More with Kill to Kill

by Kara Nesvig

 A minor Myspace error (icky Myspace) kept me from including Chad & Sylvia’s answers in my Kill to Kill story from earlier this month. Here they are, a little bit later than expected, because I clearly never ever check my Myspace. Anyway, Chad & Sylvia (and Kill to Kill) are totally awesome, and their answers to my questions are super interesting, so read them. And then go check out Kill to Kill. They’re cool. I promise.


1. Joe told me there are no traditional guitars in the band. Tell me about that. How do you duplicate the guitar sound with bass guitars?

Chad – Here comes a long winded and completely geeky explanation…. 

Sylvia plays bass on half of our material, and she also plays a baritone guitar which is a slightly longer scale guitar (tuned B, E, A, D, F#, B) that has a much darker tone to it. The baritone lets you play notes that fall into the range of a bass guitar, but for the most part it behaves just like a traditional electric guitar. 

My instrument for the past 10 years has been the bass VI. It’s essentially a guitar tuned one octave down. I’ve always prefered playing bass as a melodic instrument, and once I got my hands on the VI, I just never went back to guitar or bass. 

Sylvia plays her bass and baritone through a bass amplifier with the EQ dialed in really bright. I run the bass VI through a guitar amplifier to keep it sounding thin and spikey. I’ve always wanted to have a "two bass" band without all the murk and mud that happens while the two basses are competing for the same sonic turf. We, by the grace of our instrumentation, create guitar riffs or bass lines and combinations of the two. For us, not having to stick to one role makes it more fun and less dogmatic. We like to blur the lines between rythm and melody.

Sylvia – Yeah, Blur, because he is the coolest Transformer.

2. Joe also said you two are the main songwriters. What is your writing process? How do you go about conceptualizing a song/writing lyrics? Joe said you’re both really prolific, so tell me about that.

Sylvia – I like to write songs alone, at home using a practice amp and recording software such as garageband, which helps me solidify my ideas. Then i bring that song into the practice space where as a band we discuss arragement and length, and where Chad writes his complimentary part to my already set riffs and vocal melodies. by the time Chad has his part to a satisfactory state, Joe will have written his drum part. Then after this session of "jamming" on the song, we will comment on each other’s parts and make any neccesary changes. A complete song, in my mind, must feel right.

We tend to create songs very quickly, which i believe captures a sense of urgency in the sound itself, and prevents us from overworking the song. I tend to stay away from happy sounding tunes, as there seems to be more truth in sadness. When writing song lyrics, i picture a scene and then i write about it. much like dreams, these scenes might make little sense, but i write about them anyway. I like to stay away from cluttered lyrics because i feel it is neccesary for the music itself to be prominent, with my voice kinda like another guitar in the mix. I have to be alone when writing. Sometimes songs just happen by accident during practice. Actaully 50% or more of them are made this way. 

About Joe saying we’re prolific? I’ve been working with Chad ever since i picked up an electric instrument (he was the one to inspire me to do so in the first place), and because of this i play much like he does. This makes musical communication come easier, which might make it seem like we’re prolific. He writes a part and i know what to play, without much argument…and vise versa. 

Chad- And she has strong hands. 

3. What do you guys do when you’re not playing in the band? What are your ages/jobs?

Sylvia – I sleep.
Chad – I don’t sleep very well. I’m a geek. She’s 21 and I’m 33…. Jobs?

4. Which bands inspire you?
Chad – This is a hard question to answer. I just start listing them off and people’s eyes roll back into their heads. Shellac, Blonde Redhead, Flin Flon, Slint, Sonic Youth, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Joy Division, Tortoise, Power of 2, Condo$, Trans Am, Turing Machine, Blah blah blah…. Alot of the music I listen to is insrtrumental – There is something nice about not having to listen to somebody’s stupid poetry.

5. How would you describe the sound of Kill to Kill?
Chad – Hmmm… I don’t know. Not to sound like a jerk (I’m kind of a bitter soul and much of the time sarcastic) Most people can’t describe a band without implying facsimile or the "ripping off" of another band. We get comments like "I hear some early Blonde Redhead" or "You sound like that girl fom Yeah Yeah Yeahs singing with Interpol" – If they want to know what we sound like, they can come see our shows or visit our MySpace – If I honestly sat down and described our sound without that "sounds like" crutch, I don’t know where to begin, but I’ll try. How about some adjectives – Angular? Minimal? Rock? Roll? I think most "musicians" would like to say "We sound like (insert their band name here)."