On the phone: The Jeevas
|Left to right: Dan McKinna,
main Jeeva Crispian Mills, and Randy Nixon
Great experience, beautiful setting
know what to expect, but it was great to start off in Japan,
shouts Crispian Mills over a cell phone from a car on a highway
somewhere in Spain. The topic is last summer's Fuji Rock
Festival, and Mills, charismatic former leader of '90s
UK rockers Kula Shaker, is telling us briefly about the reception
afforded his new trio, The Jeevas.
There were lots of people waiting to hear us,
he continues. But it was a mixed crowd. We had an EP
that came out before the festival so there were people who
knew us already, as well as people who knew Kula Shaker and
people who were just there for the festival.
Mills' Jeevas, after launching their world tour at Fuji
Rock last summer, have come full circle and are due back in
Japan in January. The band now have a proper album, 1-2-3-4
released in September on Epic Sony, which documents the whirlwind
recording sessions The Jeevas embarked on soon after forming.
Mills had hooked up with drummer Randy Nixon and bassist Dan
McKinna after a brief period of soul-searching following the
sudden breakup of Kula Shaker in 1999. The chemistry, he says,
was immediately tangible. We got on like a house on
fire, and we didn't hang about. A lot of people heard
on the record the spontaneity: many records take a long time
to record, but this one was just plug in and play.
For a taste of what Mills is talking about, turn to the leadoff
track Virginia, which has some of the more memorable
three-part harmonies to be heard on a rock record in some
time. Nixon and McKinna share singing duties with Mills, enveloping
his cutting tenor in a cushiony bed of retro harmonies that
recall a time when the craft of singingas opposed to
rapping, grunting or shoutingwas central to rock n'
When we made that record we made it very quickly, and
we weren't aware or self-conscious about influences,
Mills answers in response to that observation. We just
recorded what felt right, and when we started doing interviews
we had to think about it.
It's a real mix of British and American rock and
roll, he continues. It has the quirkiness that
you got with the British scene, then also the American power
of Jimi Hendrix. It's got influence from the '50s,
'60s, '70s, and even a bit of funk in there as well.
For their name, the band turned toward Indian mythology, a
source that had provided the name and much thematic material
for Mills' last band. Jeevas is taken from
the Sanskrit word for indestructible, subatomic particle
of consciousness [or] another word for Soul.
Millswho is described in one online biography as having
undergone a spiritual awakening in Indiacautions against
reading too much into this. Names of bands are a tricky
business, he says. It's simultaneously very
important and very unimportant: Does it sound good and look
good in lights? We conducted some experiments and it worked.
It is both very important and very disposable.
He also plays down the importance being ascribed to his time
in India. Yeah, I mean, actually some of the biggest
experiences I had were before or after I went to India,
he says. But if you are interested in that part of the
world, you have to go before you understand karma and reincarnation.
I was into the whole Krishna tradition, and when you
go over, it solidifies it a bit more. But there was no time
when I was hit by a bolt of lightening, he concludes.
The deep stuff happens over time, and it's still
The Jeevas play Club Citta on January
7 and Shibuya AX on January 14-15. See listings for details.