I N T E R V I E W
‘Lures will Catch us a Carp’: An Interview with ‘Koi Division’
By Ian Duggan
‘Koi Division’ are a Californian band who describe themselves as “the only Fish Goth Joy Division parody cover band that matters”. They perform songs with titles like ‘Albacore’ (Atmosphere), ‘Trout Fishin’ (Transmission), and ‘Lures will Catch us a Carp’ (too obvious to require clues!). After appearing on ‘The A.V. Club’ website a few days ago, the band have rapidly accumulated a shoal of new fans, myself included. I caught up with Ian Clownfish (vocals), Hook (bass, sea synth), Bernard Salmon (guitar) and Steve Moray (drums), for what I expect is their first overseas Q&A session!
HUP: Your titles and lyrics are fantastic. I particularly like the titles ’Lures will Catch us a Carp’ and ‘Trout Fishin’. How long does it take to write new lyrics for a song and, like fish, do your lyrics slowly evolve through time?
Ian Clownfish: It's usually one spawning cycle.
Steve Moray: Some of the songs, it just comes so naturally. It starts with a small joke and builds off of it.
Ian Clownfish: There are a lot of dark, horrible, and depressing things that happen in the ocean.
Hook: Our lyrics crawled out of the ocean, turned around, and went back in.
Bernard Salmon: All of our lyrics started out with 'Glub Glub Glub'.
HUP: We have a local recording project here called Dharma Police, who record songs about the TV show ‘Lost’ and who sound reminiscent of early Depeche Mode. One problem for the project is that the ability of obtaining fans relies to an extent on them being a fan of both ‘80s synth-pop and the TV programme Lost. I would argue many more people have an interest in both Joy Division and fish, providing a larger potential intersection in your Venn diagram. Do you think you might suffer from having a small niche audience, or do you see your niche facilitating your popularity?
Bernard Salmon: I think there's a lot of people who like fish that will learn to love Joy Division because of their love for fish.
HUP: You have 11 songs to date, but there is a finite number of Joy Division songs to cover, and you seem to have already parodied their most popular songs. What are your aspirations for the project? What happens when you run out of songs?
Ian Clownfish: There are 44 essential Joy Division songs including ‘Ceremony’ and ‘In A Lonely Place’ [not yet covered]. We have 12 done, [and] I don't think it's unreasonable to do the other 3/4 eventually.
Bernard Salmon: We can do justice to some of the older recordings, that are mostly unlistenable. Once we have all the songs under our belt, we have to learn to play in an aquarium. Underwater shows are the wave of the future.
HUP: Koi carp are considered a pest fish in New Zealand, stirring up sediments, and generally making our waterways look bad. So to me your band’s name mixes something nice (Joy Division) with something not so nice (koi), a bit like Guns ‘n Roses. Are koi seen in the same way where you are from, in California? Or is your name likely to elicit different emotions there?
Hook: Koi are found mainly at rich people's houses and public parks. Also this one Chinese restaurant in New York.
Steve Moray: People go to Disneyland to eat fish all the time.
HUP: Your story has gone global thanks to being picked up by The A.V. Club, and the band has gained a few hundred new fans on Facebook over the last few days. How did the A.V. Club pick up on your band?
Hook: Juliet Rylah wrote an article for the LA Weekly about us after seeing some photos taken by Paul Koudounaris and the A.V. Club picked it up.
HUP: Your vocalist, Ian Clownfish, has the moves of Ian Curtis down perfectly. How many seconds did it take to realise the name ‘Ian Koi-tis’ was not such a good move.
Ian Clownfish: It's not really related to fish, or is it?
Hook: Do you remember that episode of the Simpsons where Troy McClure had to marry Selma because he had a thing for fish?
Bernard Salmon: It was originally Ian Catfish but we couldn't find a Catfish that could sing.
Steve Moray: We couldn't afford an actual Koi; those things are expensive.
Visit the 'Koi Division' website here: http://www.koidivision.com/