Not-so-silent San Pedro: an interview with KiLR

Left to Right: Chris Hudson (drums), Wade MaVv (lead vocals/guitar), and Chuck Holiday (bass.).

Left to Right: Chris Hudson (drums), Wade MaVv (lead vocals/guitar), and Chuck Holiday (bass.).

In the back room of the unassuming San Pedro Brewing Company, while the chilly Southern Californian day wore on, KiLR (pronounced KY-ler) was in the process of launching/promoting their first major music video  and conducting a 48-hour drive for 100,000 views. For an independent pop-rock/full alternative band from the Los Angeles area, this feat may seem daunting…but their sound is solid and definitely more than able to shatter viral status in no time at all.

On the set of their new music video for "Crazzzy".

My assistant for the day/good friend Nolan West and I went down to San Pedro on the first day of the video/album release event (Dec. 16) to meet up with KiLR and help them out with promotional tasks. In the process, the three KiLR boys, Nolan, and I conducted  an interview in order to release a brief overview of the band’s history and future plans.

Interviewer (Hailie) : Well, first, I’d like you to name yourselves, for the record, and your respective instruments.

Chuck Holiday: My name is Chuck and I play bass.

Chris Hudson: My name is Chris Hudson and I play drums.

Wade MaVv: Hi, I’m Wade MaVv, and I sing and play guitar.

Interviewer: Very cool. Alright, can you describe your sound? I mean, are there any specific influences that contributed a lot to your overall–

Wade: I mean, I think, for me, I started out in the punk/metal scene… I think the most mainstream band I listened to growing up was Green Day,  but mostly NOFX, Pennywise, Bad Religion, and Lagwagon, you know… punk rock stuff. I grew up here, went and joined the military in 2003, and I was stationed in San Diego, and, right when I got out, we signed a management contract up in Malibu. They  moved us up to Malibu to start artist development, and, when we moved back up here, there was really no way to make money at the Hollywood strip venues… Like, the Roxy, the Whiskey, they’re all pay-to-play, so you end up losing money, so we needed to find a way to make actual money at our shows…we wanted to play bigger venues where we can have two to three thousand people there every single night, so we got into the Hollywood nightclub scene and started doing pop covers and rap covers, just to get our foot in the door, until we could do our original stuff… And we had to be in the club every single night, so that sort of evolved the sound from something that was a heavier rock into more dance, more electronic stuff… While you go through Artist Development, you study every type of music and how to play it and how to arrange it, and you take a piece from every genre, so there’s really… The idea of this group is to have something that, when you put on a song, nobody goes, ‘oh, you guys sound just like…’ whatever, you know? People can say ‘oh, it kind of reminds me of…this’, but, if you sound just like somebody, you’re screwed…your career’s over… You know? The idea is to stand out…be something different, you know?

Interviewer: That makes sense…that does make sense… So, how did you guys form? Was there a band before this one that kind of led in to KiLR or…

Wade: Well, it was a project that I started about five years ago in San Diego… I grew up here in San Pedro and, when I was stationed in San Diego, the whole goal was to start another band… I had a band that was really popular around here when I was 18 years old, and it ended up breaking up, and I didn’t know what to do… I basically had nowhere to go…which was why I joined the military. I still intended to do music full-time, even though I was in the military… As soon as I got stationed over here, I would come up to San Pedro every weekend to try and start bands with old friends, so… I started taking vocal lessons… like, intensive five-day-a-week vocal lessons… and I started auditioning other people in the area…and Chuck was the first permanent member that I ever had. There were like 50 or 60 other guys we ran through… different drummers, different guitar players, different, you know, everything…there was one bass player before him, and we were under the name Two Word Name at that time, and it was kind of a working title…but we ended up keeping that name for like two years, and we had a good following down there and made a name for myself, and it was really just me and him playing with a rotating cast of other guys… So, when we moved up here in 2008, Chris was the second permanent member we had in the band, and we got him from a tip someone gave us about going to the Musicians Institute… 

