Six Things You Need To Know About


Classic Rock - - Contents - Words: Henry Yates Por­trait: Joe Dil­worth

Their face fuzz gets them into trou­ble and their new al­bum, Rough Times, is a first-class trip. Meet the beardy Ber­lin trio.

It’s rare that a band seem like they’re part of both the past and the fu­ture. An en­counter with Ka­davar might feel like tum­bling through a worm­hole to the early 70s, with the Ber­lin­ers’ beards and tai­lor­ing all pe­riod-cor­rect, and their play­book in thrall to Tony Iommi and Jimmy Page.

But dig into Rough Times, their fourth al­bum, and you’ll find this trio up­dat­ing stoner and psy­che­delic sounds while dis­sect­ing the mod­ern world.

“All the refugees,” front­man Christoph ‘Lu­pus’ Lin­de­mann says with a sigh.

“All the war. And of course, in Amer­ica, I don’t un­der­stand how you can vote for some­body who’s ho­mo­pho­bic, anti-women, anti-sci­ence, anti-any­thing. We kinda had the feel­ing that the good times might be over, so we called the al­bum Rough Times.”

The al­bum is a trip.

Since the band formed in 2010, the bone­headed re­sponse has been to cast Ka­davar as a Sab­bath throwback. But that doesn’t square with their lat­est al­bum, which un­folds like a saga and sprin­kles eclec­tic in­flu­ences. “It’s a jour­ney,” Lu­pus ex­plains. “Be­cause it starts re­ally dark and doomy, kinda Elec­tric Wizard-style, like we’re re­ally pissed off. But then it clears up, gets a lit­tle nicer, with this Neil Young vibe. By the end it al­most seems like there’s some hope left. Not ev­ery­thing is black and the end of the world.”

The world is their stage.

Lu­pus grew up in post-uni­fi­ca­tion East Ber­lin, but the shadow of The Wall looms over Ka­davar’s of­ten-claus­tro­pho­bic sound and es­capist world view. “My mother al­ways told me, what­ever hap­pens, when you’re old enough, leave, just go,” he re­calls. “Be­cause they never had the chance. There was the Stasi, spies ev­ery­where, Rus­sian sol­diers, you couldn’t say what you were think­ing. I’ve al­ways en­joyed that free­dom. You come to Mex­ico City, get on stage and see hun­dreds of kids freak­ing out. That’s the mo­ment when all the pain makes sense.”

Their lyric sheet ain’t pretty.

A scan of the Rough Times track-list­ing an­nounces that Lu­pus is not from the hearts-and-flow­ers school. “When I’m happy and ev­ery­thing is good, I don’t feel like writ­ing songs. I need anger and hate, to feel un­com­fort­able. Vam­pires is about my gen­er­a­tion: no­body knows what the fu­ture is go­ing to bring for us. Die Baby Die is about the mu­sic busi­ness, peo­ple knock­ing on your door, try­ing to make money out of you – then those peo­ple move on and they don’t give a fuck about your dream.”

Ka­davar are hav­ing an iden­tity cri­sis.

“One night, we were all at the bar and de­cided we needed an­i­mal names,” re­calls Lu­pus. “Si­mon [Bouteloup, bass] be­came ‘Dragon’. Christoph [Bartelt, drums] was ‘Tiger’, and I took the Latin name for wolf, ‘Lu­pus’. But now we’re get­ting closer to our an­i­mals. Tigers are lazy the whole day then they go out for one big hunt – and Christoph might hang out all day, but when he gets up he’s se­ri­ous. I’m get­ting more like a wolf, lonely. I used to go out and get wasted, but nowa­days I stay home and write.”

Their face fuzz gets them into trou­ble.

Most up­com­ing bands can’t get ar­rested. As Lu­pus re­calls with a shud­der, Ka­davar did – in Texas. “The cops stopped the car be­cause they said we were too fast. But it def­i­nitely had some­thing to do with the hair and beards. They had guns pointed at us, put us in a field for hours, blind­ing us with spot­lights, with dogs try­ing to find drugs. No­body has ever pulled a gun on me be­fore. That’s a feel­ing I never want to have again.”

They’ve got a split per­son­al­ity.

The stage Ka­davar and the stu­dio Ka­davar, Lu­pus re­minds us, are two dif­fer­ent beasts. “Peo­ple say our records never re­ally catch the en­ergy we have on stage. We are way more bru­tal, heavy and dirty live. Of course, you want to blow peo­ple away, so you do it as fat and big as you can, but we never try to have that on the records. We are not re­ally fans of big, fat pro­duc­tion. Maybe we have two iden­ti­ties. But on the new al­bum, I think we’ve caught both of them.”

Rough Times is out now via Nu­clear Blast.

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