Monday, May 23, 2011

Dancing Back And Forth With Kins

Kins have been on the rise locally thanks to the release of a couple of key singles (Lake Troposphere, Mockasin's), the fact that it's the new outfit for ex-Oh Mercy man Thomas Savage, and some amount of local exposure (oh that'll be me, here and here). Last week, the group unleashed their debut 'mini-lp' a seven track introduction to their brand of disciplined interlocking rhythms combined with sparse almost skeletal guitar-work, as well as haunting vocals and precise patterns. Entitled Dancing Back And Forth, Covered In Whipped Cream, it's an ambitious work - tying togther the group's musical mission with a loose thematic concept about the two sides of the human condition; all delivered in a keen artistic package.
Having a chance to talk to Thom and musical partner Jacqueline Collyer, it turns out they're not only serious artists, but lovely people to boot. Jacky in particular speaks in hypothetical conversations which is totally endearing while Savage picks his words carefully, perhaps a little jaded at the constant mention of his old group in relation to his new one. After promises to keep the Oh Mercy related inquiries to a minimum he opens up enthusiastically. What was intended as a talk about promoting their album quickly turned into a discussion about all things Kins-related; their origins, their writing, the album and even their future steps - conversing in the spacious loft of Panama Dining Hall over what the band name-checked as 'the best tea ever.' Chin chin. Early Grey anyone?

AMR: You guys just played with Jack Ladder [at The Workers Club], how was that?

Thomas: It was great.

Jacky: Definitely an experience to play a gig where there was no opening support, normally there’s opener and then name – and we were technically both I suppose. For us, that’s really quite strange. We never thought we’d get the gig either. Beause Thom and I have obsessed over Jack Ladder a little bit, in the past and now with his forthcoming record and the song Cold Feet.
T: We really look up to them, huge admirers, we turn up and saw that they were nice people and we were very pleasantly… not surprised, but we were worrying about how intimidating it might be.

AMR: So let's start from the beginning. How long has Kins been around for? Was it something you were cultivating alongside Oh Mercy?

T: umm…

AMR: Jacky, you’re shaking your head?

J: No, I mean, I shouldn't answer for Thom but it didn’t start until Thom knew he’d be leaving the band.

T: Yeah, it was real fresh… because I co-wrote a lot with Alex[ander Gow, other half of Oh Mercy] over the years we were in that band together, but I always knew I wanted to sing my own songs and do something that was 100% my focus, that didn’t have anyone else adding things in.

AMR: Very 50/50?

T: Yeah it was what I wanted… and I enjoyed it while it lasted, for the long run. But it was really good for me through those years, because I didn’t have that confidence to get up and sing my own songs or be proud at my own lyrics. Then when I reached that point and Oh Mercy, we started planning for the second album; and I guess it just clicked at that time ‘ok, yeah I’m really ready for this and I really want to do it.’ I don’t know, if I wasn’t in that band, I wonder whether I’d be in music at all until I was 23. Because I’d just be too shy, Alex took the brunt of everything being the frontman. It was as soon as I built up that confidence, was when Kins started. It was really spontaneous.

J: But you’d been thinking about it for a long time though, what happened I think, right towards the end of Thom playing in Oh Mercy, they used to play this one song that he’d sing lead on (Stay, Please Stay) and before that Thom was just backing vocals. So he sang that song, and for that moment the whole audience  - they’re playing to hundreds of people – all focus on Thom and in the past he would have really shied away from that. And after you were like ‘wait, I can actually do this and not fall apart.’

AMR: because it’s a big deal, obviously. Jacky you would have experienced this as well in Bean [Collyer's solo moniker], straight away there’s a lot of focus.

T: yeah, we both get very nervous like that.

J: It’s getting better.

T: We’re getting there, trying to use it to channel a good performance.

AMR: So getting away from Oh Mercy and when it became Kins, was there a point or galvanising moment where you realised ‘this is what this band is’ or was it more organic?

T: Very slow, it was really slow. I saw Simon [Lam, drummer] play a while back and just completely fell in love with his playing, he’s just the coolest drummer.

AMR: He’s very precise.

