By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa Correspondent
Rock At Night is always on the prowl for new bands and the latest to cross our desk is Killset, an indie band out of California. The music genre cannot be pigeon-holed but the best description is hip-hop influenced metal and alternative rock. The band likes to call their music “chaotic melodic”, based on their high-energy lives shows and variety of musical influences. Their second release S.T.F.U. was released on July 7, 2017 and Rock At Night highly recommends giving it a listen.
Killset is one of those bands that has a lot of potential and I’d love to see them in next year’s Warped Tour line-up. You can read an excerpt of Rock At Night’s interview with lead singer Chris Luca as well as listen to the audio of the entire interview in this article and on Rock At Night’s iTunes podcast Channel. **The audio interview includes more discussion about the loss of David Z, what Chris does for fun outside of the band, his favorite music, how he is health-oriented and approaches performances like a “sporting event”, pre-show rituals…
Killset: Chris Luca (vocals), James “Jas” Dillon (drums), Mark Baker (bass), Dave Corner (guitar)
Click on the arrow below to listen:
RAN: Congratulations on the second album S.T.F.U. I have listened to it! The single “Killers in the Pit”…that should be the anthem for everybody to play before they are ready to go out [to party].
Chris: Yeah, that was the plan, honestly. Our plan was to make an anthem and get people hyped up.
RAN: Yeah, it’s definitely a lot of fun, when you say “circle in the pit” and all that. It makes me think of the Drowning Pool’s “Bodies” song. It’s one of those songs that sticks in your head.
Chris: Yeah, we’ve been having a lot of good times with it live so it’s a really cool live song where everybody can come together. We’re basically telling them what to do. It’s kind of like a “call to action”. It’s been really working out well for us.
RAN: Yeah, it’s like “Hokey Pokey” but hip-hop/metal, I guess?
RAN: Yeah, the video is what intrigued me about learning about your band. I thought, “Wow! This song is really good. I’d like to hear more!”
Some songs I really liked on your new album are “Bully”.
Chris: Yeah, “Bully” is kind of a personal experience of mine, when I was growing up. I just kind of wrote it and I was hoping that people would kind of “get it” and see some kind of similarity. Bullying in general big deal and it is continuing happening. This song is about standing up for yourself and I feel this is an important message and people get that out of the song.
RAN: Yeah, I think the topic is very current, to be honest and I think that kids can really relate to it. [It is] definitely a high energy song that you can do a lot of head-banging to.
“Tomorrow”—another one that I really like. What are your thoughts on that one?
Chris: “Tomorrow” is cool. Before I moved out here to from the East Coast years ago…that song is kind of what was going through my head at the time and was about having to break out-NOW. There is no tomorrow. People can procrastinate their whole lives but at some time people have to say, “Alright. I’m gonna’ do this. It’s time to ‘break out’ so that’s what it is about. We did a lyric video for it (I’m not sure if you saw it) but it’s really cool and was made by our buddy Cody Reid. It’s a hand basically, in a notebook, writing out the lyrics, as if I’m back in my room on the East Coast, writing down my thoughts. It’s very cool.
RAN: I need to definitely check that out!
I would describe your music as “rap-infused/metal”. How would you describe it?
Chris: It’s tough. We went into this album basically with no vocals. So, if I were rapping, we went with it. If I were screaming and it felt cool and awesome, we went with it (musically). So if the notes felt great, we went with it. There were no real rules. I don’t know, it’s tough when we try to describe what we do song for song because what we do is so different on the album.
We have ballads on there like “Broken Angel” and more rock songs (not a love song but a straight forward rock song…STP-ish)…and then we have more aggressive stuff like “Get Up” and we have more rappy stuff. So, we’re all over the place. We like to call ourselves “chaotic melodic” because there is chaos and then there’s melody.
RAN: I think that’s a fair description because that’s one of my questions. I noticed the first half of the album is definitely rap-infused metal but “Broken Angel” is definitely a ballad. You’ve got piano in there, string accompaniment. Is that correct?
Chris: Absolutely! The majority of our songs have a lot of strings, like they’ll have cellos and violins. Our producer Eddie Wohl is phenomenal at adding some flavor like that to the stuff that we do. Those songs, especially “Broken Angel”, has a ton of just strings and basically arrangements that come in and just give you this feel. If it doesn’t have that stuff, that’s just a straight-forward, stripped-down kind of rock song. When you add all of these kinds of elements it takes it to another level.
RAN: I kind of like having a ballad. Like in the 80s, bands like Aerosmith or various people had the hard rock songs but then they’d have the ballads. It kind of gives you a nice break, doesn’t it?
Chris: Absolutely! Everybody in the band comes from different influences in their life and music and we want to show that we have this diversity. We tend to do these things and we love all these different styles, so we are hopefully able to put them together in a way that makes sense and people are really digging.
RAN: The song “Animal”, to me, sounded like a Pearl Jam style.
Chris: Pearl Jam did have a song called “Animal”
RAN: True…yeah but the style of it…kind of grungey.
Chris: Yeah, that one came out by just jamming in the studio. It was very stripped down when we went into the recording process and we started adding little up-tempo things in the background. It really started to push the song and take it into another direction. From song to song, I mean, from moment to moment, we’re throwing a bunch of stuff you on this album, and so far, the response has been really good.
