The debut album from UK band Krokodil, Nacash, stands on its own. However, many know about it because the band’s bassist Alessandro Venturella is likely also in another band, Slipknot. Back in the UK, the band, which features members of Sikth, Gallows and Hexes, is a little better known. In addition to being in the band, guitarist Daniel P. Carter is also the host of BBC Radio 1’s Rock Show and the guitarist in a US band that might surprise you. We caught up with him about how the band formed, what the logistics of touring will be, and whether rock has gained more acceptance in the UK. Note: We didn’t bring up the elephant in the room (or the elephant in the krokodil, if you will), since we wouldn’t have gotten an answer out of him.
To many people Krokodil is a completely new band. Tell me about how you came together.
A while ago, I was DJing at a new club night in Birmingham, and I’d been asked to DJ at it. The pair of us were there and he brought [Sikth bassist] James [Leach] and V with him to hang out and party basically. We finished what we were doing and were hanging out in a dressing room talking rubbish and drinking. At some point someone said we should all do a band together, and everyone said that would be the best. That was that, and that’s how those conversations generally go. I’ve had them several times with various dudes from other bands. Because we were all mates I called everyone up and said was that just that conversation or is everyone up for doing that, and everyone said they were definitely up for doing that. V decided that he was going to learn to play the drums, and that kind of points out how drunk everyone was. Like yeah, I’m gonna get drunk and learn to play the drums. As soon as we decided he was one of the better guitar players we know, we decided it was best he did that than try to learn a new instrument altogether. If we do that we should get Dan Foord To play drums because he’s one of the best drummers in the UK, and he obviously played with James in Sikth. It made sense to ask him if he was up for doing it, which he was, so it panned out well. That’s how it started. It was one of those conversations dudes in bands have when hanging out with other dudes in bands.
You turned a drunken conversation into a “Hey why don’t we actually do this?”
Exactly! The logistics of it looked like there was going to be a total bollocks, because everybody’s in different bands doing other things. At this point I was writing songs, Dan was writing songs as well, and we were throwing demos backwards and forwards. Everyone was pulling each other’s’ songs apart and learning parts and putting their own twist on it. It was still one of those bands where we’d bump into friends and they’d be like, “Oh I heard you’re doing a band with so-and-so and so-and-so!” It was just one of those bands. It didn’t exist as such in the real world, and if it was going to exist as such we should book a show. And, who books Download Festival says “oh what’s this, you got a new band?” I said ‘it’s called this, and the writing is coming together.’ He said to come and play Download, and I was like ‘I don’t know if we’re actually ready; because it was only a few months away.
About a month later I realized if we didn’t book a show it was just going to carry on being everyone saying we were in a band together asking when they can hear it. It was one of those. I then called him back saying we’d love to play the festival. We then had to get our shit together and work towards it. It was actually a tangible thing and existed outside of our own conversations. We had one rehearsal and played the festival. In fact it was that morning we were playing V was out on tour as Brent from Mastodon’s guitar tech at that point. V actually met Simon, our singer, the morning of the show. They kind of eyed each other suspiciously and were like alright cool, let’s go and play a gig.
How did it go considering it was the first time you played live together?
It went really well. For one rehearsal, it was ridiculous. We’re all grown men. Everybody’s played in bands long enough to be able to play. We were playing the third tent which was a real big tent, and I thought no one would come and see us but I felt at least it was the stamp, like the line drawn in the sand like we exist now. For the first song and a half there were quite a few people and we were looking at each other. Halfway through the second song the tent was full and there were thousands of people watching us. This was very weird and very surreal. It kind of snapped into place and it was awesome.
I guess the bands you’ve all been in are well known enough that who wouldn’t want to come and check it out?
Well, I don’t know. Mastodon played the day before and Troy wore a shirt as well and there was a lot of talk on forums.
Logistically, what does it mean? Will the band get to tour beyond the Mastodon/Big Business tour happening?
We’re booking festivals for next year. I think we’re going to play a few headline shows but fairly low key just to get them under our belt. The simple fact of the matter is we can’t tour as much as a new band could or should, and we kind of figured if a bunch of friends happen to be in big bands and say come play with us, it works out that we could play to more people than we could if we did the toilets around the UK. I’m all for it! This annoyed a bunch of other bands saying this band’s only got this because of this. Well you know what? We’re all dudes. We’ve all been in bands for a long time. We’re not 16 year olds. We have paid our dues. We drive around in transit vans and slept on people’s floors. We’ve all done it, we’d just rather not do it now.
That makes sense. Do you envision yourself coming to the States at all?
I hope so. It would have to be a support tour if I’m honest about it. We did get asked to do the Mastodon dates with Gojira and Kvelertak. We got asked to do that but simply couldn’t. The record wasn’t out. It would’ve been the best fun ever, but what’s the point with the album not being out to be an opening band. People’s memories are short. Maybe we’ll get asked again, who knows.
Hopefully. The album is pretty well received from everyone over here.
That blows my mind, to be honest with you. You get so close to something, you can’t see the wood through the trees. At the end of the day, this is just me and a bunch of my mates writing songs and having fun and playing music that we believe in. It is cliché to say we made this album for ourselves and everyone who likes it is a bonus, but it’s true. Those things have become a cliché for a reason. I’ve been so close to it, being one of the main songwriters, painting the artwork, and managing it to a degree – mismanaging is probably a better word! I had no idea how it was going to be received. People started hearing it and said they really like it. I hoped they’re not just saying it because they’re friends, and they were like no, no, no!
Yeah, friend rock. Your friends are in a band, you go out and see them, and they might not be really good but you’re there to support. When people say it’s really good and they like it, you can tell they’re being honest and that’s awesome.