T: I was pretty excited to get him involved, and obviously I’ve been playing with my brother since… I must have been thirteen and he was fifteen, so for years and I knew we played well together, so I thought it’s kind of like a fail-safe line-up, the four of us. And it’s really slowly taking shape. From our angle, what our image is and how we want to portray ourselves, so it has been really organic idea in that sense. There wasn’t a preconceived idea of what we were gonna wear…

J: …or even what we were going to sound like. It’s really just slowly progressed and now people say ‘you have a really specific sound’ and we’re just surprised by that ‘really!?’ I wouldn’t have thought that before.

AMR: I think I agree, not to put you in a box, but there’s definitely been a development of style towards something unique, whether it’s an ongoing case where you’re still finding it – you’ve definitely found something. It’s interesting that it feels for you like it takes a long time.

J: It does, it really does.

T: You only have a tangent to begin with.

AMR:  There’s a post on your website called ‘KinsInfluences’ (Jacky begins giggling) that lists some things that you’d been listening to and enjoying; but more importantly “we hope you can’t pick all too easily what kind of music we’re into.” Can you talk about that? So you like the idea that people can’t just say “oh that just sounds like..” to dismiss it.

T: Exactly.

J: I remember when Thom was writing it and after I read it and said confused, ‘what does that mean?’ It’s literally, we hope people don’t listen to us and go ‘that sounds like that, that sounds like that.’ Instead they would read it and could say ‘oh really, I didn’t think you would be influenced by that.’ But it’s definitely there, underlying it.

T: I guess it really defines our originality by people not being able to guess what influences there are. Someone once said, what’s that quote? When people get called a genius, or extremely original, it’s not that they’re original it’s just that they’ve hidden their influences really well. Or they’re into something that is not common to the market that they’re aiming for. Or if they stretch their influences… we started listening to South American music. Obviously, we grew up on Radiohead and the classic Western Culture bands. But we started listening to this South American music and a few other things, and then a few months later we were listening back to the title track. We didn’t realise this whole time, that song is really South American influenced.

J: Like the Peru panpipes, just in the guitar and the rhythm in 5/4, the melody he does. Just so similar to that panpipe music.

T: I didn’t realise that for six months and Jacky one day said it and we realised instantly.

AMR: It’s funny isn’t it? The way those things work. It’s cryptic in a way, and you figure it out later.

T: Unless you were conscious of it at the time, probably wouldn’t creatively work as well, it’s too obvious

AMR: I think there’s a really great quote from Radiohead where a lot of the times they were aiming for something and fail, and that’s how they come up with something original.

T: Yeah! I think I’ve read that as well. They were aiming for Miles Davis or DJ Shadow for instance, and failed horribly but in doing that they achieved something else. Yeah, that definitely makes a lot of sense to me.

AMR: You were saying before that you’ve developed that style, and with the mini-LP there’s a statement of ‘this is what Kins is now.’ I think of that could be characterised by tension and release, as a listener you hang off every part because there’s so few and they’re so precise.

J: We always said that, it’s just natural, you listen to the radio and lot of what’s ‘in’ at times, I suppose it was really big, anthemic, overly-produced. Really amazing stuff, but stuff where we want to go for the opposite very straight forward, minimal, stripped-back – but not too minimal – I think that’s what it was, against the grain.

T: I think another big thing, is when I was in America with the Oh Mercy album [Privileged Woes] we recorded that with Mitchell Froom [producer] in L.A. and he was so all about stripping it, pulling it right back. I think what I gathered, working with him, was he really focussed on the character of every single aspect, involved with the music, being translatable. Not having anything you couldn’t hear the character of. So when I came back and started working on Kins, I had a lot of the initial ideas for certain songs were a bit crazy and more full-on. Once we started working on the newer mini-LP songs, I guess that approach really rubbed off on me. Just trying to keep that… the bass and the drums just sat right back, and anything that sits on top just adds character to it. You hear exactly how the guitar’s being played and the tone of the singing or the other tunes.

AMR: I think particularly on Mockasin’s you feel that. The bass and the drums just locking into this groove, that’s the bedrock. Then your vocals and guitars come over that, and when it hits that chorus you feel like you’ve earned it – it’s been so stoic and then it just flourishes.

J &T: Yeah, yeah.

