A band who has been making their mark on the heavy music scene lately is none other than America’s very own Kublai Khan TX. I grabbed vocalist Matt Honeycutt to chat about their upcoming Australian tour, their appearance at UNIFY Gathering 2020 and their latest studio album Absolute.
Thanks for taking the time to chat Matt, Absolute is Kublai Khan’s fourth studio album. Have you found the process of writing and recording gets easier with time and experience?
Absolutely it does! The four of us have been writing for so long that now we are finding a groove. Things are happening more and more organically with each album. It’s gotten to the point where something that took us months to do before is only taking us weeks now. We have developed a sound as well as a chemistry together as far what we need to do to create an album we are happy with. I feel if we do what is necessary to stay in the right headspace, it should continue to become easier and easier.
Collectively as a band, has Absolute lived up to your expectations thus far since its release in regards to the receptions from your fans and industry professionals?
Oh yeah, it seems like everyone is enjoying it. We have received a lot of positive feedback. A lot of people we look up to were tweeting and talking about it. I’m really excited about how the album came out and what it can do for us.
I have heard quite a large number of people saying that Absolute is already their favourite album of the year, is that surreal to hear? Especially since there have been some incredibly solid releases within the heavy music world this year
Yeah it is definitely surreal. It is always kind of stressful when you create something and put it out because even if you are crazy about it, and you love it you never know exactly what other people are going to think about it so it is a big relief when people enjoy it but then on top of that relief not only are people enjoying the album but it is their favourite release of the yea, there is not a better feeling for me as a musician. Live shows are one thing, and they are very in the moment, and I enjoy them, but the records last forever, so I’m glad that it is going to be around as long as music is accessible. Hopefully, it will be some people’s favourites for a few more years to come.
Absolute is your second release through Rise Records, how has your experience with them been?
They are great! They pretty much let us do our own thing. They haven’t changed anything about our band, a lot of people were worried when we signed with rise as they might expect us to change our sound; instead we remain doing what we do, and they just allow us our time and our freedom, and in return I feel like we can put out a product that they can enjoy just as much as we can enjoy. It’s a good partnership that works well.
Does that mean you have full creative control over what you do?
Yeah, one hundred per cent! We never really had any trouble with that aspect. I feel like this is one thing which has kept our band as strong as it has been.
Now that Absolute is released and you are playing songs from that album live, are you beginning to cycle out songs from your first two albums?
Yeah, that is precisely what we are trying to do. We are trying to only play songs from Absolute and Nomad, just because over time we found that those are the songs that people really care about. When we would play our old music, it isn’t received as it used to be but when we play our new songs, and people go wild. Its a good problem to have because I don’t want to be the band that is stuck playing all of our old material every single tour. I’m glad that people are receptive to our new music as it keeps the healthiness alive as far as creating a new product.
Kublai Khan seems to have the mentality that the sound you produce is good and gets attention; therefore, you don’t seem to stray too much from that. Do you ever worry that your sound will eventually become stale?
Sometimes. With every record and every song on the records, we try to make sure it remains our sound. We always try to remain fresh within our own style. We are not reinventing the wheel by any means; we have never done that, so we kind of has to play within our bounds. At the end of the day, we want to write and perform heavy music; we are not the kind of band that will do a sudden change of sound and style. We are pretty sure of what we want to be, and that is how we have been for a long time.
Kublai Khan seems to touch on socially conscious issues such as racism, human rights, organised religion, etc. To you, what is the importance of raising such issues?
I think it’s one of those things where you can turn on your television and hear about all those issues. All I am trying to do is give it more of a pulse, I’m talking about issues in my personal life and by putting a name and a face to the blanket term ‘racism’ or anything like that, it helps give it a bit more of an understanding and breathe a little bit more life into what we can do to change things. I’m just as tired as a lot of people, a lot of things these days is racist and its starting to paint the word and it is making it more difficult for people to truly understand some of the hardships that others had to go through because it’s becoming a trivial excuse to just use as a weapon against somebody. I’m trying to raise that awareness in a sense that I’m not trying to weaponise my struggle, or trying to weaponise any sort of victimhood. I’m just trying to explain myself in a way that everybody can get along, not so that my people can be superior to anybody because that is not what I want at all.
Your lyrics also include details of your own personal struggles. Do you feel it is important to include this in your music as a way of connecting to fans in a different light?
Yes, it allows me to do so. I think a lot of people could benefit from having the opportunity to express themselves in an artistic way to others because everybody feels the same shit that I feel we all feel loneliness, rage, anxiety, etc. It’s not every day that people get to express that in a healthy way outside of hurting other people or hurting themselves. You are given a golden opportunity every time you are given this platform to speak with. I try to use it to the best of my ability, and I try my best to not use it as my platform but our platform.
Kublai Khan is coming to UNIFY Gathering for the first time in 2020. Is UNIFY a festival that has been on your radar for a while?
UNIFY is something that we have always wanted to do but were never sure whether we were actually going to be able to. We are really looking forward to it; I assume it is going to be the highlight of the tour.
You are also going on an Australian Tour with Stray From The Path, who are heavy in their own regard but have a completely different style and sound to Kublai Khan; there seems to be a big cross over in fan bases there. This isn’t something that you haven’t done before either. Does Kublai Khan aim to tour with bands within your specific genre? Or would you prefer mixed shows?
We really just kind of tour with everyone. We have toured with Stray From The Path before, and it was a really good time. I miss when more tours were more mixed genre tours as it can get kind of stale touring with the exact same style band as yourself all the time because people get tired of paying money to see five bands that sound exactly the same in some regards. A lot of the best shows that I have ever attended included a healthy mix of bands and genres or sub-genres as it keeps things interesting.
Are there any bands on the UNIFY Gathering lineup that you want to see?
Of course, it is an incredible lineup. I always love watching Knocked Loose and Architects, but I can not wait to see The Ghost Inside, What a show that will be!
Interview by Adam Rice @adamrice1994
Listen to ABSOLUTEright here
Stray from the Path – Internal Atomics Tour
with Kublai Khan TX
Tuesday 7 January: The Brightside, Brisbane 18+
Wednesday 8 October: Hamilton Station, Newcastle 18+
Thursday 9 October: Crowbar, Sydney 18+
Saturday 11 October: UNIFY Gathering, Tarwin Lower 18+
Sunday 12 October: Enigma Bar, Adelaide 18+
Monday 13 October: Stay Gold, Melbourne 18+