You can tell when they’re not being honest, because they’ll say things like you guys look like you’re having a lot of fun out there, you were really going for it, or your merch is awesome! If one of your friends say that, you know they don’t dig it.
Was it important to you that the record come out worldwide?
Of course, because as I said we might not be able to tour as much as we’d like to but to have the opportunity to do select things where we can around the world, I mean we’ve all toured, so we all know. We love to play in the UK, but we know it’s awesome to play shows in Japan or the US or Germany or Norway. Everywhere has its own vibe to it, and we want to have that opportunity to do this and this. It came around very quickly with Spinefarm because at the point they said they wanted to sign it they heard a couple of instrumental demos and it was very much on the assumption that if this guy, this guy, this guy, and this guy are in these bands and we like it, then when they get together we’ll probably really like it. This was quite a leap of faith on their part, and if we turned in an album that was a pile of shit no one would have been happy. They took a leap of faith and I’m stoked they did.
How does this affect the other bands you’re playing with right now?
I don’t think it does. We just try and make it fit. Sikth just reformed quite recently. They’ve been to Japan, they’ve been to Nepal, and they just did a successful tour in the UK recently. It was actually the best received tour the band has ever done prior to them breaking up. Those guys finished probably a few days ago, and now James and Danny are going back out on this tour the day after tomorrow, and we’re just trying to make it work. Lags had some commitments with Gallows towards the end of this tour, so it was agreed that if he couldn’t make the show we would manage because we have three guitar players. That gives us a little leeway. If it was the singer or drummers that would’ve roughen things out.
Are you still in the Bloodhound Gang?
I guess. The thing with those guys is Jim on a whim will fancy playing in Kazakhstan or somewhere really weird. You just go ‘ok, cool.’ That’s not an issue as far as touring goes.
What’s it like playing in a band like that?
Like most bands, it’s hanging out with your friends and having a laugh, and that carries over to the show which can be shambolic and at the same time terrifying, as recent events proved. My old band toured with them a bunch and they really liked us for some reason and took us around the US and Europe a lot. That’s when they were at the real height of it as well. They were so big in Germany. I got to be really good friends with them, and we kept in touch. One day Jim was like “we’ve got some shows booked and Lupus isn’t in the band anymore. Do you want to play guitar?” And I was like ‘not really I’m your friend and your shows make me laugh a lot, but I don’t really want to be in your band.’ They said “that’s a bummer because we’ve got two weeks around Australia with Nine Inch Nails, Lamb of God, Every Time I Die, and Dillinger Escape Plan. I was like ‘I’m your man!’ Ever since then I will get a weird call or e-mail out of the blue like “we’re going to do some dates” or “do you want to fly over to Philly and do some recording?” It’s so sporadic. It works for what it is. Those dudes are the best.
Which band were you in when they toured with you before?
That was a long time ago. I was in a band from the UK called A which didn’t work out so well. Everyone was like “I can’t find you on the Internet.” We’ll be at the front of the record store right before Abba and AC/DC, and we thought “well done genius, use Google, good luck with that.”
You also host a show on BBC Radio 1. How did that all come about, and secondly, what’s the status of rock and heavy music in the UK? I’ve been over there a handful of times and it seems very Top 40 driven.
That was the case. For a start, the way I got the job, I don’t know. I was always and still am that annoying guy meeting up with other bands and saying ‘have you heard this and have you heard that?’ It seems to have paid off well. Someone called me up from a production company and asked me if I wanted to present a Radio 1 rock show? I was like uh, yeah! I used to listen to that show when I was first getting into metal and still listen obsessively to that and to John Peel . I never had any sort of desire that one day I’d be that guy on the radio. I did it and I really enjoyed it and I’ve been doing it for nearly seven years now. To be in the position where you can be the guy to find a band and be like ‘this is great you guys need to hear it’ and do that on the radio is incredible. I’ve seen the effect it can have firsthand on the other side of it. Just things like sessions for the show, like the Peel Sessions were such a huge deal. I can see one of my favorite bands is coming over in two months’ time and go it would be awesome to get Baroness in to do a session and they’re contacting us saying they want to release it on vinyl. It’s the most exciting thing ever. It’s awesome, I love it!
Do you feel like the tide has turned a little bit in terms of the music tastes of people? Do you think people are more accepting of metal and hard rock?
Definitely! I think it’s always been that way. Things come around in cycles as far as the mainstream. Until recently my show was Monday night at midnight for two hours. I knew you got three dedicated festivals in the UK that would be playing bands I would play on the show or bands of that ilk. It wasn’t reflected in any forms of media outside of niche magazines or niche sites. That’s what we grow up loving. You want that to be a special thing you discovered and it’s your own and not a bunch of people know about it. That’s great. My show got moved recently because I think the tide has turned and people are realizing that we should be pushing this a whole bunch because it’s great music and people like it. I’m lucky my show got moved from Monday at midnight to Sunday at 7 pm and they gave me an extra hour for it as well. I’m stoked, and I’m equally if not more happy that a bunch of people who wouldn’t necessarily have listened live can now go this is awesome, I love this band. Things are really changing, and I see it across the rest of the station. It covers all bases but it is very Top 40 in the daytime. If I can put things forward that will get played on some of the other shows, then that’s great.
Has that happened yet?
It has, and that’s great. But I’m not so naïve to think I should go to the daytime shows and tell them to play some Pig Destroyer. I’ve done that during some daytime takeovers which is great. You have to do it in dribs and drabs and be realistic about it so it has some impact rather than people going “Sweet Jesus! What is this?” Those things do help.