It’s been 20 years since Sydney trio Karma County hit Australian airwaves with their breakout single, ‘Postcard’.
In early March, they return to the stage for select shows, including one in the heart of their old stomping ground at Venue 505. “The main reason we’re doing that show is because we're playing Port Fairy Folk Festival in March,” frontman Brendan Gallagher says.
“We thought it'd be good to do a local gig because two of us live in Sydney, and we thought we'd have a hit out in our hometown.
“We don't play much these days, unless someone asks us to, because we don't all live in the same city and we're all doing other things. But it will be good to get out and give the tunes a walk around the block.”
Ostensibly an acoustic trio, Karma County released their debut album, ‘Last Stop Heavenly Heights’ (featuring the ‘Postcard’ single), in 1996 in the wake of the Seattle grunge scene, with the likes of Nirvana, Pearl Jam and Soundgarden dominating trends in both music and fashion.
By 1997, and with help of a Kansas-based record company called Laughing Boy, both Karma County and ‘Postcard’ had become national, alternative favourites, receiving substantial airplay on Triple J. “We've never broken up,” Brendan says.
“We had a lot of bad luck and the thing with being in a band is that you have to maintain your momentum and ours was sort of interrupted, and we couldn't quite get back in the groove.
“You know, people have children and other lives so basically we just have our catalogue and if people find it, that's great.”
When Brendan and his bandmates, bassist Michael Galeazzi and drummer Stuart Eadie, return to the stage as Karma County, fans can expect a setlist packed with all-time classics and favourites from across their discography.
Although it’s been quite a number of years since the group has performed together, Brendan says most of their songs have become second nature to play. “Because we toured so much, most of these songs are just muscle memory as soon as you start. “We'll play pretty regularly in other bands too so our chops are pretty good, but there's probably a few songs I’ve forgotten.
“We've got 20 or so songs we're tossing around for a set and I can remember all of them, the other guys too. We played together so much we know what we’re doing.
“The thing that you can’t make up is band chemistry,” Brendan says. “That's what people hear when they listen to Miles Davis on his records, or they hear The Go-Betweens or The Triffids. It’s the people who make the stuff. I’ve played my songs with other people, the Karma County songs, but they don’t sound the same.”
Karma County perform at Venue 505 (Sydney) 4 March and Port Fairy Folk Festival (Victoria) 10-13 March.