Sunday 13 October 2013

Kid Karate // Interview & Live Review, The Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds

Meet Kid Karate, vocalist/guitarist Kevin Breen and drummer Steven Gannon. The Dublin Duo has been tearing it up stateside but are now back over in the UK rounding up on a headline tour and their newly released debut EP, ‘Two Times’, is already stirring up a storm.  

We headed down to brand new venue The Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen in Leeds to catch up with Kid Karate as they played as part of The Belgrave Street Feast last weekend. Click below to read our interview with the guys and our review of their live show…

Heya guys. How’s the tour going so far?
STEVEN [Gannon, drums]- Yeah, really well. We’ve been surprised by the gigs. It’s gone really quickly, when you’re having fun, it does.
KEVIN [Breen, vocals/guitar]-  We’re back in Ireland for one day after this and then flying back out to LA to do Culture Collide and CMJ out there.

You’ve played quite a bit in America, more so than in the UK… hhhhh as Is it nice
STEVEN- Now we’ve played more over here I think, but before this tour we’d played more in the US but I think this stint in America will bring it back on top. It’s going to be a race [laughing].

Is it nice to be doing live shows over here now?
STEVEN- Yeah, it’s just great doing shows outside of your hometown because you play there a lot and you know there’ll be a good crowd, so it’s nice to branch out.
KEVIN- It’s good to see the world.

You also host an indie club night back home…
STEVEN- Yeah, we run it with our friend Trev; it was its third birthday this week. It’s called ‘Somewhere?’
KEVIN- I do another one as well called ‘Hidden Agenda’. It’s a house/techno club night so a different vibe. We like to branch out.

You’ve collaborated with Jason Boland (of Kodaline) and Dave Pendergast (of Overhead, The Albatross), who produced/engineered the recordings on this debut EP. Are they friends from home?
KEVIN- They’re kind of a team; Jason did all the recording and then Dave would come in and put his own little stamp on it as well. We’ve been working with Jason before he was in Kodaline; he recorded our first proper demos.
STEVE- We’ve been recording with them for like three years, they’re kind of the other members of the band.
KEVIN- Yeah, they’re the only people we trust; they’re part of the team.

‘Lights Out’ the EP just came out. You’ve been compared to the likes of The White Stripes, The Black Keys, LCD Soundsystem, Death From Above. Who influences you guys musically?
STEVEN- My favourite band is LCD Soundsystem and I love Radio Head, Talking Heads…
KEVIN- I like The Doors, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Michael Jackson. Anything, from Abba to Zeppelin basically. If it’s good, we’ll listen to it.
KEVIN- We can see The White Stripes and Black Keys comparison because of the two-piece connection, but we don’t really feel our sound is similar.

‘Two Times’ is the single taken from the EP. You released a video for it featuring Keith Walsh, the Irish Red Bull skateboarder. It looks an easy video for you because you’re only in it for about a second… 
STEVEN- [Laughing] Yeah, that was on purpose.
KEVIN- Yeah. It wasn’t an easy day though. We helped make it.
STEVEN- Kev was running around trying to keep kids out of the shots, and we were running around with clip boards for the scenes, getting a car that we could blow up, and getting the car towed. All that was months of solid planning [laughing].
KEVIN- We shot it over one day…
STEVEN- We were so sunburned at the end; it was like an eighteen hour day. There’s a photo of us in front of the burning car and our faces are just red. We were just like, “Yes, it’s finished”.

You shot it back in Ireland and it kind of shows the antithesis of how a hometown has it’s negativity, how it’s rough at times, but at that same time it’s somewhere familiar and home.
KEVIN- Yeah, definitely. It was quite a rough area of Dublin, Darndale, that it was filmed in. Have you seen the film The Commitments, the movie about Irish musicians in the early 80s? That was filmed in the same area.

So to say that there are only two of you, you make a lot of noise. “Two boys. Make noise” is your slogan. Was there any question about getting more people?
KEVIN- When we started there was going to be more, it was going to be a four-piece. It wasn’t a serious thing; we met one night and I found out Steven had a drum kit so the next day I went round. And we were like; we should probably get a bass player, but couldn’t really find one that was on our vibe. We talked about maybe getting a girl into sing; that didn’t happen, so I just started singing. We used to practice in a shed and had no PA system or microphone, so I just had to shout really, really loud and naturally it evolved from there.
STEVEN- It’s all about evolution, so you never know what will happen…
KEVIN- We don’t see ourselves as a two-piece because there are more elements than just the two of us. That’s the great thing about Ireland, there’s a strong community of people willing to help. Like with our video shoot lots of people helped for free, people genuinely want to help.

The name Kid Karate- plays havoc when I tried to Google you guys!
STEVEN- Apparently there was some movie, but I dunno [laughing].
KEVIN- We just don’t want people to know who we are.

Although I did find out you guys were in a show called Fade Street?
KEVIN- Oooo, you’ve been doing your research!

We don’t get the show over here though…
STEVEN- Yeah, that’s good [laughing]. It was meant to be like The Hills.
KEVIN- We ended up being in one or two episodes and then seeing it and being like “What the f**k?” Got to meet The Black Keys out of it, so that was good. And went to a music Festival and watched Eminem with Julian Casablancas; that was a surreal moment.

So you’re not going to be in series two?
STEVEN- I don’t think there even is a series two [laughing].
KEVIN- We got a lot of stick from our friends but that’s what friends are for.

And finally, what’s next for you guys?
KEVIN- Well, we’ve got LA and after that, Amsterdam…
STEVEN- There’s talk of Germany too. And we’re going to record some more stuff and then release the album in the early part of next year.

And here’s what happened when Kid Karate took to the stage…

They may have been spending a lot of time across the pond of late, but Dublin duo Kid Karate’s sound definitely marks their return to the UK stage tonight here in Leeds. They’re coming to the end of a UK tour before America steals them again, and by tonight’s performance we can see why they’re popular out there. Playing as part of The Belgrave Street Feast Kid Karate open up proceedings and, although the crowd take a little while to get warmed up, after a couple of tracks the band has their full attention. The distinctive and discordant openings of new single ‘Two Times’ make way for Kevin Breen’s raw vocals and Steven Gannon’s building percussion. “Two boys. Make noise” is their slogan and it’s quite obvious why.

There may be only two of them on stage, but their sound fills the room and Breen’s quirky, jerky dancing holds attention. Inevitable comparisons to two-piece bands such as The White Stripes and The Black are thrown into the mix, however, musically they are more somewhere between LCD Soundsystem and Death From Above 1979. Their set is thunderous and fast paced mixing rock rhythms with electronic beats. Playing tracks from EP ‘Lights Out’, Kid Karate show off their wide dynamic of sounds. ‘Heart’ begins quietly, a mere piano intro before subtly growing and building in to the not so subtle rocky cacophonic chorus. The electronic synths of ‘This City’ hold down an 80s style, whilst ‘You Need Violence’ has a punkier, guitar edge. One thing is for certain, Kid Karate aren’t subtle, and if we’re honest we’re quite glad that they’re not. Standing out from the crowd, this evening was a perfect introduction to the band and we can’t wait to see what’s next. 7/10