Story & Photos by Andy Lyons, Editor-in-Chief
Since releasing their EP “Trying to Find My Mind” in July, Kansas City psychedelic rockers Instant Karma! have made it a point to continuing building, evolving from a four-piece to six and getting in front of as many audiences as possible.
The group has added two back-up singers, affectionately known as Implication 1 and Implication 1, adding an ethereal edge to their sound that comes through on both their recorded music as well as live set.
The group has had stops in both Colorado and Texas, as well as all over the Kansas City metro and has spent some time at Sunflower Soul Records in Kansas City, working with producer Chris Hazelton on new material.
The addition of Cait Walker and Grace Griffin-Spain as The Implications as well as working with Hazelton has come to fruition in many forms. All three joined the band on stage last weekend at recordBar, where they opened for Durand Jones & The Indications as well as on an upcoming release from Instant Karma!, a vinyl 45 featuring two new tracks, “Shine On,” and “Give Me Freedom.”
Prior to their set, the group took some time to chat with CMN about the changes to the band and what’s to come in 2018. The band’s entire process has evolved since “Trying to Find My Mind,” in a sense it’s more of a group effort. Since their EP release show at Revolution Records, the group made The Implications a more permanent part of Instant Karma!
“We added them for our EP release show, and we thought ‘I guess this’d be a fine idea,’” lead vocalist and guitar player Colby Bales said. “With the song on the 45, “Shine On,” I think it really called for some gospelly background vocals and they killed it, absolutely killed it.”
“If we’re being totally honest here, we said ‘hey can you play one show with us? Just one show,” and we just never let them stop,” guitarist Cody Calhoun joked.
When it comes to writing, the group works off of something as simple as a chord progression and the entire band will workshop it to build a new song out of it.
“The writing process is still very, very similar, although I will say it has switched to a lot more of a band dynamic as far as the writing goes,” Calhoun said. “Which is amazing, it’s so much better.”
“The cool thing is each time, is that we have different things that kind of push the song forward,” bassist Branden Moser added. “Whether it be backing vocals now, or a drum part or just a little vocal line, there’s something that fans the flame a bit.”
The group worked with Hazelton of Sunflower Soul Records on the 45, where he contributed on organ and space echo but said working with the band was easy, noting he just had to let them do what they do and hit record.
Moser said it was equally as easy working with Hazelton and having him join them for the 7-inch record.
“There’s little unspoken idiosyncrasies I guess when you’re playing together and recording,” Moser said. “And you can kind of feel if they’re there and if they’re strong and positive. And we have those all with Chris, he can fill in our blanks. It was just really, really easy and fun and it was just like working with someone you’ve been with for a while. So it wasn’t a big change, it was just get in and do your job and let him do his thing.”
The group has teased photos from the studio at Sunflower Soul Records, and said they have been working with Hazelton at the studio there while building their own, called Two Tone Sound, which will be ready in May. The group is working on new material but Bales said “the guys up top” don’t want them to discuss it yet, but teased fans with photos on their Facebook page. During their live set Sunday night, the group played mostly new tracks with “Bad Girl” being the only song from the “Trying to Find My Mind” EP.
The official release date of the 45 is May 11, and preorders will be available soon. However, the group has a limited amount available at their concerts. Instant Karma! has shows booked throughout the summer, including April 22 at Mills Records in Kansas City, May 30 at Kauffman Stadium for the Royals vs. the Twins, and Middle of the Map Fest June 29.