Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Ripple Conversation with Darryl Shepard of KIND

When I was a kid, growing up in a house with Cat Stevens, Neil Diamond, and Simon and Garfunkel, the first time I ever heard Kiss's "Detroit Rock City," it was a moment of musical epiphany. It was just so vicious, aggressive and mean. It changed the way I listened to music. I've had a few minor epiphany's since then, when you come across a band that just brings something new and revolutionary to your ears.

What have been your musical epiphany moments?

Darryl: Hearing “Stairway to Heaven” for the first time at a friend’s house in junior high. I had never even heard Led Zeppelin before, then he played me that. It blew my young mind. Hearing “Eruption” by Van Halen for the first time. I had no idea what I was listening to, it sounded like it came from another planet. Hearing “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for the first time. It sounded perfect, just a perfect song from top to bottom.

Talk to us about the song-writing process for you. What comes first, the idea? A riff? The lyrics? How does it all fall into place?

Darryl: Usually a riff starts it. Then we jam on it and add to it and see where it takes us. Once we have a semblance of a song then Craig has something to work with for vocals.

Who has influenced you the most?

Darryl: Jimmy Page, Tony Iommi, Angus Young. All for different reasons. Page, not only for his playing, but his producing and just his whole aura. Iommi for his riffs, some of the best riffs ever written by anyone. Angus for just being a badass and rippin’ it up on guitar.

Where do you look for continuing inspiration? New ideas, new motivation?

Darryl: Everywhere. Old stuff, new stuff, rock, jazz, blues, art, movies, everything. I’m still discovering old bands I’ve never heard before. Or some new band I’ve never even heard of will blow me away at a club in front of thirty people. Some movie might inspire me to write a new song. Everyday life.

We're all a product of our environment. Tell us about the band's hometown and how that reflects in the music?

Darryl: Boston has a long standing reputation for great rock bands. Aerosmith is a prime example. I’m not really into them anymore but they were great back in the day. And they were definitely a local band, they shared an apartment on Comm. Ave. in Boston, they’re local boys. Lots of awesome rock bands came out of Boston: The Cars, The Pixies, Bullet LaVolta, The Bags, The Titanics, The Real Kids, the list is endless. Boston is definitely a rock town. I mean, there’s even a band called Boston. Come on!

Where'd the band name come from?

Darryl: I think I came up with it. It just came out of nowhere. Sounded cool. Nice, short and to the point. Doesn’t really pigeonhole the band like a name like Bludgeoned Fetus or something.

You have one chance, what movie are you going to write the soundtrack for?

Darryl: A Star Wars movie. Maybe one of the upcoming off-shoot movies, like the Boba Fett movie. Some kind of sci-fi movie.

You now write for a music publication (The Ripple Effect?).  You're going to write a 1,000 word essay on one song. Which would it be and why?

Darryl: “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by the Clash. It would examine the societal and economic ramifications if the protagonist decided to stay or to go.

What is your musical intention? What are you trying to express or get your audience to feel?

Darryl: We want the audience to feel drunk. We’ll buy them drinks if that’ll help. Musically we want their ears to be ringing.

Come on, share with us a couple of your great, Spinal Tap, rock and roll moments?

Darryl: For me personally, on one of the European tours I did with a previous band, we had our tour shirts printed overseas. We didn’t see them before we received them. So we arrived at the club for the first show of the tour, we got there early to relax and whatnot, and the box with all the shirts was there. We opened it up, pulled out the shirts, and there was no band name on them, just artwork. No mention at all of the band name anywhere. It was literally like when Spinal Tap get their copies of “Smell the Glove” and the cover is all black. Needless to say, we hardly sold any shirts on that tour.

Tell us about playing live and the live experience for you and for your fans? 

Darryl: I like playing live, for the most part. If the crowd is into it then I’ll be into it. If the crowd doesn’t seem to care then I’ll just play for myself and my own enjoyment. The more energy we get from the crowd, the more energy we’ll put out.

What makes a great song?

Darryl: Memorable riffs. Great vocals. Even a memorable drum beat can elevate a song. “When the Levee Breaks” is a great example. The drums basically make that song. Short songs that get in and out and make their point are some of the greatest songs. Two chords. A cowbell. No whistling. Whistling will ruin any song. If you whistle in a song then I’m turning that song off immediately, I don’t care who you are.

Tell us about the first song you ever wrote?

Darryl: It might have been an instrumental. I had this one song back when I started playing guitar called “The Nexus” that was just guitar riff after guitar riff, no vocals or anything. I actually played it live at church at a talent show kind of thing. I was like 14 years old, I think? No idea how any of it goes now.

What piece of your music are particularly proud of?

Darryl: For KIND, I’m really proud of “Siberia”. That song is basically one riff with a slight variation, and we made a cool song out of it. The version on “Rocket Science” is the first time we played it in that arrangement. We had practiced it but we didn’t have a definite arrangement nailed down for it. So when we recorded it, what you hear on the album just came out as we played it. And Craig’s vocals are great. It’s a cool, mellow, dark little song that I really like. Also, the first riff in “German For Lucy” came to me in a dream, I was playing it live in the dream. When I woke up I grabbed a guitar and remembered the riff, then I showed the guys at practice and it turned into a real song. I love stuff like that.

Who today, writes great songs? Who just kicks your ass? Why?

Darryl: Let’s see, that’s a tough one. Mark Lanegan writes fantastic songs. He has his own style. Failure write excellent songs. I also really love Year of the Rabbit, which is another band of Ken Andrews of Failure, but they’re finished, I believe. Those songs have these huge hooks that just take off. Also, Dorthia Cottrell from Windhand, her solo album is stunning. Amazing songwriting on that. Very dark and personal. But I mean, Slayer write awesome songs too.

Vinyl, CD, or digital? What's your format of choice?

Darryl: I love vinyl but personally I listen to CDs more because I like to put a CD on and then just let it play, I don’t have to get up and flip it. I know that sounds lazy but I’d rather listen to a 60 minute CD than a double album because I sure as hell don’t want to have to keep getting up and flipping over the record. But I do listen to vinyl if I’m feeling energetic. Digital is great if you need a quick fix of something on the go. I can’t bring my vinyl into work to listen to, unfortunately.

Whiskey or beer?  And defend your choice

Darryl: Beer. Whiskey makes me throw up instantly.

We, at the Ripple Effect, are constantly looking for new music. What's your home town, and when we get there, what's the best record store to lose ourselves in?

Darryl: Armageddon Shop in Harvard Square. Amazing selection of metal, hardcore and indie rock. Awesome cheap vinyl as well. If you have hours to kill then I’d also recommend In Your Ear, they have thousands and thousands of used records. Jimmy Page stopped in there to record shop the last time he was in Boston.

What's next for the band? 

Darryl: We’re working on setting up some touring in Europe, and hopefully a little U.S. touring as well. Nothing is confirmed yet, we’re working on it. We’ve also started working on some new tunes, we’ve got ideas for about four new songs, plus we’re trying to figure out some covers to do for fun. Maybe a video too. We shall see.

Any final comments or thoughts you'd like to share with our readers, the waveriders?

Darryl: Give KIND a chance! Turn it up and get lost in the music. It’ll take you somewhere if you let it.

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