It’s a busy evening at Tin Can Alehouse in Bankers Hill. There’s a soft anticipation from the bodies milling about for the return of the New Kinetics. The four-piece band has returned from recording their album at San Francisco’s Tiny Telephone Studio. They claim the stage quickly with minimal sound-check and within minutes of setting up they are tearing through frenetic garage rock. Singer Birdy Bardot strangles a vintage microphone, her screams soaring over the sonic assault. Bardot inches toward guitarist Brian Reilly until they are face to face, both belting, him laying down an electric-blues-drenched riff that would have sounded as right in 1965 as it does at the Tin Can.
A couple of days before the show, I sat down with Reilly and Bardot at Liticker’s in O.B. for tea and conversation. The band had just finished working on a record with John Vanderslice. Upon hearing the Kinetics’ demo, Vanderslice, who has recorded Deathcab for Cutie, Spoon, and Blur, reached out to the band to produce their album. They recorded everything to tape. “Pound for pound, the studios that run tape take things a little more seriously. It’s like digital photography versus 35-millimeter film,” says Reilly.
The band plans on releasing the record on vinyl and digital only, forgoing the now-traditional CD. “CDs are disposable. If you have a record or a cassette, you have to listen to it,” says Bardot.
The Kinetics broke from a record label unwilling to spring for the expense of vinyl, so the band took a DIY approach and utilized the Kickstarter website. Bardot says, “We knew it was going to be tough to get up there and back, and we really wanted to record with Vanderslice. [On Kickstarter,] we presold the vinyl, merch, stickers, tickets for the album-release party, [drummer Jon Bosner’s] glasses, lyrics, surprise boxes for the high bidders...” The Kinetics were able to raise $5000, enough to make the record.
Some of those songs were on display at the Tin Can. Cited influences such as Muddy Waters, Big Joe Turner, and the Who were evident. “Obviously, I listened to Hendrix for 15 years straight — if you’re gonna learn how to spell, you gotta know letters,” says Reilly. But, bands as divergent as the Kinks, 13th Floor Elevators, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to mind as well. The kind of songs that will sound best played LP loud.