Chris: I have no idea how you guys found me… [laughs]

Wade: Somebody referred us to him… he was just about to graduate from the Musicians Institute, so we went there and we saw one of his…they do graduation demos to see if they’re ready to graduate…and we were pretty much sold on him from day one… One thing we learned along the way is that a band is a family thing and it’s more important to find guys that you’re gonna get along with than it really is to find guys that are great players, because there are a thousand great players out there and there’s not a lot of guys out there that you can sit in a band with and that… I mean, I’m willing to take things that bother me about him, and he’s willing to take things that bother him about me, you know, and that’s really the most difficult thing… The first thing was that we wanted to meet his parents, we wanted to meet his family, we wanted to get to know him as a person…

Chuck: It’s kind of an arranged marriage kind of thing, you know?

Wade: Yeah, it really is… You have to get to know each other as quickly as possible, and so we really go to extreme lengths to get to know the other people that we play with, and we found that that’s the best way to have a group that stays  together… We’ve been the same three guys for…about two years, now… So, it’s been good.

Interviewer: What was your original name? I’m sorry…

Wade: Two Word Name.

Interviewer: Two Word Name… Cool. And, what branch of the military did you go into?

Wade: I was a Navy deep-sea diver, stationed with the SEAL team.

Interviewer: Oh! So, next thing I want you guys to explain is…what’s going on with this release? Is it just a normal release? What’s your plan with it?

Wade: I mean, we’ve had to sit on this for about eight months, and it’s driven us crazy not being able to release…

Chuck: [laughs] Crazy!

Chris: [laughs] Crazzzy!

Wade: Yeah, it’s really driven us NUTS to not be able to release this, you know… People have seen pictures of it, people have heard about it, and we had friends that were there on set, but nobody had actually seen the whole video, so this is our first chance to actually show the world what we’re doing… It’s the first time people are going to see our faces… The faces behind the music, so to speak… You can look at pictures and stuff like that, but, when you see a video of a band, you can actually get their personality and what the group is all about… It’s a really important thing… It’s a really important part of your career.  What we’re doing right now is a 48-hour online promotion marathon where we are doing Facebook posts, tweets, posting to all of the different online music sites, all of the different forums, getting blog support, doing interviews, getting radio support, and stuff like that… and it’s all kind of happening at the same time. When you see this place at five o’clock, it’s going to be FILLED with people, all with computers, doing all of the stuff that we’ve been doing all night… So, it’ll gradually get more intense as this process goes on.

Interviewer: Interesting…  So, what does the video mean to you guys? I know a lot of people are going to see it and form their own opinions, but, what does it really mean to you?

Wade: This is really–  I mean, the video itself, or what does the video mean to us, career-wise?

Interviewer: If you could describe both ways, that’d be great.

Wade: The video itself was just a lot of things that we put together to really have fun with… It wasn’t really even necessarily this song we thought was a single, or anything like that… it was just what we had the elements for, you know? We had people, the house available to us, the Rolls Royce, the Lamborghini, the extravagant clothes… we auditioned 300 girls for the different parts in the video… So, it’s just one of those things that… It just kind of came together. There was really no rhyme or reason for the video itself… We just knew we had a great director and we had a lot of great props, and we kind of let him… Dale’s a genius when it comes to doing music videos… he’s worked with everybody from Guns N’ Roses to the most basic metal bands, to Lil’ Wayne and Solja Boy, so he brings a lot of experience to the table, so we just kind of threw a bunch of things in and let him choose what he wanted to do, you know?

Interviewer: He seems like a pretty well-rounded guy…and I know I asked you about your producer earlier, but, could you just say what he’s done, also?

Wade: Yeah, there were three producers for our video… Our main executive producer is a guy named Gene Shibley, who is the owner of the Malibu Performing Arts Center, and he is a music industry elite… He was the staff-producer of Reprise and London Records, he’s worked with the Rolling Stones, Pink, Bob Dylan, Weezer

Chuck: Sting.

