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WAM INTERVIEWS: The Kill Devil Hills

31 May



With 30+ acts, State of the Art Festival isn’t the only hotspot destination for music lovers this weekend (playing times here!). RTRFM has teamed up with the Western Australian Museum to present A Moment In Time (playing times below!), and among the talent on the lineup is Fremantle six-piece The Kill Devil Hills.

Promising a hat, quality leather goods, fugu, cartoons, hot sauce and hair, TKDH are edging into their fifteenth year of rock and roll. With the recent release of In On Under Near Water, TKDH are about to embark on a tour of “Straylya” after they take on the WA Museum this Friday. Brendon Humphries caught up with WAM’s Nell Keenan for a chat about being a teen, being a cockroach and being backed by an orchestra.


TKDH are nearing 15 years of existence, which is a bloody achievement in itself, let alone all the fine wins along the way. What three things do you think are most important for bands wanting to have a consistently successful career over a long time?
– fresh sets of socks
– fresh sets of strings
– fresh sets of jocks/knickers, whatever you call them

With the music and surrounding industries changing so quickly, what do you see as the biggest challenges for bands – or TKDH specifically – now and in the future?
Quite a few of the most talented writers and musicians that I’ve ever known are not necessarily the ones who are widely known, or who perform, or have their music played, or record, cos they don’t want – or need – to broadcast it to the world at large, or that the whole daunting universe of self-promotion and public spectacle is too much, or too little, for their lives to work with. So, the biggest challenge is to remember that we are all going to die and to always do it cos you love it, otherwise it’s just become another job and email thread to deal with.

You’ve said that your most recent album, “In On Under Near Water,” is an opus of the band’s work from your beginning until now. How have you seen the evolution over this time of your sound, influences and style?
There’s a song on our new album called Hydra, my 10 year old niece loves it for some strange reason that I fail to understand yet, but the song’s origins stem the myth of the Herculean task of defeating the hydra, a many-headed serpent, wherein severing one head would only cause another to grow elsewhere; an impossible enemy it seems. The Kill Devil Hills are that kind of beast, so, as much as a few heads have been lopped over time, others have mutated and bloomed in their place, and so it will go until humanity and rock music has been obliterated from the planet. We Are Cockroach. Hercules won by cauterising the severed necks; maybe that’s the only way to stop this band also, but no-one’s ever tried that yet…

We’re soon to announce the acts for 2016’s Wheatbelt Touring Circuit. What do you think the importance of regional events like this is for WA music? How do regional shows compare with playing in metro areas?
With WA being practically as big as half of Europe, with 0.1% of its population, it’s kind of tricky to get live music spread around like Vegemite evenly on the toast of the state. Personally, I’ve never seen big chunks of WA, and as much as I’d like to change that, it’s quite a long-term task, even at an individual level, let alone with a band and all that craziness. So, what we need is a giant zeppelin airship that floats around the whole state constantly, like in that film Zardoz, an aerial 7-day-a-week concert venue/spaceship that you can drive from anywhere and hook up with for a trip…it’d be an international tourist attraction too. Talk to Richard Branson/Manson. All that being said, there’s some great stuff that regional folk don’t get to see at all or often, but they are also quite lucky to not have to listen to other stuff that plops out here in the city too… And here in the big smoke, we miss out on all that silence.

RTRFM & WA Museum recently announced their ‘A Moment in Time,’ event, which you’ll be playing. It’s such a unique concept, what did you think about it when you first got the call up, and what can people expect from you?
Well, at first we thought we were being backed by an orchestra, and were both relieved and also slightly miffed to find out that it’s just business as usual for us on the night, cos only the bigshots get backed by an orchestra it seems. So, we’re going to play like we’re backed by an invisible orchestra. Still to work out what that will look and sound like… but ‘be prepared’ is our band motto, Alex has it wrapped around his hat.

There are so many acts and performances at ‘A Moment in Time,’ – what are three must-sees on your list and why?
-Timothy Nelson + PSO, in that order.
– Us
– (O.I.I.O) – Our Invisible, Indivisible Orchestra

You’ll also soon be touring “the world of Straylya”. Tell us more about these shows and your hopes/expectations/warnings for punters…
Yes, we’re doing a lap round this great nation of ours in late July, all major cities will be hit up, except, and potentially not excluding, Darwin, Alice Springs, Wangarratta, Canberra, Bunbury, and Midland.

RTRFM & Western Australian Museum Present A Moment In Time – Friday 3 June, Western Australian Museum, Perth

Hidden Treasures Winter Music Series 2016 – Thursday 7 July, Fremantle

Playing times for A Moment In Time:

6.45pm: Doors open
7.20pm – 8pm: 457
8:20pm – 9pm: Kate Pass Kohesia Ensemble
9:20pm – 10pm: Sarah Ramsey Trio
10:20pm – 11pm: Ben Matthews
11pm – 1am: DJ Sandy

7.50pm: Welcome to Country with Barry McGuire
8pm – 9pm: Perth Symphony Orchestra with David Craft, Rachael Dease, Odette Mercy, Timothy Nelson and Mei Saraswati
9pm – 9.30pm: Meg Travers plays the Trautonium
9:30pm – 10:20pm: Soukouss Internationale
10:50pm – 12am: The Kill Devil Hills

8pm – 9pm: El Ritmo vs Trainwreck
9pm – 10pm: Siamese Dream vs Bass Check
10pm – 11pm: Disco Science vs Burn the Airwaves
11pm – 11:30pm: The Gallery of Glorious Sound — a performance of weird and wonderful instruments
11:30pm – 1am: Rock, Rattle & Roll vs Black & Blue



Government of Western Australia Department of Culture and The ArtsGovernment of Western Australia Department of Culture and The Arts

WAM is supported by the State Government through the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries and Lottery West, and is assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.