Interview – Simon Guilliard of Molly Karloff

The UK is vibrant with young and up and coming bands that are still being unheard by the general metal fan. Some of these bands deserve recognition for trying something different and having the ability to write songs that get you off your ass and mosh your ass off in your bedroom/venue or club. One such band is three-piece Molly Karloff from Oxford who like to infuse groove into their songs and have hit the scene with a bang and made people take notice. They are creating a vibe much further afield than Oxford and I inform you that this will not be the last you will have heard of Molly Karloff. Simon was all too happy to answer my questions and inform us all about what lies ahead for the band in 2019.

Simple things first – where are you guys from?

We all live around Oxfordshire, and meet up in Witney to rehearse at least twice per week, with our local scene being in Oxford, especially down the Cowley Road.

How long have you been playing together as a band?

We started out in 2013, and originally recorded the EP in the spring of 2014 with the award-winning producer, Richard Aitken, at Cream Studios in London (before it got knocked down later that same year). There have been several changes of personnel and a bit of a hiatus, but Tom & Simon were in the original line-up, so the only change since then is the addition of Wojtek on drums.

Describe your music. What makes you unique?

Describing our music is something we’ve struggled with from the start. When someone asks you ‘what do you sound like?’ it’s hard to say. People expect to hear you describe your music as a mixture of this and that band, or a slightly different take on another band. We even struggled to pick three bands we thought you could hear influences of in our music! We went as far as polling all our friends and family asking them what they thought we sounded like, which didn’t help because the bands they named depended upon those that they listened to.

The one recurring comment was that there are a lot of hooks and grooves in our music, and that we sound very ‘raw’ and ‘in your face’, which we like; that’s what we wanted all along. I guess that’s what makes us unique: the way we sound. Try asking all your friends who they think we sound like and they’ll all probably come back with wildly different and bizarre band names!

Molly Karloff released their debut EP Dancing for Money in September. How does it feel to put all your blood sweat and tears and get an official recording out there?

I think the first feeling is relief. It’s finally out! This debut EP has been knocking around for 4 years, so that was the first reaction! Haha! But seriously, there’s a big sense of achievement, especially as we had a strict ‘quality control’ process in place with our songs: if we heard it elsewhere and wouldn’t buy it, it gets dumped. Maybe that’s harsh, but we don’t want fillers. Proud and gagging for the next release to get out there; it’s never going to end!

Where was the EP recorded and who mastered and produced it for you?

We recorded at Cream Studios in London (just off Hangar Lane, a few miles along the North Circular) before it got knocked down. It was an amazing place to record with one of the most awesome live rooms we’ve ever been in. We’ve worked with Richard Aitken before, so there’s an understanding and trust there. You want to know that your ‘baby’ isn’t going to turn out different to what you intended, and Richard gets us, and is fucking amazing at capturing what we’re about. He’s the one responsible for capturing ‘that sound’ so he had to master the EP too!

I imagine that you have already written new songs different from those of the EP. How would you say the sound compares to that of the debut EP?

There isn’t that much difference I don’t think. Maybe others will disagree when they hear the tunes, but to me, it’s still ‘us’. There’s still that stripped back, raw sound there with all of our songs, some are heavier, some are more poppy, some are more punk. There’s a lot of influences in the mix there, and they all come out at some point in some kind of twisted Molly Karloff way!

You are very active on the live front, from local pubs and clubs to playing Oktoberfest. What should we expect from a live show and what is the experience like playing in front of a crowd for the band?

We hope that our audiences always get smacked in the face with our music. ‘Full on’ is a comment that crops up regularly, along with requests for copies of our setlists! Haha! We had one guy telling us he felt like he’d just listened to a whole album (with one of our set lists in his hand) and loved every tune. That raw response from people, right at the end of a show is like gold dust; I want to bottle that shit! Haha! To be fair, the audience are as much a part of the show as we are; with that response to the energy and the energy they give back, it wouldn’t be half as much fun! In short, playing live is the biggest fucking buzz going, and no drugs are even necessary!

What are the lyrical themes of the songs from the EP? Is there a main lyricist?

