Interview with: Kevin Baldes of Lit When & Where: 11/20/04 - Showplace Theatre - Buffalo, NY
Please state your name, your role in the band, and something random about yourself.
My name is Kevin. I play bass and... I'm cold right now!
You have a fairly new record out. How did you guys go about the writing process? Did you guys try anything new or take a different approach with it?
We pretty much took the same approach, but we basically just took our time and it was very relaxed. With previous albums, we would do some of it in the studio and a lot of it was written at home. We recorded it in Orange County and wrote it and mixed it in Orange County. I brought a song to the band which is kind of different. Usually, I bring ideas or I help arrange songs. But, this time I brought a whole idea completely written. That was different. We always have slower songs on our albums here and there, but this time one Jeremy wrote. It's called, "Lullaby." That was his first time and it originally wasn't going to be on the album and it wasn't even going to be for Lit. It was just something he was toying around with. When he finished it, we just kind of messed around with it and the next thing we knew, we were recording it, then it's on the album. So, that was kind of different and we just rolled with it.
Do you feel that the new album is the best representation your band has put forth?
Yeah, definitely. I think it is. You know, it's more of a mature album I guess. Before A Place In The Sun, we all lived at home with our parents and stuff. We really didn't jump into the world yet. Now, after touring around t he world so much, a couple of the guys are married and have kids, there's a lot of new things. We have bills to pay now and have our own houses. We have responsibilities that we didn't have before and so, you grow up fast when you have that stuff in your lap. It shows on the album... In the way that it all factors in somehow...
Yeah! So, that's why we called the album Lit. We felt like it should be self titled. We were all like, let's just call it Lit and put ourselves on the cover! Which, I for one, was a little weary about at first. I was like, "Dude, I don't want to put us on the cover," but it all turned out. Yeah, it worked out great!
Hey, thanks! Yeah, I like it!
Was there anything you didnít get a chance to do on the CD that you really wanted to do?
Writing a song where I wrote the songs and arranged it and everything... I actually recorded the demo of me playing everything except the drums. So, personally, I accomplished a lot on this album. I brought, "Throwaway" and "Hard To Find" to the band. I wrote, "Needle and Thread." So, I had a lot of accomplishments on this record and I am extremely proud of that. So, it's opening new doors for me to other albums.
Your previous albums were released on RCA records, while your newest release, was not. Why the change? Was it your choice to leave them?
It was definitely our decision. After Atomic, a lot of people... you're in the industry, I'm sure you know. A lot of major labels are partly like a big machine. The demons that it is, it can get really ugly in the business. A lot of the people that were there during the A Place In The Sun era, were let go and a lot of people left. Then when Atomic had come out, it became even thinner. We used to have phone numbers. We used to have people we could call for suggestions and we'd tell them things and it just didn't feel like that anymore. Clive Davis came in... Uh oh.
Yeah, he's sort of like the head guy. He's more of a pop guy. Alicia Keys and all that. So, we just didn't feel like it was a good home for us anymore. They were asking us for any new demos we had for the next album and we told them no, we hadn't been working. Meanwhile, we were. We just felt like we wanted to bail on RCA and take our chances. I mean, we didn't even have anything set up! Oh wow. Basically, left and started from scratch. Started all over again with a clean slate?
Oh yeah! We took a big gamble. We had interest from a lot of labels. We felt that when DRT approached us, the way it's set up is very artist friendly. A lot of labels aren't artist friendly. Not that we're in this for the money, but we do have make a living somehow. So, it was way more friendly in the sense of it felt more like a partnership. We're half owner and they're half owner. It's like we're going in. And the whole thing just worked out better, in your benefit.
Oh yes. Definitely!
Do you guys carry out any rituals each time before you go on stage?
We used too. We used to never practice before a gig. The new ritual on this tour is, everybody in the band and all the crew we all just hit knuckles. But, other than that, we all just have a couple beers. We like to either be in the bus listening to music. I usually listen to Queens Of The Stone Again, their first album. That usually gets me in the right mood. OR, we're usually in the club watching the other bands. Nothing to special or anything.
Is there any specific time or event that made you guys decide to do this for a living?
