We recently caught up with New Jersey’s Kicking Spit, who recently released their debut EP on the mighty Tankcrimes label this past April. On PsychRockBullshit, they explore similar territory as the early alternative rock giants of the past, recalling the ultra-melodic, yet still punk-tinged outputs of Dinosaur Jr., HÜSKER DÜ, Superchunk, and even Archers of Loaf. Sit down, strap in, and get ready for some Kicking Spit action with all three members of band as they discuss the formation of the group, their PsychRockBullShit EP, forthcoming releases, love of SST, dutchmasters, pasta, and much more!
Joshua BTS: Greetings! Thank you for taking time to answer a few questions for Blow The Scene readers around the World! Let’s begin by having you introduce yourselves and declare your onstage weapons of choice with the NJ’s punk rock practitioners, Kicking Spit.
Matt T: Greetings, I am Matt Thompson, I play drums. When onstage, I like using either a lightsaber or excalibur, if Matt Schimkowitz isn’t using either of them. I would’ve said “nunchuks” but the last drummer had a freak accident while using them and he is no longer with us. (He moved to live with his grandma in Iowa).
Mark: I’m Mark and I play guitar and sing.
Matt: I am also Matt, and I also play the drums.
Joshua BTS: Kicking Spit is somewhat of a new endeavor for the trio as you all play in other well-established East Coast bands. How did you three come to start Kicking Spit?
MT: We’ve all known each other for a long time, but Matt and I didn’t know each other that well. At our first practice there was a collective “Oh my god, I’m gonna jam with this person” nerd fest of mutual respect and appreciation. I was just stoked to play in a band with half of Seasick, because, truthfully, Seasick is one of my favorite all time bands. No, seriously.
Mark: It came together pretty naturally. After playing music with both of the Matts for years in other bands it was really easy to start our “SST worship” band together.
Matt: Initially, the plan wasn’t even to start a band at all, but rather a YouTube cooking channel (Matt Thompson makes a mean chicken cordon bleu). Alas, after several failed attempts at properly dumping our super-8 footage to my father’s beta-max machine, we figured it best to leave the internet to the professionals.
Joshua BTS: With such a great lineup of experienced musicians, did you have a preconceived notion of what you wanted Kicking Spit to be, or did you just let the writing process happen naturally?
MT: I knew it was going to be loud and awesome, and that was all I needed to know or think about going into it. Mark and I have known eachother since we were 4, we were in a band already together, so we already “clicked” together as musicians. I can basically feel what he is playing and just let my subconscious take over. I let my emotions completely control how I play, and with Mark and Matt, there is an intensity in the air that I try to match. Plus I can’t fuck around, I have to bring it, because these dudes have been all over the world and they don’t waste their time with chumps on the drums!
Mark: Like Matt said, we really wanted to be loud and I wanted to play a bunch of solos and sing. We really wanted to sound like Husker Du, Dinosaur Jr and a bunch of other bands at that era. If Bl’ast can make a career over sounding like Black Flag why can’t we take the same idea?
Matt: The flow chart Mark mapped out of Bl’ast’s career is startling. You’d never believe how much viral marketing the band invested in. For instance, several years before Bl’ast’s first LP, Freedom of Expression, was released, the band hired another band to write and perform songs in the style of Bl’ast. Essentially, the idea was a type of mild indoctrination: get punkers to accept or, at least, tolerate their heavy-metal infused punk before actually presenting them with it.
Joshua BTS: Is there a story behind the name Kicking Spit?
MT: We initially wanted to call the band “Rockband” but then that stupid video game came out and ruined it.
Mark: When you used to order records from SST there was a little print catalog that came with it. We wanted a name that would look and sound like it would fit in that catalog.
Matt: Our friend Billy made it up. We’re lazy and uninspired, so we took the first that someone threw at us.
Joshua BTS: You are currently offering your E.P. Psychrockbullshit in CD and Limited 12” formats on one of our all-time favorite labels, Tankcrimes. Super Rad. How did you come to link up Tankcrimes and do you have plans to release more through them?
Mark: Matt S and I met Scotty the first time we went to the Bay on tour with Seasick. We were opening for the mighty DEADFALL somewhere in Oakland I believe. If my memory serves me correctly, all the Deadfall dudes where drunk as shit that night and I would have never guessed that Tankcrimes CEO/drummer extraordinaire Scotty Karate would one day put out my bands. Scotty put out my first real LP, ANS Pressure Cracks and we have been good buds ever since. One day he called me asking me why I had not told him about Kicking Spit and demanded to release our music, and the rest is history.
MT: I love working with Tankcrimes and I would have no problem staying on their roster for eternity. It’s sick to have someone like Scotty behind us and working hard for us and believing in us. Plus he’s a fabulous host and has a great selection of DVDs.
Matt: Well, what most don’t know is that TankCrimes is a pay to play label. We pay monthly dues of $785 to remain on the roster and
maintain our placement in the TankCrimes adverts. Come to think of it, signing with TankCrimes was a huge mistake.
Joshua BTS: What does the writing process look like for Kicking Spit? Does everyone contribute or is there a captain of the ship steering the boat?
