Long After Dark’s Interview With The Kalob Griffin Band
Long After Dark exchanged e-mails with Philadelphia’s Kalob Griffin, who discussed their debut full-length record June Found A Gun, their first albums, and how they came together. The interview was conducted primarily through the perspective of keyboard player John Hildenbrand.
Long After Dark: How are you doing and what have you been up to lately?
Kalob Griffin Band: We are doing very well thank you! We are very busy preparing for our fall tour which will have us on the road for the better part of October. We also haven’t had a break like this in a little while and it feels great. But we are using this time wisely to prepare for the closing of 2012 with some dates starting back up in September at the Note in West Chester.
LAD: I believe KGB met while you all attended Penn State, how did that come about?
KGB:Yes that is true! Kalob was playing with some of his friends circa 2009 and through someone else Rob Dwyer (Electric Guitar, Mandolin, Banjo) was introduced and then found his KGB position that he holds to this day. As the original KGB graduated, Eric Lawry (Drums, Percussion, Vocals) joined and that line up lasted until about December of 2010 when I joined and have held his position to this day as well.
LAD: KGB has a very distinct Americana sound, how did the band find that sound as you
began to form and record?
KGB: The Americana sound that we have been crafting together this whole time is by no means complete. We believe that the Americana genre has so many more uncharted waters to explore and we are damn excited to do so. The KGB Americana sound derives from Kalob’s honest to the bone songwriting. We all then work together to build on the foundation that Kalob brings us to help carry out the vision of each song. Through this process people who have heard and seen this formula makes them, dance, scream, sweat, feel every type of emotion, etc. It all is a perfect recipe for live mayhem in its most beautiful form. And that has been an incredible piece to the KGB puzzle: how it all translates live.
LAD:You are currently living in Philadelphia, where you cut the video for “The Winter Blues” around several sites in Philly and have played at WXPN’s venerable World Café. What is it like being a part of such a vibrant music scene and how has that impacted KGB?
KGB: Living in this area with the band has been incredible to say the least. We have been a part of and seen some amazing growth in the Philadelphia music scene as well as growth in Philadelphia itself. It seems like really cool venues are popping up in cool places all the time, and that certain neighborhoods are taking off. We only want to augment the vibrant music scene here in Philly and to be a part of its insanely rich history with arts and culture. We also believe in connecting with other artists, groups, and bands, etc. can only further the vision of making the city of Philadelphia a magnificent place to experience. Philly has urged us to make it stronger, not only musically, but as a whole. The KGB is here to stay!
LAD: You recently released your first full length-record, June Found A Gun earlier this
summer. One of the strongest parts of the record is how good the arrangements on every
song are, how much of that was worked out before you hit the studio and what is KGB
like in the studio?
KGB: Well, like I mentioned earlier about our formula for each song, we had a firm idea of what each song would sound like on the album. The thing is though; we didn’t fully realize how much experimentation you could do in the studio with each song, as well as how much fun it would be. We had our 12 songs that we decided on and went in to craft what we thought would make people want to get to know us and our sound. But we also are widely known as a live band and wanted to infuse as much of that in the studio as possible. With our instrumentation we felt we could create that raw sound while having all that a studio can offer. June Found a Gun was an incredible experience to craft and an experience that has helped us all learn so much about ourselves and our sound. We were all like brothers trapped in one space for mass amounts of time. We supported each other no matter what, we fought, we argued, we hugged, we laughed, we lost track of time, we drank, we ate, and we basically spent every waking moment together. But it wasn’t like your average long car ride to a show together, it was way more than that. This album was the goal at the end of the crazy tunnel we traversed through together. This album marked our beginning. It was more than a pleasure making that album and cannot wait for to craft the next one.
LAD: There’s a large element of fun in June Found A Gun, particularly in “Honeymooners” and “Whiskey My Love.” How much of that was a conscious part of the recording process?
KGB: To us we knew that those songs especially always got people going no matter the situation or place. We wanted it to be a freaking ball of energy that no one could deny. Honkytonk piano was a must for this album for certain songs and you hear it especially in “Whiskey My Love” and “South” and that upped the energy big time. It also fit the style more appropriately for those songs. “Honeymooners” was made to sound like a party so that all who could experience it would want to jump up and down and forget everything about their everyday surroundings. That’s what is great about this album, every song gives you different emotions, thoughts, and energy. And we take full pride in that because that is a huge part that comprises the KGB sound.
LAD:Your website handily lists many of KGB’s gigs, including stops in Michigan, D.C., South Carolina, and West Virginia, as well as “various house parties from September 1st 2009 to May 1st, 2010.” Are there any shows that stand out in KGB lore and have you evolved as a live band since you have formed?
KGB: Well, since I joined the band in 2010 I wasn’t there for the early parts, however, I did sit in with the original KGB outside at Penn State in March of ’10 and that was a giant precursor that I had no idea existed. Every show really has its own energy and feel based on how you make it that way, it’s always fun making each show an event to work towards. But the album release show at World Café Live for June was incredible in every facet imaginable. The spare of the moment theatrics, the live energy that was given by throngs of music lovers, the rockin’ setlist that left everyone including us in awe, all to celebrate the release of the aforementioned album which really was our first big stamp on the Philly music scene. That night was nothing short of epic and that only marked the beginning of whats to come.
LAD: What’s next for KGB?
KGB: Like we mentioned before, we are on a very short but nice break from traveling. However, we are hard at work every day in preparations to carry out 2012 in the most rockin’ and necessary fashion possible. We recently released a string of dates set for September and October that will bring us through parts of PA, WV, MD, VA, TN, NY, NJ and NC. We are extremely excited to get out there and go crazy while augmenting our sound and spreading music that people will love to experience live and on the album. We believe that these places will progress the KGB into new levels. It’s up to us, and it always will be. But I will tell you one thing, we are ecstatic to hit the road soon!
LAD: Some quick hits to round out the interview: What were the first records you bought,
who are you listening to right now, and if KGB could play venue/festival or have any guest
musician on stage with them, what/who would it be?
John: Beatles : Abbey Road, Revolver I bought those in 8th grade with the advice from my father who is still a huge Beatles fan as well as some kids in my class. Right now however I just got a sneak peak to Trey Anastasio’s new album Traveler and I like the sound of it thus far.
Kalob: Rage Against the Machine: Battle of Los Angeles And right now Band of Horses.
Eric: Weird Al: Bad Hair Day And right now John Mayer: Born and Raised
Jack White’s Blunderbuss has been all over our ear buds, and it’s awesome!
There is this shopping center around where Rob and I grew up and it has an inordinate amount of parking space as the shops form a huge L shape. At the short part of the L is Outback Steakhouse and on the roof of that would be the dream gig. You would face out to literally 10,000 people in this huge space. Valley Forge Park has about a million places for a festival to be held. But convincing their Leslie Knope would be nearly impossible (sigh) someday…
We believe some awesome guests who could fit well are: John Prine, Neil Young, Bob Weir, The Avett’s, Jim James, Justin Townes Earle, Steve Earle, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Grace Potter, just to name a few! There is definitely more but too many to name!