Steelhouse Festival is here, and things are just about to kick off. The MetalTalk team is in place, and Paul Hutchings spoke to The Karma Effect to welcome them to the roof of God’s country as the band prepare for their 5:30 pm slot today.
“There was some traffic, but it’s expected,” Henry Gottelier (lead vocals and guitar) says. “I’m pretty sure we’ve gone through every sort of weather getting here. We had sunshine over the Seven Bridge. Then halfway across, it was torrential rain. Then we got into Wales, and this bright sunshine crept in. Then you go a bit further on, and then there’s rain again.”
With the meteorological introductions out of the way, Henry says the band have mostly played in North Wales when they have crossed the border. “We played Planet Rock Winters End last year, which was amazing. We’ve played up Buckley way. There’s a great venue out there called the Tivoli, and they get some cool bands in there.”
“It’s cracking, that venue,” Seb Emmins (keyboards & backing vocals says. “Honestly, because it’s in such an unassuming spot, and then all of a sudden, you just got this massive packed-out rock venue. We’ve done that three times now.”
“It’s been good out there,” Henry says. “The guy that runs it is getting all these great acts in there now, which is awesome.”
The Karma Effect has been together for three years now. The pandemic caused issues through the band worked on their debut album remotely. “My parents have an old converted farm,” Henry says, “and we just set up in the middle of the thing and prayed it didn’t rain just so we could all play together.” Seb smiles about sunburn.
As for the songwriting, Henry says he covers the majority of this. “When we were allowed out, we would work frantically to get the songs to a point. Then we would be told that we couldn’t see anyone, so we went back into the virtual sessions. We created online chat rooms and video calls, and we’d spend most nights of the week up until the early hours of the morning. I’d be the chairman, the one doing all the demoing of the songs and the guys would all be there pinging their ideas across.
“Then, when it came to do the preproduction for the recording, we had all of these ideas and all of these songs, and we could go in, and we could just hammer it out, which was amazing. So that was cool. It was challenging, but it was cool.”
“I think the recording process is something that we’re all familiar with,” Seb says. Henry says that Seb has a great ear for production.
“Everybody brings a different thing to the table,” Henry says. “I tend to bring all the music, but then everybody’s creative input comes in different ways. Ash [Powell], our drummer, has the most incredible ear and understands exactly where the song should go. He might not be able to say, oh, you need to go from the B flat to like this. But he goes, we need to do that here. And that’s amazing. Every time I write a song, he’s usually the first person that I send it. But we’ve got Robbie [Blake (guitar)] who smoulders away. Liam [Quinn] is an incredible bass player. Every so often, there’s like these bolts of light lightning, and you’re like, yeah, cool.”
Their debut was released last year, and dates with Massive Wagons followed. “We put the record out, and we made the official charts, which was something that was so cool. The independent music charts. So I remember looking, and when we went in, we went in higher than Slash. We have done as much as we can to get out there and spread our name, and this year, we have some incredible festivals.”
Steelhouse is a local festival for me and has been central to my summer for a decade. I’ve seen the festival grow from early headliners such as Tigertailz to Saxon and Schenker, and this year there are two huge international bands. How does The Karma Effect see the festival?
“For us, this is a pinch-me moment,” Henry says. “I grew up listening to Black Stone Cherry. They’re not particularly old, but I remember when I was young, getting that first album. I remember watching those videos thinking this band was right up my street.
“But watching this festival progress, it’s really cool. It’s got great promo. It’s been publicised really well. I keep seeing it everywhere. You mentioned seeing the different lineups throughout the years. I don’t think we were quite prepared today. We were not expecting it to be as ginormous as it really is. It’s a really big moment for us as a band.
“We never take these opportunities lightly. It’s such a privilege to be asked to be here amongst some incredible bands across the weekend, you know, Kira Mac and, The Cruel Knives. Then you’ve got your Black Stone Cherry and Kris Barris. It’s just incredible. It really is.”
“I walked in, I had a look at the stage, and I was like, man that’s big,” smiles Seb.
“It is great to see festivals like this coming back and bouncing back after what happened,” Henry says. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen it a little bit where festivals have folded because they can’t carry on.”
Henry has spotted the walkway, so he is hoping he is wireless. “We’ve had some quite cool experience of playing on some big stages,” he says, “and I feel like we’re in our element when we get there. I like to run around, and I really like to try and get the crowd going as best I can. That’s kind of part of my job. Everybody’s got their kind of corner. We try to control and command the stage. I’m so excited.”
The one very nice thing about Steelhouse is every band has a headline slot. Usually, when you play support, you might only have three feet at the front of this. Here, bands have the whole stage.
“That’s awesome,” Henry says. “And we get to have our big banner up, and some of these festivals are like, no.”
The band will be back in Wales in November for a show at Tramshed, a cracking venue. But before that, there is today and then Stonedead Festival. “We are so excited for that,” Henry says. “Then a lot happens straight away. We’re going on tour in September and November. We have finished our second record now. It’s coming very soon. Some stuff is coming.”