MT: We all have our roles, Mark predominantly writes all of the songs, and Matt and I give input on parts, speed, arrangement, etc. Essentially, Mark bounces everything off of us, and we bounce those ideas off of eachother. In terms of deciding what is cool, however, I leave that task to Matt. He is the king of cool. I’m just a nerd.
Mark: We place words in the POPshaker 2050 machine like “riff” “solo” “repeat the same line over and over” and “stolen black flag part” and it prints it out for us in binary, which Scotty Karate then decodes for us and sends us the information back on the wings of a dove. We then turn up really loud and hope to not fuck it up.
Matt: Mark comes to practice with a solo surrounded by three separate chord-progressions.- Hide quoted text –
Joshua BTS:Kicking Spit has been compared to Husker Du and Dinosaur Jr., which I can hear some of, but it seems there is more to it than that, as your sound also shows interpretations and delivery that are not easily defined. How would you describe the sound of Kicking Spit and who are your main influences?
MT: What is really funny is that, to be perfectly honest, I did not listen to a ton of Husker Du or Dino Jr. before being in this band, Ihad very limited knowledge. In fact, I am probably the most “unpunk” member of the Spit by a landslide. I think it’s funny that Psychrockbullshit gets compared to those bands a lot because at the time of our recording I had barely been listening to them! I tried to just match the speed of Mark and Matt’s playing with fills and tried to hit my drums as hard as possible. In those early days, I drew on my childhood obsession with Green Day’s Insomniac and whatever death metal I was listening to at the time. I am a HUGE metal nerd. I also listen to a ton of electronic music. I try to listen to every genre I can (aside from the obvious Christian rock and contemporary country, barf) and each song I listen to is almost imprinted in my subconscious. And then when I play I just take the lid off and let it stream into my playing. I’m weird like that. Our early sound was very spastic and the songs were shorter than the newer ones. At the time of Psychrock I was in a shoegaze band and the songs were very minimalistic in terms of the drumming. So on Psychrock, I went totally apeshit, given the freedom to play whatever I wanted to. On our forthcoming LP, however, the songs are longer, there are fewer spastic parts, I am drawing more on My War, the Ramones, Flip Your Wig, and obviously, In Utero, perhaps one of the most perfectly drummed records in history. It is more straightforward
with the drumming. I dig it.
Mark: I tend to think of us as a loud, noisy pop band. I love the sound of feedback and big riffs, but I also like a good melody. Most of the stuff that we write comes out pretty naturally. We try to play what we want to hear.
Matt: The sound of Kicking Spit is the aural equivalent of listening to music. Our influences have provided a key from which we can lift riffs from.
MT: The drums were done at my parent’s house at two different times; we had two separate recording sessions of three songs each. We expected to merely release them as two demos. Eventually we just decided to release a six song EP, and we had no idea we would get such awesome response to it.
Mark: I recorded and mixed Psychrock and I plan on continuing to record all of our material, including our upcoming full length.
Matt: Mark recorded it at some of our parents’ houses. It was a nice six month recording schedule.
Joshua BTS: Any special pieces of equipment or recording techniques that you found pivotal when capturing Kicking Spit’s overall sound for Psychrockbullshit?
MT: I would say the dutchmaster we bought that day and the huge pots of pasta and sauce that we made during that day were quite essential in recording the drums. And Mark drank a ton of my dad’s beers during the drum sessions. It was just another day at my parent’s house at the shore. Plus from our college years, we can whip up 3 pounds of pasta and sauce(and I’m talking home made sauce here) in our sleep.
Mark: When mixing Psychrock I had a pretty clear sound in my head of what I thought the record should be. Mostly I wanted to make it heavy and loud, and exciting to listen to.
Matt: Stop being modest, Mark. He closed his eyes and hit a couple buttons.
Joshua BTS: What are some of lyrical focuses one will find within Psychrockbullshit?
Mark: The lyrics of Psychrock are somewhat bleak at times. Most of the themes revolve around systems of oppression that fuck us over, and personal shortcomings. There’s also a song about death. I try to be somewhat vague and open ended lyrically partially so the listener can make up their own mind about what they want the song to be and in part because maybe I just don’t want to tell that much about myself. I could go into each song and describe the themes but wheres the fun in that? Then there would be no mystery.
Matt: He closed his eyes and hit a couple buttons.
Joshua BTS: What does the rest of 2011 look like for Kicking Spit? More tours and/or releases in the works?
MT: Get ready, West Coast, because we are coming, and you all better be ready to party and hang out. And I personally cannot wait to hear our new LP, I am beyond psyched.
Mark: The “debut LP” feels like its our main focus right now. West coast tour and lots of out of state weekends in the future as well.
Matt: More music, hopefully.
MT: Send us an email! Here’s mine(firstname.lastname@example.org), send me vegan recipes, your thoughts on Jean Luc Picard, Carl Sagan, and Simpsons quotes. BBBQ, the extra “B” is for BYOBB!
Joshua BTS: Thanks again for taking time with Blow The Scene today as we will look forward to keeping up with your future endeavors. Any final thoughts or comments?
MT: Keep your PMA. And thank you for interviewing us and being so cool to us, Blow the Scene!
Mark: Steve Hackett is a cool guy.
Matt: My new book, Greetings from Nebular!, hits bookshelves and the Kindle Store this week. Check it out!
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