Monday, September 13, 2021

KickBoy on Pokemon, Musical Influences and Their Debut Single ‘Portland From Streetview’

This week we were lucky enough to speak with Bristol’s very own KickBoy, an up-and-coming punk rock three piece whose new single is due to be released any day now.

In a sound that apparently ranges from Damon Albarn, to IDLES and even The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air - as you will see explained below - KickBoy appears to represent a new wave of talent that doesn’t just play with genre but actively rejects it.

We chatted about what we can expect from the new track, how their band name was conceived, what we might be able to forecast for the band’s future, and more.

As an indie, rock and punk band, how would you describe your sound in 3 words?

Eurovision entry 2022

The name KickBoy sounds particularly punk, is there a particular reason you chose this band name?

Sort of. We were practicing for a while before we had a band name. We weren't in a rush to come up with anything until we entered a battle of the bands, so we had to come up with something but couldn't agree on anything. Some of the failed names were Return of the Chef, Proon Jooce and Hot Seggzz (we have a lot of orange segments at sweaty band practice sessions). Then we were on the way to practice and we had my GameBoy in the back of the car with Pokemon on it from when I was ten. We went through the pokemon I'd caught and there was one I'd called Kick Boy which we thought sounded pretty fun so we rolled with it (the pokemon didn't have any legs and I must've thought I was being real funny at the time - it was a Geodude) 

We’ve heard you met in the smoking area of Bristol, Thekla. Would you like to come full circle and perform there in the future? Or, if you have already performed there, how did it feel to perform in the place you met?

Hell yeah! We've played most of our favourite venues in Bristol but Thekla is still on our hit list. So many insane bands play there and it would be an honour to join those big names. Plus it's a boat. Every band should play on water at some point y'know. 

In 3 days your debut single ‘Portland From Streetview’ is due to be released on the 10th of this month - very soon (!) - what can we expect from it?

The unexpected (ooOOooohh). We've dipped into a lot of genres as a band so far. People who have come to our shows probably think of us as a rowdy punk band. We also have two non-spotify releases floating around on soundcloud and youtube which are surf punk and garage rock tracks. This track sticks out from what we've done so far as more of a post-punk number with a much slower tempo.

Are there any particular artists or genres that have influenced this single? And who are your musical influences in general?

Definitely. I was listening to a lot of post-punk, art rock and post rock stuff at the time. A lot of contemporary bands like Do Nothing, Legss and The Cool Greenhouse. I wanted a sound that would ground the track in a familiar but interesting repetitivity that we could build on throughout the song, while the vocals could just go off on a mad one.

The vocals themselves came to me while watching the Reject False Icons documentary by Gorillaz. I love the way Damon Albarn writes his lyrics - he always paints such a colourful world, while a lot of the song meanings are actually quite bleak. That said though, someone said the lyrics sounded like the Fresh Prince of Bel Air (what?), so maybe there was some subliminal influence from the hip-hop I was listening to at the time too (MF Doom, De La Soul...). Conor Kearney, who recorded the track with us and plays in Home Counties, also suggested adding a second 'duelling' guitar line, something they do in a lot of their tracks, which ended up sounding really tight. 

How was the pre-release party on August 7th, was the track well-received?

Amazing. It was a home-cooked DIY gig in our Bristol flat (the best kind), the first one we'd played since Covid. We were super stoked to be playing again. We had amazing support from Johnny Smyth and Captain Gas and we couldn't have asked for a better crowd. We only got noise complaints from two streets over as well so that was a bonus. 

Are there any major topics you like to explore in your lyrics?

Our tracks tend to fall into two categories; self reflective, exploring topics of mental health or just fun tracks about silly stories. The former definitely takes up most of our better tracks. I think fellow Bristol band IDLES really set us down the path of opening up about our feelings and talking about this topic. The goal is to dress up a deeper meaning in a track that's accessible and not dull / down-tempo listening. Hopefully someone hears it and knows they're not alone in whatever they're feeling.

What can we expect in the future from KickBoy? Do you plan to stay in Bristol? Could we hope for a debut EP?

No plans for an EP yet, but we've got two more singles lined up for this year. We're staying on our path of jumping into loads of different genres, so the next two are going to sound completely different to Portland. The goal is to establish ourselves as a band that doesn't stick to a label or a rulebook with song writing. When the EP does come eventually, we have no idea what it'll sound like, but it'll be fun.

We’ve loved speaking with the band and are now even more excited to listen to ‘Portland From Streetview’; what’s more, it’ll be interesting to see which genre the band moves into next and how this compares with the single. Either way, we’re delighted this band is releasing official music and look forward to seeing their popularity grow.

Maddie Bridger
Image: Official Single Artwork

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