RAN: I wrote down [in my notes] that “Not A Love Song”, I’d call it “alternative rock”.
Chris: Absolutely. That’s an alternative rock song. It’s just a rock song, like STP. When we started writing that it was so obvious that it needed to be stripped down, and just a cool rock song.
RAN: “Don’t Let Me Die” made me think of something the Chili Peppers would do.
Chris: “Don’t Let Me Die” is actually the first song we wrote on this album. That song is like everything else we had on the first album. So it’s similar to our album Know Your Killer (2014). What I love about that song it sounds like there’s a Latin prayer in the song. I called my father and without him knowing I said, “Hey, I want to do this Latin prayer” and he’s Italian so he has the accent. I told him, “Hey, can you just record it on your phone so when I do it on the album I can annunciate it perfectly?” What we did is, we tricked him. We took what he recorded on his phone and sent to me and actually put it on the album, without him knowing.
RAN: Oh, how funny…
Chris: It was a really cool surprise! We were driving to the airport and I slid the song in and he goes, “Wow! You did that prayer really well!” And I said, “No, no, no…that’s you!”
So, it was really cool and it was “Wow! You put me in your song.”
RAN: I was reading the press release..Now, are you new in the band? Were you on the first album?
Chris: I’ve been there since the beginning of Killset. These guys Mark, James, and Dave were in another band called A Race Called Man (ARCM). This was many, many years ago. I was in a different band myself doing some really cool things. They had heard me and I had been doing my own thing at the time and about a year later, I had some down time, and that’s how we came together. And when I came in the stuff I was doing was so different from what they were doing that I said, “We gotta’ change the name of this. It just doesn’t make sense to be the name of what you guys were since the music is so different.” So, yeah, I’m on the first album also.
RAN: I’m glad you clarified that because it seemed you were a little bit new…You’ve been there since the beginning of Killset and did Know Your Killer as well. So how does the new album compare to that one?
Chris: With Know Your Killer we were a new band and we took less chances. It still has a lot of flavor and we’re really proud of it. But there’s some more straight forward tracks on that. This album we said that we were going to be “anything goes” on it. It’s got some more diversity—it’s got more flavor! That’s the word of the day—“flavor”.
RAN: You guys are from California but you’re from the East Coast?
Chris: Yeah, I’m originally from Connecticut.
RAN: Are you planning any kind of tour? Do you mostly play in California?
Chris: We’ve been playing out here for many years. This is kind of our stomping ground—the Sunset Strip—and all those clubs. But now, the ultimate goal, since we just dropped the album is to tour. We are in some talks with some tours but we haven’t solidified anything but we’re looking for a Fall tour and bare minimum an early next year tour.
RAN: After listening to your album I thought the band would be perfect on the Warped Tour.
Chris: That would be amazing! You know anybody over there you could set us up with?
RAN: Kevin Lyman? Haha…Your genre really blends well with the kind of the bands on the Warped Tour. Well, they were just here in St. Petersburg, Florida, over the July 4th weekend. After listening to [the album], I think the crowd would really like you.
Chris: Yeah, I think that would be a good fit for us. We just need to get Kevin Lyman on the phone..haha
RAN: When someone goes to a Killset gig or concert, what can they expect to see or hear?
If you don’t come off the stage sweating and ready to throw up, you didn’t put on a show for the people! –Chris Luca
Chris: Well, they are going to hear the album. What is on that album is what we perform. Well, the name of the band says it all! We named the band “Killset” because we “Kill the set!” It’s that simple. It’s viciousness. It’s aggression. It’s me and the crowd. It’s chaos! But with moments of beauty. In general, it’s going to be destruction. Our goal is for the stage to collapse—and we’ve only knocked one down so far.
RAN: So you guys are jumping a lot? You’re leaping? I love that!
Chris: We’ve got some big boys in the band and when we hit that stage—when we land—that thing is always shaking!
RAN: I enjoyed your video you did of Kris Kross’ song “Jump”. How did that come about?
Chris: We were looking to do a cover and I suggested it to the guys. I mean, I love “Jump”! I actually grew up on rap. I got into hard rock, metal, and all that stuff a little bit later. I always liked the song and I thought it would be fun and funny. We wanted to do the song justice—and I think we did. And then it leant itself to do a really cool parody video.
So we got four metal dudes to dress up like the kids from Kris Kross, and we took it from there.
RAN: And jumping around like they did, too! I like the car scene when you are shaking that car up and down.
Chris: In the original one they had a car with hydraulics. So we (to have fun with it) found a “not so nice car” and we had people bouncing it for us.
RAN: Now your videos and stuff…is this DIY?
Chris: Pretty much everything is DIY for us. We’ve all been in the industry for some time and have had success on our own before we came together for Killset so we have a lot of connections. Even our producer Eddie Wohl (Anthrax, Fuel, ill Nino), he’s an old friend of mine. He cut my first record in L.A. 10 or 12 years ago. We are able, through friends in the industry, do things that other bands aren’t able to do, simply because of cost. So we call up on our friends and ask favors (and do favors for them) and in the end we are able to do a lot on our own.
**To listen to the full audio interview and learn more about the band, scroll up to the top of the article
- Get Up
3. Killers In The Pit
5. Broken Angel
7. How Dare You
9. Not A Love Song
10. Don’t Let Me Die
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