On Friday, Jan. 29, I was given the opportunity to sit down with the Atlanta based rock trio Kick The Robot before their show at the Caledonia Lounge. Upon entering the shoebox venue a few hours before their show, I was greeted by Dan, bass and vocals, Dylan, drums and vocals, and Jesse, guitar and vocals, finishing up their sound check.
I was first introduced to Kick The Robot on Collective Soul’s “See What You Started By Continuing” tour when the 90’s classic rock band invited Kick The Robot to open for them for their southeastern run. After completing their tour, the trio of best friends immediately went to work on their new album, “Black Magic Radio Static”. Gearing up for the release of their second baby, the group is excited for new material, updated sound, and expanding their audience.
CFN: So you’re working on a new album I hear? It’s been almost 3 years since your last one. So this is much anticipated.
Dan: Yeah, “Black Magic Radio Static.” It’s o-fficial.
Dylan: I guess we can officially say the name now. We just finished tracking the record and we are just getting it ready to be sent out and mixed and everything.
CFN: Awesome, yeah, I noticed on your Instagram and Twitter that you guys have been cranking out the video shoots and photo shoots in preparation for the release.
Dylan: Yeah we are gearing up for it and I think people are going to be really stoked about it. It’s definitely a step up from our last thing.
CFN: Yeah, you guys were young when you released your first album, around 17. So do you think this one sort of shows how you’ve grown and matured as artists?
Everyone: Yeah, we hope so!
Dan: We hope it’s well received, yeah. We feel really good about it. The music is just –yeah—since the first record we’ve aged like four, three or for years?
Dylan: Yeah since we wrote the songs at least. Actually, earlier than that because we wrote a lot of the earlier songs while we were still in high school. So it took us a while to get the first record done because we were in high school and had no money. So we had to wait to do those songs. It’s funny, because when this record comes out, we will already be looking for the next thing to do. So I think it’s a good thing, you know. We don’t want to be stale and we don’t want to be in the same place every time. So it’s interesting that the crowd is going to pick up this record and it’s going to be the snapshot of a time that we’ve already past.
Jesse: It’s like once the album comes out, we’re past that moment.
Dylan: It’s the strangest thing. For the band, the record is the last part of that experience. Like oh, we’ve written, we’ve finished, we’ve recorded, and then now you perform it. But that’s the last part of everything.
Dan: And then when that first person takes the CD home, that is the first time they’ve heard it. And we’ve heard it like 2 million times, you know? And every little part.
CFN: Then I can only imagine how excited you guys are for this release. I mean it has been years since your first album came out, and so you have been pretty much playing what’s on that album along with a few new singles here in this last leg before “Black Static”, right?
Dylan: Yeah! There are a few tracks that the fans haven’t heard yet. We’ve purposefully left out some stuff to give them something new. Like our solid fans that are at every show, they know the new tracks that we have played, but even then, I think they are excited to hear the new stuff and take them home and here a different, sonically, different than the live experience. Because in a live environment, there’s so much more energy going on. And then with the record, you have to kind of simulate that –making sure the energy is there.
Dan: Which I feel like we captured well. It’s hard though because with a recording, you can back it up and play bits and bits over and over. You can’t exactly do that live, you know, like, “Hey, stop really quick, go back to that one spot. I want to hear exactly what you did there.”
CFN: I have noticed that there is a big push from you guys on supporting live music. Why is that so important for you?
Dylan: Well for us, we love the old stuff. Like ‘60s and ‘70s stuff. And EDM artists have like these massive laser shows –
Dan: Which I wish we had, those are so cool!
Dylan: Yeah! But we don’t have all of that, so we have to replicate that energy with each show. Like we are playing a gig like this at Caledonia, it is a super small intimate venue. But we have to keep that energy. It’s like when we were kids, we would tell each other “We have to play like we are playing in an arena.”
Dan: It’s always been whether there’s 2 people or 2 thousand, you play the same show with the same energy each time. There’s been times where there’s like 4 people.
Jesse: Yeah, like when we first started and there was only 4 people, we were like, “Oh, fuck that.”
Dan: Yeah, but now it’s like, “Hey guys, how’s it going? Are you having a good time? Alright let’s go onto the next song.” And you just play like there’s a million people in front of you.
CFN: So now that you established yourselves and the “jitters” of being a new band have sort of dissipated, does it not really matter how many people are in the audience, or is it just easier for you to enjoy yourselves while you’re onstage now?
Jesse: I think it’s definitely the second one. We have a good time doing it and before when we were kids, we took it a little too seriously. I mean, you’re kids. You want to be serious. You want to be rock stars. I think we’ve embraced the not-so-serious side of it and that definitely helps us just loosen up for the entirety of the show. We laugh a lot more now.
Dan: Yeah, like if something goes wrong on stage, they’re the butt of the joke for the next 30 seconds. The other two jam out while the third one takes care of it. We just laugh it off.
Dylan: We just love being on stage with each other. It’s freaking awesome. I think now with all of us, like you said, we’ve gotten past that part and now we can just have fun, and these people are having fun. People respond to authenticity. While, we aren’t the best players out there any of us will admit to that, our audience likes how authentic we are. They can tell that we enjoy what we are doing.
