Catching Up with It’s Karma It’s Cool’s Jim Styring
The much anticipated follow up to It’s Karma It’s Cool’s superb Woke Up in Hollywood is almost here. Homesick for Our Future Destinations is set for release on November 5 and features the engaging melodies, strong songwriting, and top notch musicianship we’ve come to expect with any of Jim Styring’s projects.
Recently we had the chance to ask Jim a few questions about the new album, the creative process and – just maybe – a future destination. And so, without further ado….
PPN: Your latest, Homesick for Our Future Destinations, feels more cohesive than your earlier work – more deliberate. I’d liken it to the way in which XTC’s Skylarking compares to their earlier work. Is it fair to say that Future Destinations is more of a complete aural experience than previous albums?
Jim: Yes, that’s fair Richard, I’m glad you picked up on that. We wanted it to be more of an album, in the older sense of the word, for anyone who can remember long players. A beginning, a middle and an end. The songs were written and recorded to be heard in a particular sequence, to almost tell a story, to take you on a journey, without it being an actual concept album. There are shared themes throughout the songs for sure, and there is a connection there, but we would also hope that if you choose to listen to the tracks on their own, or out of sequence, they still hold up.
PPN: You’ve been known to use cultural references to add to the narrative – the Buddy Holly interview at the end of “Wooden Buddha”, the commercial voice in “Guest of a TV Talk Show” and the Elvis reference in “She Slept with the Radio On” immediately come to mind. Where does this inclination come from?
Jim: The ideas just arrive as we’re writing the songs and things are coming together. I’m always looking for ways to elevate a song, or add a little more interest; add something for the listener to think about after the track has finished. We’ve tried to create atmosphere and mood on the new album, something a little deeper and thought provoking than what we’ve possibly written before. We’re certainly more focused as a band, I guess that comes from the experience of writing, recording and playing live together. I remember being fascinated by ‘I Am The Walrus’ as a child, so maybe that has something to do with it?
PPN: I didn’t think it was possible to top Woke Up In Hollywood’s “Wooden Buddha” but it seems you have. “All Branches Break in Time” is as catchy a melody as anything I’ve heard this year. How did the song happen? Do you approach writing like a job or do you pick up a guitar when the inspiration strikes?
Jim: Our song writing nearly always begins with Martyn (Bewick, guitars) and Mikey (Barraclough, bass guitar) sending me a bunch of guitar ideas and writing to the ones that grab me, or speak to me in some way. I’m very lucky to be working with such talented musicians, I never seem short of new ideas to work on. We’ll then take the basic song ideas into the rehearsal studio with Danny (Krash, drums) and work them into shape. It was pretty evident early on in the writing process that ‘Branches’ was going to be a big, almost cinematic, kind of song. Having different parts and moods, I knew as it came together it had to be at the beginning of the album, to set the scene for what was to follow. “All Branches Break In Time” feels like a full Spielberg movie within a song.
PPN: This is your second album for Kool Kat Musik and sixth release since 2013’s Cool Cats for Pop Dogs. What have you learned about yourself, the business and songwriting since then?
Jim: Where has that time gone? I suppose it’s like most things, if you continue doing something, chances are, you’ll get better at it. I do this because I love doing it, I feel I have to, I’m driven by making music and being creative. I’m sure other musicians will agree, it becomes a therapy and a release. I’ve certainly learned to do it for the right reasons, don’t chase fame and money and all those other things, do it for the passion and love. Anything positive that may follow will be a bonus. Be remembered for your music, not how much money you made.
PPN: Your work is becoming more nuanced and interesting with each successive album and there’s always a surprise. For your next record, how ‘bout a rock opera?
Jim: We always try hard not to re-write the previous record. It would have been too easy to just write ‘Woke Up In Hollywood Part Two’ As songwriters, we’re always pushing ourselves in different directions, to keep it interesting for our listeners, and also for ourselves. We don’t work to any plan or blueprint, and our records always reflect where we, and the world we’re living in, are at the time of writing. So, I would never rule out a rock opera, but equally, we may well go all folky and acoustic next time. Who knows?
While Homesick for Our Future Destinations won’t be officially released until November 5, you can ORDER YOUR COPY NOW from Kool Kat Musik. Thank you, Jim!