One-on-One with Krupke

Krupke performing at Rancho Relaxo

by Michael

A while ago I got the chance to sit down with all four members of Krupke- Mike, Joe, Kate and Fiona.  We met at a basketball court and shot some hoops (I failed epically) before sitting down and discussing the origins of the band (and band name), and if there is indeed a method to the madness that is Krupke’s music.

The band formed when Joe and Mike decided on a whim to start jamming together. After a few sessions they invited Fiona out to play and then got Sep Noroozi (now a permanent member of Whale Tooth), as their drummer.

“I met [Sep] at a porn place we worked at,” Mike said. “We had the job of categorizing porn.” When Whale Tooth got too busy, Krupke needed a new drummer and after one “mistake” finally decided on Kate, after posting “the biggest sob-story email ever.”

Krupke gets its name from West Side Story, specifically the song “Gee, Officer Krupke.” Originally their name was going to be State-of-the-Art Technology.

“At work I have to write copy for websites and when I don’t care I’ll use terms like ‘state-of-the-art tecnology’ as a joke,” Mike said. He’s now glad that they went with a short name like Krupke after releasing their debut album, The Pony You’ve Always Wanted Died Today. The band gets really creative when making posters for shows, so writing both the album name and State-of-the-Art Technology would have been “a hellish process.” Such creative posters have been made out of birch bark and papier-maché among other mediums.

The music that Krupke makes is also quite creative. While most bands stick with the traditional guitar-bass-drums combination, Krupke uses a variety of other instruments like the violin, the clarinet and even a keyboardine, an instrument that Mike personally invented. A keyboardine is basically a shaker using keys from a computer keyboard.

The band shyed away from the traditional sound partly because there are already enough bands doing it, but also because their friend Fiona plays violin and clarinet, while Mike plays the xylophone because he once sarcastically commented that he wouldn’t want to be in a band unless he could play the xylophone.

The band was initially a little worried that their sound was going to be inaccessible, but were pleasantly surprised when a healthy amount of people showed up to every one of their shows.

“I was surprised that there were people I hadn’t necessarily expected to be really into it,” Fiona said. “I thought it was going to be more people who would be more into weirder, more experimental-ly stuff.”

Often, their songs seem to be organized (and catchy) chaos, which made me wonder if the band actually has a process, or if the songs just naturally develop. Mike said that their “process” is all about taking certain musical parts and then screwing them up until they don’t sound anything like they originally sounded.

“There were songs on the album where we were getting away from the idea of bringing a song,” Joe said. “[It’s All About the] Lauriers” is basically a song that we wrote just sitting around. Now we’re getting away from an exclusive way of writing. It’s not just bringing in something that already fits; it’s about changing.”

The band have certainly had an interesting first few shows in Toronto. Initially, they planned to release The Pony You Always Wanted Died Today last year, but when they were unhappy with their recordings and had a planned release party at Bread & Circus, they went with the unconventional idea of releasing slap bracelets.

They were also called, in a CHARTattack article, one of the strangest acts you will see at NXNE 2010. Whether or not the article piqued people’s interest in them was hard to tell as both their sets were “strange.” Their second set was done at 3 a.m. at Rancho Relaxo in front of many exhausted people (and who wouldn’t be, at that hour).

That being said, Krupke have seen great success as far as show attendance. “We’ve been pretty lucky… For some reason people just keep coming… We’ve been lucky to play with some bands that we really like. The bands that do well and get people coming to their shows are the bands that support other bands and go to shows themselves.” These words were very similar to that of Menno Versteeg of Hollerado when I interviewed him last month.

Their CD is definitely one worth mentioning as well, featuring an album cover with a bunch of plasticine animals. It was not their first idea though- Mike had had the idea of a CD snow globe and also the idea of including puppets that could be used to make a puppet show while the album was playing.

The Pony You Always Wanted Died Today also has some interesting song names like “Rape Play.” That song was inspired by a girl Mike met online (never in real life). The girl at one point suggested they meet in a park and Mike could pretend to rape her. The song is a list of reasons why that is a terrible idea. Mike says that stories like these are a great source for songs.

“I feel like everyone has weird things happen to them on a day-to-day basis but when people go to write a song, for some reason they always default to the relationship.”

In the future, Krupke hopes to continue on with their songwriting “process” and just continue to have fun as a band. You can probably expect a pretty awesome physical album for their next endeavour, as with them, anything is possible.

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