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'My feeling is the insanity is increasing' - in conversation with KickBoy

Epigram talk to KickBoy about everything from early Bristol shows, burning down Primark and a quick-fire round of Mastermind.

‘I will be astounded if you extract anything usable’ lead singer Jamie texts me after chatting with him and a few of the members of KickBoy over Zoom. It’s not usually the sign of a good interview. In this case, however, it definitely was. 

The chaos begins quickly. Asking the band how they’ve been, something usually reserved for niceties and quick hello’s, instead starts with a discussion about popcorn (sweet and salty is the only choice apparently) and ends up with Jamie telling me how he got assaulted whilst moving into a new flat the week prior: ‘some guy was running past me and smacked me in the face’. ‘But he hasn’t got assaulted this week!’ guitarist Jules tells me, ‘if we’re being positive about it, things are better than last week’. We’re off to a good start, then. More than that though, this is just the sort of band KickBoy are. Everything is done with a mischievous sense of humour and a healthy dose of not taking things too seriously. They call themselves Milk Punk for instance, a genre that is as-yet non-existent. When I ask them to explain, there’s not much in the way of a reply. ‘I’ll never explain it’ Jamie tells me, although he does admit it plays to the band’s strengths. ‘We don’t really like taking the music we write too seriously and if people hear milk punk, they’re immediately like “oh that’s a joke” and it is so it works perfectly’. 

At times it can be heard to tell what is and isn’t a joke with KickBoy, but their wholehearted dedication to fun is refreshing, especially in a London scene that is perhaps starting to feel a little stale. It’s an ethos that runs throughout everything the band do, exploring the various ‘subcultures of joyous and weird’, as Jamie puts it. It something that’s been there from the start, too. After forming in Bristol, before the pandemic, the early days of KickBoy weren’t the start of a band, as much as the start of KickBoy’s particular brand of chaos. It’s rare to hear a band admit that ‘we didn’t care how we sounded’, but those early Bristol shows were a perfect environment for the formation of KickBoy’s live sound; a grunginess and heaviness that remains. Sound was provided in the form of ‘anything we could get our hands on’, and with broken microphones, it sometimes wasn’t. ‘The first two shows we played my microphone didn’t work at all’, Jamie tells me, ‘so I was yelling over everything else. I’ve got damaged vocal chords from those two shows’. Another early gig saw the band dressed as 1920’s style gangsters with a sound engineer drunkenly passed out on a sofa. It was Connie’s first gig with the band: ‘someone threw up about three inches away from my shoes within about ten minutes of us starting and I only knew my parts like sixty percent, it was a very chaotic induction’. Baptism by fire is seemingly the only way to go.

The chaos is to be embraced, though. Whilst KickBoy may have moved on from the days of borrowed amps, broken microphones and vomit at their feet, the insanity of the live show is ‘something we don’t want to ever lose’. Jules tells me that in her view at least, ‘the insanity is increasing in speed’. Good news, then. And there’s method to the madness, as Connie explains, ‘it’s insanity driven partly by Owen being an incredible drummer who can push himself to the physical limits and Jamie it seems every show is getting more and more hyperactive’. The band laugh when I ask if this hyperactivity and insanity has to be reined in in a studio setting. Of course it isn’t. ‘It’s a little bit more intense’, Connie tells me. She’s talking specifically about ‘Suckin Ya Shoe’, which, for legal reasons, had its name changed from ‘Burning Down Primark’. When recording it, the band pretended to be on fire. By the end, Jules says, ‘we listened to it back, and we were silent, staring at each other like have we gone too far?’. ‘It’s all very tasteful’, I’m told. Either way, it’s made it onto the new EP, Ickboy, which includes a song with that very name – ‘so there’s a song called Ickboy off the EP Ickboy by KickBoy’, which lists various icks. It was a collaborative songwriting process, with specific icks coming from each member of the band, including properly cringe inducing icks like guys who tell you they used to have abs, or using essential oils instead of showering. 


I'm 6 feet tall I swear! Ick Boy by KickBoy #meme #fyp #ick #bandsoftiktok #alternativemusic #musicvideo #onlinedating

♬ Ick Boy - KickBoy

By this point, the interview devolves into pure chaos. At one point, Jamie leaves, only to return minutes later with Gin and Tonic’s for the rest of the band. When I ask about tour, it turns into a discussion about stupid band names. Don’t ask how, I have no clue. Although we do come to the conclusion that ‘the weirder the band name, the better you have to be to get away with it’. KickBoy for instance were nearly going to be called Return of the Chef 2. It certainly would have been one of the weirder names out there, but I reckon they could’ve pulled it off. I try and get the conversation back on topic, once again asking about the upcoming tour, which is taking KickBoy through France and Belgium, all self-funded and without a manager. Properly DIY. But that’s not the topic of conversation. Instead, we’re now talking about who is who in the KickBoy family (Jamie is tour dad, Jules is wine aunt, Connie and Owen are grumpy children and Chris is the hot uncle, just in case you're interested). After this, my decision to not pay for Zoom premium comes back to bite me as we’ve only got a minute left before we’re all kicked off the call. So, we play a game of quick-fire mastermind, with questions on the Angolan flag, incredibly low life expectancies and random numbers in 60 seconds. As you do. 

The thing is, though, KickBoy have mastered their chaos and are here for a good time. I should’ve expected nothing less from this interview, really. It’s just nice to see a band embrace it in such a fun and wholehearted way. It’s why lead single ‘Vision Shakes’ stands out so much: ‘if someone listened to just Vision Shakes they’d probably think were quite a different band’ Jules tells me. ‘Yeah, they’d probably think we were cool’ is the response from Jamie. 

KickBoy are returning to Bristol on the 2nd June, headlining Crofter’s Rights. 

Featured Images: Veronika Mcquade

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