Review Fix chats with Kevin Lee about his band’s new album “Sticks & Stones,” detailing its creative process and more.
Review Fix: What makes the Chicago music scene special?
Kevin Lee: I think the musicians in Chicago have come together over the past few years a little. There used to be a huge divide between city and suburban bands and original and cover bands. Now you see original and cover bands sharing a bill at different venues all the time. The scene doesn’t feel so cut throat and competitive.
Review Fix: What’s your creative process like? How has it changed over the last 25 years?
Lee: I work on songs around 2 hours a day religiously and have for a long time. I keep my songwriter hat on at all times to keep new riffs, titles, lyric ideas flowing on a daily basis. I record full song demos at home and then give them to the band. It really hasn’t changed in the last 25 years, I have an approach to songwriting that works for me so I’ve stuck with it.
Review Fix: What inspires you?
Lee: Many things inspire me but hearing a well written, well sung, well-recorded song with a great hook floors me every time. I always want to run home, grab a guitar and get to work.
Review Fix: How would you describe your sound to someone who has never heard you?
Lee: Big Hooks & Chunky Guitars.
Review Fix: What’s the standout track on Sticks and Stones? How was it written?
Lee: Hold On to Yourself Tonight is a strong song and many people have commented they like it. I was living in Bucktown in Chicago in a tiny apartment and started getting stressed about where my music career and life, in general, was at the time. After pacing the floor for awhile I sat down and wrote down and played what I was feeling, the song came quickly. The lyric is written from a second person point of view but it’s really about where my head was at the moment. The chorus is the resolution to the problem…hold on to yourself tonight/ everything will be alright.
Review Fix: Who’s your favorite band to tour with? Any fun stories?
Lee: I toured with REO for a couple years, great guys. Dave, the guitarist, would help us at sound check and make sure we sounded good. The last night of the tour while we were playing I realized the audience was watching something behind me on stage. All the guys in REO were pushing each other around on road cases, singing in the mics, etc. to bust our chops since it was the last night, it was funny.
Review Fix: Who makes up The Kings and why are they called that?
Lee: The Kings are Michael Kurtz – guitar, backing vocals Patti Prendergast – bass, backing vocals Erik Strommer – drums. It has a good hook to the name Kevin Lee & the Kings.
Review Fix: How are your live shows different from your studio work?
Lee: The sound of the band is heavier live. We still have all the big hooks and vocal harmonies but the guitars slam a bit more and the whole band rocks harder live.
Review Fix: What’s your opinion of the state of rock music? Do you listen to any newer bands?
Lee: Rock music is alive and well but has definitely taken a back seat to rap, hip-hop, and soul-pop. I think rock is currently buried under a pile of all that.
With the demise of new original rock radio, I find it hard to hear new bands. I know there’s some great bands and songwriters out there but I don’t have time to stream music and hunt for new bands. I ask friends and put a post out occasionally on Facebook for suggestions on something new to buy.
Review Fix: What are your goals for 2018?
Lee: To promote the new album “Sticks & Stones” and get the word out worldwide on the album. I spent 2 years making the album, I think the songs are some of my best to date. We also have a number of live dates scheduled, the Kings are a great live band and we all really like each other so it’s great to get out and rock with this lineup.
Review Fix: What’s next?
Lee: We’re going to shoot a video for another song from Sticks & Stones in the next couple weeks. I also started showing the band new songs that will lead to the next album.
Review Fix: Anything else you’d like to add?
Lee: Thanks for having me and check out Sticks & Stones everyone!