Proving the Hype: Black Kids Interview

Proving the Hype: Black Kids Interview

by Marcos Colón
08.13.2008

When it comes to Florida’s indie rock music scene there aren’t a lot of names that come to mind when you think of bands that have actually made a strong impression. Most of these seem to just seem to come out of the woodwork in Brooklyn, head to the UK to cause a ruckus, only to come back to the states to start at square one again.

However, a year ago a quintet of twenty somethings from the artsy side of town in Jacksonville, Florida decided to release an EP that would start a snowball effect of hype that lasted until they were picked up by a major label and released their debut album, Partie Traumatic. After only getting together in 2006, Black Kids are now chart toppers in the UK, one of ten “Artists to Watch,” according to Rolling Stone, not to mention Florida’s pride when it comes to the indie rock circuit. Not bad after a couple of years.

Clubplanet recently chatted with Black Kids’ bassist Owen Holmes on the day of their debut album’s U.S. release. Taking a break from his busy schedule in the U.K., we caught up on how the band deals with the instant success, the release of their highly anticipated debut album and what to expect from their return to the U.S.

Clubplanet: How does it feel to have your debut album come out today? You got together about two years ago and you already have this highly anticipated album.

Owen Holmes: Gosh, it’s about time. We’ve been so busy, it’s hard to keep track of the big picture and not get caught up in day-to-day things. Today doesn’t really feel like Christmas yet, but we’re releasing our album and having an in-store at Virgin Megastore. Once we do that and see the album on the shelves, it will set in.

CP: How do you deal with all this hype?

Owen Holmes: The hype will stop because up until this point, aside from the EP, which was something concrete, it’s all been speculation.

CP: Is it distracting at times?

Owen Holmes: We’re pretty good about not getting too wrapped up in it. We don’t read every review. We don’t google ourselves every day or anything like that. We just try to do our thing.

CP: On your album you guys seem to have a heavy 80’s synth influence. What are some of your musical influences?

Owen Holmes: All over the place, but as far as the 80s element goes, New Order and Pet Shop Boys are probably the biggest ones.

CP: As far as the lyrics department goes where do you guys draw inspiration from for this album? Do you guys each play a part in that or is it pretty much centered around one person?

Owen Holmes: Up until this point it’s been Reggie. Ali and myself are becoming more involved, but on this record it was all Reggie. Anyone who listens to the lyrics can tell it’s inspired a lot by going out, dancing, having a drink, talking to the opposite sex, getting your heart broken, and breaking hearts.

CP: If you had to choose a theme for this album what would it be?

Owen Holmes: I don’t know. We were talking about it a lot amongst ourselves and it almost feels like a teenagers record. It’s about desire and unrequited love, even loneliness, which sounds kind of cliché because a lot of albums are like that but we put a different twist on it.

CP: Before you went off to the UK you were making a lot of noise here. And you managed to become a quick hit in the UK, even though the scene over there is a lot more commercial.

Owen Holmes: Yea, it’s crazy. In the UK we’re considered an actual mainstream pop band. It blows my mind because we all consider ourselves an indie band. If you look on the charts when the album came out over there, we were next to Coldplay and bands like that, which is ridiculous to me.

CP: How do you think the transition is going to be when you guys come back here? A lot of bands bigger bands like Kings of Leon and The Strokes first took off in the UK. Do you think it will be back to square one but with an album backing you?

Owen Holmes: I really do. Everything is so globalized, but it seems like the two territories are quite different. It feels like we are starting from square one. But that’s fine, because those are some of the best days, the early days.

CP: How was the music scene in Jacksonville when you guys first got together?

Owen Holmes: It’s great. It’s probably better than most people think it would be. Jacksonville is a very conservative town, a very big town, but there’s not a whole lot going on culturally. There are a couple of neighborhoods that are hip or artsy and that’s where we live. There are maybe two dozen indie bands that come from the neighborhood and a couple good indie clubs. So yea, there is a “scene.”

CP: Do you plan to stick around, or do you plan to move to NY like most people do?

Owen Holmes: Yea I think we plan to stick around. It’s kind of funny, we were all born and raised in Jacksonville and obviously it’s no New York or Paris. We never really appreciated it until we stepped away from it. Now it’s going to be nice to go back there.

CP: How many other places have you guys played in the US or has it just been the major markets?

Owen Holmes: Technically we’ve only done one tour and that was with Cut Copy last May. We did about 15 or 16 shows.

CP: So you did the New Yorks and the LAs?

Owen Holmes: Basically we started at Coachella. We went up the West Coast, through Denver, the Midwest and then through the Northeast.

CP: Are there any cities out there that you would like to hit up but your really haven’t gotten the chance to yet?

Owen Holmes: We hit the major ones. We kind of missed the East Coast apart from New York and a couple other shows. On our next tour, which starts in September, we are doing Chapel Hill and stuff like that.

CP: Have you had your “holy shit” moment yet?

Owen Holmes: (laughs) I think that’s going to come on Thursday night when we play David Letterman. That will be the holy shit moment. (laughs)

CP: Are there any bands in the UK that have caught your ear since you’ve been over there?

Owen Holmes: To be completely honest, no. (laughs) I can’t think of any new UK band.

CP: What do you have planned for the rest of the year?

Owen Holmes: We’re pretty much alternating between North America and Europe. Early next year we’re going to hit up some of the other markets like Japan and Australia.

CP: What’s been the best part for you so far from the release of the EP to the album?

Owen Holmes: Being able to go to these crazy places around the world that we wouldn’t get to see otherwise, like Norway, Sweden and Barcelona. Those places just seem like paradise. Those people really have it figured out you know? Just seeing exotic places and playing the music that you love and being with your best

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