Generically speaking,... I’m in a dusty, gutted, cluttered basement with five punk rockers on the anterior side of 25 and two electro-dance-poppers on the anterior side of 30 – and the collected septet are listening to each other’s respective interpretations of each other’s songs; sharing the freshly recorded covers before sitting down to interview each other, in lead up to a release party for what will be a split-cassette: Kommie Kilpatrick vs. Champions of Breakfast. - April 1 - PJs Lager House
Around the drum kit sit singer Teddy Stavridis, drummer Zak Frieling, guitarist Kit Sabo and bassist Mac Hyde, founding members of Kommie Kilpatrick, with their newest member, guitarist Eric Allen – and on the other side, singers/keyboardists/cardboard-guitarists and “digital artists” Val Hundreds and Moses Jackson, the Champions of Breakfast.
Stavridis, Frieling, Mac, Hundreds and Jackson all hail from the Flint area – where, from 03-07, they became closely acquainted through webs of musical collaboration – with Frieling and Mac working a local club friendly to punk acts fatefully seeing performances from Hundreds and Jackson’s ska-angled act The Hot Flashes. Getting out of high school in 04, Frieling and Mac had a band called Fucking Gnarly around the Flint area. Stavridis, meanwhile, was in a punk “rock band” called The Pulse with Bryan Summerset (who now records Kommie’s ravenous punk ballads in this same basement), and eventually had Frieling and Jackson join (keeping up so far?). All those bands came to an end – people get busy, people move around, you know how it goes.
All the while, Allen, through 08, was banding down in Detroit in punk-leaning bands like the Dial Tones, Jackson (a.k.a. John), meanwhile, was playing guitar in Empty Orchestra and Hundreds (a.k.a. Saul) was also playing with Canada. But their Flint-born dabblings continued, as Hundreds and Jackson, pre-Champions, had yet another band, a ridiculous low-end-roaring tribal punk rock thing called Rock n Roll Bass Guitar – which, yes, eventually ended.
So you had all this energy between them, a close friendship, and now individual inspirations between both tribes (be it Stavridis and Frieling on one end or Jackson and Hundreds on the other) to streamline their passion for fun, chaotic music via minimalist assemblages ideal for breakneck-speed creative output.
Thus – we now have the hardcore-slamdanced-rip-roaring pound-punk of Kommie Kilpatrick (starting up in summer 08) and the Casio-crazy computer surged mainstream mocking irresistible beat-heavy dance pop of Champions of Breakfast (which started initially as an experiment in internet-hype-building through late 2007). The quintet thrashes out fast, brief, noisy, hook-hinted rock ballads, shouted and shredded – the duo presents mellifluous sultry synth-showers with glitzy swagger—purposely performing with pre-recorded songs and audacious and ostentatious props, costumes, a light show (but still live, boisterously belted vocals).
And…now, each has covered four of the others songs and put it together. “How did this idea come about?” Stavridis asks, genuinely unsure. “I think when the word popped out of whoever’s mouth it was,” Hundreds offers, “everyone was like, ‘oh my god I just got a huge music boner right now. There wasn’t even any question…”
First question, boys,…go ahead
Teddy (KK): Did anyone think of those?
Kit (KK): Where did you guys come from? -
Val (CoB): …the land down under.
Zak (KK): Why did you guys want to play our songs? –
Val (CoB): The thing we’ve always really liked about Kommie Kilpatrick is the unabashed, just, disregard for…basically everything. Which is awesome. You can’t see your band and not feel like you’re about to get into a fight for no real reason – to be able to illicit that type of response is really something. –
Moses (CoB) It was like a songwriting experiment, it allows you to do all sorts of crazy experimental shit.
Zak (KK): It was kind of the same for us. We got to make it sort of halfway our type of thing but it still kinda felt like a lot more structured-pop song structures, at least one some of them, and a lot of your songs are longer. Teddy (KK): …so many words!
Val (CoB): How do you guys decide what this next 30-second-opus is gonna be about? –
Eric (KK): …from hanging out with each other. –
Teddy (KK): We just take what we say, out on the porch. –
Kit (KK): One of our songs… “Bad News Beers,” is so many drunk stories into one song. –
Teddy (KK): It’s very autobiographical, …like Bruce Springsteen. Our new song that I’m most proud of, “Brain Stuff,” we wrote about Craig Brown from The Mahonies just getting a piece of paper stuck in his nose. A lot of party stories really. – Kit (KK): But you can make it relatable to people. – Teddy (KK): I like when you write our reviews because you add things we don’t even comprehend…like, ‘no, that was just about our friend falling out of a window; or that was just about how one of us crashed the girl-we-like’s car…oops.’
Moses (CoB): I gave your first full length to one of my co-workers, he’s like a middle-aged man, a dad…
Teddy (KK):…dad rock!
