I’m in bed with Oscar Pollock. We’ve just wrapped a long day’s shoot and the Sundara Karma frontman is still running on a different time zone, making the hotel suite bed seem the perfect place for a chat. Having returned from performing at Japan’s Summer Sonic Festival and South Korea’s Pentport Rock Festival only a few days before, the jet lag has finally sunk in for the four boys and as Ally Baty, Haydn Evans and Dom Cordell pull up a couple of armchairs to ease their tiredness, I can see how in retrospect, my immediate leaping onto the hotel’s Tempur Mattress may have been a selfish move. Sorry pals.
Asking about their Asia adventures, the Reading based quartet soon begin regaling the room with stories of riding dodgy-looking rollercoasters at the Korean border and the difficulty of trying to explain veganism to a chef who doesn’t understand any English. When I ask if they ever thought their music would take them to such corners of the world, Pollock smiles. “I think you always have hopes and I think we definitely had hopes of certain things. Just to play in Asia was a hope for me and the fact that that happened was very, very cool.”
Playing a festival pretty much every weekend this year, I wonder if being on the road together has brought the childhood friends closer. “Well, we don’t talk to each other unless we’re doing an interview. This is the first time we’ve talked in three weeks,” Pollock jokes. “We can’t get to know each other any more, we literally know each other as well as we can do. You reach this fantasy land and then you have nothing to gage it on. It’s just endless love…”
This love isn’t felt just between the band: it’s clear the affection for the guys and their January released debut album Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospect is still very much around. When I catch them at Reading Festival a few days after we chat, I see this in real life as the four-piece deliver a fantastic show, tent completely packed. “Since we were 14, we’ve talked about playing that stage,” Evans tells me of the acclaimed Radio One stage in the days prior, unaware at the time that the band would play undeniably one of the best sets of the entire festival to an adoring crowd screaming back every word.
And it’s not hard to see why they get this reaction. Youth is Only Ever Fun in Retrospectis a completely stunning record, full of intelligent songwriting and wildly captivating indie melodies that have rightfully established the band as one of England’s finest. “It’s our first album. We’re not reinventing the wheel. It’s an honest representation of where we were at the time and it’ll always mark that period of our lives for us,” Pollock explains when I ask how they feel about the record now. “It’s like the idea of a photo album, you can always have that and show that to your kids, so that’s what it is for us. And we’ve learnt so much from it. I do think it’s the album that we’re going to have learnt the most from forever because it helped us decide what exactly it is that we want to do and where we want to be. If it wasn’t for the album, then I don’t think we would have come to that.”
Now getting ready to play a big show at Brixton’s O2 Academy in October, the four-piece are secretive about what ticketholders can expect, with Baty only warning that I should “prepare to be amazed.” After a little more coaxing (read: begging), Pollock eventually gives up a little more info about what we can hope for. “People really should come and watch because it’s going to be very special,” he discloses. “It’s going to be a new experience for the fans of Sundara Karma. For the people who’ve seen us, like, six times before, it’s going to be very different. We’re aware that a lot of people coming to the Brixton show have seen us a crazy amount of times so we want to keep it fresh and change things quite a bit for this one.”
I ask if they’ve got any plans after that and the band turn to each other. “Greatest Hits record?” Pollock proposes. “Yeah,” Evans replies, “Then the hiatus and then the comeback tour. All within the next year, obviously.”
Photography - Antonio Eugenio
Fashion - Mitja Olenik
Hair - Stefan Bertin
Makeup - Bari Khalique
Thanks to - The Ampersand Hotel