Founding member, creative and driving force behind Karnataka, Ian Jones has been deeply involved with music in one form or another since his early teens. A native of Swansea in Wales, Ian was raised in a household where music was central to family life, his mother’s love of classical music, musicals and big band music all left their mark but it was his sister’s love of progressive and eclectic rock music that proved pivotal in Ian’s musical direction. Dark Side of the Moon, Tubular Bells, Tales From Topographical Oceans and Genesis’s The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway, all hugely influential on his later writing.
A partly strung 12 string guitar launched Ian’s first teenage foray into playing music and by his late teens this was followed by a more determined effort with his first bass borrowed from a friend. Ian quickly realised his passion was for creating music as much as attempting to master the bass and guitar and the two disciplines started a steady course of development through his various music ventures.
Angel Heart signalled his first serious band – it had a name at least – a pop/rock/prog influenced trio that marked his first collaboration with future Karnataka members Rachel Jones and Jonathan Edwards. Dream Circle was to follow, influenced by goth folk rockers All About Eve but always with an added element of experimentation, the progressive influence again finding its way to the surface. This was followed by The Big Pink, a band that was to perform at the 1992 Heineken Festival alongside the Manic Street Preachers.
This formative period resulted in a collection of songs, ideas and collaborations which were largely unrecorded. In 1998 Ian decided to set up a home studio with Rachel Cohen to start a project to record the best of the tracks. With guitarist Paul Davies invited to add guitar parts to the songs and the project complete, there was still no master plan or intention to take this further forward as a band but with a feeling that they had created something worthwhile, the idea of continuing as a band grew stronger. A name was required and Ian’s recent forays to the wilds of India provided the inspiration with the band adopting the name of the Indian State he had visited – Karnataka was born.
It was suggested to Ian that a copy of the tracks be sent to the newly emerging Classic Rock Society and it was they who gave the band their first and positive review, inviting the band to perform for the Classic Rock Society. This proved to be the catalyst for the band’s increasing success and in 2000 the band released their follow up album The Storm. Mixed at the world famous Rockfield studios in Monmouth this was to receive repeated airplay by Bob Harris. In that same year, the band won Best New Band and Best Female Vocalist Awards at the Classic Rock Society Awards. The band’s popularity continued to grow resulting in a support slot for Porcupine Tree on their 2001 European Tour and the following year, an appearance at the Canterbury Festival.
2003 marked the release of a landmark album for the band, Delicate Flame of Desire. This was the result of their first collaboration with Warner producer Steve Evans and top mixer/engineer Joe Gibb who had worked with Catatonia, Leftfield, Texas and many more. This was to be the start of a collaboration which continues until today with Ian continuing to work with both. With their popularity increasing further, 2003 saw a return to the Canterbury Festival with Karnataka performing alongside Robert Plant and further support slots with Ray Wilson and All About Eve. In 2004 the band released their final album with that line-up, a double live album Strange Behaviour.
Ian continued writing new Karnataka material and introduced new vocalist Lisa Fury, keyboardist Gonzalo Carrera and guitarist Enrico Pinna. The resulting album The Gathering Light was released in 2010. This was Ian’s first full album taking on production duties and also saw his multi-instrumentalist role come to the fore with him taking on many of the keyboard parts, all the drum programming and some of the string arrangements. It also marked his increasing role as lyricist. The album was released to critical acclaim and won Best International Album at the World Prog awards in 2010.
Further line-up changes followed and in 2015 a revitalised Karnataka released Secrets of Angels with Ian again central to the writing and production. The title track highlighted more than ever his progressive influences clocking in at 20 minutes but the album also marked a darker heavier sound and showed the band could evolve and reimagine itself. The album won Best album and Best Song Awards at the Classic Rock Society Awards in 2016.
Ian also founded a new collaborative project Chasing The Monsoon (www.chasingthemonsoon.com) with writer/producer Steve Evans and guitarist Ian Simmons. The album which is currently in the final stages of production features various guest appearances including Troy Donockley and The Gathering Light vocalist Lisa Fury and draws on world, progressive and Celtic influences. The album is being mixed by Joe Gibb.
Ian’s newest project ILLUMINAE (www.illuminae.net) is a collaboration with vocalist Agnieszka Swita. Their debut album Dark Horizons has been completed and will be released on 12/2/2021. With wide ranging influences, it features guest appearances from guitar icon Steve Hackett, Supertramp sax player John Helliwell, and Nightwish multi-instrumentalist Troy Donockley. The debut single ‘Blood on your Hands’ was released on 27/11/21.
As a long-time Warwick bass player, Ian was honoured to become an Official Warwick Artist in 2017 at the company’s invitation, endorsing their basses and amps.