Well, I think it's all just a childhood dream. Looking at Rock 'N' Roll magazines and such. I got my first Kiss album when I was six. The Destroyer. Then I started listening to Van Halen with David Lee Roth and seeing that on MTV. When we were really young in like 1981, I was 9 years old and MTV just came out. Of course, everyone was glued to that. So, we were seeing a lot of new stuff at the time. You would see live Van Halen videos, live Iron Maiden videos, live Judas Priest videos and it's like, "That's so cool!" Like, a lot of kids these days, they see The Used or Good Charlotte or whatever they see. They're drawn to that and they want to do it. Some people are really into it and some people find out, no, it's not for them. I hear a lot of people go on the road and it's just not for them. Sometimes it's hard on the road. You're away from your family. This is just a six week tour, but there's stuff going on at home. Like, Jeremy and A Jay have a grandma that's not doing so well right now. They feel like they should be home but they know they need to be out here. But yeah, from a very young age we all kind of knew this was what we wanted to do. We all grew up in the same neighborhood and went to a lot of concerts together. Next thing we knew, we were in a garage and w were like, "Who's going to play what!?" We sucked. Even though, we still do. [laughs] Here we are, you know?
Going with that, do you remember when you first heard your song being played on the radio or when you saw your video being aired for the first time?
The vision I have in my head is when, "My Own Worst Enemy" was being played on one of the biggest radio stations. It's called KROQ, which is in California. We kept hearing our song was being played but we hadn't hear it yet. I was at the mall with A Jay and we went back to his parents house and we were listening to some messages and our friend left a message, "Dude, we heard your song! It's fucking rad!" So, we turned on the radio and within a half hour, we heard "My Own Worst Enemy" being played for us, what was the first time. We were like (this is going to sound really gay), but, we were like wrestling each other and we're like, "Holy fuck this is our song!" [everyone laughs] and from there it literally blew up. That moment will stay with me forever. Yeah, it stayed at number one for eleven weeks! That's a great thing to look back on!
Hell yeah! Our album was supposed to come out in April and they pushed it to March and then February. Everyone was like, you have to get on the road! It was two years of pure insanity.
I hear you guys had plans of opening a restaurant. Did it ever happen? What can you tell us about it?
It is. It's going to happen. It was supposed to be late this year, but now it's going to be in January or February. We've got a lot of cool things. It's going to be like a Hard Rock Cafe type of restaurant. But, it has an arcade connected to it. It's called the Reaganiers. It's all 80s arcade games. We're going to have all Orange County memorabilia. Take Green Day for example. They're not from Orange County, but if they played there and if there was a poster advertising that show... You will take that in?
Yeah! Something like that and get it signed or whatever. We also have a small stage sent up with house gear and if someone roll through... you know we have a House Of Blues nearby. That's in Anaheim. We're in Fullerton which is like five miles away. So, if certain bands come through, we'll give them the message like, "Come have dinner" or "Drinks on us!" after the show and maybe they will hop up there and jam.
What made you guys want to do something like that?
We've always wanted to open our own little bar. We kind of felt like we live in them when on the road anyway, so why not have our own? Plus, it's a great investment if you do it right. Kind of have a cool little niche in Orange County. We already have stuff from Social Distortion and No Doubt. We actually got their multicolored drumset from their last tour. We're hanging that from the ceiling. We have plaques from people. It's going to be really cool.
Looking back on everything, is there anything you guys feel like you regret and wish you could change?
I wish we hadn't stopped touring so much.
Tony (Lit's Tour Manager; joking around): I wish we had a new tour manager. [everyone laughs]
I guess that's about it. We've taken a lot of time off. We sort of became lazy about touring because we kind of burnt ourselves out on the first album. We toured for two years and we never said no to anything. We just kept going. We kind of got a little gun-shy with Atomic, but regrets? No. We're totally stoked. We understand that not too many people get to do what we've done and we're proud of it.
As time goes on, what do you hope Lit's legacy to the music world will be?
Fuck, I don't know. [laughs] You know what we've been getting a lot of now though from people? "It's cool that you guys stick to your guns. You're just a cool rock band!" When we came out with "Enemy," a lot of people I think labeled us punk because we were on the Warped Tour. That's cool because we did punk, but we are pretty much a rock band. We grew up listening to 80s metal. When we were on the Warped Tour, we were playing "Miserable" and A Jay would announce, "This is probably the most punk song of the day!" Even though, it was kind of like a ballad song. So, we kind of just do what we want and if you're in, you're in. If you're not, then we'll still have a drink with you. So, I guess we just hope people look at us and remember us as an awesome rock band.
Thank you so much for your time and doing the interview!
Oh, no problem! You're staying for the show right!? Definitely!
Okay, great! See you then! Thanks a lot!