Moses (CoB): I was in his minivan, driving to see the Jesus Lizard with his iPod on shuffle and his friends, his wife, they were like, man, this is kinda great and my friend’s like, you guys gotta check this out, it’s Kommie Kilpatrick! How does that make you feel, that people you don’t know are actively enjoying your music? -
Zak (KK): We just got an envelope from England, full of money, the other day—someone wanted to order the tape, taking the time to go to the bank and trade their money for American and mail it overseas.
Val (CoB): Do you guys remember in 1985… -
Eric (KK): …when I was born? –
Val (CoB): They had put out Games Magazine, do you remember Games Magazine? –
Zak (KK): I remember Game-Pro…! –
Val (CoB): Yeah…whatever…so, 1985…Games Magazine! There was an advertisement, full page ads, for 12 LPs that were “banned” in the US, like: Municipal Waste, or Euro import bands, it was a big deal like, ‘Send us 19.95 and we’ll mail you one of these bad devils!’ I was looking at Games Magazine not too long ago…because I do that…and remember as a kid thinking (Pillsbury DoughBoy falsetto-)- ‘oh man, Municipal Waste that sounds really naught!’ It seems like rules have changed; when you look back at any type of media today, you can get away with a lot more, now, to put out Municipal Waste it would just be one more fucking drop in the bucket…
Teddy (KK): It’s strange for us. We never really expected anyone really to listen to it. We started in the Flint scene, just playing for each other. And now, we’re doing the same quality stuff as 5 years ago… - Zak (KK): - Meh… - Teddy (KK): Okay, less wanky now, but, knowing people in fucking Croatia are listening to our shit, it’s weird.
A lot of you grew up in Flint. Now you’re all down here, and most of you are in school…
Zak (KK): I go to CCS for Illustration, Fine Arts and Art Education. –
Teddy (KK): I go to Wayne State for secondary education, major is English, minor is history. – Kit (KK): I study History, trying to get into Wayne Law School. – Mac (KK): I’m doing pre-pharmacy stuff right now. Val (CoB): I have a degree in Rockatudilidge.
Zak (KK): How do you guys record? –
Moses (CoB): It started when the guy who records your stuff left his old recording equipment at my house. Basically we have like a 5-year-old, just, piece of shit computer and a Casio keyboard from… -
Val (CoB): K-mart. –
Moses (CoB): K-mart, you got when you were… -
Val (CoB):…16 –
Moses (CoB): 16-years-old and we use an older music sequencing program and some samples and shit. We don’t actually practice. We get together to just write the songs and when we actually need to practice the stuff, we rehears by listening to the iPod on the way to the show.
Kit (KK): How do you get those tones from the cardboard guitar? –
Val (CoB): It’s custom made!
Eric (KK): How did you learn all of the computer stuff?
Moses (CoB): A lot of people we really like have said, ‘Yeah, ya know, your last record (Pleasure Mountain) was o-kay, but, did you guys…get that mastered?’ And we’re like, ‘…heh, No!’ And then they’re like, ‘Ohh, you guys should really think about plugging in the…rockatudilidge-plug and hitting the compressor-7600…and it’s just like then, when you tell people ‘I don’t know what the fuck that means…’ they’re like…kinda surprised, but then they’re kinda not…
Teddy (KK): That’s what bands like us are both about! I think that comes from where we’re from, too. We just do this and we don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re just gonna try it out. –
Val (CoB): You just develop a method. For us, it was reel-to-reel, on our first 5-6 albums that we put out on different bands. We didn’t go out and buy new reels so you can hear the ghosts of all previous albums through the tape. –
Teddy (KK): Everything I learned about being a vocalist was from Val and Moses’ previous band, Rock n Roll Bass Guitar, watching Larry Trent… -
Val (CoB): There’s definitely something that’s always been intriguing about pushing the envelope and doing something that’s surprising and whether it’s really good or not; something that’s totally different – it’s not necessarily breaking down barriers or changing the world of music but it’s something that’s totally unique and I think that’s something that Mo and I wanted to do with whatever project we were working with, something totally different from whatever else was going on, something that exists only in the realm of our band.
Eric (KK): That’s something I wanted to ask you about…the whole backlash that seemed to happen on message boards and blogs, people talking shit about you guys not playing music, do you even think about it or just say fuck it—ya do it because you love it… -
Val (CoB): You can’t really waste any time thinking about it becase they don’t know you as a musician—they only know what they see; they don’t know anything about the musical past that either of us have had, our musical abilities or interests, it’s easy to look at something and say, ‘Man, this is really poking fun at something that I hold dear, you’re really attacking my perception of music, kinda jerking off on it…’ and we’re doing this thing in this exaggerated cartoon falsetto where it’s humorous and in our minds is still enjoyable and in our minds is something very unique because the approach we’ve taken is completely turning the whole thing on it’s ear. The only thing you’re seeing that’s real is everything-but-the-music. –
Teddy (KK): I feel like those people just don’t see it. They see a band as a band; they don’t see it as a separate project for each of those musicians. I feel like both of us are “…buzz bands…” and so it just means that eventually you’re just gonna get shit on but fuck those people. –
Moses (CoB): What surprised me, everyone is interested in doing different things and being experimental with experimental approaches, but…to a certain extent. The reason we don’t have a live band, a drummer or we don’t play guitars is because everyone else does. We had a list: We’re gonna start this new band and we don’t want to have year-long-recording processes, we don’t want to have huge practice schedules, we don’t want to haul around tons of gear. –
Val (CoB): We kinda fucked up that last one… - Moses (CoB): We needed to minimize the operation as much as possible. There were still a lot of people who were like ‘Oh we’re cool with your operating outside the realm of traditional music…’ but to a certain extent. Once you have flashing lights and you don’t have a live band, then some are like ‘Oh fuck this, whatever.’ –
Teddy (KK): And, what we’re trying to do is bring it back to the bare minimal.
