If you were anywhere on the San Diego music scene last year you know that tragedy struck as summer was about to commence. Saturday, June 29, 2013 at The Tin Can was the site of what we all heartbrokenly believed was the last New Kinetics show. The place was packed to capacity as people stood on the street to hear the last lingering notes from Brian Reilly, Birdy Bardot, Jon Bonser and newest member Josh Kmak. And TNK didn’t disappoint-they killed, leaving the stage in ashes behind them. And with that a gaping hole in our SD musical family.
Not only were The New Kinetics outrageously talented bringing rock with a vibe from a time gone by, they were amazing people who cared about and touched fans who shared their passion for music. They grew the scene they were instrumental in cultivating. They left an open wound in our collective hearts when they left.
Remaining members moved on- we had the debut of Leslie Schultze’s (former TNK bassist) Flaggs, Josh Kmak (newest bassist) continued in The Nformals and Jon Bonser (drummer) started up with Soft Lions. Yet the chemistry, passion, and most of all, kinship that was so palpable each time The New Kinetics took the stage was yet to be replicated. The leading couple of the band Brian Reilly (guitarist/singer) and Birdy Bardot (singer) moved and our hopes moved on as well.
Then one amazing day San Diego learned that two were returning- Brian and Birdy were coming home. The question on all of our minds was “Will they or won’t they?” followed by “They’ve got to, right?”.
For months we heard nothing and most of us stopped pestering them. Until mid-February and the news we were almost too afraid to hope for broke- The New Kinetics were back together and they had a killer show lined up at The Casbah.
That’s when we started buying tickets and basking in shared reflective glory- anticipating what new gems TNK had in store for us. We were literally counting the days until Saturday, April 5th.
The wait is nearly over.
This interview was conducted three days after the news broke that not only were The New Kinetics back together but there was a monster of a show to get excited about.
Take a peek behind the curtain of the world that belongs to The New Kinetics, whether you’re an old fan or you’ve never been to a show- I guarantee there’s nowhere else you should be this Saturday. This renunion show at The Casbah promises a night of rock that will knock your socks off and make you, not only a fan, but probably a friend of TNK for life.
Sounds in San Diego: What were the dynamics that lead to the reuniting of TNK?!?! ‘Cause when you [Brian & Birdy] moved back that was the first question everyone was asking. So what lead up to this now?
Joshua Kmak: I know exactly what lead up to this,-we wanted to start a band, at least me, Brian, and Jon. We did get together the first time with Leslie. But I think there was a time when we were in the room rehearsing and we all looked at each other and said “What’re we doing? We should just get The New Kinetics back together.” I don’t remember who planted that seed but someone said it and it just sounded like the right idea.
Jon Bonser: We were just playing and we said Birdy’s not here.
Brian Reilly: I think,-I didn’t think it was gonna happen. And then we were supposed to jam. It was supposed to be me and you (points Kmak) and then you (points to Bardot) popped outta the woodwork and said “I wanna be involved, I gotta be involved” And I was like “Ok.” And you (indicates Bonser) came to me like a week later and said “Well Leslie’s interested in getting in on this.” And I was like “What about Flaggs?” And you said “Yeah, she’s still gonna do that too. But she’s interested in being involved.” And then we were all finally… just standing there in the room and then it sounded really good. We did a buncha new songs and everybody’s all “YEAH!” I opened up my mouth and sang,-this is alright but not the really the same. I’m just not that good of a singer. I guess that’s how it all started.
Birdy Bardot: And I was like woo-hoo!
Reilly: No you were mad. You were mad. “Wait a minute you’re gonna be in a project with Jon and Josh and Leslie?” And I was like “Yeah.” And you were like “Man, fuck you guys.”
Bardot: I did not say that you’re misquoting me.
Reilly: You totally said that.
Bardot: *Giggles* Nah that’s not true. I said ‘that’s gonna sound real awesome.’
Reilly: It’s true,-it’s totally true. It’s what she said. “That’s gonna sound great!” like a parent hanging up their kid’s project.
BR: A project right up here on the fridge! “Real good Honey, let’s put that right here in the center….Brian’s gonna sing Oh, that’s lovely.” *In Liverpudlian accent* “Yes, Ringo this is so good we’re putting it right up here on the fridge.”
