The last time I heard from these guys they were performing in the Circle City trying to make a name for themselves. Now, out of nowhere, I hear they are down in Atlanta, Georgia with a new name, a new face, some new members, and a new sound. Well, “sounds” might be a more appropriate way of putting it. They are rock. They are rap. They are hip-hop. Basically, they are a little bit of everything. Regardless, they are good. That’s all that matters. The other day I got a phone call from their newest member asking to do an interview. Of course, that’s what I do!
I have known their front man for a long time and was excited to hear about all their success down south. We set up a time to chat and got caught up on years past. It’s hard to compare these guys to anyone else, but it is my absolute pleasure to sit down with the guys in KontaBand Muzik.
Wait a minutes, I thought you guys all lived in Indiana. What happened?
About a year ago, we signed a management contract with a company who had a lot of label connections in Atlanta. After showcasing with Konvict (Akon’s label), our management made it pretty clear that it would be much easier shopping us around if we were more accessible. We had spent a lot of time in Indiana. All of us had been in pretty successful projects in the Midwest, and we felt like we took it as far as we could there. We needed to take a chance.
So how long have you been living in Atlanta?
We have been down here for about a year.
What made you decide to move to ATL?
Opportunity. With our style of music, and the success rate of the artists coming out of the South, we felt like our music was diverse and different enough to break through, and that we could be seen in an area that was producing a lot of talent.
How is the local music scene down there?
It’s amazing. The talent level is nuts. Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty of talent in Indiana, but because Atlanta is a larger city there are more aspiring artists, more talent, and more venues.
(Davey) The music scene is very competitive but at the same time people are always helping each other out. Hip-hop in Atlanta is the equivalent to rock and country in Nashville. The music is everywhere and the culture is very accepting of it.
Tell me more about the band.
It’s a mash up of different influences and talent. We’ve got a hip-hop DJ, a drummer and bass player that were in gospel, funk, and R&B projects, a guitar player influenced by jam/pop/rock, and an emcee with a rock background who can also sing. That allows us to experiment with a lot of different styles and sounds, and constantly evolve. We’ll never be stuck in one category of music or sound. We feel like it can appeal to people of all musical tastes.
Describe your genre in one word.
I hope we can use a hyphen. I would say “mash-up” pretty much sums us up.
Where did you guys all meet?
Davey, Dox, and I have all known each other from playing many of the same bars in Indy, while in different projects. Dox and I being in The Franchize, and Davey in Austin Bridges. Leon and Jeremy had known each other from playing in church together, and different R&B and soul projects that they were involved in. When The Franchize broke up, I met Leon while he was playing with another group, and we decided perform live together during my solo stuff. Leon suggested putting a band together, grabbed Jeremy, and I eventually pulled Davey in to be on guitar. It was kind of crazy how it all happened, since we were all a bit familiar with each other from other projects, and an opportunity came where we were all looking for a project and challenge, and decided to form KontraBand Muzik.
You guys recently signed with KG/Universal. How did that all come about?
Very random. I was working with a guy in Atlanta who passed along the demo CD to his friend, Teddy. Teddy had a friend who owned KG Records. KG liked the music, and came out to see a show at DePauw University that Davey had set up. He put an offer out the next week. It sounds like an overnight thing, but we had put in a lot of work with some majors, and didn’t get the result/offer we were looking for. This was the best opportunity for us, and we’re excited about it. It’s crazy how things work out sometime.
Are you working on a full album?
Oh, yes. It’s self-titled and was released the middle of this month actually. It will have around nineteen tracks, and you can get it on our website, as well as iTunes. It will be all over the web.
Who writes all of your lyrics?
Nate, but Dox came up with the hook for Rockin’ That Shit, and we always take the feedback and ideas of the other members.
(Davey) The next record will involve more collaboration between the band. This record is the product of songs written by Nate before this band was fully formed. Everyone in the band brings a different flavor and skill to song writing.
Where do you guys practice?
We practice in our living room.
You guys have a favorite venue?
(Davey) I look forward to going out to LA and NYC with this group to my favorite venues we’ve both played in our other projects. I really love playing the Roxy and The Whiskey A-Go-Go in LA and The Knitting Factory in NYC.
You guys have jobs outside of music?
Odd jobs, but no career type jobs.
What is the biggest crowd you have ever played for?
Probably 1,000 people or so.
Oh, I’d say five. (Laughs)
I know it’s been over a year, but it still seems to be affecting the music industry. How did you react to the passing of Michael Jackson?
I think everyone was disappointed in the way that it happened, and sad that we didn’t get to see what would’ve been an amazing final tour. I don’t think it’s possible to make music without being influenced even a little by Michael Jackson. But, the main thing is that I think a lot of people truly forgot how great his music was, and after his passing, with all of the re-releases coming out, you truly appreciate his talent and soul.
What does a typical Friday night look like for you?
(Davey) (Laughs) Loud with a lot of laughter. We have a lot of fun. We make homemade music videos every week made up of movie clips we take of stuff that happens throughout the week. We capture the shenanigans, jokes, and pranks we pull and edit them to our songs. We film everything! Anyone who hangs out with us is subject to being in a video.
What would you be doing if you were not performing?
Partying, playing video games, joking around. It’s really a fun bunch of guys to be around. Lots of laughs.
You guys have a show coming up in the Netherlands. Everyone have his passports?
Working on it… (Laughs)
You played overseas before?
Not as a band. We’re really looking forward to it.
(Davey) I’ve been to every state in the continental US and driven across the country six times but have never been out of the country. I absolutely cannot wait to get overseas and experience new cultures. Plus, Amsterdam is a heck of a place to kick off my European travels. (Laughs)
What are your thoughts on the current state of the music industry?
It sucks; at least when it comes to the majors. They’re only looking for web hits. They don’t talent scout anymore. So, as a musician, you’ve got to become your own marketing guru, as well. I think that takes away from the art. On the other hand, it definitely frees up the independents to carve their own niche, which is why we signed with one.
Social media is becoming a crucial part of marketing. You guys are on MySpace. What about Facebook and Twitter?
We should warn you… we don’t Tweet about what we’re watching on TV. We Tweet all of the funny stuff we hear and say during a given day. Consider that your parental advisory.
Love that logo. Who designed that?
Finally! We get to give a shout out to the guy that does the majority of our artwork and posters… the one and only Kevin Vincent Bertolini.
Who are some of your biggest influences?
Jimi Hendrix, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, 2Pac, Biggie, Outkast, Kanye, Jay-Z, the 80’s.
How did Davey get hooked up with this group?
We needed a wizard on the guitar, and he answered the call.
(Davey) I had always wanted to work with Nate and I really enjoyed his music so when he called I was more than happy to get involved.
Rock, pop, hip-hop; why can’t you guys just pick a genre?
(Laughs) Because that’d be boring.
(Davey) Yeah, what he said!
Who did all your photography?
Once again, the man, the myth, the living legend… Kevin Vincent Bertolini can take all the credit.
Where do you see yourselves in five years?
Accepting another Grammy for Album of the Year, on a world tour, and hopefully not facing multiple paternity suits. (Laughs)
What do you want to be remembered for when this is said and done?
That we brought different types of people together. That our music was relevant, and resonated with our audience for however long they decided to keep listening. That we were honest, creative, and passionate with our songs, and that we gave our best performance at every show.
I always let the artist get the last word. Go.