Kinetix on recording at the Blasting Room, getting to perform at the Fillmore and offering up a stoner-approved rendition of "Bohemian Rhapsody"
In this week's paper, we ran excerpts of Andy Thomas's recent conversation with the members of Kinetix in Rough Mixes. That Q&A barely scratched the surface. After the jump, you'll find not only Thomas's exchange with band in its entirety but the transcript from Dutch Seyfarth's recent chat with the guys, as well. Both interviews are pretty in-depth, and should give you a good sense of who these musicians are and what makes them tick.
Westword (Dutch Seyfarth): The Blasting Room Studios in Fort Collins is more well known for recording hard rock and punk bands: How did your band come to the decision to record there?
Josh Fairman: We had heard other records from bands like Rise Against, Black Flag and the Flobots, who recorded there, and were very impressed. Our Producer Andy G. from the Flobots told us we would really be missing out if we didn't check it out. We did one song there in like a day; it kicked so much ass and sounded so big, we decided to do as much of the record there as we could. Those guys are no joke.
Jack Gargan: I had first heard about Blasting Room through listening to bands like Rise Against and Black Flag, both of whom have recorded there, and were massive influences in my development as an artist. Then, we played NYE 2009 with the Flobots at the Gothic, and that one show ended up uniting our bands pretty closely. Andy Guerrero from Flobots loved our band that night, and he ended up signing on to produce this album.
We started the recording at a few different studios but hadn't found the sound we were looking for when the Flobots asked us to support their entire Fall 2009 tour; we, of course, said "yes," and ended up becoming even closer with Andy during the run. The Flobots had just wrapped Survival Story up there, and Andy couldn't stop gushing about Blasting Room and Jason Livermore, and basically said, "We're taking the Kinetix album there."
WW (DS): Did working with Jason Livermore and the Blasting Room studio experience bring anything new or unexpected to the final album's sound?
JF: Yes, it brought a bunch of balls. He managed to make a lot of the songs sound huge, and he definitely helped pick a lot of the takes. It was easy to go off of his opinion because of his experience, and the fact that he is a Monster of Rock.
He also helped us change some of the songs to make more sense. Jason is good at cutting through the bullshit and getting what's important out of a song. He also helped keep us from being perfectionists. He would be like, "That's just character," and he was right.
JG: He really is a genius behind the board. Whenever we had an idea about drums sounds or what kind of compression we wanted on the snare or kick, within seconds he would have it dialed in and be able to show us the differences. The drum locker up there was full of snare drums that all had a unique color. He helped me choose snare drums for some songs and made recommendations, like whether to use the small brass snare for the verse or the big maple snare for the chorus. His general confidence and coolness helped bring out the best performance in all of us. He made the sounds on the album just flat awesome and very different than any of our other records. The drum sounds are unlike anything we have done in the past and it was just so kick-ass.
WW (DS): How long did the songwriting and arrangement process take for the new album?
JF: We spent a better part of a year writing and recording. We did a lot of pre-production with our producer Andy, and our good friend and engineer Greg McRae, just working on the songs. The studio is a very different animal than a live show. We know what works live, but sometimes that stuff doesn't work in the studio, so we really took our time to develop these songs and make them completed projects.
JG: Roughly a year or so. It was really cool how these songs evolved. Some of them were written on the road at a soundcheck or in the van as a basic idea. Others were conceived by Adam, Eric, Josh, or Jordan, and then we would work them down and strip them or embellish them as a group during rehearsals.
We had worked hard on the pre-production several different times throughout the year, mostly in the summer and on our tours before we went to the studio. The cool thing about writing a song and taking it on the road before you record it is that sometimes it takes on a totally new life; the live energy gives the song a nitrous boost. In other cases, it makes us realize what works and what doesn't, or it simply mangles the song past the point of no return. The point is, it took a long time!
WW (DS): After five years of being in a band, have you achieved any personal career highlights worth sharing?
JF: I would say we have achieved many things that I've dreamed about since I was a kid. We've repeatedly toured nationally, played over 200 different cities and towns, drove over 200,000 miles, and miraculously have stuck together. We still have all original members, and we aim to keep it that way; we're a weird, dysfunctional, hilarious family, and that doesn't explain the half of it.
