A Conversation With: Laura Pleasants (Kylesa)

21 Nov

Kylesa are a band that is fast becoming a house hold name in the Southern Rock genre. Even though they’re amongst a plethora of amazing bands such as Red Fang, Kyuss, Baroness and Mastadon, Kylesa still demands massive respect and proves time after time why they’re such a great band. Now the band is about to embark on their second visit to Australia (the last time being for Soundwave 2011) and their first ever headline tour of the great southern land. We spoke with Laura Pleasants to find how preparations are going and what it’s like to be a part of the mighty Kylesa.

How are you Laura? Thanks for taking some time to chat with us!

Hey man! No worries, always a pleasure.

Last time you were here was for Soundwave back in 2011. What are you guys planning for this tour since it will be a bit more of an intimate setting?

Thanks man! You’ll be able to expect our FULL show. If we’re touring on a festival it’s always pretty stripped down due to time constraints, so this time around we’ll have our full setup going on. With this tour we’ll be able to portray ourselves in a way that we feel we should be seen. Being seen on a festival stage is really fucking awesome, but it’s a totally different vibe when you play the smaller club stages.

A lot of bands have said there favourite places to play in Australia are the smaller venues. Is this the case for Kylesa?

Well we played a couple of club shows when we were down for Soundwave ’11 and those were a lot of fun! I love club shows….they’re different, haha. The energy is different, the sound is different, the rider is different and the sets are usually more awesome. But from the experiences we had playing those couple of club shows in Australia back in 2011, I think it’s going to be a lot better this time and we’re pretty much just gonna do what we always do, rock out and fucking enjoy it.

Do you guys like to hangout and mingle with the fans before the show?

It depends, man. It depends on how much time there is before the show most of the time. I generally like to hangout and get a feel for the venue, the people, maybe have a couple of beers as well. I generally warm up about 45 minutes before we play. A good time for me to start warming up is when the main support is playing. 

Before a gig do you like to party or practice before hand?

Haha, I ain’t no party animal….Ok that’s a lie. BUT for most of the show I’m pretty sober. After the show it’s fair game but before the show I’ll have like 2 or 3 drinks. On stage I have so much going on between my effects, guitar playing and singing and I manage all of that stuff far better when I’m thinking straight.

I’ve always liked bands that are all about music. Kylesa to me are a band that ‘feels the music’. A trend in music that seems to be happening is the whole ‘technically tight’ thing. Is it important for you to just feel the music and rock the fuck out, or is it more so important to be as tight as can be?

Cool question, man. Personally I’ve always been about feeling the music. I’ve been playing guitar for a long time but even when I was starting out I never cared about being very technical or anything. I can totally enjoy that kind of sweep picking and hectic guitar solo stuff but for the most part I enjoy music that I can feel and see the realness to it. I’m never going to be Yngwie. 

I tend to like simple stuff. You can change the world with three chords and a great down beat and that to me is so fucking awesome. I think a lot of young guitarists are forgetting that it’s ok to not be the fastest or the most technical.

What interests me is sound, feeling and emotion. All of my favourite bands have these factors. Just the idea of shaping sound is awesome to me, because that’s all we’re really doing. I have my own way of doing it and it’s very different to a lot of the traditional heavy stuff that goes around.

With Metal there is this assumption that you are a technically proficient player, it’s like that’s part of the deal. That stuff just doesen’t interest me. At the same time though, it’s VERY important for bands to be tight. However, some of the best gigs I’ve ever seen were from bands that were’nt very tight, but they filled the room with such an intense energy from the way they were playing. So you have to have the a little bit from both worlds I guess.

Another trend I see with Southern Rock bands are that you guys can be incredible gear nerds who take their fuzz way too seriously. Are you guys real picky with gear, or is it a case of ‘playing whatever’s there on gig day’.

Hahahah, Oh man, yeah that’s true. We’re massive gear heads. We have so many pedals and I can’t help but geek out all the time, man. It’s a bit of both though. You have to make do with what you’re able to take on tour with you. Over the past few years though there’s been a lot of new pedal makers and we’ve been lucky enough to try a lot of awesome stuff out. I have two huge pedal boards but a lot of the time I can only take one of them so you gotta really just see what works best with whichever head and cab you’ll be using. But man, Fuzz pedals are my favourite, haha. They’re cool because I can just plug into an amp that has a decent clean tone and switch on the Fuzz and we’re good to go, man.

One drummer is awesome. Two is even more awesome. What was the reasoning behind having 2 drummers in the band? And out of the two, who’s fault is it that you can’t bring 2 pedal boards?

Hahaha! Well I guess I’d have to blame our second drummer, haha. Can’t really blame the first. But we came up with the concept back in 2001, when we formed the band. It didn’t work out at first because the original guy we had didn’t want to do it so we continued with just one drummer for a long time. But since about 2005-2006 we’ve been in a position where we can have two drummers. We first tried it out in our practice space and it was just so loud, thunderous and created such an amazing energy so we were like ‘Yeah this is fucking awesome’ and just decided to have two drummers!

It opens up a lot of space for experimentation as well, especially in the studio. On record you can make certain things very subtle so on record, you probably won’t hear too much of a difference. In a live setting however it really comes into play. In a live setting having two drummers adds so much more volume to your sound and so I think it really works well in that setting. It’s just a cool dynamic to have if you can pull it off.

This must present an issue in the finance department when touring, right?

It definitely is, man. It’d be waaaaayy cheaper to have just one drummer, hahaha. It’s super effective in terms of touring to just have one drummer…..or non at all, haha. Having two drummers is way more awesome though.

A lot of bands have said that Australia is one of the most expensive places to tour. Is it financially viable to even tour here?

I do recall Australia being quite expensive to tour, logistically wise. Everything else isn’t too bad, it’s just a big place to tour that’s all. I was actually just over in Norway and I’d definitely say Norway is more expensive than Australia. They tax alcohol and beer!…Which I know Australia does to but over there a pint of beer is like thirteen dollars. But yeah, I’ll still be pinching my pennies when I come over to Australia, haha.

At what point did you guys relax into being somewhat of a ‘big name’ band?

I don’t know man, haha. Are we a big band? Haha. We’re pretty happy that people like us and are really into our music. It makes it a lot easier to get motivated and keep making music. However in saying that, we work really hard, man. We’re not a band that has a lot of outside help. A lot of other bands have management companies, promo companies etc. behind them but we like to keep things pretty small in terms of the business side of the band. 

Do you think that Kylesa will ever turn towards crowd funding?

I think it’s a good idea. If you can get people to pay for your record or tour then good for you. Bands who do that are just getting rid of the middle man. I’m not sure if Kylesa will ever do it, maybe if we ever get a bit more popular.

I’d just like to ask a few more questions to finish off.  Firstly, I’ve recently just begun collecting vinyl records. Knowing that you’re a vinyl fan yourself, what is best consumed, taken or smoked before having a good vinyl sesh?

Definitely depends on the record and what you want the record for. If it’s just for pure chilling out, light up a J and smoke up for sure.

Two. What’s the most recent record that hit the spot for you?

Oh man. I would say it was the new Queens of the Stone Age record. Took me like one minute to get into it. Totally awesome record.

And Three. We always like to ask international artists this question. Who are your favourite modern Australian bands at the moment?

I like that band Tame Impala. I saw them this past summer and I’ve got a couple of their records, I think they’re really fucking cool. Another Australian band that I’ve really been into lately is INXS, those guys get me everytime, man.

Thanks for taking some time to chat, Laura. Catch ya when you’re on tour!

Thanks, Nic! Hope to see you guys at a show!

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