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For Fans Of: Black Map, Cave In, Failure


Formerly known as Desoto Jones, KISKA ditches the radio friendly facade and re-emerges harder, grittier, stronger. Hailing from Philadelphia, PA, these guys have the determination and grit to pull the plug on their former sound and name, and tread through the flames and brandish themselves anew. Let it be known that KISKA is a force to be reckoned with, and played at maximum volume.  Their debut self-titled album rocks a modern spin on a razor-sharp rock formula.


Their album is unforgiving and blistering with rock fury, intertwined with glimmering vocal harmonies that drive the massiveness home. KISKA is a great candidate to carry the banner for all alt-rock bands to come and this album solidifies them as a cornerstone of the genre!


Key Tracks: Conjuror, Long Divide, Dying Balloon

I was eager to talk to these guys about their amazing debut album:


What are some of your earliest musical memories and how did you get started playing in a rock band?


Owen (sings for KISKA but also plays drums) and I (Adam – guitar) started playing together when we were kids. Our dad was a drummer (his band toured with Van Halen in ’78!!) and our two other brothers play drums as well. We would all play together in the basement and which caused our neighbors to call the police on more than one occasion.
I know Ean got a guitar (a pink Jackson Dinky that he is very proud of) as a kid and he started singing and playing guitar in punk bands at an early age. Our drummer, Adam F, got drums as a young kid and played in a band with some other friends of ours which is how we met. We all were in separate bands playing at VFW’s and other halls as teens. Those were great times.


Who were some of your influences to go towards the darker and heavier sound?


We all grew up in the 90s so we definitely cut our teeth musically with that period of music – the best parts of which in my mind were big loud drums and thick distorted guitars. With our previous band (Desoto Jones) we were kind of drawn to a radio friendly and middle of the road sound somehow which started to feel dishonest. When we started KISKA, we had just naturally moved to more of what we loved growing up – big loud drums and heavy guitars.


From being signed with Deep Elm Records with “Desoto Jones” to now being DIY with Kiska; What do you feel are some pros and cons for bands comparatively?


Pros are that there are no preconceived notions about the band by being associated with a label or group of bands or type of music. We are able to start fresh in peoples’ minds. We also don’t have to split any money we make with anyone of course.
Cons are that while we aren’t grouped with a label or other bands, it can be hard for people to hear about us and want to check us out. Fans of a label will check out other bands on that label looking for something new. We don’t really have that opportunity. It’s also easier to put a tour together with labelmates, etc. I think it’s easier to get publicity for the album by being on a label that deals with magazines, sites, blogs all the time. A reviewer may get a request to review a band on a label they know which will interest them.


What song on the album holds the most meaning to you and why?


It’s probably a different answer for all four of us, but for me (Adam S – guitar) it would be ‘Conjuror’. I just really enjoy the drum groove and guitar parts of that song. It sort of encapsulates everything I wanted to do with this band. Good drum grooves, heavy guitar at times but also a quieter dynamic with space between the notes. It feels good to play it and I hope that comes across live. A lot of what we wrote previously would come from a guitar part or a spontaneous product of just playing together. With the KISKA album, I tried to let a song idea start with a drum groove that we liked and start writing from there. That was a bit different for us.


If the album were to be turned into a motion picture, what kind of scenes/themes would it portray?


I think the cover sort of sums up the overall sound of the album. It’s kind of a frozen alien planet to me. Maybe something like The Thing but without all the murdering.


If you (or your band) were invited to be guests from another band for 30 days (whether touring, hanging out, writing, recording), who would you switch with?


We just played our record release show in Philly with Mae and we love those guys and would love to play some more shows with them. We would also love to tour / write / record with Ken Andrews and Failure. I think it would also be cool to write and record with Steve Brodsky of Cave In / Mutoid Man.


What are some other great independent bands that people should be listening to?


Years ago we used to play shows with a band called The Progress. They split up and Evan Weiss went on to create Into It Over It but recently they started playing again so check out The Progress. I have been listening to a band from Oklahoma called Traindodge a lot. I know Failure has a pledge music campaign happening so technically they’re independent right? Check that album out when it’s available – very excited for that one. Anything J Robbins creates is pure gold so check out Office of Future Plans (technically released by Dischord but…) and his new acoustic stuff he is releasing on his own so that’s totally independent.


What should we expect from KISKA in 2015?


We’ll be playing some more shows in Philly and hopefully get around the east coast a bit. At the end of February we’ll be doing a Key Session at WXPN in Philly which is a live studio recording of some of our songs for their website and radio station. Keep an eye out for that as we may be doing a couple new unreleased songs on there. We’re continuing to write so maybe an EP later this year. We’d like to keep putting out more and more music as it pours out.

Thanks so much for the interview, guys! Keep up the amazing work!


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