-->
Interviews

Johnny Kills — “Take it Easy” (audio) (interview)

This London/Brighton trio releases fiery debut song of one-and-a-half minute garage rock goodness.

Is this London / Brighton trio’s collective name meant to evoke a fictional character? Is it a sentence fragment ominously failing to resolve who or what it is this Johnny figure is slaying? That the members -- Tim, Cameron, and Lewis -- all take “Kills” as a surname a la the Ramones further muddies the water and deepens the intrigue.

While considering the name’s interpretations, the group’s debut song sucker punches you in the gut and leaves you reeling for its minute-and-a-half duration. “Take It Easy” opens with some lo-fi guitar strumming before launching into a blistering and amphetamine-addled raver. Timmy Kills sings as if he’s in a race with the tempo, yowling lyrics as fast as the frenetic music backing him scorches from the speakers. Its attenuated length is fitting for its out-of-the-gates brashness, leaving your heart still racing when it abruptly halts. Their brand of incendiary garage rock invites comparisons to the likes of Thee Oh Sees, Cage the Elephant, or Twin Peaks.

Johnny Kills took a few minutes to answer some questions regarding their founding and their future.

To start with, tell me of the band’s origins and how you three came together.

The band started when one day we were all in a music shop trying different instruments and coincidentally all started playing “Sweet Child O’ Mine” at the same time. That, and they had previously been kickin’ about in bands together on the Cambridge scene.

How’d the name “Johnny Kills” come about?

Johnny Kills as a name came about in a dream that Cameron had in which he was running late for a gig whilst being hunted by a bear called Johnny. He didn’t survive the dream.

What’s the story behind or inspiration for “Take it Easy”?

“Take it Easy” is about early 20s panic and realizing that you’ve officially been initiated into "adultdom" and still have no clue about what you want to do/why you’re at the pub when you have an exam tomorrow, especially when your annoying “friends” seem to have it all sorted out -- “I’ll never be as successful as my friends will be.”

Why’d you select “Take it Easy” to be your first single?

The bare bones of “Take it Easy” was actually one of the first songs that Tim ever wrote, when he was 14-ish. After messing around whilst jamming we decided to play it again but really, really fast and with new lyrics and it was rather depressingly much more fun than the other songs we’d been writing and toying about with at the ripe old age of 20 something.

What’s on the band’s horizon, as far as future releases and touring?

“Take it Easy” has a music video that's coming out next week and then another single called “Maybe Next Year” will join it to make a double A-Side in a month or so’s time. In the summer, we’re planning on putting Johnny Kills onto a stage or two to rock everyone silly.

Charlie Brown, Snoopy, and Woodstock each did their stint as a lonely Mexican cowboy, it seems. These and other things you didn't know about A Charlie Brown Christmas.

How Would You Like to Be the Director of Our Christmas Play?

It's really a beautiful little movie and has affected my life in numerous ways. For years, especially when we were poor, we always tried to find the littlest saddest Christmas tree possible. In fact, my son Eli has a Christmas tree set up right now that is just one single branch propped up in a juice bottle. And just a couple weeks ago we were at a wedding, everyone was dancing, and me and my wife Amy and my friend Garth started dancing like the Peanuts characters do in the Christmas special. -- Comic artist James Kochalka.

Bill Melendez answers questions with the sort of vigor that men a third his age invest thousands in herbal supplements to achieve. He punctuates his speech with belly chuckles and comic strip taglines like "Oh, boy!" and "I tell 'ya!" With the reckless abandon that Melendez tosses out words like pleasure, it's clear that 41 years after its premiere, A Charlie Brown Christmas remains one of his favorite topics of conversation. "It changed my life," he states simply, "being involved with this silly little project."

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Music

The Best Country Music of 2017

still from Midland "Drinkin' Problem" video

There are many fine country musicians making music that is relevant and affecting in these troubled times. Here are ten of our favorites.

Year to year, country music as a genre sometimes seems to roll on without paying that much attention to what's going on in the world (with the exception of bro-country singers trying to adopt the latest hip-hop slang). That can feel like a problem in a year when 58 people are killed and 546 are injured by gun violence at a country-music concert – a public-relations issue for a genre that sees many of its stars outright celebrating the NRA. Then again, these days mainstream country stars don't seem to do all that well when they try to pivot quickly to comment on current events – take Keith Urban's muddled-at-best 2017 single "Female", as but one easy example.

Keep reading... Show less

It's ironic that by injecting a shot of cynicism into this glorified soap opera, Johnson provides the most satisfying explanation yet for the significance of The Force.

Despite J.J. Abrams successfully resuscitating the Star Wars franchise with 2015's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, many fans were still left yearning for something new. It was comforting to see old familiar faces from a galaxy far, far away, but casual fans were unlikely to tolerate another greatest hits collection from a franchise already plagued by compositional overlap (to put it kindly).

Keep reading... Show less
7

Yeah Yeah Yeahs played a few US shows to support the expanded reissue of their debut Fever to Tell.

Although they played a gig last year for an after-party for a Mick Rock doc, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hadn't played a proper NYC show in four years before their Kings Theatre gig on November 7th, 2017. It was the last of only a handful of gigs, and the only one on the East coast.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image