I (Simon) write everything and the main theme is ‘shit that pisses me off’! Haha! If you’re a sexist misogynist, I’ve written about you. If you’ve experienced, or lived with someone with an addiction, I’ve written about it. Life can be shit; I’ve written about it. They’re not the most joyous lyrics; I know that, but maybe because they’re delivered with a hook and a bit of a groove, you won’t notice! Haha! I’m luring people into pondering deep shit without even realising, or maybe they do realise and I’m being played?! Who knows? I don’t like to get too specific, because I like people to interpret things for themselves; it can be very revealing!

How often is the band able to get together and rehearse in the studio?  Where do you get together and record?

We rehearse at least twice per week from 7pm(ish)-8pm(ish) until we get kicked out! We use Greenroom Studios in Witney which is by far the best fucking place in Oxfordshire for rehearsals! Richard Kibbey will love us now & hopefully give us a discount! Haha!

How are the songs constructed in the studio? Are there the main songwriters of songs that take care of everything or is Molly Karloff a band where all members contribute to the songs?

A friend once told me that creativity is a fascist dictatorship! As soon as I heard that, I laughed, more out of recognition than anything else. Songs tend to get arranged at rehearsals, but they’re pretty much written except for some ‘polish’ by the time I present my ‘offering’ to the band! Haha! There is democracy in this band though; I’m not precious about the songs. Sometimes a song doesn’t ‘fit’ and so it gets put aside. It doesn’t matter, because there’s plenty more in the pipeline. What matters is that it becomes a Molly Karloff song and we bond with it!

Being a three piece and having different musical influences within the band, is there sometimes a lot of negotiating in the studio or do you feel you are writing the music you want to for the band?

We just get on with it. There’s not really any ‘negotiation’ necessary; the fascist dictatorship works really well! Haha! Seriously though, we don’t have any problems with conflicts in style. There have been a couple of tunes I’ve brought along to rehearsal in the past, and unless everyone agrees, we move onto something else if everyone’s not 100% into it.

How hard has it been to juggle the touring side of things with the everyday jobs? Do you have plans to go on bigger tours and further afield in 2019?

Not that difficult with a bit of planning really. There’s a bit of sacrifice, as pretty much all musicians have to make, but nothing that’s insurmountable. “Where there’s a will, there’s a way”, as they say! Bigger things are definitely planned, with the rest of the UK in our sights and beyond for 2019.

How hard is it for a band like Molly Karloff to survive in the current climate where bands have to tour non stop and sell merchandise in order to bring money back into the band?

Short answer? Very. The music isn’t enough. It doesn’t matter how good your music is, the rest is about marketing and getting your name out there, and then kicking arse every time you play so that word spreads and you build a following. All of that is a shit tonne of hard work. I guess bands are now having to do what record companies used to do.

Being from Oxford, are there any other bands from your local scene that you would recommend?

Well there’s the obvious, famous bands from Oxford that need no introduction. But on our circuit there are a few that we’ve played with, and one that I still want to see…

We’ve played a few times with Otto, and we’re now pretty good friends with them. My Diablo are good (the guys from former Mother Corona) and I really want to see The Overload but we keep missing them (usually because we’re gigging or rehearsing). There’s actually loads, but I can’t remember all their names right now and we’d be here all day! Haha! That’s how good ALL Oxford bands are!

A fun question to end this interview.  If you were a DJ and were allowed to bring 5 CDs to the party, what would they be?

  • Pantera – Cowboys From Hell 
  • Arctic Monkeys – AM
  • Rage Against The Machine – Renegades
  • Slayer – Reign In Blood
  • Soundgarden – Badmotorfinger

Any last message for our readers here at Moshville Times?

We love you! Please buy our shit and come to our shows and we will love you even more! Oh, and please be sure to mosh at all opportunities! Haha!

Molly Karloff: official | facebook | fanlink

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Mark Shelley
Mark Shelley
December 22, 2018 8:31 PM

Awesome interview

Reply to  Mark Shelley
December 22, 2018 9:17 PM

Thank you Mark for your kind words….Simon was a very approachable guy and answered my questions to the full which is exactly what I want from my interviews. Regards….Ricky