"We will be the extremely skinny, short, young dudes with one guy who looks like Heath Ledger had a child with Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison," says Kithkin's Alex Barr.
Kithkin plays the Salmon Bay Eagles at 8 p.m. Sat., Oct. 6 as part of Seattle Weekly's Reverb Local Music Festival.
Comprising Barr, Ian McCutcheon (said Ledger look-alike), Kelton Sears, and Bob Martin, Seattle woods-rock act Kithkin has been on the steady rise since releasing their debut EP, Takers & Leavers, in January.
Built around their love for Magic: The Gathering and Dungeons and Dragons and an appreciation for creatures of the woodland variety, the act's Where the Wild Things Are personas have become just as much a part of their image as the delightfully messy, percussion-driven party rock they create. "I think every show should be an experience on a visual and emotional level as well as musical," McCutcheon says. "And I think that having that mystery or fantasy kind of does that."
Dorky? Yes. Effective? More than you would imagine.
The band members got their start playing now-infamous house parties in the International District, where shenanigans included Barr tomahawking a girl in the face with his guitar (it was an accident), Sears lighting his drumsticks on fire (not an accident), and a close call involving a rowdy set on the not-so-sturdy floor of a second-story apartment. This summer they graduated to the local festival scene—the Catapult Musical Festival in Anacortes, the Capitol Hill Block Party, and most recently a highly acclaimed Doe Bay set that found them collaborating with local hip-hop outfit Kung Foo Grip (watch the video, it's badass).
Next on the agenda is finishing writing their full-length debut—a project the Kith-clan describes as more thematic and cohesive than the thunderous Takers & Leavers. "On our EP, it was our first chance to get out there," Sears says. "So we were like, 'Let's make these songs really, really big.' "
Drawing inspiration from the psychedelic and world-music albums frequenting their headphones as of late, Kithkin's new material is expected to be more stripped-down, with a focus on tighter, more emphatic world beats. "I like the idea that [psychedelic bands] can do an epic 15-minute song as well as a two-minute pop song—and they both fit on the same album," McCutcheon says. They hope the space of a full-length and an expanded variety of percussion instruments, including bongos and a digital drum pad, will provide this opportunity. "It's still as energetic as it was before, but maybe without as much layering—and I think it will be easier for people to catch on to more immediately."
From the funky, tribal-inspired clothes they wear onstage to their highly charged, participatory tuneage, the men of Kithkin are set to be one of the most excitable and entertaining bands at Reverb—ironically, considering the dark, somewhat apocalyptic nature of their music's subject matter. "I always say that we are kind of living in the apocalypse right now," Sears explains, citing global warming and the dichotomy of life and death as main inspirations. "It's not going to happen all at once—but the world is sort of ending."
Until then, they'll keep Seattle dancing.