There seems to be an influx of 2 piece instrumental bands rising from the underground of late and Leeds based Khuda are no exception who use just a guitar, drums and a mass of amps, cabs and effects to hone their hypnotic sound. Curious to know more about what lies in the underbelly of this band, I fired some questions over to guitarist and self confessed amp junkie Tom.
Hey Tom, hope life is treating you well, so let’s get this interview on the way by giving us a brief introduction to the band, your current members and releases to date?
Hey Lee. All is well thanks! So yeah, we’re Khuda an instrumental two-piece from Leeds. I play guitar and my good friend Robin Timmis plays the drums. We’ve been playing together since around March 2007, and have self released two EP’s so far. We’re hitting the studio in two weeks though to lay down a third… Looking forward to that a lot.
Khuda, what’s its meaning and why did you choose this for the moniker of the band?
It wasn’t really something we put a great deal of thought into actually, we’d been jamming for a couple of months and I’d seen it written down somewhere. It just stuck. The meaning of it wasn’t actually researched until a few months later, it means holy in Urdu, I believe. Although I wouldn’t say the meaning is particularly relevant to the music, it was just something we both liked the sound of.
Who would you cite as being an influence on your sound, both from a musical and personal perspective?
How long have you got…?! Well I listen to a hell of a lot of music, so I’m sure a lot of what I listen to ends up somewhere within the mix of what we do. I wouldn’t really say however that there are any bands who particularly stand out to me as a direct influence on our sound. A lot of people have talked about 5ive… (it was bound to come up!) However I have to admit that before people said this to us, 5ive were just a terrible boy band to me! Having said that, they are now definitely one of my favourite bands of the moment, although I wouldn’t say they are a particular influence on our sound, I’m pretty sure it’s just the two-piece/lots of amps thing.
I’d say there is quite a lot of emotion within our stuff so for me, rather than what I’m listening to at the time of writing a song, its how I’m feeling. We don’t really make any attempts to sound like anything… the odd ‘oh this would be nice a bit quieter’ or something like that goes on, but what we do is more about what moods are floating around at the time as opposed to what we’re listening to.
Was it always a conscious decision for Khuda to be an instrumental 2 piece of just guitar and drums?
Well it was never really a conscious decision to start the band in the first place, we just ended up jamming one afternoon and things just built from there. We’ve never explicitly decided to just keep it as two members, but as of yet we’ve not felt the need to add any more!
And following on from that, would you ever consider adding a bass player, 2nd guitarist or even a vocalist into the Khuda fold?
I don’t think it’s something we’d completely rule out. Although there would have to be a real need for it. I can’t see it happening in the foreseeable future, but who knows…
You also use a lot of guitar wizardry to layer your sound, so can you give us an insight into the equipment you use?
Yeah, sure. I tend to keep things as simple as possible really. Looping is a major ally of mine… I use a Boss RC-20 along with a 4 second loop on a Digitech Delay pedal for that. I swear by my Bad Monkey (Digitech) overdrive pedal and also use a reverb and an Electro Harmonix Micro Q-tron thing that makes nice wah-esque noises! It’s all about the valve amps though. I’m dead lucky to have a nice pair of custom ‘Mac Amplification’ valve heads, running into both bass and guitar cabs!
Although you’re instrumental, do your songs have any meanings, theme’s or even stories behind them?
To a certain extent I’d they do, yeah. We’ve never written a song about a giant wave or an actual theme or anything like that, so I wouldn’t say we particularly tell stories with our music. But for me our songs are like, a journey of emotions. I suppose different people will feel different vibes and interpret things in different ways, I like that though.
How do you come up with the structure/ideas for your songs, do you write them together through jams in the rehearsal room, or do you take a more solitary approach and come up with the riffs, then show them to Robin for him to add the percussion?
I’d say a bit of both really… Usually I’ll be fiddling around and then something will sound right and kinda just end up as a song. It’s then brought to practice and we’ll jam it out and see whether we like what we’re coming up with. If it sticks we keep it. We’ve got loads of ideas that we’ve not got round to finishing/making into full songs though…
Your latest recording ‘Ahura Mazdah’ was released by yourselves in conjunction with the relatively unknown label Norrland Recordings, so how did you hook up with Iain and what has working with him been like?
Iain’s a lovely chap to work with! We came across him as I was booking us a tour with the esteemed gentlemen that were Higher Council of Mars from Blackpool (RIP). He sorted us out an Edinburgh date and we got chatting from there really. Ahura Mazdah was something that we were just about to put out anyway and he offered help out a tad with the promotion of it as he was at that time thinking of starting up the label. We’re going to be working with him for our next record, which will also be Norrland’s first proper release, so we’re obviously dead happy about that.
And what about future releases, anything in the pipeline you care to mention?
Yeah! We’re just actually getting ready to head into the studio to record a brand new 4-track EP. It’s something that we’ve been planning for a while now and we’re really excited about getting the new stuff down on record. It’s going to be released around the end of May/June and is going to be called ‘Stratospherics'(that’s a Sleeping Shaman exclusive ha!).
Khuda will be hitting the road in July for a 5 date UK stint with City of Ships & Braveyoung, so how did you become to be involved in this?
I’d been having a listen to City of Ships and noticed they we’re coming over. So I just dropped the booking agent a message asking on the off chance if there was a UK tour support slot going (as we were looking to tour around that time anyway!) And basically he said yeah. Braveyoung were added a couple of weeks after which just made things even sweeter. So we’ve been working the details out since. We’re really looking forward to hitting the road again, especially with such quality bands! Expect masses of incense, lights and borrowed amps!
You’ll also be heading off to mainland Europe later in the year where you’ll play the fascinating ZXZW Festival in Tilburg, Holland, so how on earth did you manage to get on this bill, and which venue you will you be playing?
Again, it was another email. After drooling over the quality line-ups over the past couple of years, we just bobbed the organisers a mail to enquire about getting on the bill and heard back the next day with a positive reply! It’s an absolutely fantastic festival, and by far the most exciting thing we’ve managed to blag some involvement with so far, so naturally we can’t wait for September!
We haven’t heard which venue we’ll be at yet, but we’ll be playing on Saturday 19th September, with a show at the Frontline in Gent the night after and somewhere else the night before!
You’re also planning a European tour during 2009, can you tells us anymore on this, has organising it been a DIY affair or have any booking agents been involved?
This is correct! We plan to hit the mainland from August 15th to August 23rd! We’re booking this ourselves but with help from a couple of guys who are sorting us with some contacts etc… We also have a dude in Germany who has offered to help out with the dates over there, which is very nice of him! So it’s going to be a collective effort really. Hopefully it’ll all come together and we’ll have a sweet time! If anyone reckons they can help, you can contact us via email at email@example.com (Shameless plug, sorry lee!)
Which do you prefer, vinyl or compact disc?
I’m definitely not a CD hater, however the aesthetics and sound of a beautifully finished vinyl are just unbeatable, so vinyl it is!
Thanks for doing this interview Tom and please use this space for any final words…
I’m just going to say thanks for letting me ramble on to you Lee, and keep up the excellent work you’re doing with The Sleeping Shaman! Cheers!
More info on Khuda at: www.myspace.com/khudamusic
Interviewed by: Lee Edwards