I was a nerdy teenager who not only loved movies but the soundtracks that accompanied them. Some of my favorites were Titanic, The Faculty and Twister. Like I said: nerdy. But it was the soundtrack for I Know What You Did Last Summer that would introduce me to a British indie rock band that would open my mind and ignite my soul.
On top of music from Type O Negative, The Offspring and Toad the Wet Sprocket, the soundtrack opened with a cover of Deep Purple’s “Hush”. The band was called Kula Shaker and the song easily became my favorite of the summer. Led by Crispian Mills, son of legendary actress Haley Mills, (who my mom was a HUGE fan of growing up and introduced me to all of her movies when I was little), it was the catchiness and hint of Brit-rock that caught my attention but it wasn’t until I bought their debut album K, that I discovered what the band was really all about.
Psychedelic rock all the way immersed in 60s nostalgia intertwined with a magical Raga influence that created a soul-shaking fusion of rock and new age, K rocked my world like no album ever had. With an emphasis on Indian mysticism and instrumentation, the use of the sitar, tambura and table mix combined with wa-wa pedals + heavy guitars shaped a mystical ambiance drenched in Nag Champa. Joyfully optimistic and hopeful, praising the alchemy of life while reminding to have fun and celebrate being alive, this album without a doubt changed my universe.
In the summer of ’99, nearing the two-year mark of my love affair with Kula Shaker, the band announced a small US tour for their sophomore album Peasants, Pigs & Astronauts. My 15-year-old self was elated at the fact they would be stopping in Carrboro, NC at The Cat’s Cradle. At the time, I had only been to big concert arenas, not yet exploring the more intimate club setting. I could not wait to be in the presence of this band and experience their message live. I was counting down the days and X’ing them off my wall calendar as the time grew near. I listened to nothing but K, psyching myself up for what was surely to be a life-altering show.
Out of school for summer break, I remember sleeping in late the day of the show. I woke up especially chipper, knowing nothing could touch my mood: I was going to see Kula Shaker!!! Around 2 in the afternoon, the phone rang. It was mom, calling to ask me if I had heard the news. “What news?” I asked her. Less than 5 hours before the doors were supposed to open, the show had been cancelled.
My heart nearly stopped in my chest.
I had never (and still have never) been so disappointed by the cancellation of ANYTHING. No flashing lights. No drums. No sitar. No Crispian Mills. No life-altering show. NOTHING. I will not admit to the crying that ensued.
And to make matters worse, the band “officially” split up two months later. Thankfully they reformed in 2004, releasing 2 more full-length albums as well as a 15th anniversary edition of K, including unreleased material and a documentary.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago: the band announced the release of their fifth studio album K2.0 and premiered their new song “Infinite Sun”. The guttural shriek of glee I let out is too embarrassing to describe.
Besides the obvious excitement of new music from one of the greatest bands I’ve ever heard, the anticipation of a possible U.S. tour is overwhelming. My fingers are crossed ever so tightly and my heart is all-a-flutter. Make this silly pink-haired gal’s LIFE and get thee to NC: your biggest fan awaits!!!