But seriously, some of our festival sets, like our late night sets at the Ten Thousand Lakes Festival, were big highlights, and, of course, getting to play the Fillmore Auditorium in Denver was a dream come true. I wasn't born in Denver, but eight years ago, when I came here, I was like, 'Will I ever get to play on that stage?' Now we've gotten to do it twice. That was definitely a big deal for us. Now I dream of Red Rocks, and keep the fingers crossed.
JG: Growing up in Denver, all I did was go see shows at the Fillmore. When we got offered to play the Fillmore on Halloween 2008, that was a milestone of my musical career. I have been in the audience so many times watching bands crush that stage, and then I got my shot ... not just once, but twice. Those times where I got to get on that stage in my hometown in front of my friends and family were two extraordinary gigs for me. It made me want to achieve more and keep working as hard as I can to get to bigger stages, and, hopefully, play Red Rocks!
WW (Andy Thomas): Kinetix just got back from tour. How was it?
Adam Lufkin: It was awesome! Lots of energy at the shows from all the fans. More and more people are showing up on our tours, so it's good to see everything growing. We had great weather most of the time, and we met lots of very interesting people. We even met up with some crazy old religious people, who basically told us we were all going to hell - haha! Like I didn't already know that!
I would say that the biggest set back all tour was when our trailer's axle broke twelve hours out of Denver on the first day of tour. We didn't have enough time to fix it and make it to the gig that night, so we rented a U-Haul and hauled ass to Menomonie, Wisconsin. Incredibly, we made in time to play and get paid! That was a very rowdy show because we had all this build up frustration from a long two days, and when we were finally able to play, we rocked the shit out of that place! Stage diving happened
JF: The tour was unforgettable. We definitely played some of the best shows of our lives out there. And we also avoided disaster in the form of a melting trailer axle. Our tour took us all the way from Denver to the East Coast. It was five weeks long, so I can't share all of the details, but I'll just say that we had plenty of outrageous moments.
There was the first crowd surf in Menomonie, Wisconsin, kids falling face first off our trailer in Fargo, epic sit-ins from some great bands, a huge muddy mosh pit in Oxford, Ohio, general debauchery in the Big Apple and some of the most enthusiastic crowds we've ever had in Chicago and St. Louis. It was a crazy time, and I'm glad everyone made it home in one piece, mostly.
WW (AT): Typically, how has the response been outside of Colorado?
AL: We get nothing but love everywhere we go and we try to give it all back because we appreciate everything our fans bring to us. The 10 Thousand Lakes festival has really helped us establish touring in the Midwest, and we're hoping the same will happen after we play a bigger slate of festivals this summer.
Jordan Linit: We have been touring nationally regularly for four years. At first, we played to quite a few small crowds, but over the years, we have gained fans from all over the place, and thanks to them, the word continues to spread. We have been fortunate to play at a lot of summer festivals and street fairs, which have helped us get new people into shows.
In 2006, we won a battle of the bands held in Denver to play an afternoon set at the Ten Thousand Lakes Festival in Minnesota, and for four days, we walked through the festival grounds talking to whoever would listen and ended up giving out almost 10,000 sampler CDs. Now, when we tour almost anywhere within ten hours of that festival, we pack venues and always have people saying, "We saw your 10KLF set!" or, "I still listen to that sampler CD!"
JF: Awesome. We have great fans all over the country, and we have seen the numbers grow. For example, three tours ago in Fargo, North Dakota, there were literally eight people at our show, and last month we ticketed 206. They were all going nuts and having a blast, and that's honestly pretty consistent with the other places we tour. Same can be said for Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, NYC, Champaign, Bloomington, etc. We're lucky to have these kinds of stories.
WW (AT): Would you consider yourself a "popular band"?
AL: No ... more like a little fish in a big sea. Though I don't think that's a bad place to be because there's always room to grow, as long as we keep our eyes open and jump at every opportunity to get our name out there. Now that we're dropping this album, I don't see us slowing down at all. We're going to push this as hard as we can because we know there are lots of people out there looking to have a good time with something fresh. That's what Kinetix is all about; we ain't your typical ball and chain.
We consider ourselves a band on the rise. In some areas of the country, we are popular. In some circles we are better known than others. We don't have a gimmick like a goofy YouTube video; instead, we rely on a genuine live performance. We don't want people to come to see us for that one song or one gimmick. We want to be popular and respected for our songwriting and live shows.
