Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Black Kids

My interview with Black Kids appears online in this week's WE.

Jacksonville, Florida's Black Kids.

Black Kids burst out of Jacksonville, Florida, and onto the international indie-rock scene last year, earning scores of accolades following a buzz-making appearance at the annual Athens Popfest. The band then took a decidedly modern approach to hawking its ’80s-inspired sound, offering up its debut EP for free, making viral marketing its bitch and acquiring the attention of Arcade Fire’s management in the process. Those hungry to hear the imaginary byproduct of the Cure and Pet Shop Boys bumping uglies fell hard and fast for Black Kids’ new wave/dance-pop stylings. Just a few months after the release of debut album Partie Traumatic, and in the early days of a three-month, globe-spanning tour, WE had a chance to talk church, MTV and controversy with drummer Kevin Snow.

WE: On the band’s MySpace page, the genre descriptions provided are “indie, crunk, and religious.”
Snow: Um, yeah. (Laughs.) That’s sort of in jest. We’re not really religious, as you can tell from our lyrics. But I will say, we all sort of had our religious backgrounds from growing up in church, but it’s pretty firmly in our past. It sort of informed who we are now, because it’s what we grew up in, but that [description] is sort of a jab.

WE: Obviously, there’s a pretty big ’80s influence on Partie Traumatic. Did you have an affinity for it growing up?
Snow: We all watched quite a bit of MTV growing up in the ’80s. I know Reggie [Youngblood, Black Kids’ singer-songwriter] was pretty into hair bands and R&B;at the time. Reggie and I used to share an apartment, and there was an indie dance club around the corner, and we started going out to that when we were, like, 20, 21. That’s when we were first exposed to other, not-so-mainstream bands: New Order, Pulp, the Smiths. Bands like that played a much bigger role in Black Kids.

WE: Did you all grow up together?
Snow: Reggie, Owen [Holmes, bassist] and I actually did meet at church, at Sunday school, when we were teenagers.

WE: Aw, that’s a nice story.
Snow: Yeah. The three of us have played in different bands for more than 10 years, but Black Kids is the first time we’ve been in the same band at once, and the first time we invited the girls [Dawn Watley and Ali Youngblood, both keyboardists and backing vocalists] to play along. That seemed to be the combination that works the best.

WE: Everyone who writes about the band starts with how subversive the name is. Has it always been like that?
Snow: We actually expected to get a lot of shit about it. We were trying to come up with a band name and that’s what we chose, and we kind of knew what we were signing up for, but no one’s really been too offended by it, as far as we know. I mean, if someone is offended, they’re probably not the people we want to be hanging out with anyway. We weren’t really trying to make a statement; we just thought it sounded pretty bitchin’.

WE: You played on the Vice tour. Did you pick up any tips on bad-boy behaviour?
Snow: (Laughs.) Not really. I think we’re the least of the bad boys. If anyone brings the camera around and is like, “Alright, Black Kids, do something interesting,” we’re just like, “Yeah, you chose the wrong band. We’re just going to sit here and be boring.”

WE: It’s probably good for the longevity of your career. Do you have next-record plans in the works?
Snow: We try to do as much writing as possible on the road. We’re making plans to do an EP, [which] we’re hoping to record in January. We’re really anxious to get some new music out there. We can’t wait.

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