AMR: And Thom, your guitar style is very unique, even with the recordings now you go ‘ah, that’s Thom Savage.’ Can you talk about your approach to the instrument?

J: I can help by saying that Thom is a bass guitarist, has always been a bass guitarist.

T: That’s true, I studied slap bass in VCE and I did Victor Wooton and Marcus Miller and all these American entertainers.

AMR: Really? I’m a bass player too and I did all of that for Uni! Amazing Grace?

T: I did Classical Thump,  it’s in the middle of that, but I left it out. I wasn’t very pro-American at the time. The harmonics thing. It’s very American and whooping.

AMR: That’s interesting, I wouldn’t have picked that – the bass approach.

T: It’s funny, I picked up the guitar when I was fourteen, but then intensely picked up the bass when I was about sixteen. Then I hardly ever played guitar, except basic acoustic chords every now and then. Then one day, when I was at school, and Alex was like ‘we need a bass player in the band’ – it was about year ten I think, and I was ‘I wanna do it, I wanna do it.’ Then eventually we swapped around – members left, members came – and ended up switching to guitar, cause I was getting over the slap-bass. I think the other thing that’s hugely attributable is my style or whatever, I don’t want to talk about ‘my style’ like that, but I think just touring for years. We’d been at it extensively for two and a half years, just playing the same songs every night you try and break out of them a bit. Just do something interesting for yourself. I really like that aggression when playing as well.

AMR: The rhythm section of your brother Kieran and Simon is equally stripped-back, spare and 
precise, did this come about from their playing style?

J: It’s funny, Thom writes pretty much all the parts. From the start of what a song is. So one thing we’ve always joked about, is the one thing Thom can’t play very well, is drums. Which is why you either have Simon play the drums or programming. Lucky he can’t play something. He ends up writing everything else, it’s great but it means when we come together for rehearsal; there’s always that initial thing where Thom is bringing it, and we’re trying to put our own bits into it. To play it in our way, I mean I would never play it the way Thom would play it, guitar-wise. That changes the song straight away.

AMR: Like I said before, Kieran and Simon seem to just lock together, and it’s the rhythmic nature of the music as well, I was really struck about how quickly that synchronisation defines the song.

T: We put some hard rehearsals in to get that. Before we even played a gig.

J: For like, four months we rehearsed, every week. Simon is just naturally talented, he’s never had lessons or anything. He just played at Uni with this jazz background, so you can see in his performance as well, he’s not a ‘rock’ drummer. His arms are so straight, his whole body’s in the movement.

T: The great thing is, he’s different to all the other jazz players we play with. He has this insane passion for the kind of music we play, that’s weird about it, I don't think many people have that passion for jazz – freestyle playing – but also this alternative style.

AMR: Some drummers are like that, secret jazz lovers. Like Stewart Copeland of The Police, Glenn Kotche from Wilco. Some of those elements seem to carry across, like the clean precision and deconstructing the rhythm.

T: I was going to say before, I do feel sorry for Kez, because a lot of the time I use the bass guitar to write songs as much as anything else. I just hear a riff or a melody or something, and I just go to the bass to figure out what it is rather than a guitar. I mean, you plug the drums in and get the bass in there – if that’s where the idea starts, it just didn’t give Kieran any kind of breathing space.

AMR: Like you said though, he adds his style to it.

J: I always think… when I’m in a set, watching Kieran, always at the very end of Dancing Back And Forth there’s a tempo change. Kieran and Simon have to do this weird 5/4 change, it’s the strangest time change. All I have to do is playsome chords, but I am just watching Kieran wondering ‘how are you not failing at this right now?’ he just keeps going – really solid.
AMR: I noticed that in the early version, each of the mini-LPs tracks has a subtitle, a la Radiohead’s 
Hail To The Thief, can you tell us the significance of those?

T: Oh yeah, we didn’t include those in the end did we?

J: We chose not to, as Simon put it ‘Radiohead did this.’

AMR: It’s such a bind, if Radiohead do it, they instantly have a monopoly on the idea. Assuming that was there, is it telling a story.

T: It explains a lot…

J: It tells a story.

T: It’s odd to discuss ‘cause I’m still not creatively sure we’ve done the right thing, but it’s meant to be a focus on the darker sides of humanity, with the brighter sides of humanity. The two sides [Thom starts to indicate the artwork, which is shadowy polaroids on the outer sleeve and whipped cream on the inner].

