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The Living Kills bring all the fun of garage psychedelia -- instrumental freak-outs, creepy organ, 12-string guitar, lights shows, and lots of noise -- but with a decidedly modern sensibility. Unlike a lot of their peers, they aren't trying to emulate the past, but instead recreate a vision of the 1960s that didn't happen. They wear their love of creepy B-movies, horror and spooky thrillers on their collective sleeves but chills generated are reversed by the dance party music lovers cannot refuse.
The brainchild of songwriter, vocalist, and guitar player, Merrill Sherman, a Brooklyn transplant from Chicago and Alabama, the band was originally conceived as a meld of Paisley Underground and Jesus & Mary Chain, but instead, anchored by Sherman's storyteller lyrics and the addition of Jennifer Bassett on organ and moog, approached something more akin to the darker trips of Roky Erickson or The Pretty Things.
WNYC Culture praised their first single, back when the band was just a three-piece, joined by Kristen Girard on drums, for its "trippy nostalgia" and Factory-sensibility. The addition of Brenden Beu (The Tablets) on bass and later Yancy Sabenicio (Wailin' Storms) on drums displayed Sherman's wider range of influences and led to the band's first well-received full-length, the CMJ-charting "Faceless Angels," which was praised by Magnet Magazine for "its new yet surprisingly nostalgic tracks."
Now a five-piece, Sherman and Bassett are joined by Ross Fisher on bass (The Brides, Zodiac Killers), Western-hailed Heron Furtwangler on guitar (GoatRopers, Whiskey Dick Mountain, LEX LOSEr), and the Tri-State area's very own Brian Del Guercio on drums. Combined, their EP, "Odd Fellows Hall," features songs that dial up the creepiness, but add a dance-happy speed. Expect a new full length sometime in 2015.
Merrill: 12 string Rickenbacker 360
JB: Vox Continental
Heron: Hagstrom II
Ross:Rickenbacker 4003 Bass
Brian: Wind-up monkey playing cymbals
Live photography by James Jones©
Q&A with The Living Kills:
V&T: If you could tour with or open for any band (past or present), who would it be?
TLK: 13th Floor Elevators? I don’t know that they they really toured, but they’ve got the whole package. Mind-expanding lyrics, bluesy wail, jug. Wait, can we change our answer?
V&T: What does a typical day look like for your band, in terms of rehearsal, shows and juggling domestic/family responsibilities?
TLK: I usually come home from work to the practice space. Heron is waiting with my pipe and slippers. JB comes in next and Heron reminds her to wipe her feet before entering. Ross and Brian stumble in next. I ask if they’ve done their homework and what they learned at school. We do our thing and then smoke weed and watch Gilmore Girls. Sleep. Repeat.
V&T: Where do you think the music industry is headed?
TLK: If things keep going the way they have been, I don’t know that there will be any industry left. Music has been here long before industry and will always be around. Guitar straps hold up music, therefore, guitar straps will continue to support the industry.
V&T: Tell us about your upcoming album release. Have you found a label or determined a release date?
TLK: We’ve finished recording the album and we’re so excited we could tinkle. It’s better than the most recent U2 album. We’re trying to find someone that wants to help pay to put it out. If not we’ll put it out ourselves. Should be out sometime this summer.
V&T: Who are you currently listening to?
TLK: On the way home tonight: White Fence, Flower Travelin’ Band and Willie Nelson.
RELEASES TO DATE:
|Odd Fellows Hall EP
(3D LP Cover on colored vinyl)
|You'll Miss Me Most
Studio photography by Hannah Thompson©