Krillin’ it from Boston to Mpls.

by Grant Tillery

If Krill had a motto, it would be “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” since two-thirds of the sleep aficionados moved to Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood this past year.
“It ranges from four to seven or eight hours,” drummer Ian Becker said about the number of hours the band sleeps per night on tour. “There are always a couple days where we sleep in, and it’s the best thing ever.” 
Formed in 2010, Krill exploded beyond their hometown Boston fan base after they signed with Exploding in Sound Records in 2014. Their wry, pared-down grunge sensibilities straddle the line between brash, bopping ditties on 2013’s “Lucky Leaves” and moody, heavy rock bangers featured on “A Distant Fist Unclenching,” released this February. They’re stopping by Minneapolis on Saturday for a show at the 7th Street Entry. 
Krill’s trademark is vocalist and bassist Jonah Furman’s distinct delivery and inventive wordplay. Furman is unafraid to explore the unusual, with lyrics illuminating the existential trials, tribulations and triumphs the band members face in everyday life. This is what happens when teenage angst grows up and evolves into a meaningful and mature metaphor.
“When I was writing the lyrics for ‘Lucky Leaves,’ I thought of them as little parables or fables,” Furman said. “Most of the lyrics were like the last line of a story and would harp on one basic thing over and over. … On ‘A Distant Fist [Unclenching],’ almost every song sets out some sort of statement but questions itself in a way that I hadn’t been doing before.”
When Furman writes songs, he often mashes two separate themes together to create discordant phrases that require a couple listens to glean the deeper meaning.
“The song ‘Squirrels’ on the new album has this whole end part that started out not relating to the [song’s] imagery,” Furman said. “The bulk of the song is about these squirrels’ relationship, and the end of the song started being about death. I had to figure out how to make those images have anything to do with each other, as opposed to feeling totally disconnected.”
Becker, Furman and guitarist Aaron Ratoff all hail from Chicago’s northern suburbs and played in bands growing up throughout middle and high school. Their paths intersected for years before they all played together.
“There was a coffee shop in Evanston that had a basement where 15-year-olds would host free all-ages shows,” Becker said. “We started playing music in that way.”
Krill’s grit sets them apart from similar bands. The musicians possess a workman-like, blue-collar ethos and grind away on the road to make ends meet. They treat touring not as a grand spectacle but rather as a necessity of the musician lifestyle.
Despite the glamorization of rockers, playing in a band isn’t a lucrative career, Becker said.
“People are always surprised. I was, too, and I was really hungry because I had the perception [that bands made a lot of money],” Becker said. “Now we’re playing in venues in different cities that I associate with huge bands — if I saw a band at a certain venue in Chicago, I’d be like, ‘Damn, this band is famous. They’re doing fine.’
Now, we’re playing those same spaces, and you see that we’re making more than we used to and more than a lot of touring bands make. But at the same time, it’s
definitely under minimum wage.”
Intense touring and burnout go hand-in-hand, and Krill is no stranger to road fatigue. Though they spend significant time on the road — more than many bands — they’ve toned it down from where they started.
“I remember on our first major tour … it was like, ‘Yeah, we’ll do nine weeks. I have no idea why that would be bad,’” Furman said. “I understand now why I would never do that ever, probably.”
One element that comes with touring is infrequent showers. At risk of smelling rank, the band forgoes daily showering for efficiency’s sake. Their admission of this in a December 2014 article for Vice received surprising backlash, including harsh words from one troll who suggested they pay for showers.
“This guy [said], ‘I read the Vice article, and you guys are a bunch of fucking whiners,’” Becker said. “‘You [want to] shower on the road, all you have to do is pay $19 a month for Planet Fitness, and you can shower anywhere you want.’ And [I was like], ‘Dude, take a step back and look at what you’re saying right now. You pay $19 a month to take showers.’ That’s so stupid — that’s a weird way to live.”