Uproar 2013: Howl In The Night. An interview with Kyle Nicolaides From Beware Of Darkness
Sometimes a band comes along that is so different, that you can’t help but take notice. Even though their sound is different, there is something that you immediately connect with. Recently the band that did that for me was Beware Of Darkness. Our own Teresa Burke caught a set earlier this year at the Rock Monkey Ruckus and kept telling me how cool these guys were and how I should get them on the site. Well, I finally got around to it and I’m blown away. Their recent single, Howl ,climbed to the number five position on the radio charts and they are currently strutting their stuff on the Uproar Tour with the likes of Alice In Chains, Jane’s Addiction, Coheed and Cambria as well as one of our one of our new favorite bands, Walking Papers. I’m excited to help bring these guys to even more people than before and I hope you too can Howl in the night.
Listen to the entire Kyle Nicolaides interview below:
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Today, I’m joined by Kyle Nicolaides. Kyle is the vocalist and guitarist of Beware of Darkness. First off, thanks for taking the time to speak with me today and welcome to the Unsung Melody family.
Yeah. Thank you so much for having me
Getting started, I want to say congratulations on Howl making it to the Top 5 on the charts recently.
Thank you. It’s crazy. We’re really surprised by it and we’re really happy about it. We’re on this Uproar Tour right now and we’re seeing that a lot more people know the song and know the band. So it’s crazy.
That song has certainly opened quite a few doors for you guys already. Everyone is close to their own music and are obviously proud of their babies so to speak. When writing this record, did you feel you had something special when you wrote it?
It’s funny because I actually don’t remember writing it. The only thing I remember about writing it, I had the verses done and the choruses weren’t good enough. I remember having to fight and make them better. Then, the thing I remember after that is just having it completely done and having the structure and arrangement completely done. It’s funny because some songs you finish and they wind up being 100% finished and how they are on the record. Other songs you write, you have to fiddle with the arrangements, fiddle with the structure and everything. It was literally written in like five to ten minutes. Then it was just done and that was it.
Let’s talk a bit about the video itself. It’s shot in black and white, there’s a puppet, nudity and rock and roll. Sounds like the perfect video to me. Who did you work with and was the puppet idea the bands or was it presented to you?
We made it with Lance Drake. The puppet idea was funny because I met with him for like two hours and we talked about the concepts for the whole video. Shooting in black and white and, all the imagery. Then right at the end, I jokingly said, “Oh and we need to have a puppet in it.” I didn’t he was going to take that seriously, but what happened was, he started sending me sketches of this puppet over the next two or three weeks before the shoot. I just glanced over them and didn’t really think much about it. We get to the shoot and he had someone literally from scratch, hand make a two or three foot tall puppet. It was pretty exciting. Going to a shoot an seeing that. (laughter) It was funny too, I didn’t really know he was going to do that. He took it seriously and then it played a big part in the video. I mean, I’m like the biggest Muppet fan in the world probably.
If Howl continues to make waves, could we see the puppet at the merch table?
That’s a really, really good idea. That’s a really good question. I’m melancholy about that because I didn’t get to keep the puppet from the video. I don’t know who has it and I don’t know where it went. I got a Valentine’s Day gift of a Fraggle, so I usually keep a Fraggle on my keyboard stand. So you can see it onstage.
Have you guys decided on a follow up single yet?
The next single is going to be a song called All Who Remain. I wrote it with John 5 from Rob Zombie. It’s about losing your favorite person on the planet. We’ve never had a song like it, where from the first time someone has heard it, the first time we played it, the reaction has been so strong or positive. I’m really excited for people to hear it, because I think it’s one of those things that everybody can relate to. It’s nice. I’ve already had a lot of people come up and say that the song has helped them to get through something. That’s the best compliment. That’s the best thing a song can do and I think that’s what art is. Art is describing an experience that you have had and if you can help someone else get through that same experience or make it easier for them to get through that, then that’s a job well done. It’s about communication and connecting with people.
I was hoping that song would eventually be a single. I didn’t realize it would be the next single, but I’m all about it.
See that’s the thing that we’re going through too. To go from Howl to that is kind of a jump, but I think at the end of the day it’s a really, really great song and I think that even though it’s a step mellower than Howl, I think people are going to react and respond to it well.
I was going to say if there was going to be a transitional song, I though maybe Sweet Girl or My Planet Is Dead or something like that would be a good one.
We’re thinking about Amen Amen. I think everyone on our team, everyone is so excited about All Who Remain. We didn’t want to wait and we just wanted to get it out now.
After listening to the album quite a few times, I couldn’t help but get an overwhelming feeling that The Beatles mean a lot to you. Specifically the song Morning Tea. That song could be a lost track from the Revolver or the White Album era. I mean you have Hummingbird, the Beatles have Blackbird. Tell me a bit about Morning Tea and if I’m a complete idiot about the Beatles.
