James Rotheram - Kernuyck - Interview Exclusive Print E-mail
Written by Matt Phelps   
Sunday, 02 October 2011 05:00




'Kaos' has just been unleashed upon the metal world. 'Kaos' at the hands of three lone cowboys from Cornwall. Known collectively as KERNUYCK they've been gradually assembling their arsenal of crushing metal tunes for the past three years. Unfaltering in aim and direction they've stuck religiously to their hand crafted guns the whole way and only ever done things on their own terms. Having successfully carved quite a niche for themselves around the local scene in the south west the time has now come to step up and trade blows on a global scale. As an album 'Kaos' stands head and shoulders above the competition like Ukrainian steel towering over the mouthy Hayemakers of false metal and their collection of hair straighteners and Top Shop t-shirts. I caught up with frontman James Rotheram recently to discuss the journey Kernuyck have taken so far and to see how the guys are focusing on the battle ahead.




Hey James, thanks for taking some time out to talk with us at Uber Rock today. First off, can you tell us a bit about the band name, KERNUYCK. What it means and why you chose it.


Kernuyck is a take on the word 'Kernewek' (pronounced the same way, ker-noo-eck). Kernewek means 'Cornish' in the ancient celtic language of our homeland, Cornwall. So it has that heritage and celtic pride kind of vibe, but the other great thing about the name is we decided to change the spelling to make it unique, in the age of google and social networking, that word, that name, KERNUYCK, is 100% unique and anything you see with Kernuyck on it, is us. It's a name that represents who we are, what we are and our unique, strong sense of identity and pride. Kernuyck isn't just a band name, it's a whole world, its a family, a badge you wear with pride and honour! The Kernuyck family is obviously the band itself, it's friends in other bands, friends in the greater music industry and of course, most importantly, our amazing fans!

Who's in the band and how did you guys come together originally?


This band is made up of my younger brother, Dave, on drums, on bass guitar we have Chris Bolt, a lifelong friend and honorary brother, and finally myself, James, on guitar and vocals duties. David is obviously my brother so we have been in the same band since forever, he's the best drummer I know and have ever worked with and I have no reason to work with anyone else, he's spot on and a big part of our unique sound and feel. Bolt I have known literally since pre-school, I met him in the sand pit when I was about 4 just after Dave was born, after a few years bumming about with music we finally made a band between the 3 of us which eventually (in 2008) evolved into Kernuyck! It just kind of happened, we are all decent enough musicians and all have the same taste in music (which is ALL music) and cause we grew up together, there is a connection on another level, beyond just the band and the music, it truly is quite strange really, we all live within a 3 mile radius, we see each other nearly every day, the band is just kind of what we do when were not just hanging out casually, it's more a way of life now than a specific thing! It's pretty special, in every sense haha!

Which bands/artists would you cite as the main influences on both the attitude and musical style of Kernuyck?


I couldn't really answer for Dave and Bolt, but I'd say bands like Metallica, Pantera, Black Sabbath, BLS, Down, SOAD etc etc, have been the main influences for the band, but as individuals, and the influences that help us as individuals with our input to our music, there's just to many to list! David is a huge Michael Jackson fan, loves hip hop and reggae, Bolt loves weird rock/metal bands from all over the world and even some dance and jungle music, and I'm a sucker for country/blues/jazz, well everything really, I love all music, if it evokes an emotion of any kind then it's good, even if it makes me want to switch the radio off and throw it into the ocean, its still provoked a reaction! Attitude and style? We have no style hahaha, we just roll as we have done all our lives. Myself, I'm a lifer (26yrs old, picked up guitar at 11, went pro at 16) and have never done anything else, dropped out of school, never had a job, so my style and attitude is just me. I guess you can say I have a 'if you don't like it, then fuck off' kind of kern300bway about me, I have little time for negative people, I like progress, hard work and making positive actions in my music, in my stage presence and in most aspects of my life. Which I guess transfers right into the music, life is the biggest influence in anything I guess, we all have plenty of axes to grind, I use a bit of everything and it comes together in this big-ass shit-storm, with a Les Paul, that is me!

You've been building up a steady following over the last few years. What would you say are some of the biggest challenges you've faced to keep things moving positively.


