Kevlar – Interview


If you haven’t heard of Kevlar yet now is a good a time as any to change that.  Hailing from Erie, Pennsylvania this hard rock band combine their eclectic music tastes spanning the likes of Rush, Katy Perry, Paramore, Evanesence to name just a few, into a terrific music experience.  Superbly crafted songs, personal experiences, a powerhouse vocalist, and a group of superb musicians mark this band above their peers with their genuine keeping true to themselves approach.

With a new EP pending for imminent release, we speak to the band.

Firstly just to say thank you for your time, and hope Kelci is doing well.

Kelci: Hey guys, thanks for the kind words! I appreciate it. Just taking one day at a time, ya know? Life kicks your ass sometimes, but you’ve gotta deal. Thanks for having us!

The band was initially formed when you were still in High School, do you feel since then that as you’ve grown both as musicians and as individuals that this has opened more possibilities up for Kevlar?

Kelci: I actually joined the band after everyone had made their way out of high school, so I can’t say much to this fact. What I can say though, is that we can appeal to a much broader audience now that we’re a bit older, which I think definitely helps us!

Anthony: Yes. Me and my brother Nick started the original line-up and Jake joined us soon after. I feel like I have definitely grown as a musician since then for a lot of reasons, some being  the constant practice, the hundreds of shows we have played together, and dozens of songs I have had a part in writing.  Also during that time my music interests have expanded into different areas as well and I have recently gained an interest in the production side.

Nick: I think any musician or band that stays active would go through some amount of growth from the time they’ve started to where they’re at now.  That being said, I was 14 and finishing middle school when me and Anth first started KEVLAR.  And that was back in 2010.  I have always been attracted to and constantly connected to music in some way so between that and my dedication to this band I feel like I have definitely grown a lot. We have been fortunate that the work we have put in has led us to some pretty great opportunities!

Jake: I think as you get older you mature and in a sense “grow up.” So that being said I feel that the music you write also changes based off how you engage in learning from other musicians and finding new inspirations. So I write differently from when I was 16 then I do now turning 21.

You’re now part of the CB Entertainment family, how did that come about and what has that meant for Kevlar?

Kelci: It has been a dream come true, from the start! CB is actually our management team run by Chris Bianchi and he actually found us through some mutual friends we had in the Ohio music scene and through our weeklong official showcases at SXSW. From there, we started talking, and it eventually turned into a contract! It has opened so many new doors for us and I have no doubt our relationship and opportunities that present themselves together are only going to grow!

Anthony: When the band was at SXSW this past March, one of our contacts informed us that Chris Bianchi and his company would also be there. Although we weren’t able to meet him at the conference, our manager kept in contact with him. About a month later after a bunch of phone calls and emails, he liked what he saw and heard and we started working together. He has gotten us many opportunities that we wouldn’t have been able to get on our own and it feels good to be part of their family!

Nick: Through a mutual friend in the music scene, we initially heard of CB at SXSW this year. Although we didn’t end up meeting them, our manager kept after them and eventually a contract came about. Chris Bianchi who runs CB Entertainment has been absolutely wonderful and we feel will be a huge key to our success going forward.  There have been many opportunities for us both already seized and in process that would not have happened without help from Chris and CB Entertainment!

Jake: Well, we played a music conference called “South By Southwest.” This opportunity let us meet new people and make more connections within the industry. We heard about “CB Entertainment” previously so, we hit up Chris Bianchi who owns CB and he checked out I believe our single “Alibis” and LOVED it. He saw something in us and we discussed contracts.  Since the signing we have had some pretty cool opportunities which more we can discus once announced! 🙂

Do you think that pressures have increased for bands as they now not only have to write music, perform and arrange tours, but they also have to stay on top of social media themselves?

Kelci: PSH. I can answer that one for you with one word – ABSOLUTELY. I run every single aspect of KEVLAR’s social feeds (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc) and it is EXHAUSTING!) I don’t know how huge bands (much bigger than us) do it on a constant basis. I will say though, that I love every second of it, I have a passion for it, and that is what keeps me going everyday – that’s what keeps me doing it. I love interacting with our KEVLAR family

Anthony: As far as unsigned bands go I think they have always had to work at writing music, touring, and promoting.  Promoting was a lot different back then, passing out flyers everywhere and plastering them everywhere you could and still only reaching a small amount of people. The industry today with social media you can reach thousands very quick, but the constant updating I’m sure that is a lot of work too.

