Kula Shaker
United Kingdom
Music group
Taking their name from the 9th century Indian Emperor and mystic Kula Sekhara, Kula Shaker was formed from the ashes of the Kay in the spring of 1995.

Guitarist/vocalist Crispian Mills (son of actress Hayley Mills) and bassist/vocalist Alonza Bevan were schoolmates when they formed The Objects Of Desire with vocalist Saul Dismont and drummer Paul Winter-Hart. Mills' constant studying of spirituality as well as continued reading of The Mahabharata, led him to his travels to India to study the teachings of the 16th century guru Krishna Caitanya.

Upon his return to the U.K., Mills renamed the group Kay (after a fascination with the mystical letter K) as the group would make their debut in Glastonbury in 1993. Keyboardist Jay Darlington would join the line up in '94 as Dismont departed and, after finally changing their moniker to Kula Shaker, they garnered a recording contract with Columbia, who were eager to sign a band who had a crossover appeal such as Oasis.

The group would firmly establish themselves as their single Tattva would chart at #4 in '96. With the release of their debut album K, the group found themselves being pigeonholed as critics were quick to note them as 1960's throwbacks as well as referring to Mills as "the rich kid". None the less, K entered the charts at #1, becoming the fastest selling British debut album since Oasis' Definitely Maybe.

Their fantastic cover of Joe South's Hush (ala Deep Purple), would chart at #2 in '97 (the song was also included on the soundtrack to the American slasher film I Know What You Did Last Summer). Their 1998 single Sound Of Drums would peak at #2. The critics were ready to tear them apart with the release of their 1999 follow up album Peasants, Pigs And Astronauts even though the album made the Top Ten.

The group would play various shows but by the end of the summer in 1999, the band would split up.


On its second album Kula Shaker again acknowledges the Beatles, the Who, the Yardbirds and the Doors and a flurry of other madras-cloaked fossils of the shaggadelic '60s while dipping into more esoteric fare such as Hindi, and Sufi-style devotional chants. Kula Shaker transforms the tumble of tablas, ouds, sarungis, and sitars it adores into a graceful sonic lovefest. Mills' reedy vocals are downright defiant in the declarations of the gorgeous "Shower Your Love" and the fuzzy, fist-waving "Sound of Drums," while Pete Townshend would be downright proud to hear the hard-ass harmonies and Hammond-organ frenzy of "108 Battles." Kula Shaker's flat-out gallop into the mystic is a welcome change from the korny headbanging at the other end of rock's spectrum.

..."Sound of Drums" employs its percussion metaphor (as well as a stomping processional riff) to clarion-call comrades in Y2K anxious arms; it's huge, anthemic, and brimming with lyrical hope and sincerity. The rest of the Bob Ezrin produced album gels into a beautifully Floydian concept piece, rife with Middle Eastern musical motifs/instruments. Mills has managed a unique pop coup-- he's concocted a theme record that' both entertaining and meditative, and given a whole new meaning to the term, "thinking man's music."

Guitar World:
Turn on the lava lamps, pull out the hookah and strap the tapestries to the wall. Kula Shaker's back, pshchedelia lives and it's time to trip out on the British quartet's second package of raging retro. The crucial point is that guitarist Crispian Mills and his pals approximate rather than merely mimic the sonic spirit of their chosen era, while producer Bob Ezrin brings a new degree of sharp, swirling punch to tracks such as "Great Hosannah," Radhe Radhe" and "Shower Your Love."

Recorded on the Victorian houseboat of Pink Floyd's David Gilmour, the sound effects of songs like "108 Battles" recalls Floyd's '67 debut. Alongside sure- to- be- hit singles like "Mystical Machine Gun", singer/spiritual leader Crispian Mills' souped up stratocsters and the haunting Hammond organ of Jay Darlington are balanced with Indian instruments like the double reed shenai. Call it a multiculti piper at the gates of dawn.

To its second album , the British band brings an end-of-the-millennium feeling. Exotic Indian instruments like tabla and shenai add mysticism to the mix. Mills is genuinely hip to all things Hindu and Kula Shaker's sonic curry could spice up your CD collection.

January 2006 saw the return of Kula Shaker. The band stated on their web site: "It's official. Kula Shaker has arisen from the bottomless pit." Their new album 'Strangefolk’ features the original line up, (Crispian Mills, vocals/gtr, Alonza Bevan, Bass, and Paul Winter Hart, drums) with the addition of Harry Broadbent taking over on Hammond organ. Expect tours, tracks and trouble soon.
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