KONOM: "You can't beat the feeling of sending out your music to the other side of the planet"
UK-based band KONOM caught my attention with their beautiful cover artwork a while ago. It turned out to be their same-named debut album, which was released on February 26th, 2021, offering amazing, sci-fi themed progrock.
I had the opportunity to learn more about their work, welcome to read our chat and check them out:
Hey, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions today. Could you please introduce yourself and KONOM to our readers?
Dan: Hey, thank you for having us! I am Dan White, guitarist for UK-based progressive rock/metal band KONOM. Answering here as well is Tom Rice, drummer for Konom. Not present are Benjamin Edwards and Jonathan Worsley, who play bass and keyboards, respectively.
Tom: Thanks for having us folks!
You just released your self-titled debut album. How do you feel about it, and how was the reception so far?
Dan: It’s been a long time coming to be honest. We’ve been working on the material for about six years now, pretty much since the release of our last EP “Prelusion”. It feels great now that the album is released. Having changed our name recently, we emerged to the scene from almost obscurity, and despite this the take-up has been great. It's really cool to see that people have discovered the album and feel strongly enough about it to support us.
Tom: Really good thanks. Having the final thing mixed and released after all these years with Jimmy’s excellent artwork is very satisfying. We’ve also been really surprised by the reception as we’ve sent copies of the album all over the world, so a big thanks to everyone who has checked us out so far.
Let’s make a little time trip, as behind every band, there’s an individual story. What is yours? When and how did you guys get together?
Dan: It all happened purely by chance! Myself and Tom moved to Manchester for university in the same year, and were both looking to start a prog band. I posted an advert on “JoinMyBand.co.uk”, and by absolute chance Tom found it the next day and replied to me.
Tom: As Dan said, we met through "JoinMyBand" many moons ago and have been playing together since then. We started out instrumentally as Ascent with Dan’s mate Kos on bass, and Andy on keyboards. Chris eventually replaced Kos on bass, and we recorded our self-titled EP, after which Arya joined on vocals when we worked on "Prelusion". Since then we had a bit more of a lineup change, Benjamin and Jonny came onboard during the writing of the most recent album on bass and keyboards, respectively.
How would you describe your music to someone, who hasn’t heard of you before? And what are your main influences?
Dan: This is always the most difficult question. I would describe our sound as a mix of classic progressive rock/metal with modern influences. We are influenced by early prog bands like Gentle Giant, Genesis, Yes, Rush and Pink Floyd, but also by modern artists like Frost*, Devin Townsend, Haken, Cynic and Plini.
Tom: I think Dan has summed it up well there. We obviously grew up with the more modern generation of prog bands like Porcupine Tree and Dream Theater, so that influence is in there and is what got us started. But we’re also big fans of the 70s bands that defined the genre, and we listen to a lot of music outside of prog, particularly jazz and fusion, so we hope that slightly more improvisational feel comes through on some of our tracks too.
How did you come up with your band name, and is there a deeper meaning behind “KONOM”?
Dan: We started to reflect upon our name when we were searching for people to take over the bass and keyboard roles in the band. It became increasingly difficult to stand out with the name “Ascent”, not only due to the fact that it’s been taken by so many artists worldwide, but also because another band in our practice space used it as well. We were interested in a punchy, two-syllable name that wasn’t already taken. Eventually we happened across “Konom” in the “Foundation” series by Issac Asimov, a planet from one of the Four Kingdoms. 2 syllable, snappy, unique and sci-fi related, it ticked all the boxes!
Let’s take a look at the beautiful cover artwork: What can you tell us about its origins, and how does it reflect the concept of the album?
Tom: The album artwork was as much influenced by the Asimov angle as anything. In the books there are some highly technologically advanced planets that suffer civilisational collapse, and so end up with feudal farmer societies in the ruins of skyscrapers. We liked the contrast in that image between medieval society and an ancient highly advanced society, so we proposed an idea on that grounds to Jimmy, and he came back with some brilliant sketches which we based the artwork off.
Could you briefly describe your writing and recording process, please?
Tom: Somewhat arduous, but satisfying when it came together! Some of the ideas, Dan had already worked on with our previous keyboard player Andy, as well as our previous bassist Chris. Dan also came up with a lot of new ideas, which I then helped arrange alongside Jonny and Benjamin. We handled all of the recording / mixing / mastering ourselves (which we usually always do), so that was a great opportunity to learn a lot and improve.
