Identity crisis

Get Killed

Leah Crawford, Paul Hutchinson and Brad Bynum of Get Killed at least agree on the merits of stylish cosmetics.

Leah Crawford, Paul Hutchinson and Brad Bynum of Get Killed at least agree on the merits of stylish cosmetics.

Photo By David Robert

Get Killed will perform at 9 p.m. Jan. 22 at the Stork Club, 2330 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, CA (510) 444-6174.

The members of Get Killed play pop songs. Or they don’t. They are progressive rock played garage style. Or they are danceable, Captain Beefheart-influenced post-punk with a noise-rock streak. They are not indie or art-school rock. Or maybe they are. It depends who you ask. No one, not even the members of the band, can seem to agree exactly what sort of music the band plays.

Guitarist Brad Bynum (Full disclosure: Brad Bynum is a regular contributor to the RN&R.) explains, “Some people say Gang of Four, which sort of annoys me. … (drummer) Paul (Hutchinson) always says that we’re a rap band. (Bassist) Leah (Crawford) calls it ‘sloppy prog rock.'”

Bynum finally settles on Captain Beefheart as the only artist he would cite as an explicit influence on Get Killed, a claim the other members of the band deny.

These contradictions could result in music without coherence, but the members of Get Killed, by going in different directions, manage to go in the same direction, making possibly the most original music you will hear from any local band.

The band is thoroughly democratic; all three members sing and contribute lyrics and musical ideas. No voice or instrument ever takes center stage—or a back seat—for very long. There are no conventional “rhythm” or “lead” parts.

“Leah plays more like a lead,” Hutchinson says of Crawford’s bass playing.

Likewise, instead of being a time keeper providing a basic backbeat, Hutchinson—who claims to listen only to rap and folk music—usually plays riffs using most of the drum kit.

“Whatever the dominant instrument is, is always changing,” Bynum says. “I think that our weird sense of musical interplay is especially unusual in a band that writes pop songs with verses and choruses.”

Crawford quickly dismisses Bynum’s claim that Get Killed write pop songs.

She explains that, though “Get Killed tries … to keep a rock ‘n’ roll concept as a reference, for enlightenment reasons … there is usually no pop format.”

“I personally do not like the verse-chorus-verse-chorus thing because real repetition makes my ADD act up,” she adds. “Our songs are structured meta-verse, meta-chorus, meta-verse, meta-chorus.”

The subject matter of songs is no less up for debate. Bynum, author of “Annabelle"—a love song to his girlfriend’s cat, written from the point of view of the spaceship as it travels through outer space—asserts that all their songs are about space travel or cowboys.

Crawford predictably denies the claim: “No, all our songs are not about space travel and cowboys. … However, when we do write lyrics, they are almost always inspired by the free ranges that we ride—the range we came from, Nevada, and the range that we are headed for, outer space. Lyrics are mostly an afterthought in this band.”

Get Killed is cursed. The curse may be due to multiple crimes against the institutions of easily categorized music. Since the band’s formation, Crawford has been hit by a car, Hutchinson has been in two auto accidents, and Bynum has been considered an accident waiting to happen. This has left the band members wondering if they would have been wiser to name the band Get Rich or even Get Home Safely.