Kuronuma: The Only Screamo Band in St. John’s
Kuronuma might be the only active screamo band in St. John’s right now, making them a unique fixture on any bill. Their sound can be found somewhere between shoegaze and skramz, boasting hectic flashes of aggression paired with melancholic hooks that produce the exact kind of ‘happy-sad’ that always attracted me to screamo. Much of the band’s aesthetic is drawn from anime, which caught my interest immediately, as I am indeed an anime fan.
I recently caught Kuronuma live at the newly formed Wit’s End venue in Witless Bay and loved how their sound tore up the room. It was the perfect venue and booking for this band, it was also one of only a handful of all-ages shows this year, so it attracted an audience who would have otherwise never seen them. Let’s face it, to most high school kids, a bar on George Street might as well be hidden on Mars, but Witless Bay is paradoxically attainable. It reminded me of having to somehow get to Distortion from Mount Pearl on a Sunday afternoon, or Paradise Rec Center on a Saturday evening. It reminded me of when every show was made up of a diverse bill, and there was no shortage of screamo representation. Seeing Kuronuma, just entering their twenties, playing for a room full of highschoolers had me feeling an odd sense of hope and nostalgia about our music scene. I decided to contact the members of Kuronuma to find out how they felt about keeping screamo alive in St. John’s, and talked to Jack Heneghan.
Who is Kuronuma? I’m not just talking about members, but also the bands have lead to the formation of this group.
Kuronuma is a band full of anime worshiping teenagers (the name Kuronuma comes from Kimi Ni Todoke). We have Jamie (A.K.A. Shin Jamie) on guitar, Damon on drums, Riley on Bass and Vocals, and myself, Jack, on guitar and Vocals. We’re a half shoegazey skramz band that has a niche but devoted fanbase of Russians who like to pirate our music on sex forums. The band was originally started by Damon, my friend James, and I as an assignment for our grade 12 applied music class. I wrote Sawako Kuronuma and performed it as a three piece shoegaze outfit. Shortly after I asked Jamie to join for second guitar, and had Riley replace James on bass. All of the members have played in bands previously, mainly hardcore bands. Damon’s played in Detained, Rat Trap, and now Kuronuma, Riley and I started playing in a band called Public Opinion with Liam Wight (A.K.A. lil’ cuz), then we started Strong Johns, a jokey, snotty, just-out-of-junior-high hardcore band based around mocking our friends. We also played and occasionally still play in Rat Trap together, and have started numerous bands that died out after a jam or two. Jamie’s played in Black Venom, joined us in Strong Johns, and a grindcore project USS (Ukrainian Science Society), before we started Kuronuma. We all started playing in bands around the age of 14/15. Kuronuma is no doubt the most success, fun, and frustration any of us have had playing in a band thus far.
You recently recorded, what can people expect from the next release? Is there a release date?
Yeah, we’re doing a split with Halifax skram homies Heiße. We recorded two songs with Micah Brown before he flew the coop. He could only fit us in for one day so the recordings were kinda rushed, we actually wrote one of the songs the day of recording. Micah did a great job with the recordings as he did on our EP. So far we have the second mix back and we’re squabbling amongst ourselves about what we want done with the mixing before Micah works his magic. As for the overall sound, people can expect a lot more synergy in our writing. I found, personally, with this split, my and Jamie’s writing has become a lot more similar, and we’ve never been happier with anything any of us have written as we are with those two songs. Definitely a lot more on the screamo side of things than our EP which we put out earlier this year. That was almost half and half with the writing styles, Sawako and Chitoge, which were written by me, sound more shoegazey, while Moon Cell and Fast Faller were written by Jamie and sound a lot more skramzy. We’re not totally clear when we’ll have the split up for download, but I made an AMV(anime music video, lmao) out of Jamie’s song if you wanna give it a listen. I used the first rough mix so it’ll be a little different when we drop the split. If I had to guess, I’d say we’ll get it out sometime around late December. It mostly depends on when Heiße get their side finished, but they’ve got super busy schedules unfortunately. Thanks again to notorious bad doggie Micah Brown for doing those recordings so on the spot for us!
