was 12 I reached a point where I wanted to listen to albums by bands I liked from alternative rock radio stations and when I hit 13 I decided to listen to their influences and from there I found a lot of classic punk and Hardcore.
Simon: I’m in my 30s so I grew up without the internet for the most part, so first heard punk bands on late night radio shows and saw stuff about 77 bands on TV; read about hardcore scenes in zines and Kerrang, etc. I started going to DIY punk shows when I was 15 years old, then when I moved to London after university I knew a few people from back home that lived here already and started going to shows that Bryony from Good Throb and Tom from Static Shock Records were doing and discovered the scene here that way. I was peripherally involved with this radical queer venue called Power Lunches and later DIY Space For London, and was putting on my own shows for a while.
Off the back of that, how did Koma come together?
Becky: I wanted to start a new band after Hex split up. I asked Callum to drum because we kept speaking about doing a band together and I knew Simon had similar interests in the style of punk we wanted to write. Then I asked Ben cos they just moved to Leeds and knew they would be very keen.
Simon: Yeh we knew each other from previous bands and knew we all had similar ideas/ideals. I’ve always found it really hard to find bandmates that are committed, open-minded, ambitious, etc, so was psyched to start something with this group of people, and our practices were immediately so productive and the music was so sick and exciting that I didn’t care to sit on a megabus for 10 hours just to practice together. I was going through a very bad time personally and being able to focus that energy into something artistic and have some sense of purpose was a life-saver.
WARNING: This video contains some strobe lighting and flashing lights
How has the way you approached writing Koma material been different from previous bands? There’s a pretty wide range of music you’ve all been involved in.
Simon. I live in London and the rest of the band were living in Leeds, so we only got to practice around once a month or less when we were writing the LP. To make the most of what little time we had together, I tried to bring in songs as fully realized as possible so that we could focus more on arrangements & structures, etc, rather than writing individual riffs/sections together. I guess with this band we’ve tried to make everything as extreme and intense as possible — as it feels like a lot of bands will often write songs with one wild riff then settle into more obvious parts for the verses or chorus, so for Koma I like the idea that the songs never settle down & keep mutating & pushing in unexpected directions, and we’ve made a concerted effort to dump parts that weren’t weird or good enough.
Cal: Obviously Simon was key to writing the riffs so I felt that my part was more in terms of helping to structure the songs. I’m always happy to take a backseat until a bad idea needs to be vetoed or a good idea needs to be decided on.
What was the decision to just straight-up release an LP? To my knowledge, there was just a practice tape which you sold at a couple of shows/on the Weekender you did with Saliva. How important Is the physical record existing to you all?
Becky: So the practice tape was originally a 6-song demo which was recorded in 2019 but someone (mentioning no names) lost half of it. It felt like a long time before we could record again so we made the decision to just write more songs and record them all for an LP.
Simon. I think also the speed we were writing songs meant we already pretty much had an LP’s worth of stuff shortly after the demo recording fuckup. Paco (from La Vida Es Un Mus) was also very encouraging that we should just be fearless & confident in the band and say fuck it & go for it! To me personally, I found the idea of doing an LP a lot more appealing as it’s a much more total work of art and started to write songs with a sequence in mind, trying to envision how songs work & flow together to create an atmosphere & experience and thinking what the artwork should be, etc. The idea of a demo seems a bit redundant now when most bands are already making a high-quality recording of their songs just to put some xerox effect filter on the artwork to make it look 40 years older and make tapes/send it to a youtube channel, just for it to be pressed to vinyl a few months later anyway
Cal: Having a record put together; inside its cover art and with a consistent strong recording of all the songs we’ve written always seems like a good milestone for the band. I like to listen back to the music I write/play so having well-recorded versions of everything is very satisfying to me.
How does having to wait so long for the record to be released after a pretty fast writing process affect the way you now think about the music? Are you still excited to be playing the songs live?
Cal: Even more so, I just want to play gigs. Having a break between recording and then hearing the songs again a long time later when the pre-orders were going up made me more excited about playing them again. I don’t think we hit our stride with playing live prior to lockdown.
Ben: We had honestly only had played a bit more than half the LP live prior to lockdown so it’s exciting to be able to finally play those songs live, but aside from that, despite the humour in some songs being over 2 years old and only being released now, I think we still feel comfortable and confident on all the material
Top three UK bands right now?
Becky: Pest Control, Frisk, Mortuary Spawn.
Cal: Mortuary Spawn, Frisk, Heavy Sentence.
Ben: The Annihilated, Mastermind, The Shits
Top three non-UK bands right now?
Becky: Muro, Sial, Urin.
Simon: The releases I’ve liked the most this year have been by Execution from Australia, Desintegración Violenta from Berlin and INYECCIÓN from Chile/Argentina.
Ben: Stunted Youth, Ready Armed System, Instructor
I’ve seen comparisons being drawn with bands like Bastard, Crude SS and Sacrilege. Are there any more rogue influences that were floating about when writing/recording?
Cal: We mentioned Riistetyt and Pyhäkoulu a lot.
Simon: Mellakka and Voĉo Protesta as well. We shared bands we were into and I made a massive playlist I’d put on shuffle on the bus ride between cities so that something might subliminally amalgamate. The only “rogue influence” I can think of is that I tried to approximate an arpeggio that I heard by this Argentinian folk guitarist Atahualpa Yupanqui in one of my guitar solos.
3 films that Internment Failure would be a good soundtrack for?
Becky: The Doom Generation, Punishment Park, Driller Killer.
Any plans for the future?
Becky: We’ve got an LP release show in Leeds on the 16th of Oct.