Tuesday 17 November 2015

This Ain't Rocket Science - An Interview with KIND

Today's guests have released one of the finest Psych/Stoner Metal albums of the year with Rocket Science. About to be released on famed Hard Rock/Stoner Rock/Classic Rock label – Ripple Music. Big things are tipped for this band. So what makes Rocket Science such a brilliant album.

It's perhaps the epic stoner riffs, the hard rocking vocals or just the sheer fun of the album itself as Rocket Science is a gift from the Stoner Rock GODS themselves. Rocket Science is going to end up on a few people's best of 2015 album lists including mine.

So who am I talking about. KIND. A band who are comprised of members from ELDER, Black Pyramid, Rozamov and Roadsaw. This is a band who sound so different from their other bands whilst offering something fresh and familiar at the same time.

KIND's members are:

Matthew Couto - drums
Tom Corino - bass
Craig Riggs - vocals
Darryl Shepard – guitar

You intrigued now. You should be. Hopefully this interview will convince you of that. As the guys have agreed to talk to me. So lets get started.

Hi guys. How are things with you today.

TOM: Doing great.

DARRYL: Hungover.

KIND - photo by Nicole Tammaro

So why did you choose the name KIND for your band. Any specific meaning.

TOM: I’ll let Darryl handle this one.

DARRYL: It can have a few different meanings. I prefer the one referencing marijuana. Also, it’s the slang version of the word, which is actually “kine”, but we’re not proper in this band. Plus I like that it’s a four letter word, like Tool or Loop or Free. I dig band names like those. Straight to the point.

How did the band get together. Did you all know each other before forming the band.

TOM: Matt and I had been hanging out and jamming on and off for a while before the band started, just the usual friends getting together and making noise while polishing off a six pack or five. After a Rozamov show, actually our last as a four piece, Matt and Darryl said they wanted me to come jam with them the next day. They said they had been working on stuff but I honestly had no idea how serious it was. The next day we all went down to Matt’s grimy-ass freezing cold basement and they showed me what they had been up to. They said they had the name KIND in mind, and it was all down hill from there.

DARRYL: Matt and I had been talking about jamming for a while then finally got around to it near the end of 2013. Tom came down with his bass one day and then Craig said he wanted to sing so he came down after we had a few song ideas. We recorded some jams and gave them to Craig. I knew Matt and Tom and I played with Craig for years in Roadsaw. And yeah, Matt’s basement, where we first started playing, was absolutely freezing. There was no heat in the house at the time and it was winter.

How would you describe your music. Apart from it being pure fucking heavy.

TOM: I think our music is something that comes from all of us allowing our personalities to come through in our playing. Very early on we instituted an “anything goes” policy and that is how the basic ideas for most of the songs came to be. Just a bunch of killer musicians hanging out and coming up with ideas in the moment, allowing us all to do our own thing and create something unique.

CRAIG: It’s a fine combination of heavy as balls and pure pop sensibility.

Your new album – Rocket Science – is incredible. Really is. What can people expect from the record.

TOM: Long, heavy psyched out songs!

CRAIG: We can only hope that people feel the slice of the razor’s edge we were traversing while writing this record. If they feel it we have succeeded.

How hard was it record the album as you're all part of other successful bands. Did it take time to record the album due to other band commitments.

TOM: It’s definitely a little bit of a challenge to get us all in the same room but I think that makes the time we do have so special. It’s always a blast to jam with these guys, and the fact that our practices might be few and far between makes me look forward to them even more. It’s definitely a good change of pace for me because Rozamov practices so often it makes KIND a breath of fresh air.

DARRYL: Finding the time to record was actually very difficult. We narrowed it down to one weekend that we all had free. We had to get in there and nail it, and we did. Matt did a great job nailing takes on the drums. Once the basics were recorded over the course of one weekend we added some overdubs on a couple of different random days. But we literally had one weekend to record this album. We didn’t mess around, and Alec Rodriguez (the engineer) did a great job getting sounds and keeping everything running smoothly. Dude’s a pro.

What I love about the album that it sounds so different to your other bands but it still has familiar sounds for fans of your other bands to admire and enjoy. Was that the intention when you were recording the new album. Do something different but offer something that your other bands fans could enjoy.

TOM: For me personally it was an opportunity to do something different. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a band with this much room to improvise, and since I’m not singing it allows me to focus on just being a bassist. As you pointed out all of our musical identities are present in the music but hopefully they come together in an original way. It’s also helpful that we all come from different experience and influences. Matt and I are young dudes while Darryl and Craig are of the older generation and I think that gives the band a really unique dynamic.

CRAIG: 100% democracy is the key to this band. Everyone can bring an idea without the feeling of ridicule.

DARRYL: I personally wanted to do something heavy that mixed improvised freak-out jams with structured, catchy parts. Mission accomplished, as far as I’m concerned.