SISD: So how did Birdy get in the act? Did you need to say “If it’s gonna be The New Kinetics then let me be involved.” Was there much cajoling involved? Or none at all?
Reilly: She didn’t ask.
SISD: You guys did?
Reilly: Yeah ‘cause you [Bardot] didn’t ask. You were like fine whatever fuck you. No I really forget how it leapt into the next thing. I think everybody kinda liked it and I think-
Bardot: And of course a Ruddy’s meeting to make sure everybody was cool.
Reilly: Yeah cause Leslie was involved and then she was like “Well, I’m moving.” So that stunted it.
Bardot: So yeah we scheduled a practice and it worked out really well. Really well. I mean without me missing a beat and we were all like “Wow!”
Kmak: That’s my favorite part: about how we’ve been secretly practicing.
SISD: So how long have the secret practices been going on?
Reilly: Current incarnation?
Bonser: We’ve only had what three? Two? Two.
Reilly: We had like three practices, but it kinda was weird we had a song that we did as “The Thieves.” [It] was like the rehearsal where we realized we needed to just jump back in. And then we had a coupla writing sessions at the house that don’t really count as practices so we came in then the last two rehearsals the songs just started falling out of us all over again. It was like very different from The New Kinetics of a year ago. The New Kinetics of a year ago were just run a set list and try and write a song. I remember me and Jon trying to write a song- just drums and guitar. I actually stopped and said “This is horrible.” And Jon was like “This sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song” And it was at that point I realized that my life was over.
Bonser: We hadn’t meant for it to come out that way.
Reilly: No we didn’t. It was a terrible song. It was horrible- I was writing it and as I was playing it I was like “This is the stupidest shit I have ever heard in my life.” But then the last coupla rehearsals (recently) we had it was like it was just a total reboot button all the sudden- you were turning around [and] someone comes up with a part and you just add your own thing and the next thing you know it just falls together. I couldn’t write anything by the time TNK was coming into the last show and then we were in Philly I was sitting on the carpet and I hadn’t played guitar in like a month and a half and then all the sudden the next thing you knew the songs just kept coming up. It was like hitting a reset button. Everybody else can keep on writing. They were always able to write. I can’t. I can’t write all the time. Especially by the time we were done- like last year. I couldn’t write a thing and what I did I shouldn’t have.
SISD: So can we expect a mix of the old and the new catalog? Is it gonna sound a lot different? The new songs that are coming out? ‘Cause you said that it sounds a lot different.
Reilly: It’s so much better. It’s so much better that, like, we don’t even know what…some songs we’re gonna keep on playing and others we were talking about that the other day. Like a set list and somebody was like “Let’s play ‘Serpentine’.” And I said: “Screw that shit. I mean I like that song but the new stuff is so much more animated better.”
Bardot: It’s fun.
Reilly: It’s got more identifiable, it’s got more personality it’s got its own identity. Versus some of the stuff that was on the back end of In Stereo , which wasn’t bad. It just didn’t get people moving. It’s a good record.
Bonser: I mean I think part of the reason we aren’t gonna change the name is so we have access to that back catalog.
Reilly: Yeah, I mean we wrote it. Some of them are really good to play. And I think it would be more of a lie to change our name.
Bardot: It does sound like us. It’s not like it’s completely different.
Bonser: Well, we could change our name. I think I would be uncomfortable playing a bunch of New Kinetics songs if we did that though. So it suffices keeping the name.
Reilly: Plus, I mean, we are The New Kinetics. Y’know like y’know this is the band as it was. It would be silly to call us The New Kinetics if Bird playing with me y’know and it wasn’t Jon and Josh or vice versa that would be kinda ridiculous. But it’s the same exact band. It would be more of a lie to change the name now. We heard one or two people who were like “Oh you should change the name cause of all the great fanfare you got for the great going away.” And we didn’t know what the hell was going on at the time. A bunch of crazy shit happened. I mean we were,-the two of us were basically homeless when we got back here five months ago. And more shit happened and things were outta control.
Badot: Great fuel for song writin’.
Reilly: And then somebody says “maybe you should change the name.” And it’s like “why?” We’re not a different band. It’s the same band. We’re just writing another record. And who gives a fuck?
Bardot: He’s gonna want that in quotes. *giggles*
Reilly: I mean really- who cares about that shit?
Stay tuned for part II of this interview tomorrow and the finale on Saturday before the big show!