An Interview with Kangaroo Knife Fight by Kimmy DeVries of I Love KC Music.
This year at Middle of the Map, I saw Kangaroo Knife Fight for the first time. I had wrongly assumed that a band with knife and fight in it, that it was going to be an angry rock band that I might not like. I was pleasantly wrong. Anthony's soulful voice blew me away and the bands music made me want to dance. It was clear the band liked playing together and I didn't want their set to end. I caught them again at Woodside Health & Tennis Club playing an acoustic set. When they played their acoustic set it unmistakable how talented the band is. I also had the pleasure of getting to hang out with the guys and discovered they're super nice too. I'm super excited that they allowed me to do my first I Love KC Musicinterview with them.
Kangaroo Knife Fight is comprised of Anthony on vox, Brandon on guitar, Ian on drums, and Gus on bass.
Kimmy: How long have y'all been playing together as a band?
KKF: Gus and Ian started first back in 2010 or so, then Brandon came along (early 2013), then Anthony. All in, pretty sure we started getting together late in 2013 as soon as Anthony arrived.
As individuals? All of us have been doing our thing since early childhood. Ian has stories dating back to 5 years old, like his dad making him eat breakfast listening to click tracks to train him for timing. Gus played bass in bands in high school, college, law school and has really never stopped. Brandon has barely done anything but play guitar since he got one as a kid. He does have a real job now, but that is a recent development. Pretty sure growing up for him is as lame as it is for everyone. Anthony was also gigging in Australia before coming over to the states, but in terms of the level of intensity and commitment to the music things have become more serious since he’s been here.
Kimmy: You're band has a bit of a different story for how y'all met, could you tell me more about that?
KKF: It’s starting to get cloudy. We probably should have documented it when it was fresh in our minds. The basic gist is that it happened to turn out that Anthony and Gus were both internet browsing for bandmates at essentially the same time – at least the same week. If I recall correctly, Gus came across Anthony’s post for bandmates on one of the many sites he was searching. Gus did some research and discovered some videos of Anthony busking on the streets of New Orleans that were impressive and also found some vague references to Anthony being on Australian Idol (back in its early days). In any case, the situation was unclear so he started up communications and it turned out that Anthony was married to a girl from Kansas City, but they lived in Australia and the videos of him in New Orleans were just from a visit to the US. Despite the distance, they traded song ideas and Anthony went all in by coming to the US.
Kimmy: Anthony, did you ever imagine you would end up in a band in the US?
KKF: I can’t say I imagined I would, but I certainly would not have bet on this band coming together like it did – that is for sure! It just seemed like it was meant to happen the way it went down. I showed up and the band was here and waiting, ready to go. We wrote some music, put out a record and just went at it. It’s been great! The music has probably been the easiest part of being here. Adjusting to a new slot on this rock and adapting to a different culture is more of a trick than one suspects. At this point I am getting quite comfortable with things though and Kansas City has been extremely good to me. I love this place!
Kimmy: What is your creative process like as a band?
KKF: It’s very simple. We’ve been in so many band and realized that good music isn’t necessarily complicated music. At this point, we write from the perspective that good music feels good. We generally start with something on guitar and repeat it until Anthony hits a vibe and produces a melody. This is usually the verse. We capture that, then we develop it. The chorus is always easy to write musically and generally not so hard lyrically. The hardest part of a song is finishing it. There is always a perceived weak spot and we usually put ourselves under a deadline to force the work. The last moments, when you are forced to decide are often very productive.
Kimmy: I saw on Facebook you're working on new things, sounds and experimenting, could you tell me a bit more about that?
KKF: We are doing some major experimentation right now. We have run into some limitations that we don’t like and need to be overcome. For starters, new music is being written and it’s very different. We don’t really even know how we will be able to play it, so we are having to learn how to do some things that we have not tapped into in the past. People that like our current songs, may not like our new songs. It’s hard to say. Honestly, until we finalize something and figure out how to execute it, it’s only something that might happen. If the experiment fails, we may have to convert the music into our standard arrangement. Who knows? The truth is, we are challenging ourselves right now and there is no telling how it will turn out.
Kimmy: What's your favorite part of being a band? (Practice? Writing? Recording? Playing shows? Touring?)
KKF: Anthony loves playing shows most. For Ian it’s recording. Brandon is pretty big into shows as long as it’s not 100 degrees out, but he really digs recording and the engineering aspect as well. Gus is into producing the songs more than anything, but playing is a very close second. Generally speaking we like to record songs and play shows. Practice, writing and touring are the work of a band. Even recording would often be considered work for most bands, but we really enjoy it. The work, while it’s not as fun as the shows, make the shows what they are, so our favorite part is only our favorite part because of the work we put into the other areas.
Kimmy: What are you most proud of accomplishing as a band?
KKF: Friends and fans (potential friends). Writing music that people enjoy enough to come out and support is not easy. The couch is easy. Netflix and chill is really damn easy. Stopping someone from Netflix and chill and getting them off their butt to drive their car to Tank Room or Grinders (or wherever) and pay money to watch your ass is not easy. People that put in the effort to see us is something we appreciate more than we can express. It’s exactly why we are trying to up our game now. We want to become something more substantial, more compelling.
Kimmy: What albums do you have on repeat right now?
KKF: Well, this is going to reflect our experimental mindset at the moment, but bands like Mass Gothic, Bishop Briggs, Lost Frequencies, Lewis Del Mar, Mutemath, some Kaleo and others that are very new to us.
Kimmy: Who are some of the musicians that inspire y'all?
KKF: We’ve all been inspired by certain musicians throughout life that don’t
necessarily remain current inspirations, but without them we wouldn’t be who we are. Some of them are Sam Cooke, Dave Grohl, Slash and Flea, but right now we are looking to some of the artists named on the albums above and looking for ways to change our mindset and do something more fresh and inspired as opposed to something we fully formed in our mind and then set out to create. Technology has changed so much, we want to tap into it. We want to take things and noises that were not created or intended to be music and blend them into what we do.
Kimmy: If you could pick your dream line up to play with, which bands would you chose? KKF: This is always hard because you can go big or go cool. I will say, Lewis Del Mar’s set is killer and he is doing a lot of what we want to be doing. The same goes for Bishop Briggs in terms of her songs even though we haven’t seen her play. If we could get on tour with those two bands and the three of us opening for LCD Soundsystem it would be alright.
You can see Kangaroo Knife Fight yourself this month. August 10 at Kauffman - Royals Game, August 12 at Grinders with the Rainmakers and August 18 at Woodside Health and Tennis Club.
Posted 1st August 2016 by Kimmy