Jesse: The audience responds to our energy and we respond to theirs.
Dan: In the words of Nirvana, we are playing catch with our energy.
CFN: So you toured with Collective Soul for their southeastern run. What was that like? I know you guys said you dig the old classic rock, even though they are more 90’s, they’re considered classic.
Dan: Oh yeah, well we all grew up with them. Me, you, them. I mean when I was a 2-year-old baby my parents were jamming to “Shine” and “December”. For it to come full circle is incredible. For me and my parents. We’ve had talks where we’ve said that at no moment did we ever see this coming.
Dylan: It was a fantastic experience. We learned a lot. This was our first actual tour. The experience of being out there for two weeks was really surreal. I remember when we were about to go out for the first time and I was shaking in my boots –like shitting myself.
Dan: Oh that’s nice. I never smelt it in the van.
Dylan: Oh yeah. It was crazy because like the first night of the tour at the House of Blues in Orlando, the playbills didn’t mention that there was going to be an opening band. So we had people coming up to us after the show saying, “Yeah, I had my back turned to you for the first couple of notes, but then immediately turned around and was focused for the whole time.” Night after night people were digging it. We had no clue that we were going to have that much impact to that audience.
Jesse: You don’t know if you’re going to be palatable to that audience. Soul is kind of a classic thing, but it’s not a ‘60s-‘70s kind of classic.
Dylan: Like yeah we are completely different sonically than Collective Soul. But we somehow worked well together. The guys were some of the nicest people we’ve met, and Jesse even got an amp from Ed Roland out of it.
Dan: Playing for those huge crowds really stuck with us and having that experience definitely helped make us more comfortable on stage. It was incredible
Dylan: Yeah it really gave us a taste –you know, this is what it’s like! It was great! We were able to play all three nights with them at Ed’s charity show too. They really kept us under their wing. Incredible. There was a thing on their van that said, “If this is as good as it gets, at least it got this good.” That’s definitely how we feel.
Dan: Yeah, and you never know who is in the audience.
CFN: Like Elton John?
Jesse: Yeah! We were playing at this dive bar one night. And we looked at each other and we were like “Okay guys, this is a throw away show so just play it like an arena”. And one of the few people in the audience was good friends with Elton John and was like “Can I send this video to my friend?” That friend ended up being Elton John.
Dylan: Yeah, random little bar that we got pushed back on with our time slot. Then Jess is getting a call a few days later. It was all a dream.
Dan: I walked into Elton’s place and just said ahh [imitates church choir]
Jesse: It was just an overwhelming feeling of wealth as you walked in. The place was like an art museum.
CFN: What did you take away from that experience? Did Elton provide any sort of advice that circles in the back of your mind?
Dylan: Man, actually no one has ever asked that.
Dan: I mean we got a direct command.
Dylan: Yeah, like Jess with that guitar. We were just talking about some gear that we really wanted. [looking to Jesse] Why don’t you tell it, it’s your fucking life.
Jesse: Yeah, like he said. I must have talked a pretty good game about the guitar I wanted. Elton just leaves with no words. He comes back, slaps a thousand dollars and says, exact words, “Get that guitar and go write some fucking songs.”
Dylan: He just told us to keep writing. That has really stuck with us. It has steered us away from bad deals that are trying to change us. We want to be authentic. If our first record can put us in Elton John’s living room—
Jesse: Let’s wait and see where this next record will take us.
Dylan: Yeah like I’m so excited. Some of our songs have some really somber notes to them on this record, but their melodies are fun as shit. You’re going to have a really awesome time listening to it.
Jesse: We try to bring that emotion with out being so serious.
Dan: Like yeah, man, cheer the fuck up.
Dylan: I know that whenever we are writing, we live for that moment where an audience member connects so hard with one line.
CFN: Yeah, like let’s see how many emotions we can cram into 3 minutes and 50 seconds.
Dylan: Yeah! Exactly! And that moment comes for people at different times. Each song means something different to everyone.
Dan: The song’s meaning changes with you. It evolves with you.
CFN: Alright and as a closing question to sort of lighten things before you hit the stage. If you were on death row—
Everyone: Oh, God. A lightener, huh?
CFN: Just hear me out. You’re on death row, and you have one last meal. It can be anything. What is it?
Jesse: Ohhhhhh. Steak. Fucking Steak.
Dan: I’m surprised you didn’t say Taco Bell.
Jesse: Well it’s my last meal. If I wanted to go out with diarrhea –
Dan: No you should! And just leave it on the chair for them to clean up.
Jesse: Okay fine, a steak taco.
Dan: There’s this really kick ass Cuban sandwich at this restaurant in Lawrenceville that changed my life. The first bite, I get chills.
Dylan: My uncle actually runs a super good restaurant in New Orleans. So really anything on that menu. You’ll take one bite and you’re like “I didn’t know I could experience these flavors!” So that would be it.
“Black Static Radio Magic” is slated to release this spring, and Kick The Robot has a few more shows lined up in Atlanta in February. It was truly a pleasure to sit down with this group of musicians who sleep and breathe their craft. They are a breath of fresh air to the rock scene, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for Kick The Robot.