J: It’s a true story about a guy who went to a brothel and told his wife what happened, told her he spent two grand at this brothel and when she, obviously, got upset about it; he didn’t understand, he didn’t have the capacity to understand what he had done wrong.

T: Those subtitles highlighted how each song is about all these manmade things, Mockasin’s was The Flaws which is the beginning, focussing on the negative aspects. Lake Troposphere was The Cult which is about joining a cult that believes that if you get to the correct altitude. If you kill yourself at a certain altitude, you’re reborn as a bird. You just wake up by the seaside.

J: Sorry I’m laughing, I just remember my mum asking ‘what’s Lake Troposphere about?’ and Thom deadpan ‘It’s about a cult and when you die…’ my mum just sat there agape.

T: I can’t remember the others, but they’re all aspects of that. Twisted ideas, we kept saying ‘the mini-LP seems so dark,’ it’s not actually that dark. When you listen to it from start to finish, there’s hooks and there’s pop melodies, but I guess we dwell on the topics underneath, how twisted it is.

AMR: You do feel that journey of the record, because there are the more accessible things upfront and then it gets a bit more laidback and swayed around the middle; and by the end you’re back to the sprightlier material – but it’s taken this dark twist.

T: Yeah, that’s really true!

AMR: It’s like you go somewhere dark and by the time you come back, it’s a little damaged in a way, not the same anymore.

T: Yeah, that’s really interesting, can we use it? [laughter] It’s true, the first two are pop, then here it wavers, then here it’s back to pop – but it’s not really.

AMR: It’s a twisted version of it.

J: Yeah it’s a bit creepy.

T: This is once you’ve experienced humanity, what you have to go through.

AMR: And Jacky, may I say your vocals on For This Modern Day are quite lovely, was that a co-write or something from Bean?

J: Thank You, but no, what happened with that?

T: I can’t sing it. It was just too high and sounded awkward. I love the music but my vocals did not fit in there, but as soon as I imagined Jacky’s in there, in my head it was like ‘huge lightbulb.’ Then once she sang it, it became the best thing ever.

AMR: It works well as the centrepiece for the album, if we use that metaphor again – we go somewhere and effects a change, then comes back again.

T: Really enjoyed a break from my voice as well, I always find when I listen to an album I like it when there’s a slight change in voice or tone in there.

AMR: Can you talk about Matt Voigt’s contribution?

T: I wasn't very confident with my own mixes , I put a lot of time into them but I thought it was worthwhile to get a professional to look at it.

J: We did ourselves technically, we always have this issue of ‘paying rent’ in Melbourne, therefore never having available funds. We’ve been saving for a year to go overseas, so we wanted to get the best thing we can out of limited funds. So unfortunately Matt didn’t get what he probably would’ve liked to do any extra proper mixing – or anything really. So we kind of rushed him and said ‘please master this, please mix it… and do it in a day!’

T: It was a day on the whole album

J: He was just ‘OK’, he was very happy to do that. Most people would probably not.

T: If they’re going to put their name on it, they’d want a week.

J: More of a spit and polish.

T: There was a long time where it was just trial and error with my mixes, we ran it through the tape machines and did the mastering.

J: It just gives it that different sound, less digital and more… authentic.

AMR: What was it about Voigt that drew you to him? Just his work or you knew him?

T: We’d worked with him before and he has really good ears, he knows if something’s not right. He can pick anything out. ‘What’s that noise?’ he’ll isolate a track and there it is ‘how did you hear that in the whole arrangement?’ He’s good like that, we’ll have to find a replacement in the UK. 

AMR: The visuals seem to be an important element for the band, such as the consistent design across the singles and mini-LP. How important is the presentation to you?

T: We understood that you write songs, you put a band together, as soon as you make that decision to get up on stage, you can’t deny you have to think about how you’re going to be viewed. If you say you only care about music, you’d never leave your bedroom. But obviously by us wanting to get up and play our music, bring it to people, then we do care about the image side. Everything, the whole image, what you’re about, the topics you focus on.

