Exclusive Interview With British Garage Surf Trio: Johnny Kills

Johnny Kills, a new British garage/surf band, just released their fast and furious debut single, “Let’s Talk About Me.”

A year ago, they released released their first few demos, the hypersonic punk tune “Take It Easy” and the mellow indie rock track “Maybe Next Year” and now the band are back with their best song yet.

On the new track, the Brighton/London/York based trio, Johnny Kills, sound fuzzy, energetic, and mosh-pit ready, with their hyped-up vocal “na na na’s” making it hard not to want to join in. If I had to namedrop some bands, I’d say their sound is reminiscent of younger bands like Spring King and Beach Riot and more established bands like Wavves and Bloody Knees, but there’s really no direct comparison to these guys.

According to Tim Lloyd-Kinnings (guitar, lead vocals), “‘Let’s Talk About Me’ is about the frustrations of hanging out with people who spend the whole evening talking about themselves before realizing you kinda just want to talk about yourself too.”

The single was produced by Alex Greaves (Seeing Hands, Avalanche Party, Colour of Spring) at The Nave studio in Leeds, and was self-released via Johnny’s Killer Records on June 5th, and is the first of their batch of singles due to be released this summer.

Johnny Kills are brothers, Tim Lloyd-Kinnings (guitar, lead vocals) and Lewis Lloyd-Kinnings (bass, keys, vocals), and Cameron Gipp (guitar, vocals). I was able to interview Lewis about the band’s influences, their current sound, their ideas of success, the future of rock music, and more.

How long have you guys been playing music individually and how long have you been playing as a band?

Lewis: Individually, we’ve all been playing for years and dicking about in crappy teen bands since we were about 13. In this guise, about a year now.

Were there any particular artists or bands that made you want to start playing music?

Lewis: Seeing Muse own Wembley Stadium in 2007 when I was a wide-eyed 14-year-old made me want to become a guitar god, but I was too shit. Then, as we got older and discovered the likes of Pavement or Weezer, or later, Wavves and FIDLAR, we realized how simple, fuzzy music could sound so great if we wrote and played with the right attitude.

What’s the story behind the band’s name?

Lewis: The first name we suggested that we didn’t all instantly hate.

Can you describe the band’s songwriting process?

Lewis: Tim has a million song ideas a month that bounce around in his head, then he spends about 20 minutes getting them down as demos before sending them over to me and Cameron. We veto the shit ones and learn the good ones, which inevitably change and evolve through this process, as well as when they get recorded.

Your first song, “Take It Easy” is a short, upbeat punk song, the next one, “Maybe Next Year” is slower indie rock tune, and your latest song “Let’s Talk About Me” is a catchy, garage/punk tune, but it’s a bit more approachable and easy to sing-along to than your first track. To me, those songs sound like they could’ve been from three different bands. Did you guys consciously try to sound different on each track?

Lewis: We all listen to so many different kinds of music continuously – new, old, loud, quiet, electronic, acoustic etc. and when we get excited about something, I think it just naturally bleeds into how our songs come out. Nicking other people’s ideas basically. Hopefully, even though the tunes all sound a bit different, there’s a common JK thread running through them.

How would you describe your sound?

Lewis: Fuzzy surf rock for suburban no-hopers.

Who are some of your main shared influences on your current sound?

Lewis: Mainly, the stuff mentioned above, so Pavement and Wavves standout, but also artists like Wolf Parade, Car Seat Headrest, and Bloody Knees – it’s constantly changing though.

How much material are you guys sitting on now?

Lewis: Prepped and ready to go we have 3 more super sick, summer singles for 2017. But the Timmy Kills hit machine is always pumping potential new tracks out.

Have you guys played many gigs yet and if so, were there any standout shows?

Lewis: Just the one so far, at The Hope and Ruin in Brighton, which was rad. That was probably our standout. Should probably book some more though…

What do you think about the state of guitar music?

Lewis: It’s great! There’s so much cool stuff out there. It’s such an easy thing to say “oh, guitar music is dead etc. etc.”, but that’s mainly just done so the press can build up a new act coming through as “the saviors of guitar music.” Guitars are being used in really interesting ways these days and the sonic possibilities are bigger than they’ve ever been. I think the mixture of styles and genres of music across the board, plus the ease with which you can access it is amazing for music in general.

Do you have any favorite new bands that you think people should know about?

Lewis: We’ll try narrow it down… an act that really got me excited so far this year is SUPERORGANISM, they’re mad. Beyond that Black Honey, Swimming Girls, Trudy and the Romance, Venture Lows, Her’s, Bad Sounds, The Rhythm Method, Sorry, EAT FAST… got to stop at some point I guess, but we’re finding stuff every day.

What do you have planned for the rest of year in terms of gigs and releases?

Lewis: 3 more singles and some gigs in the autumn.

What do you hope people take away from your music?

Lewis: Whatever they use music for – superficial enjoyment, to dance to, to singalong to, to relax, to vent, to analyze, to concentrate. Hopefully, people find what they’re looking for.

At what point would you consider the band a success?

Lewis: Difficult to say; we still buzz off every time one more person listens to our track (yep, we check constantly), but we’re also never fully satisfied…haha.

Thanks so much for taking the time for an interview. Hope to see you play in the states soon!

Lewis: No probs, and we’d love to come.


For more on Johnny Kills, check out their links below.

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