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Kill The Messenger at Caravan Lounge

In Music
GARBAGE PATCH KIDS: Daly City band inject technical heavy metal with humor.

GARBAGE PATCH KIDS: Daly City band inject technical heavy metal with humor.

Kill the Messenger aren’t a mere Bay Area band. They’re from Daly City dammit, and they want you to know it. “Gotta rep the hood,” jokes drummer Danny Haddad on a four-way conference call, which includes bassist David Scanlon, guitarist and vocalist James Conelly, and lead vocalist-guitarist Adam Rupp, the latter of whom gets disconnected almost immediately.

“We don’t want to just say we’re another band from San Francisco.”

Neighborhood shout-outs aside, the band’s newish 10-song album, From The Ashes, is a fearsome display of guitar heroics and chunky riffs—and, what’s more, in a genre not known for yuks, a dash of humor.

Take “Exodus” which examines the pitfalls of working out and at one point proclaims, “I am so hungry!”

“That song’s about losing your gains,” says Haddad. “Like, you don’t want to lose your gains.” Then there’s the UrbanDictionary-approved “Speak Now Or Forever Hold Your Feelz.” You’d be forgiven for thinking this was self-aware hipster metal. “A lot of our stuff can be satirical,” says Haddad, citing mock-epic “Curse Of Broseidon,” whose precision tempo and layered intricacy are anything but jokey. “But a lot of it can be touchy subjects.”

An example would be “Words Like Guns,” which the drummer penned. “I don’t want to get too deep into it but everybody has some past relationship that’s gone horribly awry and that’s what that song’s about.”

Kill The Messenger blends aspects of ’90s Swedish melodic death-metal with strains of modern American metalcore. Occasionally, the band goes beyond the realm of metal and its myriad subgenres entirely. “Speak Now” features a flamenco guitar-inspired interlude with congas. The album’s 12-minute-plus finale, “Phoenix,” is bathed in electronics and soaring strings.

“It’s not anything to do with genre but having everything be deliberate,” says Conelly, a classically trained musician. “I know this is a whole-tone scale, it’s going to fit in this particular chord structure.” Scanlon is more blunt: “We wanted to pull the best out of ourselves instead of pumping out the same song over and over.”

At times, Kill The Messenger achieve cinematic scope. In its final third, “For Death And Glory” features the pre-recorded chaos of a pitched battle scene. “Basically all that Viking metal is just badass,” says Scanlon. “That song called out for the Norse gods.”

On a DIY budget, programmed sequences lend a certain studio gloss. “[Otherwise] we’d have to hire a keyboard player and so many other people when we play live,” says Conelly. “Logistically it made a lot more sense to do backing tracks.” Scanlon adds, jokingly: “Plus, we couldn’t hire another person who would put up with the four of us.”

The embellishments never get in the way of the aggression. The combination of dirty and clean vocals create an added dimension to the song structures. “I do the more growly stuff, since I have a deep voice,” says Conelly. The clean vocals are courtesy of Rupp and Haddad, the latter often harmonizing while stomping speedy double-bass parts—pushing his lungs to the limit. “It’s not an ideal situation, I can tell you,” he says. “Especially when I’m about to keel over from exhaustion.”

When it comes to making money from their music, it’s good thing the boys in KTM have day jobs: Conelly is a software engineer, Haddad is a web developer, Scanlon is in real estate and Rupp works as a barista.

“Our biggest goal right now is to get the album in more people’s ears,” Haddad says. The band’s demo has been sent out to labels all over the world. In the meantime, there’s talk of a mini tour with A Human Costume, who shares the bill at the upcoming show at The Caravan Lounge.

Until then, Kill The Messenger just enjoy savoring small moments, like the time Conelly recalls, when a couple fans wanted their copies of From The Ashes signed at a show. “That was trippy.”

Kill The Messenger plays on Jan 29, 10pm, Free at The Caravan Lounge, San Jose.

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