Kiev Talks "Be Gone Dull Cage & Others"
Tue, 03 Jan 2012 08:13:17
"We want to engage every sense possible," declares Kiev lead singer Bobby Brinkerhoff. "I can't wait until we can add smells to our music. I imagine that'll be in 2020 [Laughs]."
For now, the group envelopes listeners with a musical warmth that's utterly transfixing. Their most recent EP, Be Gone Dull Cage & Others, merges Pink Floyd-style otherworldliness with a knack for a ruddy hook a la The Black Keys. At the same time, each song is distinctly Kiev and Kiev alone. In other words, they're the ultimate modern rock band with the chops to jam and the ability to engage.
In this exclusive interview, ARTISTdirect.com editor in chief and Dolor author Rick Florino about Be Gone Dull Cage & Others, Terry Gilliam flicks, and so much more…
Do you view Be Gone Dull Cage & Others a full piece in its own right?
Those tunes were puzzle pieces of an album we're working on. I wouldn't say it's conceptual, but there is a thought throughout. Yes, is the short answer [Laughs]. This is really an introduction to us.
What's the story behind "Small Kid / Tall Tree"?
It was a late night, and that song just spilled out. It ended up being recorded and written simultaneously. On this EP, we put lyrics into simpler terms and made them very upfront and clear to hear. Earlier, a lot of our work was dealing with the question of "What's our place in the world?" Now, the transition is asking, "Why the hell is there a world at all?" It's a childlike way of approaching larger philosophical questions. There aren't any negative connotations. "Big hands" aren't literal. There was this image of being born and taken from the womb. In the song, there's a feeling that I'm this helpless small thing being bounced around. We're putting these things that are hard to describe into simple lyrics.
You can tell a vivid story in direct terms via clear lyrics.
When you use simple imagery, people will go, "What is this about?" It's okay to allow the meaning to exist on the outside a bit. Everything doesn't always have to be so cryptic.
Is it important for the songs to evoke visuals?
Absolutely! There's a whole lot of sound design on each of the tunes. Personally, I come from a film background. I'm really into visual art. That's never been exclusive to being a musician for any of us. We're all into communication through various media. It becomes really apparent in these sections of songs that are entirely sound design. "3rnd" has a 20-second passage with a cityscape and this guy soliciting you. We actually build the city in there and it brings everyone into that world.
What else fosters that visual sensibility?
Recently, we'd done a visual show with animators and editors who are friends of ours. While we all have different tastes in terms of film, we kept coming back to a lot of Canadian animation from the '60s and '70s, which was really cool. John Larkin is a good example. The idea of having something in a vague amoeba like shape turn into something identifiable for a brief second represents the elusiveness of the music we're thinking about with these larger philosophical concepts that are hard for humans to wrap their heads around. There are only these moments of clarity. Otherwise, it's just a bunch of shapes and colors vibrating. As humans and musicians, we like the vibrating colors and shapes—sitting back and appreciating beauty. Every once in a while, you get really frustrated and want to figure out the meaning of it all. You get a moment of clarity. It's fleeting, and it leaves. You can see that common theme in all kinds of art. I think of directors like Terry Gilliam who had these really dense films like The Adventures of Baron Munchausen and Brazil. These wild worlds people build are really influential to me. If I could build a musical equivalent to one of Terry Gilliam's worlds, that'd be pretty fucking amazing.
King Crimson and Frank Zappa were always relevant through all of the weird, goofy stage in high school. Even now, that music is incredible.
This music seems like it will lend itself to jamming on stage.
I think the kind of jamming we do is a special thing. It isn't simply meandering and screwing around on scales. It sounds really organic and interesting to me. I'm looking forward to sharing that side of us one day.
If Be Gone Dull Cage were a movie or a combination of movies what would you compare it to?
I mentioned Terry Gilliam earlier. I'm going to go with The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. The rumor is they fired Gilliam three-quarters of the way through because he got so far over his head trying to make it so complex. He paid attention to so much detail. He spent so much time creating this magical world, and suddenly the studio was like, "You're out of time!" I appreciate the detail and complexity and his attempt to remove the viewers from the theater and engulf them in a very thick world of fantasy. The ideal album for us would be complete engulfment. This EP is a little teaser of what's to come. We ran out of time mixing it, so I feel for Gilliam [Laughs]. I hope when it comes time to make the actual album we won't run out of time, and we'll make a very dense, but fun and enjoyable record to get lost in.
Have you heard Kiev yet?