Wade: Sting was there for two months in the studio they owned while we were there… Pink had just finished her album there, Weezer had just finished their album there… I mean, he manufactured the first compact disc in the United States… He’s partially responsible for all of the technology from record labels being transferred from analog to digital… He is a staple in the music industry. Dave and Bryan, our partnership team, have worked on the Offspring, Alice in Chains, Jane’s Addiction… They’ve worked on so many things throughout the years… and Dave was the vice-president of Atlantic for three years, so… Just a lot of experience on the production side of these songs, you know?

Interviewer: When did you guys start recording?

Wade: It’s really like an ongoing process, I mean… There were two albums that came out yesterday… One has 27 tracks on it and it’s pre-production material and stuff that got left on the cutting room floor as well as previously released stuff from when we were Two Word Name that’s heavier, so people can kind of see the progression of the band, from who we were to who we are now… And then the actual album is basically seven singles… So, recording really has been ongoing since 2007, I mean… It’s one of those things where you have to get in when you can… Some days Sting would have an off  day and we’d get to take part of his studio time, or something like that, you know? Some of it is just coming up with the money for that, too, you know… Some of these places charge $3,000 a day to record… So, coming up with that kind of money, even at bare-bones prices, is still a challenge…

Interviewer: Definitely.

Wade: So, each time we recorded new songs, we’d have to find funding for the last few without being able to really release anything and come up with money from stuff we sold, you know?

Interviewer: Yeah, that does sound really tough… So, do you guys prefer recording, or do you like the energy of playing live?

Chuck:  DEFINITELY playing live, for me…

Wade: I like recording.

Chuck: Really? Totally opposite… I really like going out and getting in front of a bunch of people and doing what you do best to just keep them captivated for an hour, or however long we’re on stage…

Chris: It’s nice, because your approach to playing in the studio is totally different from your approach to playing live… As a drummer recording in the studio, you want to just go crazy, and then the producers would be like ‘take 75 percent out of what you just did,’, you know? And that goes for anyone who’s recording something… In the studio, less is more, but live…more is more, you know?

Interviewer: Complete opposites…

Chris: Yeah, and I think we do a good job of letting that energy out both in the studio and live.

Wade: I don’t know… For me, I do most of the songwriting, so I get sort of a high off the creation process…and it’s a really stressful thing… I mean, I don’t even smoke cigarettes and I’ll start smoking a pack a day… I mean, I’m stressed out. It’s like… For five minutes, it’s the best song you’ve ever written, and, for the next ten minutes, you don’t even want anyone to hear it…and ten minutes after that, you don’t even care about it… Then, the next day, you’re back to it being the best song you ever wrote again… It’s just… It’s stressful, but it’s fun… It’s a real art, songwriting… My long-term goals are mostly in production and songwriting, so I get way more of a rush than I do live… Live I feel like I blank out and I go on-stage, a bunch of stuff happens, and I come off and go ‘what just happened?’ It just kind of…

Interviewer: Full flash blank?

Wade: Yeah… I mean, if I think about what I’m doing on-stage, I mess up, so my brain completely shuts down when I get onstage.

Interviewer: Are there any particular weird things you do before you go onstage? I mean, rituals that the band has to go through?

Chris: Well, I’m probably usually in my own zone… I’m definitely… I like to have the blood flowing… I hate not having time to warm up. I don’t know… I hate sounding like ‘ oh, I take my instrument SO seriously!’, but, at the same time, drums are so physical…

Interviewer: Oh, definitely.

Chris: You can’t just walk on stage if you haven’t warmed up, you know? You’re just going to sound horrible.

Chuck: There aren’t any weird rituals…

Wade: I religiously have a shot of vodka and I pound a beer before every show… It’s like… It’s just enough of a buzz to keep me level on stage. It gets me in the zone… It’s probably really unhealthy, you know, but it works.

