Krang – ‘We love mixing pop culture themes with serious topics’

Words: Miljan Milekić

If you’re a fan of fast, energetic, and melodic punk rock, chances are you’ll like the Czech punk rock band Krang. And if you’re into skateboarding and old arcade games, you’re gonna love them. A few weeks ago, the band released their brand new album ‘Listens To Krang Once’ bringing their signature sound, touching on everything from politics and social issues to everyday life, sometimes even through the prism of ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ or ‘Back To The Future.’ We were lucky enough to catch up with singer Dan and bassist Stanley, just before they head out on their Japanese tour. Check it out below! 

Let’s start with the important stuff! Which turtle is everyone in the band, and why? I’ll allow picking the same one!
Dan: There will be a bit of each, but if we have to split it up – I’m Leo. I don’t feel like a leader of a pack but in certain situations, I’m the least grumpy guy in the band. (laughs) I don’t get very angry and rather think things through. And fair play is the matra!

Stanley: Definetly Raphaelo!

Speaking of TMNT, as someone born in ‘89, the video for ‘Cowabunga’ checks all the boxes on a nostalgic road trip for me. Can you tell me more about the video, and the idea behind it?
Stanley: I always wanted to make an 8-bit video. I had thousands of ideas but it’s very hard to find someone who makes these kinds of things. So, after a couple of years of searching and looking around, I found Cloudy, whose style of animation fits my ideas. The video mostly follows the lyrics of the song so it was a no-brainer, and after 3 months of work, upgrades, and updates – it was done! Even though it looks simple, as it’s an 8-bit graphic, it was A LOT OF WORK. Every piece of graphic had to be drawn from zero and that takes forever. The devil is in the details and moving things. The final result is awesome! I guess … but let the people judge!

READ MORE: Check our interview with legendary pop punk band Yellowcard

‘Cowabunga’ isn’t the only pop culture moment on the record, you were also referencing ‘Gilmore Girls,’ ‘ALF,’ as well as ‘Back To The Future.’ In your opinion, what is it in some of the movies and TV shows that resonate so strongly with skate and punk kids all over the world 20, 30, or 40 years later?
Dan: All these movies, TV shows, and comic books are epic, and were part of our growing up. I don’t want to sound nostalgic like “We sing about good old times and the present sucks!” (laughs) Not at all! We like to mix it together and tell a certain message by drawing a parallel with a movie or a character. For example, the song ‘DeLorean’ is not so much just about ‘Back To The Future.’ Although we live in a “time of greatest prosperity,” people do not live their lives filled with happiness. The song is written from the point of view of Marty McFly who goes to see the future – our present, and comes across expectations vs. reality. The message itself is not purely about the movie, but about some opinions embedded in our favorite pop culture environment. With a similar approach, we have it in other songs as well.

Stanley: It’s not just about skate and punk kids, it’s about the whole generation growing up in the 90s and the early 2000s. Those were times with the biggest cultural boom, but not as widespread as nowadays with the internet and streaming. First great computer games, music videos, movies, the boom of skateboarding, and the explosion of punk rock with Green Day, The Offspring, and Blink-182, who made punk rock mainstream. We have all of that now, but ten times more, and easier to grab. Back in the day, you had to sit in front of the TV right at 3 pm because it was your only chance to catch the new episode of ‘MacGyver’ – no replay, no download, no “Watch Later.” So, whole generations grew up watching, reading, and living almost the same things. A 40-year-old metal guy can come to a 40-year-old normcore guy and start talking about ‘ALF’ or ‘Step By Step’ and there is a huge probability they will laugh together because they both watched it. Nowadays, everybody has their own thing. I am not saying it’s good or bad, it’s just the way it is. So that’s why nostalgia hits hard with those 80s/90s/00 “kids.”

It’s not all shells and hoverboards on ‘Listens To Krang Once,’ as you also touched on some more serious topics as well. Was there ever a challenge to find the balance between the fun and serious, and creating a cohesive record?
Dan: I think this is what Krang does, but also, I think the fans are expecting it a little. We are always trying to balance fun and serious topics and ideally mix them together. Putting pop culture themes together with serious stuff is what we have been doing from the beginning of the band. Also, on the last two records, there are a few personal songs I feel should be part of that.

On the record, you worked with one of my favorite songwriters, Useless ID’s Yotam Ben Horin. Can you tell me more about the work with him, and how did it all come together?
Dan: We started working with Yotam on our previous record ‘Make Arcade Great Again,’ and it had definitely set the course to the sound we want. This time, it was even more intense because Yotam came in and spent about a week with us in the studio. We wrote a few new songs together from scratch in the studio, and before that, we worked on demos. We would come up with song ideas and he would always show us some tricks to make it sound better. I love Useless ID. For me personally, it is one of the greatest punk rock bands ever so it’s awesome to have a chance to work on music with him.

READ MORE: Check out our interview with Israeli punk rock band Useless ID

So, ‘Listens To Krang Once’ has been out for a couple of weeks now. How happy are you with the feedback you have received so far?
Dan: Feedback has been pretty good so far. Lots of people are sharing and writing to us that the album is great. But we’ll see with time. I’m looking forward to starting to play new songs live.

You are finishing off the month with a couple of record release shows in Czechia, after which you will hit the road for the Japan tour. How excited are you for it, and what else can we expect from you guys in the future?
Dan: I can’t wait! We were in Japan in 2017 and it was an awesome tour. I love Japanese culture, and I’m looking forward to the shows, meeting old and new friends, and eating A LOT of ramen! (laughs)

Stanley: Besides playing shows, eating pizza, and neverending drives in the van? NO FUTURE!

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*Interview edited for length and clarity

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