I think the album cover makes the album stand out. Who designed the cover. Did you have much input into the final version.

DARRYL: Alexander von Wieding, who is a fantastic artist in Germany, did the cover. He did an absolutely amazing job. This idea just popped into my head of an astronaut but with an animal head who crashed his ship and there was a disappointed female with him, so I told the guys one night at practice. Then I described the idea to Alex, who sent us some rough sketches. Once we saw the final piece our jaws dropped. There’s so much detail in there and the colors are great. Plus it’s a lot different than the usual skull on a record cover. Nothing against skulls at all, I love ‘em! But we wanted to go in a totally different direction with this, and Alex nailed it.

The album is being released via Ripple Music. How did you hook up with Todd and Pope. Perhaps one of the best Stoner/Classic/Hard Rock labels out there. Did you have any other label offers to release the album.

DARRYL: Craig plays drums in White Dynomite, who are also on Ripple, so he got in touch with Todd and Pope. We sent them a demo we had recorded at Mad Oak Studios of four songs, they dug it and said they wanted to put the record out. We didn’t really contact too many labels. I had asked another label and they said it was actually too heavy for them, they’re more of a psych-rock label, but other than that Ripple pretty much said they wanted to put it out after they gave the demo a listen. They have a great roster so we’re psyched to be working with them! We think it’s a good fit.

How hard is it being a band in today's world. What are the most difficult aspects in being in a band.

TOM: It’s definitely not easy. It’s such a huge time commitment that unless you love it it’s honestly not worth it. The toughest part is probably just trying to get your music to be heard. These days there’s so many bands and music is so easy to access and people’s attention span is so short that it can make it difficult to gain any traction, but we’ve been lucky so far and people are interested so I’m very thankful for that! Darryl and Craig probably have a little more knowledge on this, cause ya know, they’re really old haha.

CRAIG: It’s not hard. It’s the same as it has always been. Make rock for the love of rock!

DARRYL: It can be a challenge but you basically just have to love what you’re doing, otherwise forget it. Trying to balance “regular life” stuff with the band can be difficult but it’s all about time management and not getting burnt out on playing, at least for me. And trying to figure out where to keep all the money that’s constantly rolling in. That’s a pain in the ass.

What is the song-writing dynamic in the band. Is it a group collective or down to one individual.

TOM: It’s a little of both, everyone comes in with ideas but a lot of things kinda spring out of jams, especially on the material on the record.

DARRYL: A lot of stuff comes out of jamming. I might bring in a couple of riffs to initially have something to work with but then it turns into something else once we all start playing. Nobody brings in finished songs and shows the other guys what to play. Even during the recording of the album we literally came up with some parts right then while recording. There’s a lot of improvisation. Craig wrote all of the lyrics, which are really cool. When he sent me the words for the inside of the cover I was blown away.

What is your favourite song off the album. Mine is The Angry Undertaker.

TOM: It’s a tough call for me, I like certain songs for different reasons. Angry Undertaker has lots of room for the bass to jam, explore the fretboard a little and even do a couple leads. German For Lucy is a blast to play live, the first riff being a slightly off kilter but still melodically simple riff makes it a fun one to play. But my favorite is probably Hordeolum. The main riff is really heavy and I even did some double tracked bass on it in the studio.

CRAIG: The Angry Undertaker captures the vibe of this band. Each time I hear it I find myself spacing out and forget where I am and what I am doing. That was just what we were going for.

DARRYL: I honestly love every song on this album, there’s nothing on it that makes me cringe or anything that I want to skip. But I think “Siberia” is my favorite song. It’s just a mellow song, basically one riff, and it came out great. It kind of reminds me of “Fell On Black Days” by Soundgarden a little. We wanted to do something laid back that didn’t get heavy.

Will you be touring this record heavily. I know it maybe too early to ask. Any plans to tour overseas. (I was asked by a couple of people to ask this. Said I would ask).

TOM: I’ll play Mars if someone wants to book us there!

DARRYL: We’ll be doing some touring. We’re working on some plans for the west coast and Europe. Probably not months of touring but enough that we’ll get out there. I’m looking forward to playing these songs in front of people, for sure.

Before you go, do you have anything to say to your fans.

TOM: Thanks to anyone who’s supported us so far!

CRAIG: Make us come and play in your town please!

DARRYL: I hope people dig the album. Just grab a beer or whatever you like, put it on, kick back and enjoy it!

Well guys, thanks for doing this. All the best with the new album as its' a brilliant debut album.

Words by Steve Howe and KIND

Thanks to Richard at Sheltered Life PR for arranging this interview. Thanks to KIND for doing this interview. KIND will be available to buy on CD/DD/Vinyl from Ripple Music on December 11th 2015.