Nick: I think social media has its pros and cons. I think it’s safe to say that it’s a different game than it was even 10-15 years ago. I remember wondering things like “I wonder how this bands show is going tonight” and then you’d have a vision of it in your mind. Now you can click on a few buttons and find out. And also know which gas station someone saw them at that day and what candy bar they bought haha! I feel like exposure can be great but overexposure without substance could end up hurting. Though there is a lot of pressure to maintain a strong social presence, having the fortitude and patience to maintain that presence as well as back it up with strong material will pay off in today’s world.

Jake: I actually think social media is one of the best things to happen in the industry. There are SO many ways to reach out and build an audience. Of course there are pros and cons when comparing the present industry to the industry say in the 70s -80s, but I will say that being able to connect with your fans and build hype with ads, going live, or contests have really made it easier for fan engagement!

Dark Horse is damned phenomenal, who thought of covering that!? Has Katy Perry seen it?

Kelci: If Katy Perry saw it, you’d best believe I wouldn’t be here right now typing this. I’d be somewhere crying, because she is my everything. HA. No, I don’t believe that she has seen it, but FEEL FREE TO SHOW HER! I don’t recall who actually came up with the idea of covering that specific song, but I do know that both our drummer and I love Katy and wanted to cover a Katy song from the start. I think we settled on Dark Horse because it was the most popular at the time.

Anthony: I’m not 100% sure, but I think the idea came up at a rehearsal. Nick and Kelci are both Katy Perry fans so it was probably one of them. It came out killer!

Nick: There are a couple of us in the band who are avid fans of Katy Perry, so once it was brought up that we would try do a cover of hers and totally turn it inside out, everyone got on board.  I think it came out amazing and we got a great reaction to it the very 1st show and it’s now going to be on the EP! As to who specifically suggested Dark Horse, I’m not too certain, but it probably was Kelci or I.

Jake: Haha thank you! This was definitely a cross between Nick and Kelci’s idea! They brought it to the table and since arranging it, we have played every show so far! It’s a crowd favorite! I honestly don’t know if Katy has seen it haha. There are a LOT of covers on youtube for it but you never know. 🙂

Kelci seems to be an unholy mix of Skin from Skunk Anansie and Bjork at times.  With that sort of range are the band sometimes caught by surprise by what she delivers vocally when you’re writing your songs?

Kelci: I thank you so much for that comparison. That’s something I’ve never heard before and I am a HUGE fan of Bjork! I’ll let the guys take this question… (However, I even surprise myself sometimes!)

Anthony: At first yes and even sometimes now. Honestly there are still times when we all surprise each other with either something we are doing or something we have come up with so that’s good.

Nick: When she first joined I’d say yes for sure, it was a big upgrade from our previous singer.  As time has passed, and with our continued growth, I feel everyone in the band still bring “surprises” to the music and songs. I feel that KEVLAR has always been a mix of the best yet most unexpected things from all of us that come together and make the music what it is. The new EP is a great example of that!

Jake: I think personally not speaking for everyone, but I have really gotten “use” to her voice. I know her range for the most part and kinda figure how she would hit notes when presenting songs arrangements to her. I will say though throughout this EP she has hit and really shaped her voice in an unbelievably amazing way! She KILLS these songs vocally! Can’t wait for everyone to hear these!

While we’re talking about songs, how is the new EP shaping up?  Are there any personal favourites on there and why?

Kelci: The new EP is finished with no title, but is in the hands of our management and is currently being placed in the hands of some names I am not allowed to say! As far as favorites, I would say I have two. My first would be Alibis (the single that we have already released). It holds a special place in my heart and I don’t think it will really ever fade. And my second is a song, a very deep cut, called Cold, which is a song I wrote about my best friend’s sister suicide last year. Hit me hard every time.

Anthony: The new EP is absolute fire! Definitely some growth there. For me it’s really hard to narrow down a favorite. I love the fact that some songs are dropped even further down in tuning, and some are in odd time signatures. There’s a lot of stuff we haven’t done or tried before that worked here and Nick (Sampson) really understood us and helped make it happen. It makes for an interesting and diverse setting musically and this EP is by FAR my fav!

