Check out this great interview I got to do with Kiven! I spoke with Tyler Demorest (vocals, guitar, keyboard), Matt Cohen (bass), and Danny Schnair (guitar).
How did the band originally come together?
Tyler: I guess the short story is that we all met through college. Danny and I met back in a guitar program in high school, and we met Jake there as well. We started playing together, and started playing show. Once we finished college, we started taking it a lot more seriously and wrote the full-length record.
You just completed a US tour with support from My Body Sings Electric. What was one of the most valuable things you learned while on this tour? I ask this because I always try to look at touring as a learning experience.
Danny: I think that this is sort of the most extensive thing we’ve done, to this date. I think that we all walked away from it knowing that we could do something like this, and more, and continue to get better on the road and build this. It solidified the fact that we can do this. We can play music for a living, people respond to it, and it comes across, no matter the situation you’re in. Whether there’s a full house or a room with a few people you’ve never played to before, we’re going to play the same. We’re gonna play our hearts out.
Tyler: You really learn how to be a performer night after night after night. You learn how you’ve gotta stay in shape. I learned how to take care of my throat, and you learn how to take care of yourself. Most importantly, you learn how much Taco Bell you can eat before you start getting angry at each other. (laughs). It’s just a fun experience, being with your buddies, traveling through the United States.
What was your second single, “I Can Take It” about lyrically? Where’d the inspiration for that song come from?
Tyler: Personally, it’s about overcoming an obstacle. I always try to leave a little bit of mystery so people can apply their own meaning to it. People always ask about the one relationship song that I wrote, but my girlfriend lives in another state. It’s kind of about how I can handle that. But really, the bigger picture is about how to overcome adversity, and to believe in something that’s important to you.
I see that on your self-titled album, you worked with Tony Hajjar from At The Drive In. What did he bring to the table for the record “I Can Take It”?
Tyler: As far as Tony’s role as a producer, he brought a more experienced member to the band. He really helped us focus where we wanted the song to be and its intentions. We had already written and recorded a version of it in the studio. Tony was working on it with us, so we just went back and re-worked it. As far as lyrically, he really worked on the focus of how I said the words and the intention of the melody. I thought that was really valuable, but then he also just brought a focus to the instrumentation, particularly the chords, making it a little more straightforward. It really helped us deliver the impact of the song.
It was cool! We were worried to work with a producer, but as far as producers go, that was one of the best experiences we’ve had. We felt like it was another member that we respected in the band, not just someone who wanted to change what we were doing.
What would you all say was the writing process like for this album as a whole?
Danny: I think that when we were writing this album, we decided to make a full album as opposed to putting out an EP, like we had previously has done. With an EP, you have a group of songs, narrow it down, and just choose a few songs. With the album, we felt that we could actually create the full picture of who we are as a band, and what we sound like, and take an arc and a story to it, rather than a snippet of it with a few songs. We were all working full time after school and trying to balance that with playing music, being in our early to mid 20s. There’s a lot of changes that happen in your life, both physically and with your relationships and growing. I think that all of that came into this album, where we had room to spread our wings and express everything that we were feeling.
Matt: With the full length, it was probably about a year, year and a half. We started writing a lot for the full length, like Danny said. We began recording at the end of 2012. We listened to it, and then ended up re-recording them in 2013.
The next two questions I ask to every artist that I interview. What kind of message would you like fans to walk away with after listening to your music?
Tyler: Our message is to stick with what suits you, and ignore all the bullshit. We’ve been playing this style of music for a long time, and it hasn’t really been a popular style of music, but that doesn’t really matter because that’s what felt right when we were writing and expressing ourselves.
Danny: We’ve been playing what we’ve been playing because it’s what we want to play and it’s the music we want to hear. For us, we just kind of kept going. When we did this album, some people had said “Oh you need a radio single,” and then our song was on KROQ for two months. It was sort of a testament to just keep going. Do what you love, do what feels right, and don’t care whether or not someone thinks it’s radio friendly or not. We’re just gonna play what we play, no matter what.
What does music mean to you?
Danny: I think that music is exactly what we just talked about. We want people to take away from the music what it means to us. Music is a communication and an experience between yourself and the audience, whether it’s between the CD and the listener, or live, and it’s about that connection. We feel that this is the music we want to play and hear, and we’d love to share that with other people. It’s our expression.
Last question: what are the future plans for KIVEN right now? Any future releases, tour dates, videos that you want to let fans know about?
Matt: We just announced today on our Facebook page that we’ll be playing with Twin Atlantic at The Troubadour in Los Angeles, the band from Glasgow. We have a couple more shows in Orange County, and we’ve also got a really cool show coming up in LA. It’s actually at the Los Angeles Zoo; they’re closing it down at nighttime and throwing a party. We’re headlining it, so that’s July 25th. And then really we’re just going to keep playing around town, and up the coast. We’re going to be going on a quick mini-tour in October. That’s gonna take us from LA, to Seattle. We’re going to hit a couple of Canada dates, and come back. The plan’s really just to stay busy, and share the record with as many people through our live shows as we can.
This has been another shameless promotion.