Most of our problems have been financial, for instance you work for years and save up to buy a decent guitar that costs like £1500, but you're doing gigs for like £20 and a few beers, and that's if you're lucky! It's the worst possible job you could have for making a living, personally I fucking love my job and have been lucky, no actually I haven't been lucky, I have worked like a fucking donkey to stay afloat! So a lot of hard work is involved, but I do make a living, not a great one, but I'm not poverty stricken yet! Other than that the only real problems we face are the prejudices both against and within 'Metal' itself. You'll never please everyone I know, we have been lucky that we are widely liked and people dig what we do musically and as a band, you get a few haters, but that comes with the territory, but we get very little support from our regional music press, and some of the promoters and event organisers around the southwest where we live always tend to overlook us cause we are a metal band. Then the other end of the spectrum you get the little viking-warrior kids in their bedrooms trashing on us cause we aren't 'true metal' whatever the fuck that's meant to be. Far as I know Sabbath invented metal, and we sound more like that than a penguin farting over a blastbeat, so do your homework kids! I don't really care anymore, we just do what we do, occasionally it goes a bit pear shaped, but we're strong, we're pretty battle-hardened now so we just knuckle down and get along with the job!

I think I'm right in saying you'd had interest from labels along the way but at the end of the day you've stuck it out independently so far. Why did you chose to keep it that way?


We had some serious offers, and this is no shit man! Loads of interest from Sony, Universal, Roadrunner, EMI to name a few but have you seen these deals in this day and age? Again they hope the promise of fame, fortune, and a big ol' bag of money will overrule your common sense and pride in your work, all they wanted to do was get our songs, butcher them, change our name, change the way we look, basically change everything about us, then """"give""""" us £250k, out of which we had to re-record the album, get all the publicists, management etc, by the time it all panned out we'd end up owing the label about £20k before it started, that's if they ever released it! We decided, stupidly some may say, but I say in the interest of keeping our integrity, keeping our souls and standing up to these giant corporations and saying 'no, fuck you, stick your money up your arse' and keeping what we are all about intact. Money comes and goes, your creations, art and innovation are unique to you, and I'm glad we had the nerve to kern300astick to our guns. We may never get another offer again, or maybe they'll see just how well we have done on our own then maybe re-consider in the future, I doubt it, but who knows, we don't do it for money, we do it cause we ain't got anything else!

You've just released your debut album, KAOS. How's that experience been so far? Handling a lot of the promotion and some of the distribution yourselves. Been much of a learning curve with that?


It's been hard, I do 90% of it myself, no-one cares anymore, this whole industry is based on greed and fan counters on websites now. We signed up with CDbaby in the end, its an independent company which distributes our music all over the world and they don't rape you on the percentage cuts! We just pushed it hard to start with on the social networks and to our existing fanbase, hopefully soon once we have generated some more capitol, a couple of music videos and a proper advertising campaign is in the pipeline, basically rag the shit out of this debut album for as long as we can, till we get a really strong international identity, then go in for the kill with album no 2.But yes this has been a hell of a ride so far, and we've only just started, we are self-managed, self-publicised, self-everything! We do have a publishing contract now which deals with royalties and such, but everything else is under our control, again not just for money reasons, but so we get the say in what goes on, Its a bit more limiting in some respects, but you know EXACTLY whats going on, no nasty surprises!

What about the recording of KAOS? Where did that take place and how was the experience?


We recorded the album at a studio, in a barn, here in Cornwall, called CUBE. It has this gnarly old Valve-driven console, and as you can hear on the album it just made everything sound so amazing! There's not a huge amount of editing or polish on the recordings, the sound is really organic and full, it was tracked through the console, then edited using protools (when I say edited I don't mean programmed and fixed, it's all live performances!) then using a technique called analogue summing, it was fed back through the valve console, into this like pre-historic looking valve compression then mastered down to a blu-ray/CD. Crazy technology! It's an amazing studio, all run and owned by Gareth Young, who also produced our album! He has gold and even platinum discs all over his walls, ironically from bands like the Sugababes and All Saints, but he really pulled through on our album, I think the real clever move was to get a producer who knows nothing about metal, just about making music sound great, it kind of just made itself! The overall experience was pretty cool actually, you tend to forget the hours on end sitting infront of a screen listening to the song over and over making sure there isn't a snare rattle or fart on a guitar string, but tracking was great, and doing the final mix-downs was awesome, the studio was great, Gareth and Chris (Chris Sheperd who helped on the production) just became like extra members of the band, the whole thing was done in 5 weeks start to finish, no dicking around it was hard work but the results speak for themselves, whether people like this album or not, no-one can deny the sound is amazing!