No, no you’re not. The Beatles were my favorite band growing up. Honestly, they were the only band I even knew existed until I was in like sixth grade. I mean you’re right. They are the only band and the only music that I can never really get sick of listening to. I always go back to them. I went to a really small school that was predominantly white and I remember there were the Beatles kids and then there were the Beach Boy kids, we didn’t really talk to the Beach Boy kids. Because you know, I don’t know why anyone would. In Junior High, I switched to a school that was pretty fairly mixed in California and I remember everyone listening to hip-hop. Like Chingy and Nelly, and it was like a total culture clash. The Beatles are the best. It’s funny because, when I wrote Hummingbird…Those two songs Hummingbird and Blackbird, I didn’t write with an awareness to make a nod to the Beatles. The stories behind that song, if I told it, I guess I can tell you, I guess people just construed it listening to it. The story behind Hummingbird is I was at my house in Santa Barbara and a Hummingbird just flew by the window. So I wrote that song. I didn’t realize what role a hummingbird took in my family. When I wrote it, I played it for my Mom and then she told me, “Oh my God, you know what this means?” She told me that when both my Uncle and her Mom passed away, they saw hummingbirds at the funerals. So everyone in my family, without me knowing, whenever they see a hummingbird, they take it as a sign that our relatives or family members are watching over us. I realized that after I wrote it and that’s the cool thing about songs too, the power of it. That line, “Don’t call me blackbird.” People take that as a nod to the Beatles, but it’s more like don’t cal me this big, ugly monster. Because blackbirds can be terrifying and kind of ominous, where a hummingbird is more lightweight and fleeting. I think the Beatles are the best band in the world, so I’m happy to get Beatles comparisons.
Yeah, that was certainly a compliment. I wasn’t trying to take away from anything at all. You’re playing this year’s edition of Uproar and I see a couple of huge festival dates across the pond as well, like the Leeds Festival. Have you guys played there before?
Yeah. It’s crazy. At the beginning of the year, in January, we didn’t know when the record was coming out. We didn’t have tour dates. We didn’t even have an agent. Then we wound up going to Europe three times this year. We did a UK tour in March. Then we just got off tour through all of Europe with Smashing Pumpkins and I think in a week or two we are going back to play Redding and Leeds in the UK. Then in between all of that, we’ve been touring America. So, it’s just been crazy and a rush, but it’s so awesome. All of the bands that we are getting to play with and all of the countries we’re able to see.
Sounds like a fun time to me! One of our writers caught your set at Rock Monkey Ruckus earlier this year and one of the things that stood out to me in the photos, was the guitar that is a mix of natural wood and a deep burgundy. You also played it on Conan. Tell me a bit about that guitar.
Yeah. I have a great story about that guitar. It’s a Ernie Ball Music Man Armada and it’s funny, I was talking to them right before that guitar came out and they just asked, “Would you want to have one?” I said sure. So I played it for like two or three weeks and it felt great. They based it off Les Pauls. I met Derek from Ernie Ball and told me that I was the first person in the world to have it. I thought that was really, really cool. So, I’ve been really, really proud to be playing their guitars and they’re built really well. A few days ago, we played a show on Uproar and we had some technical difficulties with my amp and the pedals weren’t working and stuff. So half way through the set, I threw that guitar down and the headstock completely came off.
Oh no!! That’s awful!
(laughter) Yeah. It was pretty rock and roll I guess. I have two of them, so one of them works, but the thing about this guitar is, if you don’t throw them on the ground and smash them, they hold up really well. I haven’t had any problems with them.
Yeah wood and the force against the ground, wood normally ends in a losing battle.
Yeah. I mean physical objects don’t really hold that well against gravity when you throw them against other things. (laughter) I learned a few days ago. The best part about it too, people have came up to me so eloquently and say, “Oh wow. Was that part of the show? That was great.” It’s like, “No that wasn’t part of the show.”
I’m glad you enjoyed it, but no. No!
Yeah. I love breaking $3000 guitars every night. You know?
Alright, I always end on a random question. Since the Howl video has a puppet in it, I thought I’d ask who your favorite Muppet is and why.
Wow. That’s a really good question. I have to think about that for a second. I think, I don’t know if this counts as a Muppet, but the characters in PeeWee’s Playhouse. Those are all puppets. I think those are my favorite. Because I grew up watching those. I haven’t told anyone this, but I might as well tell you this. I was so scared to go to sleep as a kid and so scared of the dark, that I would have to watch shows like the Muppet show and like Fraggle Rock, and PeeWee’s Playhouse to go to sleep. I think that’s like my fondest memories.
Awesome. Not awesome that you couldn’t go to sleep, but awesome that you found something that helped you know. (laughter)
I know. (laughter) I think Fraggle Rock is my favorite. Those two.
I grew up with Fraggle Rock myself and I loved that show. I thought it was awesome.
You know why it’s so great? I was reading about Jim Henson’s idea and motive behind that and he wanted to make a show for kids that would air all over the world and teach them lessons about life and about how to treat each other. He wanted to try to make world peace with that show through music and through lessons and through puppets. I think that’s incredible to try to do that.
Henson’s mind was far different than most.
He was a genius.
Absolutely. I can’t thank you enough and I truly appreciate your time. We’re hoping to cover the Chicago date of Uproar, which it seems you guys unfortunately won’t be on, but we hope the Leeds show is a tremendous success. You guys be safe and we’ll catch you on the road soon enough.
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Beware Of Darkness – Howl: