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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.

Matchbook Romance

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… Aaron- 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 us away.

Rock Kills Kid

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 everything.

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.

People In Planes

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 you be?

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!

-Rachel Fredrickson

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