THE chaps of Johnny Kills…
have been telling me about their new single, Seems, and what the story behind it is. I ask how the band got together and whether there are plans for future material/gigs – they recommend some rising artists that are worth spending some time around.
I was keen to know what sort of music drives them and albums that are important; whether they have any advice for musicians emerging and, considering their name, which Johnny they’d hire if they need a good, professional kill.
Hi, guys. How are you? How has your week been?
Hi! We’re good, thanks; hope you are too. It’s been really good actually. We had a gig at The Finsbury on Saturday and we hadn’t had one in a while so that was fun. We were trying a couple new things which was cool too – two new tracks in the set plus adding in some keys for the first time. It’s always fun when you get the opportunity to change it up a little!
For those new to your music; can you introduce yourselves, please?
So. We’re Johnny Kills and we play slightly punky, slightly poppy; quite guitar-y and a little keyboard-y Surf-Rock stuff. People have said we sound a little bit like Weezer, Wavves and FIDLAR which makes us happy because they are definitely influences.
Seems is your new track. Is there a story behind the song at all?
Seems is about a moment where you hear something really great at the same time as something really sad. Going from the highest of highs to the lowest of lows really quickly and ending up feeling confused about it and trying to process both at the same time.
Might we expect more material in the coming months?
We’re heading into the studio soon to record a few songs which we’re really excited about; so, hopefullyyyy before the end of the year but if not then definitely early-2019.
How did Johnny Kills get together? When did you find one another?
We’d been in few bands kicking around the Cambridge scene for a few years, a couple of which we were in together, and then we decided to start a new one just as Cameron and I headed off to university at opposite ends of the country - which made it a little hard for ourselves. Aha. But, we’ve know each other for years: Lewis and I are actually brothers so I guess we found each other at home and then we met Cameron about sixteen years later.
In terms of musical inspiration; what sort of music were you raised on?
Mine and Lewis’ dad has always played us a lot of stuff. He introduced us to Pavement, Arcade Fire and still introduces to a load of cool new things that we haven’t heard yet. Then, we veered off a bit and got really into Radiohead. Then, when we were friends with Cameron, we all stumbled upon fuzzy stuff such as Yuck and FIDLAR together and that definitely made an impression. But, we love all sorts of different stuff: I’m really getting into St. Vincent’s most-recent album at the moment for example.
What do you hope to achieve by the end of 2018?
Umm; well, it’s pretty close to the end of 2018 now so I’ll be pretty conservative with a small ‘c’ here and say to have a few cool new recorded tracks in the bank and maybe a few more fun live shows. We’ve got a gig on 4th October for Riff Raff at Paper Dress Vintage in Hackney which we’re looking forward to so, hopefully, that goes well too. And then, I guess, Wembley.
Have you each got a favourite memory from your time in music so far – the one that sticks in the mind?
Tim: I always love recording . We go up to The Nave to work in Leeds with the excellent Alex Greaves and get to play with a load of crazy gear that we’d never get the opportunity to use otherwise, like super-cool and temperamental retro pedals. Getting to do that whilst also actually being productive and seeing the song come together in stages is really fun.
Lewis: There used to be new band nights at The Junction in Cambridge we played when we were all in an old band together. They were generally pretty well attended; however, one time, the stars aligned in terms of line-up/timing or whatever and it was a complete sell-out. Playing to nearly one-thousand really receptive people (“Wave your arms!”; 'Sing this back!”; “Jump around!”) was pretty surreal, and kinda mind-blowing.
Cameron: It’s a weird one. I’d probably say our first gig in a ‘man-that-was-lucky-we-just-about-pulled-that-one-off’ kind of way; just for the fact that it even happened. Basically, we’d had our debut show booked in for a while - it was in Brighton at The Hope and Ruin. And then like the muppet I am, I accidentally booked a holiday to Corfu that got back on the same day and meant we couldn’t rehearse for the two weeks up to it - after the last practice beforehand hadn’t gone amazingly. I had to take a guitar on holiday with me to practice and then go straight from the airport to a rehearsal with the other guys.
By the time of the show, I think I’d been up for around forty hours and was pretty much delirious but it was surprisingly disaster-free in the end. This is more a fun memory in hindsight: it was super-stressful at the time. But, we’d been excited to gig for ages (almost a year) and the drama added to a release of tension that made us realise why we’d missed doing it so much. It was back to being a real band again rather than online pen pals.
Which one album means the most to each of you would you say (and why)?
Lewis: Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain - Pavement
It got me into Pavement who are one of my favourite bands and showed me that being a bit ramshackle can actually add to the music…and that it’s all about the songs.
Tim: OK Computer – Radiohead
It’s a cliché choice but that’s just because it is an amazing album. I’m usually into slightly more distorted and fuzzy stuff but Karma Police, Let Down and No Surprises would all stake a claim at being my favourite-ever song. We got to see them at Glastonbury last year and it was one of the best moments ever.
Cameron: Yuck – Yuck
Bring the fuzz!
Give your name; which Johnny, if you were hiring a sure-fire assassin, would you hire to get the job done?
If you could support any musician alive today, and choose your own rider, what would that entail?
Probably Pavement or Radiohead as they are our all-time heroes. I have no idea on the rider. I think playing with them would be enough. Maybe, we’d do the classic thing and say only blue/no blue M&Ms? Or an excellent board game.
Might we see some tour dates coming up? Where might we be able to catch you play?
We’ve got that show on 4th at Paper Dress Vintage in London for Riff Raff and I’m sure there’ll be a few more before the year is out.
What advice would you give to new artists coming through?
You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to everything - but also just try be as nice as possible to people. There might be times when there are problems with the sound at a show or whatever, but it’s not always someone’s fault and it never pays to be a dick about it. Everyone’s trying their best and probably just as stressed as you are when things go wrong. Also…write some really good tunes.
IN THIS PHOTO: Pizzagirl
Are there any new artists you recommend we check out?
Pizzagirl – catchy-as-hell 1980s-esque Synth-Pop from a man who calls his bedroom a ‘beatzzeria’. What’s not to love?!
Sports Team – really good tunes to go along with a really fun online presence. Got to see them at a local cricket club’s bar and they were really good live.
IN THIS PHOTO: Sports Team/PHOTO CREDIT: Louise Mason
Do you all get much time to chill away from music? How do you unwind?
Well. Lewis and Tim’s are involved in music for work, so not as much time away as you’d think. But, we love it so great. We also like ourselves a bit of football and are huge Liverpool fans, apart from Cameron. Cameron is actually the manager at a trampoline park so that’s how he spends most of his days - trying to learn to do backflips for the one-thousandth time and filling out health and safety forms.
Finally, and for being good sports; you can each choose a song and I’ll play it here (not any of your music - I will do that).
Tim: Pizzagirl – Coffee Shop
Lewis: WOOZE - Hello Can You Go
Cameron: Childhood – Don’t Have Me Back
Follow Johnny Kills