J: I think Fade Bird, the first thing we did, was a real learning curve. What you might think – font-wise – isn’t crucial, is so important to what sort of style you are. With that single, we were trying to go against the grain as much as possible: we’re going to get printed cardboard, we’re going to have no artwork, just our name and the title on it in some random font – and that’s it. We’ll just do that and be different, against what the norm is.

T: We quickly realised there’s a certain extent you should take that mentality to.

J: If an established act went and did something like that, it’d be ok because you already have an idea of what they’re about. But if you’ve only got one opportunity for someone to take the slightest interest in you, looking at the Fade Bird single, you’d look at it and go ‘nyeeh, I have no idea what this band is going to sound like? I don’t know what they’re about? Nothing inspiring about the artwork’. You want people to instead be ‘ahh, that’s interesting , what’s that going to sound like?’

T: Gradually, acknowledging how important our artwork  and image was has taught us to be a lot more artistic, focussed on what our releases and posters look like. Our consistency was just a really obviously thing, for recognition, we decided we want our songs out there to be heard. Be consistent, because if you vary it or change it up, it’s confusing, people aren’t going to know who you are.

AMR: It’s nice too when people see it as a set, respect it, and identifiable as from a period.

T: That’s partly what we set out to do.

AMR: How did you decide on the tracklist for the mini-LP?

T: There were just a few that Jacky hated.

J: It’s his own fault.

T: There was eight, that I really wanted, originally eleven or twelve but three or four got knocked off straight away.

J: There was one more that Tom really wanted, and he made this video…  Ok, look, firstly I didn’t really think it fit on the album ‘cause there’s supposed to be a flow and a bit of a story and I felt it didn’t really have a place. On top of that he made this film clip just at home of my Scotch Terrier yawning.

T: [guffawing] and then I looped it so that he’s singing.

J: Pretty much the whole way through!

AMR: I love your enthusiasm Thom and Jacky’s just like shaking her head traumatically.

J: Oh god, I had to watch this whole thing and by the end of it I was like ‘god, I never want to hear this song again’ because every time I hear it, I have this image of my dog yawning; and it’s not cute.

AMR: What was the track?

T: It’s called If I Had A Lover.

AMR: Even better, a Scotch Terrier singing If I Had A Lover. So apart from that, what else got the chop?

J: Well last year, we had the intention of releasing a different album that Thom had written which were songs we’d practised, rehearsed and played last year. It was going to be called Tenochtitlan [after the ancient Aztec city], it was fourteen tracks and we did almost everything  we could with recording them. But not having any money to spend or having the facilities and moving, from Fitzroy then Caulfield and sharing spaces with people…

T: We didn’t get it to the standard that we wanted.

J: It just never reached the point where we felt ‘we’re happy with this’ and to let the songs go, as they 

are, you have to let them go. When you can’t do anymore and just leave it.

AMR: You just didn’t feel comfortable releasing them?

J: No, and we always had the intention to do them again, later, when we’ve got the budget. Well, any money to spend on it. Hopefully have someone produce it rather than do it all ourselves.

T: But from start to finish we really liked it, all the songs and the flow of it. And we tried to find someone to put it out but no-one was interested, so we didn’t know what to do, on our bums. So we just got moving, we recorded a single [Fade Bird, Fade] and just put it out straight away.  And all that time I just kept writing and we ended up with Dancing Back And Forth, and the ensuing mini-LP.  But even then we felt we were still at square one, are we going to go with the mini-LP or Tenochtitlan? So we kind of had to choose one and work towards that, so we went with the former but I think the grand plan is to relocate to the UK, in August.

AMR: Ahh, that answers a later question.

T: The grand plan is to re-pool some new demos and the Tenochtitlan songs, re-do it flawlessly. Put so much work into it and make it the best it can possibly be. Until August we thought was enough time to build up to Dancing Back And Forth and release it, kind of introduce ourselves to Australia. We want to come back in twelve, eighteen months with the album and release that as well. So we just thought we’d get started.

AMR: You’ve been doing a lot of touring and support this year, what are some local bands that you’re really excited about?

J: Jack Ladder, we said before. We really love Parades [as does Al's Music Rant], we played with them, so good and so nice as well. Again, another band we admired and so excited to have the gig. But in Ballarat, not that it’s anyone’s fault, but we ended up playing to no-one, just the sound guy. We didn’t have to stress, then got to see Parades for free.

