L.A. Thrash-Pop Band KIT Talk About Making Their New 'Rain' Video, Working with Charlyne Yi and Phil Elverum (Plus: An Exclusive John Wiese Remix)
KIT likes to thrash. KIT likes to party. KIT likes 'em short and sweet, heavy and melodic, fun and furious. This L.A. four-piece recently released its second album Invocation, produced by Phil Elverum (Microphones, Mt. Eeerie), on U.K. indie Upset the Rhythm. They're celebrating that fact with an awesome star-studded/friend-packed new video and some remixes. We've got a fresh interview with the band and an exclusive remix of the single "Rain" deconstructed and rebirthed by local noisenik John Wiese.
KIT with Charlyne Yi and friends.
West Coast Sound: In the video, there are, like, two singers, eight bassists,15 drummers and maybe 75 guitarists, one of which is Charlyne Yi. Who's actually in this band?
Vice Cooler: It's always been the same four members: myself, Kristy Gesch, Steve Touchstone and George Chen. But we wanted people from various bands and creative outlets which we respect to take part in the video. We overshot and asked around thirty people, expecting maybe five to show up. Instead 22 people rolled in. Truly and deeply an honor to work with every one of them. Some fun facts: it was shot in one take on the hottest day in L.A. history. It was filmed in my shared backyard with Nguzunguzu. I only appear in the video for three seconds. It features people from Deerhoof, Curtains, Moses Campbell, Old Lumps, Foot Village, Friends Forever, No Babies, Signals, Mae Shi, IE, and more. So shout out to them.
Kristy Gesch: Also, shout out to Steven Andrew Garcia, the man behind the camera.
WCS: How does Ms. Yi fit into the picture? Did she hurt anyone during the filming? She looks really fierce.
VC: She's a friend of ours. The four of us really respect her work -- she's a really amazing artist. I met her when one of my friends from high school in Alabama, Allan Mcleod, did a performance with her at Upright Citizens Brigade called World of Pain. Allan and I took drama class together, so it's really cool seeing people's work move forward so amazingly -- it's a reminder that we can make it out of whatever trap is placed before us. To bring it full circle, after this, I'm on my way out the door to play my first show with Charlyne at UCB. We started this project last week, have five songs and a show booked, but are still absent a band name! If you follow her on Facebook or me on Twitter you will hear more about it.
George Chen: I had only known of Charlyne through Knocked Up and some funny YouTube clips she'd done. Before we'd met her with Old Lumps, we'd all gone to Scoops and she had an art show up that I really liked. There was also some sort of Not Safe For Kids boner drawing that was covered with a mini-curtain.
WCS: Weirder, perhaps, than anything else related to this video, is the fact that the song (and album) is produced by Phil Elverum. It sounds nothing like any of his music -- even the metally stuff. How'd that happen, and what did he bring that wasn't already there?
VC: When we started working on our new material we were uncertain on how to record it. George suggested Phil and we just went with it. The recording took place in Anacortes, Washington, in the middle of nowhere at a venue in an old fire station called Department of Safety (R.I.P.). Everything in the town, which wasn't much, would close when the sun went down. It was a funny session. We didn't use any after-effects. For example, the reverb that goes from wet to dry at the end of "Out Of Ruins" was me in a basement with the mic walking up the stairs, down the hallway, and into the room with the amp. George skateboarded down a ramp into my cymbals as I played the drum solo on "Golden." Steve also got a kidney stone on the drive home. My bed the whole time was a two-foot couch with a mixer as a pillow and a dirty towel as a blanket. I also had never drank coffee ever in my life until this recording session.
GC: I've been doing shows for Mount Eerie in Oakland and San Francisco for a while. Phil recorded the whole album, but I don't think he would necessarily call what he does "producing" in the traditional sense. It's not like he told us what to do. It was collaborative decision-making and he's one of the only engineers we all trusted. (And it takes us a long time to agree on anything.) If you've heard Mount Eerie's Black Wooden Ceiling Opening, you know he can make some real chunky, heavy sounds.
Steve Touchstone: I didn't want to spend two years mixing this record like we did on Broken Voyage. Recording with someone else in a different city, on analog tape, with a limited amount of time seemed like the way to go.
STREAM AND DOWNLOAD THE EXCLUSIVE REMIX:
WCS: For those who are unfamiliar with "Rain"'s remixer, tell us something about John Wiese we couldn't learn from his Wikipedia page.
VC: He really likes the Kesha LP.
GC: John doesn't know this but I stayed with some people in Gent, Belgium, that had a funny story about him. He'd stayed at their house too, then come back a year later having forgotten he'd already been there. When they brought him some food he asked, very suspiciously, "Is this vegan?" After they left the room, they saw him smelling it very closely from the kitchen. So, he may have the olfactory ability to identify meat and dairy particles in scones or soup.
ST: Israeli security thought his laptop was an explosive device because he had some spray paint particles on it. He has a degree in graphic design. His latest surround-sound set was a mind-blower.
KG: He watches Stargate. He is also touring Egypt next year.
WCS: What's next from Kit? Another Elverum-produced album? A 75-guitarist revue? High fives?
VC: We're shooting a video for "Ambrosia," touring Europe in the spring and putting together a remix EP. Slowly starting work on the next LP.
GC: We had talked about recording with Albini, but driving to Washington was more efficient than flying to Chicago. Would love to work with Albini one day though. I actually played in Rhys Chatham's 200-guitar piece "A Crimson Grail" last year, and that recording just came out on Nonesuch. Steve was going to do it as well but decided it was too expensive of a trip.
ST: We take every record in a new direction. The next step is still to be determined.