Brighton is almost synonymous with a certain bohemian level of tolerance – a spirit of acceptance, positivity and love. How a band like Kalloused could have emerged from such an idyll is a prospect as puzzling as it is concerning. Their savage blend of foam-mouthed hardcore, bleak, introspective post-metal and caustic sludge is desolate, hostile and terrifying – everything their home town is not.
Kalloused’s music is that of great, cathartic rage, a channelling of a shared truth in times where the world is inexorably sliding toward an oblivion we cannot help but stare into. Since the 2016 release of their debut, Damn You Believer, the quartet have taken some time to sharpen their talons further, putting in blisteringly assured live performance after live performance, including a day-stealing set at 2019’s Desertfest. Now poised to release Thousand Griefs, we spoke to frontman Les Makepeace – a softly spoken Mancunian whose name belies his terrifying stage delivery.
You released Damn You Believer back in 2016 – was it intentional to leave three years between releases or has life gotten in the way of you putting out Thousand Griefs?
We don’t really have an agenda that we stick to, we release when we feel ready to. I don’t really understand the idea of a band working to a timetable, as usually I don’t think that way of working yields the best results. I’d hate to release an album just to satisfy the idea that you don’t want to appear inactive. It just so happens that the past two to three years have been full of both personal and political issues that have fuelled what we’ve done and pushed us to have an opinion on these issues.
Thousand Griefs is a really evocative title – can you tell us a bit about where it came from?
It came from our title-track. I wrote the lyrics to the song after watching my Dad gradually pass away from cancer. The destructive nature of this disease and the effect it had on a proud strong man, and eventually his family, was devastating. I felt I had to acknowledge this. The title was also an acknowledgment of the rolling effects of a culmination of blows; whether political crimes against human rights we are all having to watch unfold in our name, or the brutal ignorance of supposed intelligent people, without remorse or consideration. As the track says, “Crushed under the weight of a thousand griefs”, but you have to grow positively from these negative things, you have to turn it around.
What are the themes and inspirations behind the record? Is there one connecting concept, or is it drawn from a range of different influences?
One theme; take a stand, protect the weak, get off the fence.
Do you think Thousand Griefs sees you moving away from the sound you had on Damn You Believer?
I love Damn You Believer, and I’m still proud of it, but this album feels like a natural progression away from what we have done before.
You dropped ‘Host’ as a surprise track – what made you decide to release it without any lead up or fanfare?
We just wanted it to be there for people to hear. People who know and like us, and who have come to see us live, have already heard it. That means a lot to us, so it felt more personal to almost give it to them for a sneak listen, kind of like a thank you for supporting us.
How would you say Kalloused in 2019 is a different beast from when you first formed?
Obviously we know each other so much better; we’ve knitted together more as a unit and friends. We always were close, but through everything that has happened over the past few years, we feel so much more so.
What do you want listeners to take away from Thousand Griefs?
We want them to take away from it what they want, and to understand that it was all done honestly, and to stop judging music through academic eyes. Open yourself up to what it gives you and makes you feel, even if it’s nothing.
You put on a ferocious live show (Desertfest 2019 was a prime example) – would you consider live gigs Kalloused’s ‘natural habitat’?
I think it should be a place where the band feels most at home. That’s what it’s all for, right?
What’s on the horizon for Kalloused? Any live shows or touring in the works to support the album?
Whatever comes, comes. We’ll keep writing and playing.
Thousand Griefs will be released later this year…
Words: Jay Hampshire