T: When we first started out, I was always worried about who we’d play with, I just couldn’t match up our style to any Australian bands that were touring. Didn’t know where to start, writing to people seeing if we could play with them. I saw Parades one day, met their manager once so I wrote to him and just pleaded ‘this is one of the only bands I can imagine us playing with.’ We got it, I was just stoked.

AMR: So with the single launches and the residency [at The Builders Arms in March] was that more of an opportunity to put together your own little show, is that still a challenge with that freedom?

J: Yeah, it was really hard. I don’t want it to sound like we’re complaining because, with managing ourselves, it’s a love/hate thing where we’ve learned so much and you actually get to meet these bands and these people. It’s not just sorting it through a manager, we’ve built up friendships with people we’ve never met before with similar interests in music.

T: It’s very much standing on our own two feet, being realistic about where you actually are.

J: There’s so many good bands, and the residency is a good point, we played with two different acts every night.

T: We were so lucky.

J: We played with another act who we’re obsessed with, beyond Parades and Jack Ladder, which is Seagull.  

T: It was a huge influence on Kins.

J: So he agreed to play and we just couldn’t believe it.

T: Just amazing… We’ve got Howl At The Moon for the album launch in June, we’re loving them. It seems like our wishlists have come true, we just went ‘let’s aim really high’ and wrote out to those groups we really love and just get replies like ‘yeah, we’ll do it.’

AMR: Does that result in a little bit of pressure?

J: Yes, again that comes back to the point of Tom and I suffer badly from nerves before performances.

T: Half of it is management, and the other half is performance.

J: and then you think, on the night, ‘I can’t believe we’re playing after Seagull’ because it’s such a huge favour for us and such a deal. It piles on the pressure, you think ‘we’ve gotta be good, cause if we suck…” (laughs)

T: (mock chanting) ‘he has to like us, he has to like us.’ It would break my heart if he doesn’t like us.

AMR: You’ve touched on this a little bit, but what are some things about Melbourne’s music scene in 
particular that you enjoy?

T: All the venues are just awesome, you’ve always got three or four choices of venues of any size. There are a few good venues that are eighty, then a few that are 200-300. Any size you want, you’ve got options. You can always get exactly what you want, in certain other places… I know Sydney’s pretty bad.

AMR: I was speaking to Alpine about this, and they said almost the exact same thing.

T: There’s no diversity, something like the Workers Club is 240, but really comfortable with 180. This is all figures.

J: Tom has this obsession over, not maths, but statistics and numbers.

T: If I had a more mathematical brain, I’d be a mathematician.

AMR: Well it’s working well with 5/4 rhythms, so let’s not throw it into disorder.

J: My favourite venue would be the Northcote Social Club.

T: I don’t know what it is, The Toff is really clean, so clean it’s uncomfortable. Onstage I mean, other venues they’re pretty dirty but Northcote has this thing where it’s clean, without sounding stale. At The Toff the sound doesn’t meld well.

J: It’s probably just the acoustics onstage, at Northcote it’s a really good space for our band, and our sound. Whereas Toff would be more suited for… well there’s lots of stuff. But it’s just a different vibe.

AMR: On the flipside, what are the things that frustrate you about Melbourne, or Australia’s, music scene?

T: Big landmass, not many people.

J: What we want, the dream I suppose, Tom and I have always said we’d like to earn, not an excessive income, but a regular income from music. Be able to tour all the time, we’d love to play shows all the time – then take a few months off to record, then tour again. In Australia, it’s like eight hours between cities, and it’s planes…

T: …and it’s so expensive, you have to hold day-jobs in between tours. Whereas in the UK…

J: There’s a city every two  hours. So you can literally live anywhere in London and drive to play any of the cities…

T: …and drive home afterwards.

J: You can do a tour and play seven or eight cities, then go to Europe and play another ten or twenty.

T: By contrast, if you want to play in Perth, let’s say you get opening support on a bill in Perth it’s like a $150 fee and if you’re a four-piece band you spend $800 on flights and then maybe two or three hundred dollars on accommodation; then you gotta eat as well. So each Perth trip might cost you $1200-$1400, when you get paid $150 for the show.

