Friday, February 18, 2005

My Night With The French Kicks

Julie Andrews sang in The Sound of Music to start from the very beginning. In fact, it's a very good place to start. So it's the morning after and I will start from the beginning of my night with The French Kicks.

3:30 PM yesterday- My apartment. Drafting up my questions, singing along to my favorite French Kicks, "Down Now." Pit in my stomach begins. Shower, change, get ready, drink lots of coffee, smoke too many cigarettes.

4:30 - Call from Kip, French Kicks' publicist. The band won't be ready until 5:30. He's not happy, never really find out why.

5:30 - Georgia and I head around the corner to Bowery Ballroom. Ring the doorbell. Man comes out, I tell him I'm here to interview the band. "You with the band?" No. Not with. Interviewing. He gave me a weird smile. I still don't understand. We walk into the empty venue to sounds of tuning guitars and "Heyyyyy Check 1. 2. Heeeyyy. Check." The band is on stage. Pit in stomach grows.

6:30 - After watching the sound check for a good hour (not as exciting as I had anticipated, but it was sort of a mini personal concert) the band is finally ready for their 15 minutes of fame.

Let me digress, rewind, and enliven you with a little journalistic vision of how this article was "supposed" to be written. It's the cover story of the next issue, so I wanted to do something a bit different than just, this is this band, this is what they do, this is what they are doing next. So, knowing that The French Kicks came out and "hit it big" the same time as The Strokes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and were lumped in that whole "New York Scene," I wanted to do a sort of "where are they now?" and have them take me around Brooklyn to their favorite spots. Something to the effect of: Hip City, Hip Band. Didn't exactly work out. (Now looking at it, probably for the better. Who says hip?) Last Saturday they decided, then, that we could have a typical "Saturday" in New York, up in Washington Heights. Get lunch, go to the park, chat, relax. But last minute, there were scheduling issues. So as my story went up in flames, they said that they could do a pre-show dinner and walk around The Lower East Side. Sounded good to me.

6:45 - Backstage at Bowery. So much for going out. Nick informed me that they all had a lot to do before the show, so if it was okay, we'd just hang out backstage. Like I was really going to argue standing in front of a 6'4 tall man. When he walked up the back stairs of Bowery, he took 5 at a time. No joke, this guy's legs are ridiculously long.

7:00 - Interview starts. While the boys munched down on hummus, salsa, chips, and drank their beer, I started firing away with my questions. I always feel like such an idiot doing interviews. But I proceeded, speaking mostly to Nick and Matt as Georgia interrogated the rest of them (on the ball, might I add, good job my friend, except for your lack of quotes). We all began to liven up, drink up, and my pit in my stomach began to slowly diminish. (Hardly any nose scratching either!) I found out that they wouldn't mind being on The OC like their friends The Walkmen did recently, that Nick actually watches the show, and that their last album was recorded in an impressive 14 days due to money issues. We had a little 10 question wrap-up with the whole band, where I found out Lawrence likes to do dishes, they have a lot of favorite streets in the City (one of them, Avenue of Americas, which I hope was a joke) and that their favorite band? The French Kicks.

8:00 - I asked Nick if he considered the band to be underrated. In his mind, they are overrated. And what is success? When they don't have to have a day job. Nick is a painter, and Matt drives a moving van.

8:30 - Pictures. I should not be a photographer. I have no vision of how I want the cover to look, but I want it to be especially cool, because it's going to be professionally printed, and IN COLOR! But since we had limited landscape, we decided to have them at the door. The following will not be the cover of the next issue (much to the band's dismay, they really liked this shot) but to their honor, I will include here:





and a much more visually attractive shot of the boys sitting on the couch:




So the interview was a bit awkward at times, mostly because I am so strange, but Nick, Josh, Matt, Aaron, and Lawrence were extremely nice and a lot of fun. I got Nick and Josh to sign my CD. I told them I felt like a cheese ball, and yet they signed it anyways. How sweet.




8:30 - Outside. The boys had things to do, we had at least two hours until the show, so Georgia and I decided to get a bite to eat. Walked back to my apartment and then over on Rivington to Teany, a vegan tea joint in the Lower East Side. I ate my "no turkey" turkey club and my "soy chili" and before we knew it, it was snowing. We chatted extensively about the future of the magazine, and I got really excited for the years ahead. I was even more excited to see the boys that I had just shared a beer with backstage, play to a sold out crowd.

10:00 - The door at Bowery. So, turned out I wasn't on the list. Clearly my credentials don't speak for anything, and publicists forget about the little people. I wasn't thrilled, to say the least. I left an angry message at the publicists' office, but had no cell phone. We tried sneaking back in the smoking exit, but no luck. I went back down to the girl and had her double check, no luck. That pit from earlier? Now huge.

10:30 - Outside Bowery. Half hour before show time. I was pissed. Not only did I really want to see these guys play, this was going to blow the whole cover story. No ending. No pictures. Not good.

10:45 - Inside. Never underestimate the live drummer. With luck on our side, who walks up the street as we are waiting outside? Aaron, the Kicks' live drummer. I was so happy to see him that I yelled HEY! and informed him of our predicament. He was ever so kind, said he'll try and pull some strings and get someone out here. And after 10 minutes of standing in the cold, some guy came outside, apologized profusely, and escorted us personally in front of the line and past a security guard who asked my name and counted 1, 2. Ah, the power of the press. Aaron was our new best friend.

11:00 - Showtime. They opened with "Wrong Side" and played for about an hour and a half. Their studio albums are great (first one is better) but the band live is an experience all its own. I could tell Nick had taken a few more drinks since we last left him, as he tripped over his enormously long legs on stage numerous times, liked to clap, a lot, and hit himself with the microphone. It's cool to see bands switch up their instruments throughout the set. From drums, to keyboards, to guitars, these guys can play it all, and play it well.






They even played my request, "Down Now." I felt so special. Mostly, I was just happy that I got to see them play. The huge grins on their faces said it all. Whether it was whatever drugs, alcohol, or excitement they consumed (or maybe just the mere hours they spent with me), it was pure joy to see them play live sold out show in their city.

1:00 AM- Home and exhausted. It was an interesting night to say the least, of journalistic pursuits, fan memorabilia, vegan food, security guards, and a truly memorable show. I guess that's what happens when you hang with The French Kicks.

Check out the cover story with The French Kicks in the next issue of Underrated Magazine on March 10.

2 Comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm not really sure how I ended up here, but I wanted to say that I really enjoyed this insight and the article of the French Kicks. I recently saw them at SXSW for the 20th (or something like that) time and this was the one time that I had enough "balls" to talk to Nick.

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