What is it like to play in a city with almost no skramz representation?
Weird, I’m not quite sure how we feel about it. On one side, it’s super cool. People come up to us after sets and ask our names and tell us that we’re cool/weird and that they’re gonna check out our bandcamp. I like that a lot, that even with our pretty much not existent screamo scene, people still give a half a fuck about us. I know people who don’t listen to screamo at all but still rep us, plus, people like Nick Baker (Polina, Name/Number)and Lucas Goudie (Name/Number), who we respect a lot as musicians, offer us tons of support. Between Lucas having us play his basement as much a possible before he moved, to Nick showing up to our shows and telling us we’re his favorite band in a long time. I think if those guys weren’t around, we never would’ve kept playing. Basically, between a tiny group of invested people and a small group of newly interested people, we’ve survived. On the other hand, there won’t ever be skramz shows here. Now that Name/Number is no more, we have no other screamo bands to play with, and I don’t think there will ever be that much of a representation here. All in all, although screamo may not be that big here, we’re still asked to play shows and people still give us lots of support, and that means a great deal to us.
You recently played a show at the newly established Wits End Venue in Witless Bay. I saw your set and it seemed very fitting for the venue, it reminded me of being at the Paradise Rec center circa 2006. What was your experience playing that show?
Fantastic, we loved the venue and had a great turnout. We played first that show, Riley had work at nine that night so we had to power though both the Kuronuma and Rat Trap sets. This usually ends poorly, but it went swimmingly well with both bands this time. Surprising because we didn’t get a chance to jam beforehand. The venue itself was unreal, super spacious, cool atmosphere, a porch where we were allowed to behave like 12 year olds and draw and write profanities on the walls. It was a blast. I’ve heard rumors that Wits End is going to have recording space, jam space, show space, and even a skate ramp in the future. Whether these come to fruition, Wits End seems like a miraculous recovery for a slowly dying all-ages scene. Also, we noticed there were a lot of younger teenagers there, which is great to see. I’m constantly afraid that we’re gonna be the youngest wave of hardcore kids and that the younger crowd is just going to completely lose interest. I’m sure they’re sick of hearing it from everyone who played that show, but if any of them are reading this: START A BAND. Srsly, message us on Facebook. If ya do, we’ll try and hook you up with a show, ask some other bands, and we’ll try and get you guys set up the best we can.
Justin Trudeau recently said that he would get to work on legalizing anime on his first day if elected as Prime Minister. How important is anime to your creative process, and what kind of progress would you like to see made towards its legalization and distribution in Canada?
A very important question. I’m going to have to take a more serious tone here, as this is a political issue that is very delicate, and very dear to all of our hearts. I’m not gonna lie, I watch anime. We all watch anime. I know it’s illegal, but I need it, I can’t start my day without it. I don’t know much about Trudeau, in fact, all I know is that he’s gonna legalize anime, and that he must put something in his eyes, because they sparkle like diamonds. He kinda looks like Griffith from Berserk, and like Griffith he’s probably already sacrificed the whole Liberal party to demons, but that’s beside the point. The man’s gonna legalize anime. No more getting burned when I drive up to the Orange Store on Thorburn road to buy some Cowboy Bebop off some sketchy kid with a knife, only to find that he gave me Naruto instead. No more Anime laced with shitty CGI. No more arrests over a bit of Girls Und Panzer in your backpack. End the war on anime, vote for Trudeau and his band of anime-loving Liberals.
You can check out the latest from Kuronuma on their bandcamp, and follow them on Facebook for upcoming releases & shows. The band is set to be featured on a screamo compilation, Songs for the Dead Vol. 4, which is being put out by the music blog The Death Of A Modernist, aptly named after an Orchid song.