Nick: I feel this EP is the best music we’ve ever made and am in LOVE with it! We were able to be a little more creative musically and some stuff got used that I’m really stoked about!! We’re all getting in the final requests for the mixes and fine tuning everything before it gets mastered.  As far as favorites go, I love certain things about all of them and I’ve got a few in mind that really hit home from a drumming perspective, but some of the tracks don’t have final titles yet so I’ll leave it at that.

Jake: The EP is finished! Listening to it right now haha! I like them all in their own way but my 2 favorites are “Overdose” and “Cold.”

Who are you working with in producing the EP?

Kelci: We worked with the brilliant Nick Sampson of Metro 37 Studios in Detroit, Michigan!

Anthony: Nick Sampson up in Detroit… Killer tones, killer production and an all-around awesome dude! Plus, he loves Thai food haha!

Nick: Nick Sampson from Metro 37 Studios in Detroit Michigan.  Nick’s style compliments our sound so well and he really seems to understand what we’re trying to go for. Sometimes it feels like he’s inside our minds and he always gets the best out of us. He’s worked with some pretty incredible bands in his time, and I personally feel very fortunate to work with him.

Jake: Nick Sampson! He is a fire producer!

Some of you are fans of Rush (great taste in music by the way), and you’ve played shows with some truly inspiring bands, but it seems that as those “legends” are dwindling in numbers it doesn’t seem that there are many bands to take over from them.  Just wondered what your thoughts on that were?

Kelci: I am not a fan of Rush, however I do agree that those ‘legends’ are very much dwindling. I think it’s a shame that this generation are never going to know what true music was or is, in our case. But, I think that’s how progression and evolution works. That’s the reason we have such a niche of rock music now is because there isn’t much left.

Anthony: Hell yeah thanks! It’s always good to hear of fellow Rush fans and classic music in general. There are also many newer bands that I absolutely love! The industry is so different today I think it’s gonna be a lot harder for new bands to have a “legendary” status today because we live in a throwaway society. Disposable everything including music. Going back to the social media thing, back then part of the draw was learning just as much about a band by looking at album art or reading an interview. I’ve heard stories of waiting in lines at record stores with other fans when big albums were released. Now there’s no mystique . No wondering. We all know everything there is to know in a few minutes and some people would rather watch a video on a phone screen than go to a live show or download an MP3 instead of buying an album which is sad to me.

Nick: Thanks! My brother Anth and I grew up with a mutual love for Rush that no other band could ever break! But it’s hard to say who the next legends will be.  For me personally, I think Dave Grohl and the Foo Fighters are living legends and will go down with the greats, like Zeppelin, Sabbath, Rush, The Who, Bowie etc.  I don’t think that we will have legends in the same way as it was from the 60’s up even into the 90’s.  Even if you weren’t a fan of a band back then, you still knew who the members of bands were.  There seemed to be more personality to the people behind the music for a long time, then it all started to fade away and got more commercialized at some point.  Though I don’t think many of today’s bands will reach the heights of bands from the past, I can see signs that some people are starting to see past the BS and wanting something real. Still there will always be people into trendy music and the latest fads, but for me, I think rock is better off moving back to a more genuine place, and I think some people are ready for that.

Jake: I think most bands have their legacy and it’s hard to fill in general. I personally don’t think there should be another “Guns N’ Roses” for example. That has already been done. New and different are what excel. When there is a new band that has something different about them, that’s when they are remembered and take the torch!

And what have you got planned for Kevlar for the rest of 2017?

Kelci: As of right now, we have a tour that we will be announcing very soon as well as the rocked release coming sometime this fall! Stay tuned!

Anthony: There’s always some pretty dope things along the near horizon, you’ll find out very soon! And hopefully more cool interviews like this one thanks!

Nick: Thanks for the interview, hopefully we’ll have our EP out sometime in the upcoming months and the promotion and touring that would go with that. Probably a new single and video at some point. Still scheming!

Jake: Hopefully releasing and touring for the EP! Maybe a record contract or 2 haha! We will see! Thanks!

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