Rising Stars, November – Kassassin Street

For our November edition of Rising Stars we’ve got one of the most exciting unsigned bands around right now, Southsea’s very own Kassassin Street.

Kassassin Street are a psychedelic quintet hailing from the English town of Southsea. Having formed in 2012, the band provide your ears with an eclectic mixture of oriental riffs, psychedelic rhythms and impeccable power. The Rowan Bastable-fronted quintet are currently unsigned, which is quite a surprise considering the amount of potential they have right now. Earlier this year they unleashed debut single The Royal Handkerchief Ballet upon the world, and this week saw the release of their equally captivating second single, Centre Straight Atom. Listen to them below:

The likes of NME have praised them in the past, with the following year set to be vital for the band. As part of this feature, we also spoke to frontman Rowan in order for you to find out more about the band.

How did Kassassin Street come to form as a band?
We’d known each other for quite a while actually. I’ve known Nathan (drums) since we were really young. We used to bunk off P.E together in school and hide in the music room. I suppose that’s where we both discovered our love of music, during P.E…
Nathan and Ryan (guitar) have the same parents and are often referred to as brothers. Tom (bass) and Andy (keys/laptop) we met at college. We used to all hang out together and create noise for hours on end in Nath’s bedroom. We’d jam screwdrivers into guitars, rip apart effects pedals and play Mario Kart 64… somewhere in that tiny and under ventilated space we formed Kassassin Street.

Your music has been described as rather psychedelic and eastern. Where would you say that your biggest influences come from?
We like all sorts really, as a band I’d say our influences vary from 60’s/70’s beat, to experimental electronica. I like music that’s slightly off kilter and tend to edge towards the darker side of things as opposed to the sparkly. I’ve been travelling around India a few times and have kind of found a second home. There’s something about the place that I’ll never be able to explain in a few words but I do repeatedly get drawn back… Maybe it’s the opium?

I’ve always been influenced by eastern music and how cultures combine in art. I think there’s a beautiful chasm where eastern and western cultures meet and I feel like I’m hanging in the balance somewhere down there…

And how would you sum up your music in 3 words to someone who hasn’t heard it before?
Twisted Danceable Psychedelia

Your new single, Centre Straight Atom, was released this Monday (10 November). What was the inspiration/idea behind that song?
For me, Centre Straight Atom stands as a kind of a anti-ode to bigotry in all of it’s forms. There have been some pretty ignorant views regarding immigration, gay marriage and the protection of traditionalist Christian values gaining pretty mainstream airtime here in the past couple of years. These people and their opinions are generally made to feel very unwelcome however, so I wanted to document that.

I suppose the song’s about standing up for the rights of others and not allowing the poisonous and unjust opinions of some pass us by un challenged. The first time we played through Centre Straight Atom we were in Andy’s parents kitchen. They were away on holiday and his sister kept popping in for biscuits. I’m not really sure after that? Songs do seem to appear from a cloud of smoke sometimes…

For a lot of UK bands, it’s very hard to gain reconition and make a name for themselves. You guys, however, are on the right track and are starting to gain good recognition. What do you think it is that makes Kassassin Street stand out from other upcoming bands?
I’m really not sure to be honest. We’ve had an amazing year but we still have so much further to go. Maybe people are drawn to us because we’re a bit mad? Maybe they just feel sorry for us? All I know is that there are a lot of great bands out there right now who probably deserve all sorts of recognition before we do, but I’m very humbled for any we do receive!

When can we expect a debut album release?
We’re constantly chipping away in the studio right now, it’s nice to always be a few songs ahead of ourselves. There’s no plans for an album quite yet,  but certainly more songs in the new year!

If there is one artist, dead or alive, who you could collaborate with, who would it be and why?
They say you should never work with your heroes right? To be honest, I don’t think a Kassassin Street/Deacon Blue record would work anyway… I tell you what though, I’d love to go and do something with Amorphous Androgynous. Anything. Eat sandwiches, bake cakes, I don’t care. Everything they touch sounds magical to me.

Have you had any interesting fan experiences so far?
We’ve had a couple of mad experiences in general this year actually. I think a personal highlight would be mid set at Bestival when I climbed up on a guys shoulders (he asked me to, this wasn’t common assault) and got paraded around the crowd whilst trying to sing… I thought I might die, but dying mid set at Bestival didn’t seem all too bad…

There was also Isle of Wight Festival, where we played on the same stage as an Oasis tribute band. ‘Liam’ who happened to sleep in a one man camouflage tent, took his role slightly too seriously all weekend, especially when he kicked off at security after hearing Blur’s Parklife come over the sound system… “tell that c*nt to turn that sh*t off…” The zip broke on his tent Monday morning and he couldn’t get out. The things you see backstage…

And finally, something a little off topic. What do you think of all the hassle surrounding the new U2 record? And what do you think of the record itself?
I thought I’d wait for the hype to die down before giving it a listen. I actually quite liked it. I thought it was a really interesting move for them to work with Danger Mouse, I generally like most of his production work. I couldn’t help but feel it was a very bold thing to do, to sign up with a massive corporation like Apple in order to dish it out to unwilling recipients. But hey, it certainly got people talking. Love them or hate them, for a band as big as U2 all they need is people to talk!

Centre Straight Atom is out now via iTunes, Spotify and www.kassassinstreet.com