Churning their way through the local scene playing their own unique take on indie rock, Kids At Risk have made quite a name for themselves, garnering praise from Richard Kingsmill and gathering a firm fan following.
With the band set to play Mum at World Bar this friday we caught up with them to discuss their EP, their Remix EP as well as the slowly eroding facade of the music industry impacts on how they approach their music.
MF: You’ve got your self-titled EP out; how would you describe it? Does it have in-running lyrical or musical themes?
KAR: Yeah, the KIDS AT RISK EP came out earlier this year. It was a great experience for us as a band; we had just formed, hadn’t even played a gig, so we were really experimenting with our sound and song writing. From the outset we knew we wanted to go for a very specific mood or theme, if not a sound. The music is fast, energetic, and more than a little chaotic. Sometimes it’s mean and then sometimes sweet. I guess that’s why we’re called KIDS AT RISK. We make ADHD music.
MF: You’ve also got a remix EP soon to be released; can you tell us about that? Who is going to be on it? You’ve got a bunch of the tracks up on MySpace; are there any more to come?
KAR: Actually Kiss it Dark, the remix EP, has just come out! We’ve got some great acts to be a part of it: Danimals; Convaire (we love those guys); Bon Chat Bon Rat; High Highs (they’re an Aussie duo making great tunes in NY). But our faves are Seabourne! We think those kids have a big future (that’s an inside joke, and no, I’m not telling!). At first I was a little apprehensive about the remix thing, it’s like giving your child to a stranger, you know? But I couldn’t be happier with the final results; it’s amazing to see how different artists can take the same song and end up in such different places. I can’t settle on a favourite track, it keeps changing with whatever mood I’m in or what I have to do that day. Just goes to show how strong the electronic scene is in Sydney.
MF: You guys have described yourselves as ‘Australia’s answer to… Los Campesinos’ and ‘heavily Pixies-esque’; do you generally take a lot of inspiration from other bands or are these labels sort of tacked on after the music has been written?
KAR: To be fair, the Los Campesinos thing came from Richard Kingsmill. Although we certainly didn’t mind the comparison! But here’s the thing… we live in the age of Vulture Rock. Everybody is ‘heavily’ influenced by great bands of the past, and we are no different. Yes, KIDS AT RISK formed in the crowd of a Pixies’ concert and it sometimes shows. But we draw our inspiration from all over, and every song we write takes us in a new direction. We all have a lot of our parents in us, but we are each our own person and that’s how it is in music too.
MF: So you guys have all played in other bands before getting together with KIDS AT RISK; would you say that experience has taught you lessons of what to avoid? If so, how have you approached KIDS differently to other projects?
KAR: Damn right it has! Larissa (bass) and I were in a band together, which had major label backing, big budget yada yada… Certain members of the band (not naming names) spent so much time thinking about what would be popular and what everybody was listening to, what haircuts would… well you know the kinda people. But by the end, none of us IN the band really liked the music! KIDS AT RISK was a direct response to that. We only aim to please ourselves; thankfully there seems to be a lot of people like us out there. But I still love looking out into the crowd at gigs and seeing all the confused faces. If we can perplex half the room and get the other half jumpin’, thats a great gig!
MF: The industry, around the world and especially here in Australia due to our small population and abundance of bands, is very competitive; what do you think is the key to making yourself heard in a scene where all too often bands are drowned out by each other in an attempt to grab attention?
KAR: We honestly don’t know. Sorry. But again, just doing what you wanna do is a great place to start. It’s no guarantee of success, but at least you will be able to look at yourself in the mirror.
MF: Do you think the music should just speak for itself or is it important to play the game?
KAR: I would hope it speaks for itself, but that just ain’t the case. You have to find a way to play the game while remaining true to yourself. I heard once that Bob Dylan worked a room so well it made other musicians sick. He was a very ambitious boy indeed. But fifty years later all we remember is that he wrote the music that changed a generation. You have to play the game to a certain extent to get heard. I think the key is to keep it balanced.
MF: If the former how do you try and stay competitive when so many bands are popping up every day and so many of them are playing relatively similar takes on indie rock/pop?
KAR: You don’t stand out if you’re like everyone else. Yeah, we all play guitars and shit, but that don’t mean we are the same.
MF: Where do you see the industry heading in the next few years considering the trend of dropping album sales and diminishing tour returns? How do these concerns affect the way you approach the band?
KAR: Album sales and tour returns don’t interest us in the slightest. Great albums and jumping gigs do.
Kids At Risk play Mum @ Worldbar this Friday 12th November