Friday, January 22, 2010

KISS KISS Interview

Josh Benash (Synths, Guitar, and Vocals) of KISS KISS discusses the music biz, why not to have goals, Carl Sagan, where Kiss Kisses come from, and much more with Ithaca Underground's Pete Ives.  See the band live on Thursday, Feb 4th at The Haunt with Venetia Fair, Beach Parade, and The Motivators.

IU: What brought about the beginning of Kiss Kiss?

JB: When two adults love each other, sometimes the resulting physical expression can lead to stubborn children who attempt the pursuit of music. That happened at least 5 times, and then we all met.

IU: Where are you all from?

JB: We are scattered all over New York State from Yonkers to Binghamton to Long island. Rebecca was from PA. Currently we are positioned around and in the NYC area.

IU: How long has Kiss Kiss been together?

JB: We are going on 7 years.

IU: It must be pretty exciting gearing for this upcoming tour! Are you close with The Venetia Fair crew?

JB: We don't know them yet. All we know is they are a half decade younger. We have much to teach them, many dreams to shatter, and much bitterness to rub off.

IU: What would you say is the band’s main focus right now?

JB: To tour and tour and tour until we can't anymore. That and a 3rd album is in the works.

IU: How has the response been since the drop of the new album?

JB: The press that reviewed it gave it overall really great reviews. But fuck you, pitchfork for refusing to even listen to the CD. You hipster snobs. If I shit on a piano and put an electronic beat behind it will you
review it then? Bunch of shit heads. I can't wait to come to Chicago. I'm tying our disc to a brick and throwing it into their office window Home Alone 2: Lost in New York style.

IU: Are you guys on the road quite frequently?

JB: We have been. We went to Canada in October and in December hit the east coast. We are now gearing up to do a full national tour this February, March, and April.

IU: How do you go about the writing process?

JB: It begins with myself on the piano. I will come up with the basic form and melody for the song. I then bring it to Jared and he will help with the form and basic rhythmic structure of the piece. We then present it to the rest of Kiss Kiss and work part by part. Its like architecture. You can't start with the roof. But eventually everything is in its right place.

IU: What is most rewarding to you about being a part of Kiss Kiss?

JB: Being able to know that what we do changes lives. It may sound corny, but I have had mothers come to me after shows and tell me my band has helped their child through depression. I have kids send me their short stories and poetry, and also their music. Its that co-creativity that we share with our fans that we truly love. That and the friends we make along the way. In each city in almost every state I can claim to know someone
who has shared and contributed to my life in some way. To me that is what it has become all about.

IU: Any major goals for this new year?

JB: I discovered early on that expectation leads to disappointment. Every major label has approached Kiss Kiss at some point in these last 7 years, many promises have been made, and in the end all you have is yourself. So the new way we approach this is with the understanding that it is finite, and that without enjoyment in it everything is worthless. At some point we will have to grow up, and if life experience is all we have to show for it, its better then nothing. We have spent too much time stressing out about how broke we are, how everyone steals CDs these days, how the music industry is in shambles, how we can't get on bigger tours, and in the end all that does is ruin the present. So no, no goals for this year or the next. Our hands are off the wheel. ( Thank you Zac )

IU: Any particular beliefs and/or values you feel are vital to life, or that you hold onto strongly?

JB: Well Ithaca was the home to one of my personal hero's, Carl Sagan. There is an excerpt in "Pale Blue Dot" which has always really spoken to me, and resonates my own personal views on the folly of humanity.

"The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they
are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds"

IU: What made you want to involve yourself in a musical environment such as the one you’ve found yourself in today?

JB: Well my involvement started in the early 90's when I was a teenager. I was in band after band. In the
midst of college we were signed by Eyeball Records and our hopes were great. It seems the music industry crumbled as soon as we entered the building. The sad thing I find is the total lack of guilt people feel
for stealing art from someone else. When I was a kid there was a pride you would get buying a local bands cassette tape. Buying 7''s and CD's.

There was something great about supporting a band few people knew about, and today there seems to be no respect for the years of work people sacrifice to put into their craft. There seems to be only a sense of entitlement. And the imbalance of this is going to present itself soon. The very bands people love and steal from are going to be unable to continue making the music they love. Right now its just take take, with little giving back to the artists. The reality of this world is without income you cannot continue to make your art and music. So if you love a band, and you don't support them, how do you expect them to go on?

IU: How do you feel about the movie ‘Juice’?

JB: Great. My Cousin co-produced the soundtrack. Did you know that?

IU: Will this be the band’s first time in Ithaca?

JB: No, we have been there at least 5 times now. Ithaca in all honesty is one of my favorite cities in this entire country. If it wasn't so fucking cold I would be living there right now.

IU: How do you like being a part of the Eyeball Records family?

JB: There are a lot of bands we have really enjoyed playing with over the years. And we love Alex. Right now though there are a lot of new bands they signed that we have yet to meet.

IU: Are you tight with any of the other bands on that label?

JB: Rebecca and I have arranged and played strings on New London Fire/Sleep Station songs. We have toured with many other bands. So yes! Tightness exists.

IU: Any tours in the works lining up after this one?

JB: We will be out in March/April with Paper Chase. Taring ass all over the West Coast.

IU: Where, so far, has been your favorite place to play?

JB: We have had the great fortune of playing a sold out Bowery Ballroom in NYC twice. Once with Thursday, and once with Murder by Death. Both bands are amazing with really great people. So the energy for both those nights was really great. Having so many kids with virgin ears to Kiss Kiss is always exciting.

IU: Craziest shit you’ve seen on the road?

JB: We once talked to a guy who claimed to be Jesus and saw ghosts all around us. Later that week our violinist at the time (not Rebecca!), shit into her hand at a camp site while running and threw it on the bathroom floor.

IU: Any words of wisdom for those trying to take their passion down a similar trail?

JB: DON'T!!! Stay in school. Fall in love with a nice girl. Masturbate more. Music is an abusive relationship. It beats the living shit out of you and always promises to change.