Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Or rather, monkeys and eagles
and dinosaurs? The hot Kansas sun can bring out all kinds of crazy
animals. But, when you combine 100 degrees, 90% humidity and a day-long
music festival, the species that emerge are like nothing you've
ever seen. Buzz Beach Ball is a festival that was
organized by the local alternative rock station called 96.5 The
Buzz. Its first year brought in acts such as: Weezer, Cake,
Story Of The Year, and Vendetta Red. This year, for
round 2, they brought in 14 bands including: Hawthorne Heights,
30 Seconds To Mars, Yellowcard, and headliner 311.
I sat down to hang out with 3 of the lucky bands that were asked
to come sweat it out with an audience of hundreds of Kansans. Lucky
for me, all of the interviews were in air conditioning! And as I
always do, I threw in a fun/random question at the end of my interviews,
this time it was: If you could be an animal for a day, what would
you be? Thus, the species emerged.
12:30 is an odd time to be playing rock - as I've heard mentioned
before "Rock, in the middle of the day, just isn't right".
However, having Matchbook Romance start of a day-long music
festival was an excellent decision on someone's part. This was one
of the bands that I was most excited not only to meet, but watch live.
Voices is such an amazing album, that I knew their performance
would be just as good. A few hours after they finished, they so kindly
invited me on their cool, 75 degree, tour bus. And I whipped out my
questions for: Andy- lead vocals/guitar, Ryan-guitar/vocals,
other Ryan-bass, and Aaron-drums:
Hybrid Magazine: First off I have to say after listening to
Voices all the way through, that album just completely blew
me away. It was so different than Stories And Alibis, yet both
have done amazingly in sales and tours. Can you tell me the story
behind the transformation between the two albums?
Matchbook Romance: Before we recorded Stories And Alibis
we had never toured before, then we got signed and thrown into the
studio. We already had songs written for awhile and just threw it
all together, so that's how that album came about. With Voices,
we had toured 3 years straight all over the world, constantly on the
road, constantly playing your instrument. We just got better and better
and learned all these new techniques. We're a little "tekky"
with our music this year, so we went for it and this is just kind
of what came out. We were always into a darker and dramatic sound;
you can hear it in Stories And Alibis in certain parts. We
wanted to expand on that.
HM: "Monsters" has been spun so much on the radio,
you're playing major venues like the House of Blues, Street Scene
in San Diego, yet you remain with an indie label-Epitaph... is it
a match made in heaven? If Capitol knocked on your door tomorrow and
wanted to sign, would you grab a pen?
MR: We've had lots of offers from the majors; they're just
dying to get us on their rosters. But, the thing is for right now,
we're happy and we don't want to jump up to that level. There may
be a point in the future where we'll have to make that decision, but
for our second record we weren't interested in doing that. We love
Epitaph and we want to keep releasing records on it.
HM: If your music could be the soundtrack to any movie, whether
it fit or not, what would it be?
MR: Ryan- I would love to see it in that scene from Shawn
of the Dead where they're standing on the two roofs, or maybe
it's a different zombie movie, where they're calling out different
names. I think it was Dawn of the Dead; they're like stuck
in a mall and go on the roof of a sporting goods store
a superhero movie, like Superman. Ryan- "Surrender"
in Snakes on a Plane. Andy- "Goody, Like Two Shoes"
in something, maybe Butterfly Effect.
HM: One of my favorite songs on the new album is "Surrender"
and a big part of it is the amazing guitar piece that's showcased
at the end, there's the incredible guitar in "Portrait"
and then the drums in the middle of "My Mannequin Can Dance"
are equally awesome. Was there more time put in writing in those specific
parts, than just focusing on the lyrics?
MR: We spent a lot of time with the music; the thing is we
spent a lot of time just trying to get it to come out right, to fall
into place and just sound amazing. We spent a lot of time just trying
to capture that feeling. The lyrics too, I spent a lot of time on
them, trying to figure out a good melody. When we went into the studio
I didn't have a lot of melodies done, because I had spent so much
time on them, I couldn't settle on anything. In the end, we spent
a lot of time on both.
HM: You're touring with Yellowcard this summer, not
just at this festival. But, if you could put on your festival and
invite anyone, who would it be?
MR: Radiohead, Muse, Slipknot, John
F. Kennedy, David Hasselhoff, Tool, Jesus
(will perform miracles between bands), and Pink Floyd to close
the show out and then whole day the next day.
HM: The genre "Rock" has changed so much over the
years, what our parents would call Rock (like Van Halen or
Rolling Stones) is completely different of what today calls
Rock. Your sound has been classified as Rock and that's it, is there
any other places that you think your music could fit, Alternative,
Indie? Or do you think that this is just the new Rock?
MR: I like this one thing someone had written about us: "forward-thinking"
rock, we're really not progressive, but there are certain licks in
there that you could go "oh, that's progressive because it doesn't
make any sense". Or it's Math Rock. So, anyway, yeah I think
we're Rock. Bands get too caught up in the "we're post-harcore/screamo/emo"
and its people trying to market them. A lot of bands try to stick
themselves into their own sub-category; they'll try to have a makeup
sub-category that they'll stick in the middle of everyone else's.
