The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
INTERVIEW KYLESA Laura Pleasants 2013

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2013 - KYLESA - Laura Pleasants 2013
























Kylesa began a little over 10 years ago as a sludgey crust band but has since evolved into more progressive psychedelic rock, their latest album "Ultraviolet" their strongest effort yet which delves into trippy and mind altering stuff. The album also features a more collaborative effort where all instruments are played by everyone in the band making it an even more cohesive and truly band effort. We spoke to vocalist/guitarist Laura Pleasants about the new album and their first headlining tour in Australia.



Andrew: Thanks for taking the time to talk to us, it's much appreciated.



Laura: Absolutely, thank you!



Andrew: So will this be your first tour in Australia?



Laura: It's our first headlining club tour, we played Soundwave in 2011.



Andrew: Ah ok and how was that for you?



Laura: Amazing!



Andrew: And how do you think this tour will go now that you will be headlining it?



Laura: I think it will also be amazing!



Andrew: Do you have any expectations and what can we expect on this tour?



Laura: For those of you that saw us at Soundwave the biggest difference of course is that we will be playing a longer set with our full setup and of course playing a more intimate setting in clubs. I think there's going to be some face melting and there's going to be some good times.



Andrew: How much of a difference is there when you headline a show compared to a support show?



Laura: The time of course is shorter in a support slot but I know at Soundwave we kinda stripped it down to the basics because we have extra instruments and so forth. Like we have keyboards, electronic drums, we have a theremin and then just some spacey kind of ambience noise makers in addition to being a 2 guitar, bass, drum band. I mean we got a lot going on so to be able to headline means we will be able to incorporate all of our art and music into the show whereas if it's a support slot it's a little more stripped down.



Andrew: For your live shows do you do a lot of improv at all because your music seems very conducive to that kind of thing or is it very strict, well rehearsed kind of stuff?



Laura: No we do a lot of improv, we have for years since our inception really. But some of it's rehearsed and some of it's rehearsed loosely for that, OK we're gonna do it for roughly this amount of time in this key but it can still be loose and improv as well. Because our music does lend itself well to stretching certain things out and really jamming on them.



Andrew: And when you do an improv kind of thing and the crowd is maybe not realizing what's going on, does it inspire you a lot to do that kind of stuff?



Laura: Certaintly the crowds reaction and energy has a lot to do (with it). It can be very inspiring. The more into it the crowd is, the more into it we're going to be, that kind of stuff is pretty natural. If there's a shared energy in the room that everyone can feel, the better the show is going to be.



Andrew: Yeah definitely. I also just wanted to talk to you a bit about your latest album "Ultraviolet". I hear that this was a more collaborative effort than before where everyone played all the instruments. Is this something that you have always done or has this been something that you have only just been playing around with?



Laura: It just kind of came out that way, more out of necessity than anything else. The way we write songs, there's never been one concrete way or formula for how we write. Essentially myself, Phillip (Cope, vocals/guitar) and Carl (McGinley, drums) do all the writing but our friend Eric (Hernandez, drums/bass) who is on the record wrote songs as well and he's been playing with us during this tour and he'll be with us in Australia. We've always kinda messed around with other instruments but being a guitar player playing bass isn't so foreign. We didn't have a bass player at the time so we all played bass, it was fun actually! I never played bass in the studio before, it was cool.



Andrew: Yeah I wanted to ask you about that actually. How was that and is it something that you would like to get into more?



Laura: Bass is fun and I like it and it's a different animal than a guitar. It made me try to think more like a bass player and less than a guitar player as far as certain rhythms go and how to really jive with the drums and that less is more, especially on the bass. It was fun but I'm not going to be switching to bass anytime soon, I prefer guitar. But it just made me think about the bass and guitar relationship a lot more than maybe I had in the past so I think it was a good experience because a lot of times when I'm writing now I kind of already hear what I want the bass to be doing.





Andrew: You also do a lot more vocals on this one as well. Is this something you have been pushing for?



Laura: No not necessarily, it just kind of came about that way. I have tons of lyrics and a lot of of vocal ideas and Phillip who plays guitar and sings, he did a lot more keyboard work than ever before and he was also producing the record so he was kind of behind the wheel so to speak on a lot of it. So it freed him up to focus more on the engineering side of things and he straight up asked me if you have vocals for these songs, go for it so I did.



Andrew: And how much difference do you think it made on the album?



Laura: I think it made a huge difference. We sound so different from one another. Being male and female, yes but also just the quality of our voices are just different to the ear so that's going to make a difference. I think some people like that and some people may not but I think overall it works for this record. That's not to say in the future he's not going to sing, it's just how it came out for this particular record. But that being said, I think my vocals sound better on "Ultraviolet" than they do on any other record as far as singing goes at least.



Andrew: Who inspires you not just for the album but in general on vocals?



Laura: There's not really one person exactly. It's funny because I have a lot of influences as a guitar player but as a vocalist I've never thought about it too much. Certaintly in the rock or punk genres there's not a lot of women vocalists who I really, really like. So I was listening to a lot of early country with a lot of these country women singing and I was listening to a lot of Blondie and maybe some new wave kind of stuff and Heart, I love Heart. I also don't consider myself a singer, not like some of these women in these bands. I'm not Pat Benitar you know? But I was able to work within my range and come up with something that I felt sounded original and sounded good. It was really just listening to the music and vibein out like patterns and what the music calls for. Like I'm going to sing like this.