JL: You should ask our fans. That is not the context we think about ourselves. We pour our heart in soul into our music, because we enjoy what we do. It's for the fans to decide what's popular.
WW (AT): As far as musician ship goes, Kinetix is a very skilled band. What do you think of bands, like the Sex Pistols, that haven't exactly mastered their instruments and rely more on feeling or image.
AL: Every band has its strengths and weaknesses. Feeling is just as important as skills; that's why we know we've put on a good show only when every single one of us is drenched in sweat and feels like we just ran a marathon! You can't just get up there and play well, you have to entertain with passion, dedication, and connection. We like bands that move, scream and hype up a crowd -- be it metal, punk, funk, trance, reggae, hip-hop or whatever.
To me, skill isn't measured in what you know or how fast you can play; it's what you bring to the table in a live setting. Bands like the Sex Pistols may not be the most technical, but when you've got that attitude and a strong vibe, that's what makes a group stand the test of time. To me, those types of bands have the most skills of all 'cause you can't teach that, you can only live it.
Eric Blumenfeld: Bands like the Sex Pistols may have lacked musicianship, but their image and lyrics struck a chord with a huge group of people that felt the same way that they did. They built a huge following that connected with their songs, and that's one of the great things about music.
JF: I fucking love it. Who cares about how the music is made or played, as long as you feel something when you hear it. The ability for music to transcend language and just be felt is what is so amazing about it in the first place. Mad props to anyone who can do that with limited musical skills.
WW (AT): The subject matter of your music is very upbeat. With all of the terrible things that can happen to a person, how do you maintain this attitude and feel?
AL: Bob Marley once said, "Light up the darkness." He came from nothing and rose to the top in spite of all of the negativity. Even when people tried to kill him, he kept playing upbeat, danceable music. That music is what heals, and that is what we live for. To rid your mind of the time that grinds as you make your way down the road. We're just five guys trying to bring a little bit of light to this crazy, fucked up world.
EB: Music is the best way to escape your every day troubles. A song that reminds you of good times will always put you in a better mood. A live concert should be a place where a person can get loose, and forget their troubles for the night.
JG: It is all about perspective. Awful things happen to people all the time. What really defines people is how they handle it and how they move on. At our shows, we focus on giving our fans a release from their everyday troubles. Through our music and messages in our lyrics, we are trying to let our fans know that even the worst days can be changed for the better. While you are at a Kinetix show, we keep the focus on good times.
JL: For us, songwriting gives us the opportunity to write songs that not only discuss our lives, but also songs that let you forget about your day to day worries and allow you to focus on what is good in your life. If I'm feeling down one day, I pick up my guitar and sing a song that reminds me of a place where I've felt better days. Also we tend to enjoy making up-beat dance music, which lends itself towards positive lyrics.
JF: Well, we pretty much use music to escape all of those bad vibes. We tend to have a blast playing and writing music, so when we are in that mindset, it generally gets absorbed into the music itself. This new record also explores some of the darker sides of life and death, so I wouldn't say it's all upbeat, but we don't try to dwell on the negatives as a creative entity.
WW (AT): Funk is a large part of your sound. What other styles do you hope people here when they listen to Kinetix?
AL: I think you can hear all types of music, from mellow acoustic parts to heavy-rocking-bang-your-head jams. I like music like I like sex: It can't always be the same, and I'm down to try new things.
EB: We hope people focus on the funk, 'cause that keeps your feet moving. Next we want their focus on the rock, and the rock is good for head banging. Once we get their feet moving and their heads banging, it's time to focus on the Pop vocals. If the lyrics, melodies and harmonies are on key, this should keep the people focused on the band for a while, or at least until they get thirsty.
JF: Rock. We have really tried hard to put an edge on some of this stuff, and even though we aren't a hard band per se, we definitely try to get some of that rock and roll rebellion into our music and our shows. Head banging is a regular part of every Kinetix show. And down with the man.
WW (AT): Is music a career/job for you or is it a hobby?
EB: We eat, sleep, and breathe Kinetix. We love making music with each other, and we'll be doing it for a long time. When we aren't on tour or recording a new album, our jobs are recording engineers, music teachers, dueling piano players and our side projects.
JF: Music is our lives. It goes way beyond a job, and it is definitely not a hobby. We sleep, eat and drink music. If we aren't playing together, we are writing or playing with other groups. And when that isn't happening, we are listening and learning new music. Every new style that comes out is so interesting to us. We will be playing for the rest of our lives. So in a sense, it's a career, but there is a reason they call it playing, its just too much fun.
