The year was 2002. It was an exciting opportunity for guitarists all around the country; the chance to audition for and potentially join the world famous rock band, Limp Bizkit, whose own guitarist had recently parted company. Little did Limp Bizkit know that with this contest, they were about to hear from one of the most unlikely of places. This is the story of how four individuals with radically different backgrounds that span the globe came together via the Midwestern plains of Wichita , Kansas and formed an up-and-coming rock group. This is the story of Ka Mana.
The story starts with Bangladesh native, Russell Ali. Having been in one of the most popular bands in Bangladesh some time before, Warfaze, Russell was no stranger to rock-stardom. After moving to American shores and playing in local Wichita bands for several years, he decided that it was time for something new and ideally on a much bigger scale. He set off for Dallas to try out for the Limp contest, ended up making quite an impression, and shortly after was among only a few national finalists. Even though in the end it didn’t work out with Limp, he had managed to turn some people’s heads in the process and knew that if he assembled the right people for a band and moved to Los Angeles - the very place where he had made his connections - he could get the backing they would need to succeed.
Russell knew that long-time friend and musical collaborator of many years, Dave Stalker, would fit the bill perfectly as drummer. Dave’s hard-hitting, rock-solid sense of time and sophisticated originality would be two crucial elements for this new band. Dave, a Wichita native, had been living in LA already, after having moved there several years before to study music. Since graduating, he had been playing in several local groups around town. When Dave heard about the chance to be a part of Russell’s ‘dream team’ for a new project that was already generating attention, he eagerly agreed to hop aboard and soon after, left the groups in which he was playing.
Meanwhile, with the idea of Ka Mana starting to take form, two popular bands in Wichita were about to cross paths and complete another piece of the puzzle. King Me was Russell’s band and one of the most popular bands in Kansas and its surrounding states. On one fateful night, a Hawaiian-native concertgoer by the name of Kai Mattoon happened to see King Me and took notice of the guitarist’s awesome presence on stage and amazing control over his instrument. Kai knew at that moment that he wanted to be in a band with this guy, but didn’t know that Russell would feel the same way about Kai after seeing him perform with his own band, Less Than Half. It was Kai’s infectious energy, stage presence, and vocal power that grabbed Russell. His ability to work the crowd and generate excitement without being hokey or conceited would fit perfectly for this new band. Soon after, the two met and Russell explained his situation. Kai was thrilled since he had already envisioned playing with Russell and now had the chance. He agreed to leave Wichita and move to LA with Russell in the beginning of 2003 to hook up with Dave and start making music.
So the time came; January of 2003 - and the long-anticipated move finally took place. Russ and Kai were now living in the entertainment capital of the world with a dream, a plan, and a band. There was one problem though; no bass player! The guys didn’t know anyone that seemed like they would fit the bill, so it was time for the search to begin.
Enter Chakra, the rock/hip-hop band with whom Kai, Dave and Russ were sharing their rehearsal studio. Chakra knew of the guys’ predicament and agreed to let their bass player sit in with them until a permanent bass player was found. But little did Dave, Russ and Kai know how perfectly this young, explosive, ‘frizzy blond haired’ bass phenom would fit once they began playing together. His name was Andy Murabito; also a Wichita native, and he came as a complete surprise to the budding Ka Mana boys. His energy and enthusiasm was without equal, as was his solidity and aggressive style as a bass player. And to round everything out, Andy incorporated creative vocal harmonies to add a new dimension to the band’s sound. It didn’t take more than one sit-in to see that there was magic in the air when these four played together, and soon after the line-up was made official.
The name Ka Mana was chosen shortly thereafter for its appropriate meaning. It is a Hawaiian term that means ‘spiritual power’ or ‘magic,’ which could certainly be used to describe the feeling the band gets when they play together; the positive message they seek to convey through their music; and perhaps even more so, the way in which these four unlikely Midwesterners came together in the first place to make music, and hopefully, a difference.
And with this, the first chapter of Ka Mana has been written. The story however, has just begun…
Hear Kamana's Music Here.