Andrew: So the vocals and lyrics come after? Like everything is all riff based or do you also write vocal patterns and then write music around that or is it always the other way around?



Laura: I've always written music first and then come up with a pattern. I'll have a bunch of lyrics but the lyrics don't always fit the pattern so it's easiest for me to write the music first and then I kind of hum a pattern and then fit in the words. But just for something different I've been toying with vocal harmonies and then playing a simple chord on the guitar and building that way. That's more challenging to me because I've always worked the other way around but it's an interesting challenge. We do both but essentially we write the music first.



Andrew: Is the music written with guitars or do you use other instruments to come up with ideas as well?



Laura: With "Ultraviolet" if I had a simple rhythm on guitar so that the other guys could hear what I was doing, I would write a bass line and be like 'So this is what I'm hearing for guitar, it sounds like this but that's because I want this kind of bass line to be underneath it'. Because if you have a vision for a song it's hard to explain that vision if you just have a couple of chords recorded.



Andrew: It's always interesting to hear because I am a fan of this kind of music, that sludgey psychedelic kind of rock  and like we mentioned before, a lot of it is improv kind of stuff. I'm always curious about where ideas come from and how jam sessions start. For you guys how is the writing process start from the very first riff to when you actually record it all?



Laura: It's different, some of it is jammed out live in the practice space. A lot of times I will write at my house with riffs and sitting down with my ipad and recording ideas and garage band and putting a beat to it or putting a bass guitar to it and getting a very, very rough structure down. And then generally I start with a really simple idea like a simple riff and as it's jammed out we find the riff and make it more complex. Or not, it depends on what the song calls for. But it's generally just coming up with a good structure, an idea first and jamming and building on it.





Andrew: One of the standout tracks that I love on the new album is "Vulture Landing". It's a little bit different than the rest of the album, it's why it stood out to me. It sounds a bit more upbeat, a bit more grooving. What's the story behind that particular song?



Laura: Lyrically or musically?



Andrew: Musically.



Laura: It's funny you say that, Eric wrote a lot of that song and I play guitar on it as well so it's like him and I playing against each other's guitars on that song and then I came up with the vocal pattern. We essentially wanted to use it because it was more upbeat and it's got a different kind of guitar sound from some of the other stuff on the record.



Andrew: Yeah it's a great song and I hope you guys play it. Are you playing much from the new album at all?



Laura: Yeah we do, we haven't played that song actually, that was more of a studio song. That kind of came together more in the studio than it did at the practice space. But we will play 3 or 4 new songs.



Andrew: That will be great! So a couple more questions before we wrap this up. If you could be a fly on the wall for the recording of any classic album in history what would it be?



Laura: Pink Floyd - Dark Side Of The Moon.



Andrew: That's quite a popular one. Why that particular album?



Laura: It's such a landmark album for that band and the recording and the sequencing and the songs are  composed so carefully, I just would of loved to have seen and experienced that in the studio.



Andrew: And I assume all you guys are big fans of Pink Floyd and have been inspired by them in one form or another?



Laura: Yeah and honestly, Dark Side Of The Moon is not my favorite Pink Floyd record but I think that would be the most interesting to witness in the studio. I prefer their earlier stuff, their wierder, more experimental stuff but yeah David Gilmour is one of my favorite guitar players.



Andrew: Yeah I've asked a few people about why that album and a lot of them, guitar players especially say it's the guitar sounds that stands out for them and the way it was recorded.



Laura: The guitar sounds that he got on that record are incredible, they really are.



Andrew: And for you, what is the meaning of life?



Laura: Man, that's heavy.



Andrew: Haha this is something we ask everyone actually and we get a lot of different answers obviously because everyone has their own personal reasons so yeah for you what is the meaning of life?



Laura: Fulfillment and happiness.



Andrew: And do you mean that for life in general or in music?



Laura: I mean in general. I lost someone very, very close to me a couple of years ago and whe that happens, as this peson was slowly dieing I started to ask myself a lot of questions about life and what I wanted out of life and what it really meant to me and where I wanted to take it and what was most important to me at the end of the day. And I think more than anything the most important thing to me at the end of the day is my personal relationship with the people I love. That and just being happy. What it is that makes you happy with life to the fullest because you're not here forever.



Andrew: And that would make you appreciate life a lot more as well.



Laura: Yeah, I have a whole different outlook about my life and about the world and just the big life question in general. I don't take things for granted that's for sure.



Andrew: That's great to hear! Thanks again for taking the time to talk to us. We are looking forward to seeing you guys in Australia, it will be the first time I will be seeing you guys so I'm actually really keen and I believe the first date on the tour is going to be in Perth so that's a bonus for us!



Laura: Awesome!



Andrew: Do you tend to change your shows around a lot or will it be the same in each city?



Laura: I'm not sure. Generally because we are mixing new material with old material it can be a challenge because sonically some of the songs sound so different. Once we find a good groove, a good set, we like to keep it. We'll see.



Andrew: Good to hear! Thanks again for talking to us, it's been a pleasure.



Laura: It's been a pleasure, thank you so much.





Laura spoke to Andrew Schizodeluxe 15 November 2013





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