AMR: It’s just maths again…

J: I think it comes down to, which is what we had earlier, we weren’t show how or what our music was going to be or sound like – so we didn’t even know that there would be an audience here [in Australia]. We were of the opinion that the majority of people wouldn’t like us.

T: We were scared we’d be too alternative.

J: Not too weird, not that, I don’t think we ever thought… we could always get a couple of people to like us, but I never thought we’d get a significant fanbase to tour, enough to sustain it. So let’s say hypothetically we have two hundred fans in Melbourne, if we can do that all over Europe and England. There’s just more people, so more room for an alternative music scene.

AMR: And those concerns would have come about with you managing yourselves also, some bands don’t have to worry about shouldering that burden.

J: One thing, and I don’t ever mean to insult Melbourne, or Australia for that matter because we love it here – but it’s so true that once you make it overseas, doesn’t matter where you go really, if you come back here people are automatically more receptive to you and what you’re about. It’s really strange.

AMR: It is isn’t it. It’s like a rite of passage for so many artists.

T: For us, things have started to go well here – and a lot of our wishful thinking has come true. It’s given us that confidence where ‘well if we can do it here, we can do it there.’ So our logic is everything that’s happened to us could happen overseas

J: It’s strange, a lot of people don’t take what you do seriously, not that I’m saying we should be taken seriously, but a lot of people don’t really want to take you seriously unless you’ve taken that rite of passage to Europe, it proves something to people. They’re willing to give you a chance. As soon as I say ‘we’re going overseas in August’ ‘why?’ ‘to pursue the band.’ They say ‘really!? Wow’ and suddenly you’re transformed in their eyes.

T: [mockingly] ‘you must be really serious about it!?’

AMR: As if you never took it seriously, but you see that frustration across the board, in my humble experience. Bands having to go to America and take the time, only once they’re back is it considered valid.

T: Those bands that are doomed to tour the East Coast, we feel so sorry for them.

AMR: I think it’s a similar situation for Big Scary, last timewe spoke, they talked about how eventually you start playing the same venues and it reaches a point where you have to expand.

J: They’re a lot like us, we learned a lot from them, pretty much everything we know about management is from Tom Fraser, their manager. He was so nice, we just emailed him and asked to meet up.

T: We have a million questions for you and he just said ‘no problem.’

J: Which was so kind, because we had no idea what we were doing.

AMR: And see that’s what’s great about Melbourne in a way, it might be much more competitive in London or New York, but that seems to be the character here. Bands knowing each other and management working together to create a scene.

T: People are so helpful. They’re not trying to compete in Melbourne.

J: I'm very anti-that competitive idea with the music. It’s the same thing with the artwork, because we always get frustrated, because we have to compete with these multi-million, label-backed, products and marketing campaign. So this is our first attempt.

AMR: Is that the plan for the future? To keep it independent?

J: [hesitantly] We’d love to

T: We don’t mind being involved, but we never want to sign to a label who’ll force our hand.

J: One day, if we do tour all the time, it’s going to be hard to keep managing ourselves so we’d love someone to manage us, especially overseas. It takes so long to learn a place as well, even Melbourne. So it’d be good to have someone who knows the music scene.

T: We still really like doing a lot of things independently, but we’d need someone on the road – with their iPhone and internet [starts mimicking frantic typing and multitasking] You see the managers’ pout. 

Then catch Kins live as part of  the Paranoia Pop Festival (The Workers Club, May 28th)
or The Castle Music Festival (Castlemaine,  July 2nd)
or on their upcoming tour:

1 comment:

  1. My band was lucky enough to play with Kins on their final night at the Builders Arms in March, and it was a fantastic experience. They gave us plenty of their time pre-show and actually watched our set very closely, chatting to us about it extensively afterwards. Didn't hurt that the room was absolutely packed, either.
    Thom and Jacky have been extremely friendly and helpful both times I've played with them, so it's good to read they've had some generous help from someone like Tom Fraser in the past. Musically, anyone who has seen them play knows how tight they are, and how their clever, intricate and catchy songs really make an impact on you.
    Overall, a great band of awesome people who really deserve the best when they make the move to England and Europe. Good luck!
    Jack P