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"Definitely," Israel adds. "It was like, why would we take all this time working on the intricacies of a song and then just have some dude come in and scream over it?"
Indeed, even Kitezh's early tunes boasted a ridiculous degree of intricacy, and when the band started getting serious after finally nailing down its players, the results were epic: Kitezh's self-titled record, laid down over the course of nine exacting months, feels like a magnum opus, less a specimen of its genre than the potential of what it could be with its best shit turned up to eleven: bombastic, operatic, packed with Thin Lizzy-style dueling-lead interplay and psychotic arpeggios, veering time-signature changes and enveloping waves of full-stack amperage. It's a lot like the Fucking Champs, except with more...of, like, everything. Still, as with the Champs, the songs are never so technical as to be alienating. "We're not just up there wanking — which, I have nothing against bands that go up there and show off their skill," Soto says.
"But I think that's about the whole philosophy that we've always had as far as songwriting goes," Rudy adds, "which is that we don't want to be like, you know, a collage metal band. We want to keep some sort of songwriting sensibility."
And that's a sensibility that works in tandem with the band's more overarching philosophy, which is not, as Soto observes, about technical masturbation. It's about paying tribute, Israel contends: "All you can hope to do is give back to the shit you took from," he says. "You don't just add a bunch of shit. If you play a show and one kid in the audience wants to pick up a guitar, pick up bass, pick up drums — that's all you can hope for."
"And I think all of us feel really blessed," Rudy continues, "that anyone gives a fuck about our band at this point. You know, me and Grant have been doing this a long fucking time, and these guys have been doing this for a long fucking time, and to have anybody care about it is — at the end of the day, all shit aside — that's what you give a fuck about. That people might get the same thing from your music as you get from the music you love. Anything that makes you as excited about music as —"
"The bands," Israel finishes, "that blew your mind when you were twelve."