Rock duo Kissimmee's recent single 'This City' was an excellent showcase of their love for classic 80's rock. Recently, MYDADROCKS held a Q&A session with the pair to see how they got here, what they're up to, and what's next.
When you started writing together what was your mandate?
Leigh Alexandra: When Drew and I first met we would play Bon Jovi covers… It wasn’t until I realised he wrote songs for his band that I told him I wrote lyrics. He asked to see them so that he could put melodies to them. That’s really how it started; a simple case of mutual interest. It wasn’t until we left college and decided to take things a little more seriously that we started to think more carefully about how we would write a song.
How has your chemistry as song writers developed over the years? What's been your greatest point of progress?
Leigh: We’ve been writing together for 10 years now, and as you can imagine, a lot happens in 10 years! (smiles) There are times when we work incredibly well together and we can write a song in an hour, but there have been times where we have written our parts separately and recorded them for each other cause we wouldn’t be in the right frame of mind to work together in the same room. Ultimately, we always have the same ideal in mind; to write a great melody with lyrics that people can relate to.
Drew Wale: Working with Michael Raphael in the US in 2006 was a really big stepping stone for us. Michael is a great song writer himself and has worked with some really great artists including James Bourne from Busted, so when it comes to pop and constructing songs he knows what he’s talking about. He taught us a lot about taking the initial seed of a song and how to develop it to its full potential.
What are your biggest influences as a band, from both a lyrical and musical perspective?
Drew: Musically I grew up listening to a shit load of pop. Beatles, Abba, MJ, Beach Boys, ELO come to mind. My mum had a best of Abba VHS tape. I watched it so much the tape got chewed up (laughs). That followed through to my early teens; Backstreet Boys, Steps, Spice Girls. Then I got in to my late teens and was listening to GNR, Blink, Oasis, Weezer - a very broad range of popular Rock. I really got into Pop Punk when I was College with Leigh. I think you can hear all those influences in our music, it’s a real mixed bag I know, but I think the broad variation helped me to understand the craft of writing good vocal melodies, chord progression and song arrangement.
Leigh: The first CD I bought was Backstreet Boys self titled debut album, so pop melodies have always been at the heart of the music I listen to. I still love Backstreet Boys to this day!! I started writing lyrics when I bought Avril Lavigne’s first album. I’m the same age as her, so when she came on the music scene I was about 15 and completely connected with her as an angsty teenager!!! At about the same time I started getting in to rock like Creed and Staind; partnered with the fact that I was a troubled teen, my lyrics were very melancholy. When I met Drew at college I would listen to pop punk and classic rock; I’m so glad I found classic rock, Bon Jovi are the best and Kiss are the greatest live experience, everybody should go to a Kiss show.
Can you tell us a bit about your process? Is there a lot of spontaneity in the studio or do you just get down to business?
Drew: I usually wake up with a new melody in my head and hum it into my iPhone. I then work on a chord progression to fit. I pass it over to Leigh for lyrics. I can always imagine what I want the track to sound like; drums, bass line, guitars etc. We’re fortunate to have some really great session musicians like drummer Dean Valentine Smith [Various Cruelties] and guitarist Pete ‘The Heat’ Wicker [Starseed] who are able to pick up parts in the studio. Once you’re in a studio environment additional ideas are imagined and the song builds and builds.
How did Frankie Torpey contribute to the final product?
Leigh: Frankie is a key player in this EP. He co-produced and more often than not if he didn’t like an idea it would get dropped. Frankie also engineered a large portion of the record and is awesome at tracking drums and guitars. He was an absolute star to work with and we were very fortunate to have him on board. After working on this record Frankie has become a really good friend of ours – We love you Frankie!
What's been the hardest part about trying to make your band your career and how do you juggle the real life necessities of paying the bills with your passion and drive to create?
Drew: Not gonna lie, it’s a bitch. In fact Leigh and myself are talking about writing a book on the ball ache of being in a band and what really happens. It really is the hardest industry to crack in the world. It’s about spending money wisely; we have been burnt so many times. I won’t name anybody but there are a lot of sharks out there that have screwed us at some point.
Leigh: Yeah, there are a lot of sharks, but also a lot of people who talk shit and don’t deliver on their so called promises. What we have learnt is that there’s no right or wrong way to do anything. I’m also not ashamed to say that I have a day job and I couldn’t survive without it. That’s life!
What's been the best advice you've been given?
Leigh: Keep The Faith by Bon Jovi
How do you think the music competition culture has affected how people perceive the music business? How has it changed the game?
Drew: All the band competitions are a farce. Its not about talent, never is. Purely how many FB friends you have that are willing to vote. That being said, record labels are in serious decline. We are living in a world where people don’t value music as a product that should be purchased. Something radical needs to happen.
Leigh: In my experience, music competitions don’t seem to be about how good the music is. They’re about paying an entry fee, getting your friends to vote, or like we see on TV about making a joke out of people who think they can sing. Wow, I sound bitter! (laughs) I’d like to see major labels share the budget that they spend on superstar artists with indie artists. It seems crazy to me that they will spend millions on one major artist, when they could split it among 20, 30, 50 different artists who are just as talented and deserve just as much recognition. One day maybe!
Many people believe that now that the cd has become in many ways obsolete as a product it's now the live experience the band is selling. How do you up the ante on other bands in a live setting? What sets you apart?
Leigh: Right now the British music industry is consumed with dance, r’n’b and rap. We’re playing classic rock inspired pop songs; rocking guitar riffs, sing a long vocal melodies, not forgetting the lead guitar solos, how else could we set ourselves apart?!
What's in the pipeline for the rest of 2012?
Drew: Complete our album.
Leigh: We always have lots of ideas, it just depends which ones play out and which ones don’t!
Single 'This City' out now and can be purchased on iTunes