Harry Partch, Gustavo Romero, Diamanda Galas, Pacific Strings, inside the opera, best organs, best pianos, the composer, the concertmaster, the piano tuner, the tenor, the symphony player’s wife
Various Authors 6:22 p.m., Sept. 24
RIYL: The New Kinetics, Shady Francos, Creepseed
Inception: San Diego, 2010
Influences: The Hives, the Strokes, the Vines, Nirvana
“I didn't have a whole lot of friends growing up or in high school,” says singer/guitarist/songwriter Josh Kmak (aka Joshua Scott and Josh Duh). “I got through those years by going in my room and teaching myself how to play chords on a guitar. It was the one place I could go where I didn't have anything to worry about.”
Indie alternative band the Nformals was founded in 2010 by several musical teens, including Kmak, who is the nephew of longtime local singer/bassist Jef Kmak (Joey Harris and the Mentals, Seventh Day Buskers), along with drummer Cameron Sisti, and a bassist from Texas named Nayshawn Maddox.
“He didn’t have a bass or even an amp at first.” Scott, who lives in La Mesa, says they borrowed the gear from his uncle Jeff Kmak.
The name Kmak in and of itself represents something of an El Cajon music dynasty. Joshua's other uncle Joel, who plays drums, co-founded the Penetrators. He left to join the Hitmakers; he was also a Crawdaddy. After the death of Country Dick Montana, Joel Kmak played tribute dates with the Beat Farmers and now holds down the percussion slot in the Farmers, a Beat Farmers spin-off. He was in Powerthud too, with his brother Jeff.
Johnny Kmak, Josh’s dad likewise played music but took it in a different direction. In the 1990s he formed Johnny and the Goiters, as such dedicated to becoming the worst beer bar band ever, a pursuit that some say was successful.
The elder Kmaks are known among the best side men in the business. “They're really proud of me,” says Josh. “They come out to my shows all the time and they're, like, in their 50s.”
Josh describes himself as a riff master. He often comes up with segments of songs, then, the rest of the band figures out what to do with his ideas. This is how they build songs. “Kind of like a puzzle. We put all the riffs together. Or, through random jamming we’ll generate some kind of songs.”
As for his vocal similarity to Kurt Cobain, “I used to be scared of singing, [but] something happened when I was 18 or 19,” says Josh. “I came out of my shell. I started yelling, and I liked it.”
The Nformals released an eponymous demo. “They’re free. We’re passing them out.” He thinks he’d like to start leaving some at bus stops, diners, or in the public library to generate some level of buzz. “We’re not worried about the money. We’re just trying to build a fan base. We just wanna get the ‘likes’ up on Facebook, and spread the word.”
Nformals eventually evolved into Shady Francos, a band that Kmak later left to work on a side project he called Creepseed, releasing a 2016 collection of surf-ish rock ballads with somber undertones and loads of reverb.