INTERVIEW: Kill It Kid | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Garage alt-rock quartet Kill It Kid shot to fame when they were signed just three months after coming into being. Releasing an EP that was developed by John Parish and following it up with their successful debut album, they went on to produce a heavier, bluesier sound on their sophomore effort Feet Fall Heavy, after being erroneously labelled with the nu-folk tag. They recently brought out their latest LP You Owe Nothing, and are embarking on a UK tour. Ahead of their gig at The Cluny, I talked to keyboardist and vocalist Stephanie Jean about their influences, the new record and what it’s like to come from a musical family.

You’ve stated in previous interviews that you all come from musical families, how do you think your musical background has influenced your taste in music?

Hugely, you live off your parents’ record collections and what they are listening to. My mum was a choir master and chorister so I listened to a lot of harmony music when I was a young child and then moved on to heavy rock and blues raiding my Dads record collection-everything from JJ Cale or James Taylor to Led Zeppelin. So it has a huge influence on your early tastes and they are records that have come more and more important to me over the years.

Has it had an effect on the music that you make yourselves?

I’d say it has had a huge effect on the music we make as a band, for the same reasons – it’s in your blood almost.

Who and what would you say are your strongest musical influences?

It’s sort of everything to be honest. As a songwriter you have to be open to almost anything that moves you.

The sound of this album is entirely different to that of your debut, why do you think your sound has changed so much over the three records?

I guess our sound has changed a fair amount because of the circumstances of how we got together. We got together when we were about nineteen and we got signed three months after forming, so our first release was a bit like recording a bands first demos. It was just what we were doing at the time without having really developed our sound. The reality of being on the road touring and getting older has a profound effect on how you think, feel and play and develop as a character- that’s why the sound has got heavier and harder.

It was also a reaction to other bands around us at the time, we didn’t want to be boxed in with too much of the acoustic folk scene, we wanted to assert ourselves as a heavy alternative British act that didn’t really conform to any of that.

How do you think Kill It Kid will continue to develop? Will you stick to the heavier rock sound of You Owe Nothing or could you see yourselves returning to the sound that was present on your first album?

I think we have a sound now. This is what we do, we have our style of music which is “heavy British garage.” Still alternative, but it’s not a smooth ride necessarily. We still have a lot of the influences from our early albums- we really care about song form so songs like Caroline are a direct lift from those early influences. I still love early country music and early blues music. It’s just regurgitated in a different way. We have always been a band that has been diverse. We have big ballads on our albums alongside really heavy jams so we aren’t going to change that. We will remain heavy but it’s always been important to us for our albums to have light and shade.

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“we didn’t want to be boxed in with too much of the acoustic folk scene, we wanted to assert ourselves as a heavy alternative British act that didn’t really conform to any of that”

Do you think signing with a different record label has had or will have an effect on the direction the band follows?

It has had an effect but not in a lot of the ways you’d imagine. A lot of people think you sign to a Major record label and all of a sudden you are selling your soul and singing songs written for Taylor Swift which is far from reality! It has had an effect on our music because it’s taken us so long to get the album out and also the sound of the record changed as we had a bigger budget. We went out to LA for two months, which is the stuff of dreams in comparison to having two weeks in Shoreditch to record Feet Fall Heavy in the pissing rain! Those are very different circumstances and it naturally has an effect on the sound of a record. It hasn’t really changed the direction the band follows though. We weren’t ever a pop or commercial act so we’ve carried on pretty much as we were before.

What can we expect from this round of live shows, will they be different from previous tours now that you’ve changed the style of your music?

No, we are gonna carry on doing what we’ve been doing for the last few years. We tend to keep it raw and heavy and have never had any playback so each live show is always different.

How do the gigs you play in Europe differ from the UK shows? Do you prefer one to the other?

The UK is a little tougher in some respects as there is so much music here and everyone is in a band at a young age. To be honest it does all depend on which city you are in. Some audiences go crazy and move a lot, others can be a little more austere and careful but we always love playing to a home crowd. Playing Europe is amazing as we get to travel and meet new people. They do treat bands a little differently there as there is a lot of arts funded venues. The UK is a little more survival of the fittest!

Have you got anything special planned for the tour?

We are looking forward to playing a few new songs and trying out a few new bits of gear. Also we are having the wonderful John J Presley with us on these dates and he’s a great musician and guy so it should be a really fun run of shows.

Kill It Kid play at The Cluny, Newcastle on Saturday 21st March.

Photo credit: Frank Maddocks

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