“Konom” was entirely self-produced and released independently. What kind of experience was that for you?
Dan: It's been quite rewarding to be honest. We had a clear idea of the sound we wanted, and by doing it ourselves we were able to take some time to get it right. Tom handled the mixing, and he managed to get everything to sound great whilst keeping it natural sounding. The advertising / social media was something a bit new to us, but I think we've got a reasonable handle on it.
Tom: I’ve really enjoyed it, although it took a bit of perseverance to get the final mix absolutely right. We’re very happy with how natural we managed to keep the production too, especially considering how DIY the whole recording process was. The release has been really interesting too, as this is our first that we’ve managed to release overseas. We’ve also been handling everything ourselves, down to the postage and packaging of the merch etc, so there’s a lot to keep a handle on, but you can’t beat the feeling of sending out your music to the other side of the planet.
That's awesome! By the way: Do you have a favorite song on “Konom”?
Dan: I will have a different answer each week, but I think that "As The Waters Rise" is my favourite track at the moment.
Tom: I think the very last track “The Great Harvest -V - Heedless Breath” at the moment. Dan wrote some great riffs, and Jonny did some really nice orchestration on the outro. We also had many generous singers contribute to the choir which turned out really well too.
Let’s talk about KONOM live: What was your most memorable show so far?
Dan: We've been fortunate enough to support some really cool bands in Manchester, but one of my favourite shows was when we played with some of our friends in a Manchester bar called "Gullivers". Each of the bands created a video to be played on a projector to complement the music. It was a challenge to come up with a visual accompaniment to our music, but I think it came out really well.
Tom: Yeah, we’re lucky that there are as many good places to play around Manchester as there are. I think the gig Dan is talking about was really fun, although I was playing in two bands that night and you can’t make mistakes when there’s a video synced to the band! So that was a bit nerve wracking. I think another memorable one for me was a gig we did with Collibus and Spires at a bar called Rebellion in the city centre. The atmosphere was great that night, and I ended up filling in for the Collibus drummer after a few too many ales with no rehearsal, as he’d locked himself in his house.
Oh, I see :-) Which leads us straight to the next topic: The UK is well known for being the home of many great rock and metal bands. How would you describe your local music scene? And did you notice changes over the past years?
Tom: Overall I’m a big fan of the music scene in Manchester. I work as a professional musician outside of the band, and there’s a lot of different music scenes that you can get involved with, which is great for developing your playing. It’s also not too gentrified yet, so (for the time being at least) it’s still affordable to have a band rehearsal studio near the city centre, and a good choice of venues dotted around the area. The rock and metal scene has always been quite strong in Manchester, so we’ve been very lucky in that sense, and prior to the pandemic we never struggled to find gigs in good venues which speaks to the open mindedness of the scene.
How did you make it through the pandemic so far? And what impact had the restrictions on you as a band?
Dan: The pandemic has had an impact on all of us, so much that I've moved from Manchester to Edinburgh. It brings some new challenges in terms of writing music together, but we are keen to meet them. Thankfully we had finished recording the album before we moved into lockdown, it was just the mixing / mastering to be completed.
Tom: It has obviously had a big impact, as Dan has had to move away, however because Jonny lives so far away anyway we already had some infrastructure to build on in terms of working long distance. We’ve yet to try writing properly at any distance, however we are hopeful that some of the technological innovations over the pandemic (such as being able to jam over the internet) will help keep things productive.
What can you tell us about your future plans?
Dan: We haven't been able to have our album launch show, so once we can gig again we will be sure to organise that. It would be cool to be involved with some of the European prog festivals, but they have their own challenges at the moment! For sure there will be more music, we already have ideas being thrown around. We have recently announced the departure of Arya from the band, this will have an impact on the future sound of the band, but we are feeling positive about what's to come.
Tom: As Dan said we will hopefully organise a launch gig at some stage, and it would be amazing to do some gigs abroad if possible! Apart from that the plan is just to focus on writing new music and keep things progressing.
Do you have any further thoughts you’d like to share here?
Dan: I'd like to thank everyone who has listened to or supported the album so far, it means a lot to us. And I'd like to thank you for your questions and inviting us to talk on your column!
Tom: Big thanks to yourselves for taking the time to interview us, and thanks to everyone who has shown us support following the release!
Was my pleasure, thanks again for your time. All the best for you and your musical plans.