Experience. Spectacle. Exhibition. Kill Me Tomorrow is all of these, a trio of artistic vessels masquerading as a band.
Individually, they're Dan Wise, engineer and vinyl vendor; K8 Wince, painter and clothing designer; and Zack Wentz, author. Together, they're a pipe bomb of sound that simultaneously stimulates and torments the senses. On stage, Wentz howls tales of demented anti-heroes over his own off-kilter drum beats and K8's interplanetary bass. Wise usually hunches over his six-stringer, toeing the line between melody and noise.
After countless lineup changes, relocation from Portland, instrument-swapping and about a half-dozen remixes, the San Diego trio is finally ready to usher in the release of their first full-length album (with accompanying DVD), The Garbageman and the Prostitute, an arty slab of fucked-up no wave and stream-of-consciousness lyrics that would do David Thomas proud.
To capture their unique sound, Kill Me Tomorrow enlisted the aid of New York-based producer Steve Revitte, who helped convert Zack and K8's house into a studio.
“We didn't want it to sound glossy and hi-fi, but we also didn't want it to sound lo-fi and four-tracky,” Wentz explains. “We wanted to use good stuff, but still have it come out really raw and in-your-face. We ended up sort of building a studio with that in mind-you know, half really nice equipment and half junk.”
Like lyrical forebears in Pere Ubu and The Birthday Party, Wentz foregoes personal confessions in favor of schizophrenic horror and sci-fi narratives. Those looking for diary entries would be best served elsewhere. Wentz isn't interested in sharing.
“We just frankly got bored,” Wentz says. “It seemed like in the '90s a lot of bands had completely abandoned lyrics altogether and were going instrumental. And then there were a bunch of bands that were excessively confessional, emotional diary kind of stuff. It just sort of beat itself to death.
“We wanted an approach that was more open-ended, where there wouldn't be any limit to what you can do lyrically. You could be making up completely fantastical stories that may or may not make any sort of linear sense. There's no limit to what you say or do. We were all interested in that.”
Proving themselves the punk-rock renaissance man and woman that they are, Wentz and Wince applied their skills to a novel that will be released as a companion piece to The Garbageman and the Prostitute. Zack spent the better part of 2003 writing the story, while K8 provided accompanying illustrations.
“It's this picture in time of this alter-America, seen through what may or may not be a handful of characters, or just one character,” Wentz explains. The story in the novel isn't necessarily fleshed out in the lyrics of the album, which is more based on cryptic sketches. Wentz, the son of an English professor, says he used the novel to flesh out the story, to create a linear narrative using the same characters. It's a multimedia approach that the band has taken with all of its work in the last few years.
“Literally, the character in the story is a garbage man who may or may not also be a werewolf who kills redheaded prostitutes,” Wentz explains. “We also liked the pairing of the occupations-neither is really respected in our culture, but both are necessary.”
As if the album, DVD and novel aren't enough, an album of remixed Garbageman tracks is also in the works. KMT's Chrome Yellow EP in 2001 featured five original songs by the band and four remixed versions by mostly local artists like Jimmy LaValle (The Album Leaf) and Pall Jenkins (Black Heart Procession). This time around, the whole album will be getting the cut-and-paste treatment.
“The results of the first remixes were so interesting that we kept pursuing that,” Wentz says. “There have been times we've gotten remixes that were just like ‘uhh... noï¿½ï¿½ï¿½terested'-usually just because they were too straight. They sounded too much like the song already, or just like a typical dance club remix. We're not so much into that as we are with just the songs becoming material for someone to hack up and use and do whatever with and throw back at us.”
Though the band's selection of remixers fails to succumb to the trappings of P. Diddy mediocrity, the source material is what makes Kill Me Tomorrow's releases so captivating.
After all, this isn't really a band, but a manufacturing hub of outlandishly creative ideas that are-prolifically and in many forms-leaked into the world. ©
Kill Me Tomorrow performs with GoGoGoAirheart, The Starvations, Year Future, Corpse Fucks Corpse and Gift of Goat at the Casbah on Jan. 24. 619-232-HELL.