Lollapalooza 2010: Vonnegutt Interview

Written August, 2010

During the Summer of 2010 I was a Marketing Manager at College Magazine, a media outlet created by students for students starting at the University of Maryland, and spreading nation-wide. That summer I decided to take a break from building partnerships and go to Lollapalooza with my brother and try my hand at interviewing a few artists during their night shows at clubs in Chicago.

This one is with Vonnegutt, produced by former Outkast member Big Boi. This interview I had some trouble getting in to the club since I was 20 years old. The lead singer Kyle Lucas and drummer Neil Garrard sat down with me for a casual chat. I remember being nervous for my first professional interview and listening to every song I could get my hands on which Kyle was impressed by.

Originally Written August, 2010

About the name Vonnegutt, does it have any special meaning?

Kyle: Yeah, we borrowed it from the author, Kurt Vonnegutt. We actually added a T, the funny thing is when we went to our lawyer and were like, no its cool, for copyright reasons we added a ‘t’. He was like, no, it doesn’t matter. You guys can still get sued. But its cool because once me and Neil started the band, like three or four months after Kurt Vonnegut’s daughter actually reached out to us. Kurt Vonnegut passed away, and she was like, Man, Im a huge fan of the band, and if my dad was here, (cause we were actually catching some flack in the press about it), he would be honored and he would happy you decided to use it. So that was really cool.

One of the quotes in an early song, ‘Highway Robbery’ you say, Im just fiending for some songs with some feeling.

Kyle: Dam, you took it back. Thats a song that didn’t make anything. Damm. I like that you did your research. Haha.

Yeah, like the song, but a lot of people being try to categorize you, trying to put you in the Kid Cudi, Kanye West, emo rap category. Do you try to stay away from putting yourself in a box?

Kyle: I think its all about how you view it. Cause Im a huge fan of Kanye West and Kid Cudi. We thought that was one of the best rap albums last year.

Neil: I don’t think your ever going to predict or prevent how your going to be viewed by critiques. So they lump you in whatever category, you can’t really do anything about it, you just be yourself. You just make the music you like and use your own instincts.

Kyle: When they see emo rap it derives from emotional.

Neil: It has a negative connotation, but he’s very personal about what he writes because thats what he’s knows best.

Kyle: If your just making music and your not emotionally involved in it I think your doing something wrong. So when they say emo rap I don’t even trip about it. Cause I dont rap about drugs or violence or anything.

The best songs in the world are written about girls and love. Were taking it back. The good songs are love songs man.

I read that at first and was like, Are these guys going to be kind of girly? Then I started listening to your stuff and I really liked the music. Do you think that description might scare some guys away?

Neil: I mean, always when you’re a new band you get written off a lot until they really get our album. They wont have as much respect as they have now. We have this single out with Big Boi, Follow Us. Thats kind of got mixed reviews. Thats only one song and he’s had a whole catalog of music out. We just talk about girls cause there love songs and were trying to make pop-music. You cant really help being written off in the beginning.

Kyle: The best songs in the world are written about girls and love. Were taking it back. The good songs are love songs man.

When you guys first started out, Im guessing you were just doing it for the enjoyment of making music. Was there a certain point when you were like shit, this is going to be huge, or was it a gradual thing where you kept getting bigger and bigger.

Kyle: I remember specifically when I thought that it was going to be bigger. Me and Neil had been demo-ing out a lot of songs. It was just at my house with me, Neil, and another producer at first. We were doing beats, EPWe did that as a rough rough demo. I worked at the mall, at this mall in Georgia called Cumberland mall. I remember when Neil called me and he told me he played it for Rick Watt, who was a producer under Big Boi. Neil was like, Ive been playing guitar for these guys forever and I never got the reaction that I finally got. I remember pulling into the parking garage. We were just making music and trying to do something different, and Neil was like, Ive been playing guitar for them forever, and I played some other stuff, and I’ve never got the reaction I got, and I think we are on to something. I remember specifically it was on a Sunday too. Isnt that crazy, I remember exactly.

Neil: I remember he called me up, all the dudes in Outkast I heard them upstairs, cause I wasn’t even allowed up there yet. I heard that song ‘Hard to Say,’ and they were screaming, flipping out. Theyre very eclectic, they listen to everything, so they could appreciate it, they could see what we were trying to do.

It’s pretty interesting how you guys hooked up through a flyer. Whats the advantage of finding a random person, and not starting a band with friends like most people do?

Kyle: Because if it was friends you would probably have to sacrifice the talent.

Neil: The chemistry too.

Kyle: When I put the flyer up at Guitar Center I already knew if a stranger is going to answer that, I already know he’s going to play. I had a couple crazy calls with it, then Neil called, and I was just like thank you, this might work. We’re friends, we have the same kind of personality and that goes a long way in a band.

How long was it before you realized he’s a cool dude and this was going to work out?

Kyle: It was probably halfway through the Vice Nine. I used to pick him up everyday. We used to record every Sunday and I used to pick him up from his apartment. When I was a solo rapper, not even, trying to be a solo rapper, I interned at a studio and that producer, we became friends. He had ahome studio and some equipment. Hes the only person I knew who could have semi-good quality sounding recordings. It was probably halfway through. We did three or four songs and then got them mixed by this guy. Then I would drive himback. I was like, Man, this might actually be something.

So, getting to ‘Ex Girlfriends are Stupid,’ was it a specific girl in mind?

Kyle: Yeah yeah. Well, thats actually one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written because at the time it was one of the most painful things I’ve ever went through and I dated her for five years. I dated her when she was fifteen. I was sixteen. It was like the hardest thing I ever had to do. My goal was to change it, cause Neil had already written the music for it. It was already poppy sounding. We named it ‘Ex Girlfriends Are Stupid,’ to kind of mask it and make it a cheeky fun When you listen to it your like, Man this is really cheeky, but if you dissect those lyrics, you know what I was going through. Its like a blues song.

Neil: That’s what I appreciate about it. You can’t fully appreciate it until your going through it firsthand. Like the break-ups I’ve been through after that. I listen to hit and it hits close to home.

Kyle: It’s been funny, its happened twice. We already had the song recorded and I guess when you go through that situation when you love a person, you hate them, and you don’t ever want to be with them I never heard break up songs where I’m just with you because I’m use to it and because I don’t want you to be with anyone else. I think that’s the most natural. I think everyone’s been through that. I just never heard a break up song about that.You just don’t want them to be with anyone else because you’re so used to it. You hate them, but you love them. Haha. Everything they say you want to kill them, but you love them. The funny time was the first time it was ever on the radio in Atlanta and I was in the car with her. Haha, we were going to Block Buster.

She had to of known?

Kyle: She knows it’s about her, and she is cool. I just hungout with her not so long ago…

Neil: That sure changed the vibe of the night.

Kyle: Haha, what else is on, but no, she knows it about her and she’s a sweat-heart. Shell always be that person for me.

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