Boy Kill Boy Biography
Witness Chris Peck circa 2004, dawdling in the doldrums of Theydon Bois, too far East of London. He’d tried college, “didn’t really work”, he’d tried jobs, “didn’t really work” and he’d tried playing post-Britpop “spaccy, quirky, silly” music in a band with his schoolmate drummer Shaz but “we never concentrated on the music, we just got pissed for three years basically”. And as his band hit the skids and The Future loomed like a McJob-clutching vulture, he did what every self-respecting rock waster would do. He did a bellyflop into The Abyss.
“There were a few months where we all lost the plot,” he says. “When any band splits up it’s always difficult because you sacrifice a lot to do anything like this, you put your whole waking hours into it, it becomes your wife and your bread and butter, your everything, so when it stops going you’re lost, you totally don’t know what to do. I was stripped naked of my passion, I didn’t have any outlet for what I was used to. Going up onstage and screaming and shouting is the best therapy in the world, when you’re not doing that you’re lost.”
Wallowing in self-pity, however, didn’t really work. A few months in he was slapped in the chops by rock’n’roll. Again.
“We went through some rough times and had a couple of months out,” he recalls, “and there was one night when a switch was just flicked in me. I thought ‘what the fuck have we been doing, poncing around like this? We’re not being honest to what we’re feeling’. I’d had a total wake-up call – I realised we’d been thinking too much about what we were doing along the way, almost working to some sort of formula, as it were, whereas this time we haven’t been working to any formula and we’ve opened the floodgates.”
Thus were born Boy Kill Boy - named when Chris mis-heard a mate talking about a band called Boy Called Roy (“But obviously I don’t want to fucking go on about Boy Called Roy forever, I don’t know who the fuck they are or whatever the fuck they do”), and drunk on the gory synthrock epicness of The Cure and Depeche Mode. Recruiting bassist Kevin Chase at a house party to join Chris, Shaz and keyboardist Pete Carr, they set about melding Chris’ doomy electro upbringing and teenage Faith No More obsession with Shaz’s Britpop tunefulness (“he can’t let go of ‘92”), wrapping the resulting mega-tonnage of skyscraping mood pop in natty military jackets and birdnest hair and waiting for the world to fall at their feet.
Which took about a month. Their first gig - a support slot at the Bull & Gate - was cancelled at the last minute and replaced with a headline gig the following week where the band played over a then-unknown but hotly-tipped Hard-Fi. The queue of BKB’s already-devoted fans around the block kept the industry in the room, and the A&R hordes found they had stumbled accidentally across the best new band in Britain.
After an initial limited edition release of their poppiest track ‘Suzie’ on Fierce Panda, BKB were snapped up by Mercury Records and set about paying their dues in earnest, touring extensively for the next year (supporting Hard-Fi on occasion, ironically) and sharpening the teeth of their early pop concoctions (see their first BKB composition ‘Cheaper’, the b-side to ‘Back Again’) into ravenous snarls.
“We had this bloodthirsty spirit,” says Chris, “and the music started feeling more like that, more edgy but still kinda poppy. You’ve got to do what feels right at the time and it’s a natural part to us. We all get off on pop melodies and we all get off on more sinister elements, and that’s where the band name came in. We wanted a kind of Jekyll And Hyde name that captured the way we were feeling. There are more than a few different personalities in what we’re doing.”
And their alternative personas quickly unravelled. ‘Suzie’’s chirpy 80s Julian Cope-isms gave way to the cape’n’cathedral hugeness of ‘Civil Sin’. That song’s dark, monumental rock grabbed the attention of XFM’s John Kennedy and Radio 1’s Zane Lowe who pronounced it, according to Chris, “the most important record on earth or something”. Hence, by the time its bat-out-of-Harlow sister piece ‘Back Again’ provided BKB’s first full single release in February 2006, Mistress Charts was ready for them – they hit Number 26 and the phone hasn’t stopped shrieking since.
“It’s amazing,” Chris grins. “Every day there’s new news that comes in - we’re all sitting on the back of the bus and our manager will phone up saying this is happening or that’s happening. Every day it gets more and more surreal. We did Top Of The Pops the other day, and that was fucking bizarre.”
This air of wonderment is much the sort of reaction Boy Kill Boy are expecting to their startling and eclectic debut album, wherein minimalist piano ballads rub tear-stained shoulders with chilling rock epics and jaunty pop prancers. Say Chris, “I’m hoping it’s going to be a story, a journey. I can’t stand it when you pick up an album and every song sounds the same. That’s what I mean about opening up the floodgates - we just really wanted to explore every single part of what we’re about. There seem to be different personalities that run throughout but they weave in and out of each other. There’s a punchiness to it which is very natural to us but there’s also a very romantic sweep. Doing live sets we try to keep it as punchy as we can but there’s a lot of other things going on as well.”
And that self-destructive fug of 2004? Ancient history, man – in 2006 Boy Kill Boy have the blade in their teeth, a bloodlust in their eyes and have life by the throat. “I want to experience all the things I want to do,” says Chris, optimistic as anything. “Every new day is a new opportunity. We’re starting to feel more comfortable on bigger stages and I want to get out there, do bigger slots at festivals, I want to travel the world, I want to conquer different countries and as long as we keep gaining respect for what we do as musicians we’ll be as big as we can be. I think the sky’s the limit. My aspirations extend for years.”
From the darkest depths, then, to the limitless horizon. These boys are gonna slay ‘em all…