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Peter Kernel - Interview

  by Paul Waller

published: 27 / 10 / 2011

Peter Kernel - Interview


Paul Waller speaks to DIY Swiss-Canadian noise rock act Peter Kernel about the group's line-up changes and their recently released second album, 'White Death Black Heart'

I first heard the fiercely DIY Swiss-Canadian, indie-rock three piece Peter Kernel just a couple of months ago. I was so blown away with their new album ‘White Death Black Heart’ that I Googled them to find out more information. Unfortunately the majority of what I found was in another language so in the spirit of the band, which currently features real-life couple Aris Bassetti (guitar, voice) and Barbara Lenhoff (bass, voice) and also drummer Ema Matis, I decided the only way to find out more about them was to ask the group themselves. PB: You were a four piece originally right? Two couples formed a band but then Anita and Däwis split and you became a three piece. Eventually Däwis left as well. Do you still keep in contact with these past members and if so what do they think of Peter Kernel today? AB: You're right. We were two couples until May 2010, but then Dawis and Anita split up and things changed. It became very difficult for us to play together, and then when Dawis got a new girlfriend it became impossible. Now we still see them around, and Anita sometimes comes with us when we play two or three day tours around Switzerland. She loves the new album. We don't know what Dawis thinks. PB: Ema, you joined the group in 2010,. Now that you have settled as the band’s drummer, how did it feel when you initially joined? What were your expectations and, as you came from a slightly different musical background, how did you approach playing drums for Peter Kernel? EM: Before starting to playing with Peter Kernel I had just seen them live once and I thought it was weird. When they asked me to play with them and go on tour with Wolf Parade, I was curious to discover and play a new kind of music. In the past I played metal and electro dub so it was very new for me. PB: How was the tour with Wolf Parade? BL: It was really cool and for us it was a great occasion because we got to play in nice venues with lots of people, situations which we would not be able to create ourselves. Wolf Parade are really nice guys. There was a nice feeling with them and their crew. PB: Tell us a bit about the recording process of ‘White Death Black Heart' and what you hoped to achieve with the album. AB: We recorded it the day after Christmas 2010 in Varano in Borghi in Italy. The idea was to keep things very natural and instinctive so we recorded it live all together (except for the voices). We then mixed it with Andy Baker in Taiwan and mastered it with John Golden in California. When we recorded it, we didn't have any plans to release it on a particular label, but when we had the first premix we sent it to Julien Fernandez, who runs Africantape, just to ask his opinion as a friend. He answered us right away and was super enthusiastic about the album, and said, "We absolutely have to release it on Africantape," For us it's really important to work with people who love our music so it was perfect. PB: Tell us a little bit about the pussy cat cover star. BL: The cat on the cover is Carolina. She’s beautiful, isn't she? PB: Having the record released on Africantape brought the band to my attention. How did your association with the label initially come about? AB: We met Julien last year because he did the PR work for the bands on our small label Onthecamper so we became friends. Also we knew he was the drummer of Chevreuil. We always thought they were really cool. PB: The video for ‘Panico! This is Love’ has had a large amount of hits in a short space of time on YouTube. Who is the girl in the video and what has been the reaction so far from this promo? BL: The girl is a very good friend of ours. Obviously the fact that she strips in the video was really cool. Our idea was to create a sexy and simple representation of the music. Reactions are very interesting both in a positive way and a negative way. PB: Have you begun to think about future projects for the band? BL: At the moment we're working on promoting the new album. PB: Peter Kernel seems to be hugely DIY. If success was to come for you and a major deal was on the table is it something you would be interested in taking? AB: Nowadays we don't believe in "great deals" from majors. It’s something of the past and for us it wouldn't make sense as we love having control of our own stuff. PB: Do you have any plans for coming back to the United Kingdom any time soon? AB: We're planning to tour in the UK and France in April 2012. We can't wait to come back to the UK. PB: Thank you.

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