We're a moody diverse band, not all of our songs fit just one thing.
On Stories and on Voices... so Rock just fits. We're
a blanket band; we cover a lot of emotions and a lot of sounds. We
just play from our hearts and call it Rock.
HM: If you could be an animal for a day, what would you be?
MR: Aaron- I want to be a monkey or maybe I just want to have
a monkey; Andy- I would be a sea cucumber and I would want to be in
a kelp forest, so I could just stare at stuff; Ryan- I would be a
grizzly bear from Grizzly Man; Ryan- I want to be Nessy and pop my
head up every 5 years, that or a really poisonous spider.
So, they're four guys from New York with aspirations to be: a monkey,
a sea cucumber, a grizzly bear and a poisonous spider. But, let's
hope that never happens, because for the moment, they are one of
the best bands on the radio today. Hopefully, their sound will be
around for years to come and will keep the genre alive. Because
as far as I'm concerned, Rock is not dead and never will be, as
long as these guys keep picking up their instruments and keep blowing
Being from L.A. the members of Rock Kills Kid are no strangers
to the heat. However, as we all took a seat in their "dressing
room", everyone drenched in sweat and our bodies turning a color
similar to that of a lobster, I could see that perhaps this was a
different heat. Nonetheless, Jeff-lead vocals/guitar, Reed-keys/guitar/vocals,
and Sean-guitar/vocals took a moment to invite me into their
world. The world of: Sixteen Candles, "Anti-Genres"
and Gandhi, yes Gandhi!
HM: You've got a sound that's unique to say the least, yet
has been classified as Rock/Alternative/Electronica. If you were to
come up with the perfect genre for your music, real or unreal, what
would it be?
Rock Kills Kid: I think we'd avoid any genre; we'd break all
the rules. Our goal is to make up a genre, it'd be the Anti-Genre.
Not that we hate people telling us what we sound like, that's fine,
but to ask a band what genre we are; we are what we are. That's not
for us to decide. I don't think we're Electronica at all, that's more
like She Wants Revenge, we're more like Rock and Alternative,
I guess. We are what we are. It's sort of difficult for us to answer
that question. When you go out to write a record, you don't write
it with a genre in mind, it just comes from your heart and it is what
it is. It's up to the audience and the people to decide.
HM: Are You Nervous? was just released in May and even
though this is your second album, it really is the first time that
a lot of people are getting to know RKK, how has the industry response
been on this second album compared to the first and in general?
RKK: Well, the first was an EP, so it's not going to get the
same type of industry response as the second. Being that this is actually
our first full length, it's actually been received very well. It's
been crazy how well it's been received. "Paralyzed" has
been doing fairly well on Alternative radio. When the EP came out,
it was with an indie label and just so different. We didn't really
have a fan base out there. So we built a small fan base from that
and there are still people that have it. The fact that we have people
coming to shows and singing along with us is just amazing.
HM: You started off at Fearless Records in SoCal, where according
to your bio you have a lot of history with, and released your first
album/EP. But then in 2004 you went major and signed with Reprise,
that's a pretty quick move from indie to major, was it all planned
from the beginning to go major?
RKK: Not really, what happened was we changed managers kind
of in-between the EP and the new record. The new manager was like
"this record has more potential than an indie scene" so
he really pushed the record to a lot of labels, really hard. So we
did a lot of shows for labels, some showcases. Eventually, Warner
had faith in us and that's why we're here now.
HM: If your music could be the soundtrack to any movie, whether
it fits or not, which one would you pick?
RKK: Everyone could see it fitting in Sixteen Candles,
Vanilla Sky would be cool, but it wouldn't really fit, or something
cool like Predator 5.
HM: Do you think that your band had an advantage being from
L.A., over say bands from around here, in getting their foot in the
door quicker or making things happen for them quicker?
RKK: There's an advantage of living by L.A. or New York, because
every label is based in either of those two cities. It was easier
to make a phone call and have a meeting. But, there's a huge disadvantage
too, because it's very oversaturated in that area. So, to stand out
and try to create something in L.A. is next to impossible. If you
are a good band in the Midwest, you can create something that people
will come out to every one of your shows. If you go out to a bar in
L.A., probably 80% of people in that bar are in bands. It's really
difficult to set yourself apart somehow.
HM: If you could put on your own festival, who would you invite?
RKK: Jesus would be cool, Gandhi, John Lennon, The
Beatles, the spirit of the Doors, Creed singing
for the Doors, Radiohead, She Wants Revenge, New Order,
Joy Division, The Cure, The Smiths, and Hedley
is not invited to the festival.
HM: Going back to a little bit of the genre question, your
music could honestly fit nicely in say a different decade, maybe the
80s. And I've seen that you draw some of your influence from music
of the late 70s and 80s. How do you bring a sound from another generation
and have it work so nicely?
RKK: Jeff- I don't really feel like I was influenced by anything,
the biggest thing I wanted was an obvious groove to the music. I don't
like heavy, in-your-face music. But, I do like the Deftones.
