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.