“Eight months of rehearsal, two days a week, and this has never happened; you can’t fuck up your first show, especially after the way we hyped this,” explains Lee Christopher, vocalist for the industrial-rock multimedia outfit Kill Kelly, neatly summarizing the feeling of everyone in the audience during the band’s first show.
T-shirts, stickers that have been on car bumpers for years, a demo CD, an on-air interview with Nick Danger—this could all be the set-up for a bad joke with the band as the punch line. Thankfully, in this case, it’s closer to a $5 milkshake: I don’t know if it’s worth the hype, but it’s pretty good.
Besides Christopher, the band has four other members: Jeff Dunn (guitar, vocals), Pete Noble (bass), Kevin Kolstad (guitar, electronics) and Ian Anderson (drums). There are also two other members equally important to the project: Nick Phillips (audio mixing) and Chris Davis (visuals).
“From the start, we just didn’t want to be the average, normal frat rock band where everybody’s doing the same thing,” says Dunn. “We want to have a show, not just a band playing. We’re a sound company, a band, a live show; we have video, a light show, all in one.”
Although the show was delayed because of technical difficulties, I doubt anyone complained when it was over. The band’s sound encompasses a great deal of industrial music (without the fascist stylings or the leather), hovering somewhere between KMFDM and Front 242. Their best song, “Aphrodisiac,” captures the tribal feel of early industrial by adding extra percussion, with Dunn playing timbales and Christopher banging on a 55-gallon drum.
“I think we wanted to blend the dancy elements of techno but still have it heavy,” says Kolstad.
While the band played, a visual show was presented next to the stage. It included video of the band performing in real-time with effects added and interesting visual collages. One of the last things I remember seeing was a fractal fading into an urban scene with a young Asian woman in the foreground. As interesting as it was, however, once the set got more eclectic, I stopped watching the screen and instead focused on the band.
The band has been around for four years struggling to find the right personnel. Dunn and Noble have been in it the longest, and their mission has always been the same.
“Pete [Noble] and I knew we wanted to do this and have these sounds, but we both had no idea how to do it,” says Dunn. “We ran an ad, and Kevin answered it, and day one we knew he was the guy.”
The songs revolve around Kolstad’s keyboard and sequencer work.
“Usually I’ll start with sequences,” he says. “I’ll start writing songs within some program like Reason. I’ll just keep layering, and adding things on top of it, and then I’ll try to write the guitar parts on top of that.”
Later, Christopher and Kolstad work together to add lyrics.
“The hardest part is knowing where the timing fits. It’s not straight time music. It’s not verse, chorus, bridge. I write everything on the fly. And then I’ll go back and tinker with the lyrics,” Christopher explains.
The show-business cliché suggests performers should leave you wanting more. Perhaps that sounds like something a narcissist would say to himself after giving a bad sexual performance. Kill Kelly doesn’t do you like that. They leave you satisfied, with a smile on your face and a full pot of coffee waiting for you when you get up in the morning.