Just base the music off a steady beat, where you could kind of dance
to it or whatever and take it from there and see whatever comes to
you. Reed- All the bands that we all have in common, kind of had a
groove. There's just something about it, the bass and the drums just
groove together, even if you don't notice it, you're bobbing your
head a little bit. There's not a set time period, it's everything,
it's all complied into our sound. I think the problem with a lot of
bands; they'll listen to their genre and copy it. The reason why we're
unique is there's no genre that we're basing ourselves off of, it's
HM: Ok, fun one: if you could be an animal for a day, what
would you be?
RKK: (at the last minute, Mike- drums, stopped in at the interview)
Reed- Vodka-saurus or a bird. I would also make my own movie: Jurassic
Drunk with Iron Maiden on the soundtrack; Jeff- I would be
a dog, so I could go up and lick people and have everyone love me;
Sean- I would be an eagle, be able to fly around all day; Mike- a
human or pterodactyl, so I could fly around with Reed and Sean.
By the end we all had finally cooled off some and relaxed a little.
Jeff was able to actually find a cigarette that hadn't been smashed
in the pack that was stepped on and Reed made sure that America knew
Hedley was NOT invited to their festival. Even though I don't think
their music will be in the re-make of Sixteen Candles or Predator
5, that's not to say that these guys won't be getting their groove
on all over the U.S. for quite awhile. Whatever decade you might think
they're from, they're making their mark in this one. It would be worth
the trip to which ever venue they play at in your city, trust me;
your head will be bopping all night long.
I ended my interviews with a couple of guys from the U.K., Gareth-vocals
and Peter-guitar. Now a few times throughout the interview,
I did sort of lose my ability to understand them and keep up with
their conversations. So, besides the slight confusion, it was an informational
and entertaining interview. I never knew that Joaquin Phoenix
was one to stalk people
HM: A question that I'm sure you get asked a lot, which maybe
our readers don't know much about: Joaquin Phoenix. Definitely a name
that has helped you guys out in the industry. Can you kind of go into
how that all came about, how he directed your music video, etc?
People In Planes: He's a great guy and decided that he liked
People In Planes, and our record. He really wanted to do our video
that we were about to do, so we put him in the mix. We got his treatment
back and it was really good, it went really well, so we chose his.
He's a great guy. He's a crazy music fan and really into bands, which
sort of allowed him to cross over. He wanted to make that giant step
into becoming a film director and I guess it's a good starting point
a music video. And apparently he's stalking us, been going to our
shows all over the place, he could be here
HM: You're with Wind-Up records, a nicely run indie label,
and I've seen that you very much support the indie label scene, so
does that mean that there's no talk of ever going major?
PIP: There's no need right now, maybe on an international
level later. At the end of the day, we've been nurtured right from
the creation of People In Planes. Our label is not really that small,
they've had enough of their own success with late Creed and
early Evanescence, that they can stand their own in the industry.
They have the best average of any label.
HM: You have your music included on a major motion picture
soundtrack coming out called John Tucker Must Die, but if you
could have your music be the soundtrack to any movie, whether it fit
or not, what would it be?
PIP: I'd like to see Gladiator, or maybe Nacho Libre
or something with Jack Black in it.
HM: This is only the second year for this music festival and
already it's doing so well, if you could put together your own festival,
who would you invite?
PIP: Beck, The Heights, The Ricks, Portishead,
Jimi Hendrix, Tom Jones, Catherine Zeta-Jones...
(and then a whole bunch of British icons, but I couldn't understand
exactly what they were saying).
HM: Originally being from the UK can present not only advantages,
but disadvantages for trying to make it big in the U.S. Have you found
that this have affected your success in any way? Can you tell me about
those advantages and disadvantages?
PIP: Sometimes people think, "Oh, these guys are from
the UK they must be really good" and that kind of gets attached
to us. But, then sometimes they look at us like we're some kind of
freaks and they just come up to hear us speak. I'm not sure if we've
been put into a false sense of security that we're actually good because
we're from the UK. But, it's also been great, people will come up
and say "Oh, where you from, oh my uncle's from Wales".
Radio has really warmed up to us as well with everything.
HM: Fun one: If you could be an animal for a day, what would
PIP: (My recorder got bumped in the mess of backpacks,
Mountain Dew and Beer and failed to record the final question I had
for these guys. I know it was an interesting and funny response, but
alas all is lost.)
We had to kind of hurry the last bit of questions, their time was
pressed, or possibly Joaquin was outside that day and it was time
for them to leave with their famous friend. Whatever the reason
I was sad to see my new U.K. friends go, yet they left me with a
parting remark: "This was the most fun I've had at an interview
in a long time". Their performance was excellent and they were
really able to bring their album to life. I can see now why Phoenix
wanted to work with these guys, they're rising stars with an awesome
sound to take them higher.
The day ended with some excellent performances: Yellowcard brought
everyone to their feet and got them jumping, Dashboard Confessional
braved through his flu and fever to play his remarkable music and
311, in true fashion, filled the stands and closed the night. Beach
balls were flying, water was spraying and people were having a tremendous
time. Kansas may know how to melt you, but it also knows how to put
on a great festival!
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