WW (AT): You rock a mean cover of "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Queen, is it good enough to get a car load of stoners headbanging, ala Wayne's World?
AL: I don't want to sound cocky but, yes, it will get anyone fired up. It's borderline cheating.
EB: It's funny you ask that, because every time we get to the middle section of that song, the entire crowd divides themselves up into Wayne and Garth, and proceed to act out the entire scene. It's like a natural reaction for all people. It amazes me every time.
JG: I think Wayne and Garth would give their approval.
JL: I would hope so, since it's hard not to like that song when you're stoned.
JF: Yes, yes it is. In fact, its been tested on several truckloads of stoners all over the country, and I must say head banging ensued, as well as much rocking out. I think I even saw some non-stoners light up for the first time.
WW (AT): You've enlisted the help of a manager, Daniel Kellner via Steel Giant Management. Is that an important thing for all bands to have or just something you felt your band could benefit from?
EB: There are so many things that need to get done on a daily basis for Kinetix, and I don't know how Daniel gets it all done. I definitely don't see how any band could become successful without some sort of team to help them. Finding artwork for websites, merchandise and posters, booking shows, booking hotels, contacting press, online promotion, advancing show details, finding lights and sound for shows, accounting -- and that's the stuff that comes before approaching agencies, labels, publishers, other bands, tours, and the like. Those are just a few of the daily activities involved in managing a band. In an ideal world, the band would just focus on playing music.
JG: That really depends on where a band wants to go. Partnering with Daniel has been a great experience for us, and he is very valuable in his organization and focus. He might not be on stage with us when we are rocking out, but he is definitely, without a doubt, a huge reason as to why we are on stage in the first place. If a band wants to get a manager, make sure that manager has the best interest for the band in mind at all times, and that they are dedicated to the music and to the goals collectively. The entire team has to be dedicated.
JL: Having good management is an important part of bringing a band to the next level. In our case, Kinetix tends to be artistic, creative, energetic people, but not always the most organized. Having a manager like Daniel that really enjoys our music, but also is very organized and goal oriented helps us keep our eyes on what will help us grow as a band and musicians. We feel very fortunate.
JF: We have gotten to a point where it really helps to have someone outside of the band who cares about it and is willing to do what it takes to help us. We are musicians, not businessmen. We are good at rocking, playing instruments, partying and loving. Daniel helps us channel that stuff into something that is sustainable. He organizes all of our crazy asses and also keeps the shady people in the music business in check.
This industry is full of people who want to take advantage of you and make a quick buck. We are in it for the long hall, and Daniel is our number one guy. He makes the plan, and makes sure everything goes to plan. As for other bands, I would just say, be very careful in hiring management, the job description is vague at best, and it is most important to have faith and trust in whomever you work with.
A lot of bands from Colorado have been getting a lot of national attention. Do you think you have what it takes to become one of those bands? Is this a goal of yours?
JG: Yes! Colorado has so many awesome bands, and there is a great amount of creativity and artistry coming out of Colorado right now. It has been a goal of ours to be successful and make music to the best of our abilities. You know, I don't think we have ever met a disappointed fan after one of our shows. In theory, the more people that see our shows, the more Kinetix fans there will be.
JL: I know we have what it takes to bring it on the national stage. We have been cultivating our live show for years, and are really proud of our new album Let Me In. We really stepped up our songwriting for our latest effort and created an album that is more than the sum of its parts. We're going to work to give it a chance to be heard.
JF: Hell yeah! We have been working hard for five years, and have been playing for over a decade. I think our music is good enough to appeal to people all over the world. We try to take advantage of every opportunity that comes along, and if we ever got the opportunity to play for tons of people, I think we would crush it.
It is definitely a goal of ours -- though we don't think about in those terms all the time. But, ever since we were little kids we have dreamed about getting into the big leagues. Going on world tours and riding in a tour bus would be like winning the World Series, or the Super Bowl, or maybe even a gold medal. It seems like a dream, but we work every day to make it a reality.
Kinetix CD Release Party, with Fox Street Allstars, The Foot, and J. Mitch-n-el Switch, 8 p.m. Friday, May 14, Bluebird Theater, 3317 E. Colfax, $10-$12, 303-830-8497.
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