Written by Joe Witthaus Thursday, 09 June 2011 11:47
“This time we decided we wanted to get a little trippier with it and experimented a little more.”
Tearing out of the Southern heat of Savannah, GA, Kylesa vocalists/guitarists Phillip Cope and Laura Pleasants are glad to be on the road this summer. Between festivals and one-off shows, the band is making sure to hit a restaurant in every city that has been featured on the television series Man v. Food. If they’re not eating a famous meal or killing time before a show, they’re just living life and getting to perform songs from their latest album, Spiral Shadow.
Though Kylesa is often considered one of the better metal bands on the scene today, Cope and Pleasants feel that their music is more underground but appeals to a much wider audience than metal fans. To truly understand the motives behind their music is nearly impossible, but I was able to gain an insight into their presence in today’s ever-growing horizon of rock groups.
Where does the name Kylesa come from and what does it mean?
PC: It comes from a term Kilesa and is basically a Buddhist term that translates to, “even with defilement.”
LP: Things like greed, aversion, delusion — things that would hinder a Buddhist from reaching a state of abounding life or enlightenment.
And how did you guys stumble across that name?
LP: We came up with it — our first drummer came up with it — and we liked the meaning behind it, that it had a cool meaning that related to what we were doing.
PC: We’re not Buddhists, so that’s why we changed the spelling. Although we like the meaning behind it and we’ve used some other terminology and words in older records that didn’t necessarily hold any kind of serious religious message.
So you guys have been a band for 10 years now. How’s everything in the Kylesa camp?
LP: I mean, I couldn’t be happier with the way things are going currently. I think we’re at our strongest right now.
PC: We’ve managed to grow stronger each year and I’d like to think we’ve become an ever better band as we’ve gone along. We’ve grown a lot and, hopefully, we keep growing.
How’s this tour been so far? How long have you guys been on the road this tour?
PC: Just under a week now.
LP: Yeah, just around a week and it’s been really cool. We’re playing some fun shows. We played Maryland Deathfest and some other fests and some small club shows, so it’s been cool. We’re hitting places we don’t hit a whole lot.
PC: It’s nice for us to hit up some different spots for sure.
The new album, Spiral Shadow, came out this past November. I was wondering what the writing process was like and how it differed compared to your previous albums?
PC: We wrote it, for the most part, in a very similar manner to the last one, Static Tensions. This time we decided we wanted to get a little trippier with it and experimented a little more than on the previous records. That was the biggest difference.
LP: The process was real similar, but the music sort of changed. It was kind of a natural progression. We were both really interested in changing our guitar tones a lot — having a lot more tones and a lot more dynamic.
PC: Going back and listening to Static Tensions, we really liked how we had the drums panned left and right. Listening to it on headphones sounded really cool, but I noticed we didn’t do that with the guitars and that they stayed even for a good part of that album. So we thought it would be interesting to play more with the guitars where they were also panned a lot more, tripped out a lot more, and give the whole recording a more swirly kind of feel to it. It’s definitely a headstone record.
When writing the new album, were there any inspirations in your lives that helped the creative process?
LP: Always. We’re inspired by our lives, what’s going on around us and what we’re listening to. I mean, that’s mainly what we write about. It’s all a reflection on our lives and personal experiences.
Having been around for 10 years and touring with so many different bands, how do guys feel the metal scene has progressed or regressed?
LP: It’s expanded in many ways, but there are also more standards to it.
PC: I wouldn’t say that we’re necessarily the proper band to speak for the metal scene. We’re obviously fans of metal and play a lot of metal shows, but we also play outside that scene as well. We play to a bunch of different scenes, so for us to be the spokespeople for metal is probably not such a good idea. But, I think it’s healthier than ever. There may not be a lot of mainstream bands like there were in the past, but there’s an underground that’s very healthy.
What did you listen to growing up? What got you interested in music early on?
PC: Lots of stuff. The bands that we have in common, I know, are stuff like Pink Floyd and Fugazi; we reference those bands a lot. For me, Neurosis was big.
LP: Black Sabbath for me. Black Flag, also.
PC: Noise rock stuff, like pre-grunge stuff, when I was in high school.
LP: I grew up listening to grunge and metal when I was young, and just grew up with all of that stuff.
PC: All of that stuff led on to many others.
LP: We’re avid music fans, so, for us, it’s a very large catalog.
PC: We both have very extensive record collections.
Are there any current bands that you guys are really into right now?
PC: There’s been a handful. I guess the one that jumps out the most and the one that everyone is already talking about now is Kvelertak.
LP: That is crazy! I had a dream about them last night. I had a dream that I got their new record and they looked like Weezer almost, and I was like ‘What the hell are these guys thinking?’ That’s so crazy. The new Panda Bear record I like a lot, too.
I hear a lot of people talk about Kylesa after they discover the band or start listening to the albums and ask, “Did you know there was a woman in that band?” Is it difficult being the only woman in a band like Kylesa?
PC: It’s getting difficult to answer that question.
LP: I don’t think about it that much to be honest. I mean, I’ve been with these guys so long that they’re like family.
PC: It’s funny how often she gets asked that, but I saw something from an interview she did once where she said that it’s hard to be in a band, period.
LP: It is hard for me at times, but it’s also hard for these guys. It’s just hard being in a band.
What’s next for the band? What are your plans for later this year?
PC: One more U.S. tour and that’s it.
LP: We are touring Europe this summer, mainly festivals, and then one more tour this fall and that’s it . . . for this year. Then we’ll start writing for the next record.
PC: We can’t say yet who we are touring with in the fall, but it’s definitely outside the realm of what we would normally do.
Are you basketball fans? Have you been paying any attention to the NBA Finals?
PC: I just got into all of that recently. Just because I’ve been hanging out in L.A., I’ve become a Lakers fan.
LP: I’ll watch some Carolina basketball.
So what do you think? Heat or Mavericks?
LP: I don’t really care.
PC: I’ll go with the Heat in six. | Joe Witthaus
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