Zak (KK): So…what about your new album? –
Moses (CoB): We’ve got a new record called Taming the Digital Frontier – kind of a concept record about a digitized world that is like the American wild west but with all these anachronistic kind of digital Nintendo villains who roam around. When you get the record, you get 12 or 13 tracks but also an insert that has cut-out masks of our faces and a download code so you can download the live mixes that we play-to and then you can book your own shows as Champions, so, literally, anyone can do what we do.
Val (CoB): So…Weird City is the most recent thing I have heard of yours… -
Teddy (KK): You’re behind! – Zak (KK): I’ve got to get you Life Sucks and then we just did Life Sucks 2 -
Teddy (KK): Our main goal is to try to put out a 45. Zak (KK): With the different mediums, we want to make sure it gets the recording process it deserves. Like, a CD-R we can record in 45 minutes, maybe a tape we can do in a whole day. But on vinyl…it’ll take more time. –
Teddy (KK): The songs are taking a step forward. Kit (KK): Which, is natural for any band. Eric (KK): We’re not going backwards that’s for sure. At least not until we default and start our dance bands.
Like breaking apart and doing separate albums like KISS?
Teddy (KK): And they’re all gonna be awful. –
Kit (KK): No, Ace Frehley’s was really good. –
Teddy (KK): ‘Cuz of ‘New York Groove!’ – Kit (KK): Yeah. –
Teddy (KK): Which is a cover song! –
Zak (KK): I think we’re learning today that sometimes cover songs can be good. –
Teddy (KK): I think what we’re learning today is that Kit-really-likes-Ace-Frehley!
Kit (KK): My guitar…I got it because it looks like Ace Frehley’s –
Val (CoB): That’s so hot. Ace Frehley is so hot right now. – Teddy (KK): …right now?
Zak (KK): What are some song titles on your new one? –
Moses (CoB): ‘1-800-Tumbleweeds’ is on it, ‘Tumbleweed Junction.’ –
Val (CoB): We have not played ‘Bits Got Lost’ live yet, which is a song we crafted about the male experience in regards to losing out on your opportunity to have sexual intercourse with a fine female due to FarmVille. We also have a hard hitting dance song called ‘Dirty Clothes’ centered around eating food you should not each in a mobile scenario, like while driving your car. Sloppy Joes…pie… I think we did do a nice cluster of songs, like Pleasure Mountain, they’re different styles, a variance between them; you’re not really listening to anything that’s super-like Pleasure Mountain; it goes to a different place.
Moses (CoB): Do you guys have any touring plans? –
Zak (KK): We played Toledo one time, it’s hard because we’re all in school or are working. Teddy (KK): This summer we’ll at least have a few weekends-out.
And you, Champions?
Moses (CoB): We’re gonna try to do 9 days, beginning April Fool’s Day, which is the tape-release-show. –
Teddy (KK): We should talk about how this came about… -
Moses (CoB): One thing I really like about tapes, for the same reason I like records, with records it’s an issue of fidelity. But with tapes, it’s not like as disposable of a medium as—here’s a CD-R, you can’t just listen to tapes while you’re doing something else. –
Zak (KK): It’s more active. You gotta rewind it…it’s kind of a hassle but… -
Val (CoB): I think it’s relatable to how you perform, which is almost an aggressive behavior towards the audience. Like, you are almost angry at them so you are punishing them. –
Teddy (KK): I guess, yeah.
Val (CoB): Alright? So, the cassette…is like a punishment in a way because you don’t want what’s on this tape to be so easily digestible. You want it to almost just piss you off a little bit…just a little bit…and I think that’s great!!
And so, we have the cassette release party, April 1st at the Lager House…
Zak (KK): With the Kickstand Band – whose Allison Young played trombone on one of our Champion covers.
Which we heard tonight prior to the interview. Gentlemen, anything to add?
Teddy (KK): We’re all about rockatudilidge… -
Val (CoB): And the cassette release party…
Teddy (KK): …a music boner.
…A mostly-born-from-Flint collaboration of two different bands that went minimalist in two unique ways…
Zak (KK): We all want to have fun, that’s why the covers worked well. We’re both about raw emotion and fun…