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Kagoule are three teenagers from Nottingham. They are one of the best new bands in Britain.
Fiercely independent and with a steadfast vision for the minutiae of every aspect of their presentation, Kagoule are band born out of the school-yard, the trio of Cai Burns, Lucy Hatter and Lawrence English coming together a half decade ago. “We represent the sound of boredom,” says Hatter, of the band’s inception. “The sound of three 15 year olds wanting to do something,” says Hatter.
Recorded while still in their teens, Kagoule’s debut album Urth draws on a wealth of unexpected influences – the best US underground obscurities of the 80s and 90s, the dark folk music of Pentangle and playing style of Bert Jansch, contemporary fantasy and sci-fiction literature, ancient wood-cut artwork and so much more. Sound-wise they recall the energy and ideas of Bikini Kill, the sugar-dusted grunge of Smashing Pumpkins and the angular rhythms and confrontational post-hardcore blueprint of Fugazi, Slint and fellow Nottingham band Bob Tilton, with a pedal rack (metaphorically) half-inched from Dinosaur Jr. But – crucially – perhaps only to those old enough to have heard those bands first time around. “People would come and see us and say we reminded of certain bands from the past who we had not heard,” he adds “We’d investigate them and be blown away.”
Out of all this comes Urth, recorded with producers Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A, The Fall) and Pete Fletcher (Childhood). It takes its title from fantasy / sci-fi author Gene Wolf’s 1987 novel Urth Of The New Sun, from his New Sun series of. Within these works, Wolf used archaic language, obscure words and allegory – all of which influence Kagoule’s oblique lyrical approach. “I try not to write about things like, breaking up with my girlfriend,” explains Cai. “I want to go elsewhere, lyrically. So one song is about a one winged half-man/half-amphibian that’s dehydrating on an island. Another is about a conscious table.”
In 2014 Kagoule signed to legendry extreme metal label Earache, where they are a glorious anomaly on a roster of artists that include sonic pioneers such as Napalm Death, Godflesh, Fudgetunnel and Carcass. “Being the anomaly appealed to us,” says Burns. “They are a label who cares and they’re hardly going to tell us to tone down. Other people were interested, but why sign to someone who is going to chew you up and spit you out after one album? Signing to a major label who would try and change us is everything we hate about music, everything we are against. We’re a young new band – we’re not ready to sign our lives away just to pay mortgages.”
“As an album Urth is a collection of teenage experiences,” concludes the frontman. “It instinctively captures our growth, as people and as a band. It almost feels like a pre-debut: a documentation of what we got up to in the earlier years…”