Talk us through a few of your favourite tracks on the album and the story, if any, behind them.

I love all the songs on the album and they all have a story, I'm not going to sit here and blab on about that, it'd be like reading a novel! Just listen to them and build your own stories in your mind, some are pretty obvious what the song is about others are more subtle and have different meanings, but that's the beauty of our songs, we write them so people can take what they what from them and hear what they want to hear, we don't sit there and go 'RIGHT GUYS WE NEED TO DO THIS SECTION IN 17/46 TIMING AND 6  & 7/9th BARRS ON THE 14TH PRE-VERSE POST PRE-PRE-VERSE RIFF IN, DROP IT, BLASTBEAT AND PUSH INTO A BROOTHUL BREAKDOWN'.... We just jam some music till it sounds great to us, all bits we all bring into it, or sometimes just come out of the blue, usually the music has a vibe which we then match lyrics and subject matter to. Each song is crafted, we don't just fit things together or recycle lyrics or riffs, it's all organic and all comes right from the subconscious of Kernuyck.


What are your immediate plans to back up the release of KAOS? You mentioned there may be a video or two in the pipeline?


Just push it hard really, yes videos are a must, advertising, then tour it till we can't tour it no more! We have big plans but were just drip feeding it at present while we build up more finance and everything to promote it harder, the internet isn't so much of a help these days, you're just one of 11710541705205102501245102501254 other bands online, we try to take it to the people as much as we can, but it's getting harder and harder to get your head above the crowd, we will get there, or die trying. This job isn't easy, and going it alone makes it harder than kern300anything, but we have the music, we have the staying power and we have the determination. Failure is not an option.

What would you say has been your proudest achievement with KERNUYCK so far?


It's so hard to nail it down to one moment, we have achieved a lot of superficial shit, we have won awards and had these amazing shows and done some pretty special things, but I'm most proud of the fact that we are still here, we are still kicking ass after 3 years of everyone saying we are doomed to fail. Like I mentioned earlier this is my life, I make a living doing this, Kernuyck is far more that just a band, it's my very being! Through this I have managed to gain a tremendous and fiercely loyal set of incredible fans, made amazing friends, done some pretty incredible things, so nailing it down to one moment or event is impossible, I still have so much to do, I think what I'm most proud of is our fans, they are the best, the most dedicated and loyal fans of any band I have ever known, it's like family, a fuckin' big family, but it's great, they have put us where we are now, and we won't let them down, and as long as we can stick to that everything else is just a bonus.

What would you like to have achieved in 12 months time?


To still be doing the same thing, though I'd like to think we'd have made a lot of progress in that time, clearing my overdraught would also be nice...


What is the most valuable lesson that you have learned so far in your time together that you think sharing would help new bands just starting out.


AHHH the ol' advice to the newbies, ok here goes: LISTEN KIDS, IF YOU WANT LOADS OF MONEY, SEXY WOMEN, SPORTS CARS, MANSIONS AND AN ISLAND IN THE CARIBBEAN, DO NOT, I REPEAT, DO NOT START A BAND. Basically, if you love music and your friends/bandmates share that love, then just do your best, get working hard on your songs and your live performance, and get out there! Make a demo, hand it out to local venues, get your friends, get your friends' friends, get your nan, get everyone talking about your band! It takes a lot of work and bit of bullshit! But I cannot stress enough that if you're gonna be blowing out a lot of hot air, make sure you have the ass to fill the trousers! So many venues and people know about 'the latest sensation, the band to end all bands, the greatest album ever'  but very few of these actually deliver! Hand out your demo and be confident in your own ability, Just make sure when you play it live that you give it everything you got and impress your crowd, the rest will follow, get the foundations right before you build on it. I learnt that from some of the best and hardest working musicians around the country when I was young. It's not about putting on cool clothes, having the right hairdo and the right t-shirt, it's about being the best at what you do. Now stop being lazy and get to work!


So there you have it. The low down on one of the best unsigned bands this country has to offer. At Uber Rock we know how much you all love a band with integrity, passion and substance and Kernuyck have all three in abundance. Click the connections right now, you're just seconds away from pure fucking KAOS!









Photo kudos to Rosie Rotheram & Zinzi Graham