This Friday, May 27th, will see the release of The Backbone of Night, the debut album from The Philistines, a spacey, deserty, post-punky psych rock six piece out of Kansas City, of all places… The album would seem to be equal parts early Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, latter-era Mazzy Star, and The Cure’s Disintegration. I recently got a chance to chat with The Philistines’ Cody Wyoming and Kimmie Queen, who tell me what the band is all about.
Izzy Cihak: So this band is still relatively new. What have been some of the early highlights of The Philistines?
Cody Wyoming: We’ve got to play with some really great bands at some cool festivals. And that’s my favorite part. Alejandro Escovedo’s day party during SXSW was pretty wild. Bill Murray led the crowd in giving us a standing ovation. And you just can’t help but say, “So we got that goin’ for us, which is nice.”
Kimmie Queen: Playing Alejandro Escovedo’s SXSW showcase and getting a standing O from Mr. Bill Murray didn’t suck. Playing live in general and having people dig in and take what we give out is euphoric.
Izzy: Have you had any favorite reactions to your music so far?
Cody: We’ve only released a few tracks locally in Kansas City, but as far as locally the response has been really bitchin’. We’re getting airplay on two stations and are in rotation on one of them. And all of the reviews have been really positive. But playin’ in the clubs is where we’ve been living for the last two years. We’re a high-energy live band, and we really like performing. The crowds definitely seem to dig what we’re layin’ down.
Kimmie: We played an outdoor festival during the day in a very upscale neighborhood (Those that know us would laugh at that sentence.) Michelle Bacon (bassist) and I were loading gear afterwards and a group of excited cute little girls ran up to us and asked if we were going to play again. I said, “I’m sorry, but Bacon and I have more rock ‘n roll we have to do.” I was so shocked, I thought I might scare them.
Izzy: Is there anything you think is especially important for fans and potential fans to know about your process of writing and recording as a band, or even just your aim as artists?
Cody: I think they should know that we take great care and pride in both our writing and recording. As for the writing, I do the bulk of it. But sometimes I write with Kimmie and a lot of times I’ll get inspired by one of her ideas or aesthetic choices and write from there. So there’s a lot of collaboration. Also, the band is most definitely a collective. Everybody in this band brings something huge and singular to the table. And everyone is crucial to the sound we make. We’ve been working in a studio in Kansas City called Massive Sound, with our producer Paul Malinowski (of Shiner) and using the very same board from Stax in Memphis that Isaac Hayes recorded the theme from Shaft on, among a thousand other great tunes. We took a lot of time in our selection of guitars and amps and mics and room tone. Because we wanted to make the best sounding record that we possibly could. And I’m very happy with it. We here at The Philistines are working very hard to provide you with the finest possible quality Rock and Roll product.
Kimmie: We are speaking to you, if you are listening. Lyrics are crucial for me. The Philistines go the way of poetry over preaching or diary entries. We honestly just click as a band. I don’t have to try to be inspired playing with those five. I am inspired.
Izzy: So I interview bands from all over the world, but I must admit that I can’t think of the last band from Kansas City that I’ve covered, so I’m curious what the music and arts scene is like out there? Are there a lot of other bands doing cool or similar things?
Cody: KC has and has always had one of the best scenes in the country. But it’s really in a renaissance. Most of my favorite current music is local and that’s no joke. It’s right smack dab in the middle of the country, and long way away from a lot of cool places. And I think that’s why a lot of people don’t know about it. KC doesn’t have a lot of music business industry, so it’s always been pretty DIY and indie. But it’s got a real rich history of great music. And it’s really great to see some of the bands that are kicking ass here right now. You want some? I’ll give you some. BE/NON just put out an unbelievable record—Mystic Sunrise, Sunset Magic. Look for it. Also there’s our label mates, Spirit is The Spirit and Westerners, both killer live acts. There’s the psychotic prog-punk jazz of the Jorge Arana Trio. The Beautiful Bodies are blowing up all over the world this year. Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear have gone international too. And KC has always had great underground music. Just tons of it all the time. OH!! And Not A Planet, and The Conquerors, and Dead Voices and… well we could have an entire conversation down this road.
Kimmie: There are some real uncovered treasures here. Very little industry plus playing live for your very talented and cool peers equals fast tracking to your authentic artist self. From my POV anyway.
Izzy: You get compared to tons of really amazing bands all the time but I’m curious who your actual favorite bands are, whether collectively or individually, or recent or of previous eras?
Cody: My influences are all over the place but for this band I try to keep a focus on some things more than others. A lot of the usual suspects, but also The Cure and The Stone Roses, Adam & The Ants, The Alan Parsons Project, with maybe just a little Black Sabbath to finish it off. Currently, BE/NON, Black Mountain, and The Besnard Lakes are three of the bands I really admire, and I guess more than wanting to emulate any of them, they inspire me to follow my own path. Kimmie and I are also really inspired by cinema and especially Italian cinema of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. We get a lot from looking at imagery and seeing how that translates musically.
Kimmie: The Kinks, The Liminanas, and Love and Rockets have been on my turntable a lot lately.
Izzy: On a related note, what would you consider to be the most significant influences behind The Backbone of Night?
Cody: For me, The Backbone of Night is mostly (not entirely) an exploration of the cosmos. And contemplation on the nature of the Universe, the nature of matter. Where does energy go after it enters a black hole? Just exactly what is time anyway? That sort of thing. There’s also a lot of jive.
Kimmie: For me it’s about human conquest and my response to it. It’s about pulling focus and seeing the human condition from a larger perspective and choosing to surf, and not drown, in its vast unknown.
Izzy: Finally, what are you hoping and planning for 2016 after your album drops. I see you have some regional shows, but any chance of a tour?
Cody: We are hoping to put together a fall tour, but the pieces are still being placed. We’re gonna get out there on the road for sure. It’s just a question of when.
Kimmie: A tour is in the making. Hoping to play live to new audiences. And when I’m done I want to hang out, then get ready to play for more.