If there is one thing I hate, it’s dropping the ball on getting press for all the hardworking bands out there. Bring on Abandon Kansas!!!
Hailing from Wichita, this indie group are prime to do just that, though not for lack of loving their home state. With a new release, A Midwest Summer, a new video for “You+Me+The Radio” HERE, and a boatload of potential, Abandon Kansas is a band that should be on everybody’s radar.
That being said, I got in touch with guitarist/vocalist Jeremy Spring (a few weeks back) to meet the guys and talk about their songs and inspirations. This is one of those times where I totally get why people who work in music use/need interns… There’s only so much one person can do.
Nate… I owe you one 😉
G- Hi there and thank you very much for taking the time to speak with Live High Five! Introduce the members in the group… Who is everyone, what do they play, and where does everyone come from?
J- Jeremy sings, plays guitar and keys, Nick plays bass and sings, Brian plays drums, percussion and sings some too. We’re all from Wichita, we have a “band house” in Riverside where we hang when we are home and work on all things A.K.
G- How long has Abandon Kansas been around, and when did you first get started? Do you remember the moment that you really felt the group “click?”
J- We played our first show in 2005, didn’t really play out anywhere until 2007. As soon as we hit the road DIY style and started playing really tight (not great songs, but we played them well together) sets in front of a room half full of total strangers, I really felt like we started paying attention to each other and clicking on stage.
G- How has the reception been to the new songs off of A Midwest Summer, and have you noticed any fan favorites off of the EP thus far?
J- Well track 2 on the new EP is “The Chase,” and we’ve been playing an early version of that song live for a year now. People were digging it live, I think fans will like the new recording a lot. We wanted it to feel aggressive and the vocals are pretty wrecked so it just sounds desperate. We premiered a new song at the beginning of May and it seemed like people received the new sounds well. We’re at a fresh start in our camp as an independent band, so now’s the time to try making some sounds we haven’t before with no agenda but to create moments we love.
G- As a precursor to the full-length, when can we expect the album to drop and when will you be hitting the road to support it? Any NY dates listed thus far?
J- Our goal would be to be in the studio and track the full length this year. Whether that means the album makes it out in 2013 or not, my guess is early next year. Let’s be realistic, we have to come up with the cash to pull this thing off, and pull it off right so it impacts like a label release even though it isn’t. We’d like to avoid doing a Kickstarter; for a lot of reasons, but also a road hardened DIY attitude in our van. We know our fans have our back but we’re not going to abuse their help. I think if our fans keep buying the album and coming to a few shows, maybe pick up a shirt or vinyl from the table, and we can keep making records.
G- Can you tell us about the recording process for the album? Where did you record it, who was behind the boards this time around, and how long did the release take to record and get ready for release?
J- The last single we did with the label was “Turn It To Gold” and Dustin Burnett did a great job producing that track with our recipe. We wanted less guitar, when before with Townsend the theory was to stack a wall of guitars in the chorus and extra fuzz guitar all over the verses. We love one-guitar bands like U2 and Coldplay, so in this new EP you hear more single guitar parts framed with a specific tone on purpose rather than 4 different parts with various overdrives. There is more space to work with and we experimented with sounds, synths, and using the voice as a sound effect all over this EP.
G- Have you found it to be a difficult transition moving from a more Christian oriented label and/or demographic to a more secular one? Have you received any backlash for your “conversion” of sorts?
J- No backlash, our fans are smart, Christian or not. They know we’ve left our label to make the music that comes from our guts, and that’s why they got on board in the first place. We’ve got support in the Christian market from some great radio stations, festivals, and press outlets and we’re thankful they are still spinning our songs. I think we will always have to fight to get past the stigma of what a Christian band is supposed to look, sound or act like though.
G- What should your fans, both old and new, expect of the performances when you guys hit the road? What should some of the first time listeners expect to see when you take the stage?
J- When we hit the road this summer it’s going to be different for us for a lot of reasons. We have a different guitar player and also I’m going to be rotating between guitar, keyboard, and some percussion. I know we’ve got a couple 80’s covers to throw in the setlist this summer, and I think the crowd can expect us to have a good time playing with all of this new material to get out there. And when we’re having fun playing it makes it easy for the crowd to relax and enjoy themselves too.
G- Can you give us a few examples of any bands or artists in particular that influence your style? Who do you typically like to listen to, and are there any acts you think we should know about?
J- There’s only a few bands we all listen to together… The Killers, My Morning Jacket, Radiohead, and Coldplay for sure. But we really loved that new Civil Twilight album from last year and have spent a lot of time with Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar’s newest albums. I love the concept albums from both of those guys; we are inspired write a narrative like that in our own way on this next full length. We keep a playlist on Spotify of all the new artists we are listening to around the house: http://open.spotify.com/user/akjeremyspring/playlist/6K6zx0KtcKY8vgDSyBKVfJ
G- Do you have a favorite song you have ever written? If you could only give 1 song to someone who’d never heard of you before, to try and make a new fan, what song would you give them and why?
J- That’s an interesting question. One of my favorites is “The Golden State” from the last album, just really enjoy the textures and progressions in that track. If I was trying to make a new fan I’d probably play them our newest single, “You+Me+ The Radio.” It’s kind of quirky but still catchy as heck and fun to listen to the first time around.
G- Are there any bands or artists that you hope to share a bill with in the future? What your dream lineup to be on?
J- MuteMath and Imagine Dragons are putting on incredible shows out there right now, would be a dream to support them on the road. We ran into a few of the guys from The Killers back stage last summer, they have our new album because we went complete fan girl on them. But we often make the joke that Brandon finally called and wants us on the next run.
G- What is the most memorable show that you have played to date? Where was it and what was it like?
J- We headlined a festival in Tirana, Albania in September of 2012 that was absolutely unforgettable, although our set was a blur in my mind. The festival had used one of our songs for the tv and radio promo spots, and the song itself had picked up significant radio play by the time we arrived in Albania. We opened with that song and the crowd sang it back to us. It was the biggest crowd we have ever played in front of and was an exhilarating experience. Felt like we got to step into shoes bigger than ours for the weekend in Albania.
G- Lastly, what advice can you give some of the young, up and coming bands everywhere who want to make it in music, on the road, and as a professional musician?
J- My advice is that when you finally get a picture in your head of what kind of art you want to make, how you want to make it, and who you want to make it with … you just have to start trying. Nobody is going to do it for you. Things rarely just “happen”, and chances are you may land somewhere different than you originally planned on, but it might be even better. Have the diligence to put your head down and work hard while everyone else is trying to pass of their workload, but have the insight to know when to take advice and who to go to for it. One of my favorite quotes from Bukowski, find what you love and let it kill you.