This spring, I went to a show to cover a band that I’d interviewed, and Chicago-based alt-rock four piece The Kickback was the first of three bands to play that night. Admittedly, the crowd was only beginning to trickle in during their set, but The Kickback performed their hearts out as if there were 1,000 people pressed against that stage. I was thoroughly entertained and very impressed; I just had to more about this band, and of course, beloved readers, pass the information along to you. Frontman Billy Yost, a colorful and charismatic character, was kind enough to answer a few questions recently…and I’m still laughing:
Eo8: How did The Kickback become The Kickback?
BY: The band started with a bunch of flyers hung up at the University of South Dakota. A couple guys answered to ads seeking people who like “early Green Day and Alkaline Trio.” I was in college and found a couple of great guys to play with and never at any time have we ever sort of sounded like either of those bands. That was a long time ago. I don’t know why I always kept the name, but it’s always been the name, many faces and sounds later. I’d like to think this is the keeper. It was in my Criminal Justice textbook in a blurb about the Enron case. I guess I should be grateful to those guys for ruining enough lives to wind up in a textbook.
Eo8: I’m fascinated by the story of the making of your forthcoming album Sorry All Over The Place at Jim Eno’s studio in Austin. Can you elaborate on your experience of “trauma bonding”?
BY: We did 10 days of tracking and 10 days of mixing (even though I earnestly told Jim before we started recording that I thought we needed at least 20 for mixing (this is apparently what a crazy person asks for)) in Austin, TX at Jim’s studio, Public Hi-Fi. We slept in the rehearsal room of a great Austin musician we know during all of that time. Every night it was body-to-body-to-body-to-body in our sleeping bags. It’s strange because during all of that time, I don’t remember one disagreement between us, and I think that’s because we were so focused on what we were doing that there wasn’t any time to be crotchety (I am the king of Crotchety Town). We would come home every night at one in the morning completely drained from the day and just splay out, wake up, eat something unhealthy and head to the studio. The only non-recording memory I have of our time in Austin is this Chuck Berry documentary where Bruce Springsteen talks about the time his band was Berry’s backing band and right as they started playing a song they didn’t know, Chuck yelled, “Play for that money, boys!” We still yell it constantly. Anyway, every day when we rolled into the studio, Jim was there with a smile. He told us that no band had ever worked him harder than us, and I really took that as a compliment. He said he’d never eaten more over a recording console than during our time together. I love that guy to death.
Eo8: You have an eclectic mix of inspirations; your current single is called “White Lodge,” which I’m assuming is a reference to “Twin Peaks” (I’m a David Lynch fan myself!) Can you tell us about that song (creating it, how it relates to David Lynch/Twin Peaks, that kinda stuff)?
BY: “White Lodge” is definitely about Twin Peaks. That song got started when I had moved back in with my parents before moving to Chicago. I had, for lack of a better word, some mental problems and convinced myself that trying to live my life exactly like Special Agent Dale Cooper (from the show) would make my life make sense and have meaning. As it turns out, it’s really hard to be the world’s best person. I’m talking like four days tops (in short, pathetic bursts). But during that time I wrote the main verse and the guitar solo of what wound up being “White Lodge.” Fast-forward something like four years later and the song was a song. A lot of our songs wind up being something from forever ago, something from a while ago, and something from three days ago.
Eo8: Who is Howie?
BY: Howie is our tour manager who travels with us fairly extensively. He doesn’t have a great attitude and is a borderline sociopath, but he’s also a puppet, so I’m really not sure what constitutes normal behavior from his ilk. His reaction to this description will probably drop a body or two.
Eo8: Is there a particular song of yours that resonates with you more than the others/one that you like playing more than the others?
BY: Whatever the newest song is. There’s a sweet spot after you’ve played it in front of people enough times to have your sea legs and muscle memory. It’s the greatest time there is. It’s the best time.
Eo8: Do you have festivities planned for the release of the album?
BY: I’m trying to organize a rollerskating party. I love rollerskating rinks; 98% of my first probably 10 romantic moments take place at a roller skating rink or behind a football stadium.
Eo8: Will you be going on tour to support the album, and specifically, will you be coming back to Nashville?
BY: We will be going on tour for sure. Nashville is definitely in the mix. I think? It has to be. Nashville seems to have more musicians moving to it daily than LA has actors or Portland has artisanal dentistry.
AND….last but not least….
Eo8: If each of you could go back and tell your younger selves something, what would it be?
TK: I’m the only one here right now, so I would tell Eamonn and Ryan and Jonny to move to South Dakota so we could get a move-on and not have to meet in Chicago, and I would tell me absolutely nothing. Punch, maybe. No talking, though.