Chuck: There’s nothing like sweating out alcohol on stage when you’re trying to sing, right? [laughs]

Wade: I think that’s my only ritual, you know? I mean, I have to… It’s a requirement before I go onstage. I feel weird if I don’t… I don’t know. The few times that I haven’t, it’s just gone bad. I don’t know why. It’s totally a mind thing, because it doesn’t even hit you until you’re on stage anyway, but…it’s just something you get in the habit of, I guess… I suppose it’s how a lot of musicians develop a drug habit or an alcohol thing in the first place, so… It’s something that I pay close attention to, but  it’s something that I definitely enjoy it before I go on stage.

Nolan: It’s good that you pay attention to it.

Wade: Yeah, totally… That’s the one good thing about the way our career has progressed… it’s been slow enough for us to take notice of what other people have done wrong… To let other people make mistakes that we didn’t have to make and take notice of things that…. It’s not difficult to make it in the music industry if you have a solid band and everything goes great… The hard part is really keeping your life in order, keeping your band together, keeping yourself sane, you know, in kind of a roller-coaster industry… Paying attention to things you’re doing, like partying too much… that’s where the difficulty is. I mean, you’ve got drug dealers following you around every single show… Everybody wants to hang out with you after the show, because that’s their way of being ‘in’, coming up to you or talking to you or whatever, they feel like they should get you a drink or a line, so it’s really easy to get out of control really quickly… We do our fair share of partying, but I think everybody kind of can police each other enough to keep it…at a tolerable level, you know?

Interviewer: Yeah… So, this is kind of an odd question, but… if you had an ideal audience, or an ideal behaviour for an audience, what would it be? I mean, do you like them to be rowdy, or…

Chuck: Oh, yeah. When we play shows, the rowdier the audience, the funner the show, for me at least. It’s so fun to look down and see a bunch of people in a mosh pit just running into each other, beating the hell out of each other… It’s an amazing feeling.

Wade: If I can get people to dance, that’s something that… As a guy who started out in punk rock stuff, I wasn’t really used to seeing people dance… I mean, there were mosh pits and things like that but that was really it. When you have the whole room jumping up and down to your song, that’s a feeling that you can’t replicate with anything else… That’s the one time I really take notice on stage…when everyone is really unified and dancing to the same thing. That’s what kind of keeps you going.

Interviewer: It sounds like that would be pretty insane… So, are you guys setting any dates?

Wade: Yeah, we have the 29th in Long beach, they just booked us here next Thursday?

Chuck: The 22nd.

Wade: So, we have the 22nd here at the Brewing Company… It’s kind of like a return favour for them letting us do this here and kind of mess up their dinner hours for the next few days, and then we have Long Beach on the 29th, Hollywood with Unwritten Law at the Roxy on the 30th, we have the 14th at the Viper Room with a really big Sublime tribute band called 40 oz. to Freedom (Forty Ounces to Freedom),  we have the 23rd with the lead singer from Everclear, the lead singer from Trapped, and the lead singer from Eve 6, doing an acoustic storyteller show at the Viper Room.

Interviewer: Alright, sweet! Any last-minute announcements or comments?

Chris: Special thanks to you guys.

Chuck: Yeah!

Nolan: Oh, it was no problem.

Wade: Yeah! We appreciate you coming down and being a part of this.

Interviewer: Yeah! It was our pleasure!

Wade: Yeah, I mean… For the people that are going to be reading this, any promotional help that we can get for this video is really going to make a difference, because we are an independent band and things like this are what keep us at the same level as a major label band, because we don’t have the same budget as they do to spend on promotion…

Interviewer: Yeah, marketing…

Wade: A viral video, for us, is huge… So, getting people to post it… And not just one or two people, I mean… really getting a lot of people to go out there and post it all over the internet and being real supporters of the band is what would make the difference. We have full instructions at our website, www.kilrmusic.com.

Interviewer: Alright, cool! Well, I hope all goes well!

To see KiLR’s eye-catching new video, head over to YouTube.com. For any other information/ways to get tickets to any of the shows mentioned above, head over to their site. If you enjoy amazing shows with unique music that inspires you to get up and move, you should DEFINITELY go check these guys out! KiLR is not a band you’d want to miss.

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