Catchin’ Up with It’s Karma It’s Cool
With the news of a new It’s Karma It’s Cool LP set for release shortly, we figured it was a good time to catch up with top pop dog Jim Styring.
PPN: It’s been about a year and a half since your last release, Homesick For Our Future Destinations, and a little less than that since we last “spoke”. Get us up to speed. What’s been going on since then?
Jim: We’ve been busy writing and recording a brand-new album, ‘Thrift Store Troubadours’ here in Lincoln, at our second home, Playing Aloud Studios, which we will be releasing on Friday 2nd June, at The Cavern Club, Liverpool, as part of the International Pop Overthrow festival. We also have the legendary Peter Holsapple (The dB’s, REM) guesting on three of the new tracks on the record, so we really can’t wait for people to hear this album! And ‘Thrift Store Troubadours’ will be our first release on the very cool Futureman Records label.
PPN: We’ve spoken in the past about the way your songwriting has evolved over time. For example, Woke Up In Hollywood read as a collection of short stories whereas Homesick was best experienced cover to cover, like a novel. How would you describe Thrift Store Troubadours?
Jim: This album is more a collection of individual songs, rather than any kind of underlying theme or whatever, we wanted each song to be strong enough that it could be a possible single, similar to how we approached, ‘Woke Up In Hollywood’ I guess. The way people listen to music today is very different from a few years ago, the idea of listening through in order, as an album, seems to have gone, so we made sure each of the twelve tracks were strong enough to stand on their own.
PPN: From what I understand, songwriting within the band is very much a collaborative effort. What unique quality does each member bring to the table?
Jim: Yes, we always work in the same way, Martyn or Mikey will send me over some guitar ideas, I’ll write melodies and lyrics to the ones that grab me, and we’ll arrange them in the studio with Danny. We all listen to, and are influenced by, different bands and musicians, so we all bring a bit of that to the sound of the band. On paper it shouldn’t work, but it does, so we don’t question it too much. We all share a love of melody, harmony, big choruses etc. It’s a joy to be in the studio with these guys.
PPN: From conception to finished product, did any of the tracks on Troubadours go in a different direction than you expected?
Jim: Sometimes, but not always. Some of the early ideas we knew pretty much how we wanted the finished song to sound. But there are a couple on the album that we worked on in the studio and allowed to go wherever they wanted. We’ve definitely pushed our songwriting this time around, folks who’ve followed IKIC this far will know it’s us, but there’s some surprises on there. Martyn, Mikey and Danny have all played their hearts out on this record, so I’ve had to up my game a little, too. Everything that folks enjoyed about our previous recordings has been turned up to eleven on this one, for sure.
PPN: If you had to name one album as having most influenced your work, what would it be? Any idea how Martyn, Mikey and Danny might answer that question?
Jim: This is a hard question, Richard! I listen to so many different kinds of music, to name one album would be impossible for me. I’m guessing you’ll hear some of my more obvious influences as you listen to the album, but bands like Death Cab For Cutie and REM would have to be in there, along with some Bowie and bands like The Shins and Wilco. There are so many. I know Mikey, our bassist, brought his love of Motown, blues and soul to this record, he’s also a fan of Bill Black’s playing. Danny, our drummer, had been listening to a lot of Stewart Copeland and Vinnie Colaiuta around the time of tracking the drums, and I know he was rediscovering the band, Jellyfish. Martyn listens to a whole range of music, like myself. He’s into heavier stuff, but also listens to acoustic folk. You’ll find everything’s thrown into the pot on ‘Thrift Store Troubadours’.
PPN: Come June 2, where will Thrift Store Troubadours be available? And live shows?
Jim: Both the CD and digital version will be available directly from our It’s Karma It’s Cool Bandcamp, with the digital also being available from all the usual digital stores.
And we are excited to be playing Liverpool International Pop Overthrow at The Cavern Club and Cavern Pub on the evening of Friday 2nd June, for the official album release, followed by a gig in our home city of Lincoln the following night.