An Interview With The Pop-Punk Quartet, ACADEMY KILLER!
Meet Academy Killer! This band builds on a pop punk foundation with driving, uplifting guitar work and soaring, impassioned vocals – making for a sound that is bright, energetic and just plain fun.
Academy Killer recently announced that they’ll be releasing their new EP Lost In Make Believe on September 20th.
On the new EP, the band shares: “The universe allowed our paths to cross and our experiences in life allowed us to create a record true to ourselves that we couldn’t hold more dear. Making this record had an impact on us as individuals and we hope it can have a positive impact on listeners too.“
Academy Killer rallies listeners to shake off prescriptive norms with their celebratory brand of rock ‘n roll. The band builds on a pop punk foundation with driving, uplifting guitar work and soaring, impassioned vocals. Drawing inspiration from emo, modern pop, 90’s rock and even the stylings of 50’s crooners, they deliver lively melodies underscored by deeply introspective, yet relatable lyrics and themes of self-discovery, positivity, love and loss. Whether on stage or on the radio Academy Killer hooks listeners with their spirit and then lets them get lost in layers of songwriting and feel.
Established with 2016’s Late to the Party EP, Academy Killer has quickly built a local following and broken onto the festival circuit with appearances at Burlington’s Sound of Music, Hamilton’s Supercrawland Canadian Music Week in Toronto. The quartet, comprised of Kevin Talbot (vocals, guitar), Lucas Goldson (lead guitar), Omar Kurd (bass) and Nathaniel Schuster (drums), are united in their aim to create thoughtful music that’s exciting and honest.
Pre-save the EP now at bit.ly/lostinmakebelieve-spotify.
Connect With Academy Killer Online Here:
Learn more about this group in the following All Access interview:
–Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
Thanks for chatting! I’m just going to be catching up on emails and chipping away at my AK to-do list. Finishing our CD layout tonight so we can send everything off for manufacturing!
-Now that we are well into the 8th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 is treating the band so far? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them?
This year has been crazy busy but 2019 has treated us well so far. Our goals were to release some singles and videos and ultimately our new EP, Lost In Make Believe. With both singles and music videos out, we’re under a month away from releasing LIMB, so I guess you could say we’re close!
-Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could agree on? Has anything surprised you about this musical journey so far?
The to-be Academy Killer was started as a solo writing project, so I think I came up with a name prior to finding band-mates. The band has gone through a few lineup changes when trying to find the right group of musicians. However, I think during the writing process and rehearsals is when it kind of clicked for me that these were the right people to help execute and uphold the vision behind Academy Killer. I’m surprised at how quickly everything has started to fall in to place once the current lineup started to mesh. It’s been hectic and now all the work we’ve put in is ready to come to light.
-How do you think your hometowns have influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
I wouldn’t say our hometowns have influenced our sound at all but we’ve been hopeful for our own future by seeing other bands from the area do well for themselves on a global scale. It kind of shows us that “hey, someone from up the street is playing across the world, you could make it happen too”.
The biggest influence is what Academy Killer is at the very core, our life experiences and how we see the world and ourselves. This project is supposed to be a representation of self and it is just that.
-Let’s talk about your upcoming sophomore EP, “Lost in Make Believe.” What was it like putting this collection together? Can you elaborate on the positive impact making it had on this group?
Putting this collection of songs together has been special. Magical even. It was a pretty cool feeling to just write and let the songs become what they are naturally. To go in to it without any preconceived ideas as to what things should sound like has yielded some very different results. It truly showed us what we’re capable of as songwriters and that we can plan a course of action and see it through. We made music that we can sit back and be happy with and we are grateful that life has provided the opportunity and means to create what we have.
It’s especially had an impact on me as I’ve pushed myself to learn so much in an attempt to make this more than just a group of guys playing music. I’ve been learning photo and video editing, website creation and management, e-commerce and so much more. It’s been overwhelming at times but it’s given me something to work towards and given me a sense of meaning outside my boring 9-5.
-While it’s difficult to pick, can you choose a few of your favorite songs on this album and talk about their inspiration and how they got to be on “Lost in Make Believe”?
So, the lead single “The Distance” is probably a favorite of all of ours. It tells this story of determination and the struggles of one fighting to achieve whatever it is they have set out to do. It’s meant to give the listener a sense of hope and the strength to push on despite whatever hardships they may face on their journey. We’ve all used its message to pick ourselves up when we may have felt defeated or unable to go on and now our EP is nearly out!
Another favorite of ours is “While I Drown.” Omar and Nathan started playing this random groove at rehearsals one day with this dark, sinister vibe. I kind of fiddled around on my guitar until I stumbled upon what ended up being the main riff. Over the course of 15 minutes we just kind of fed off that sinister vibe and worked out the basis of the song. I channeled that dark energy to draw influence from my own struggles with mental illness and paint a picture that visualizes something that isn’t physical. We all connected with the energy of the song and felt it necessary to be a part of this record.
Lastly, I’d say a favorite of mine is “Tonight.” It’s like funk on steroids and I feel it is the best representation of how we wish to draw influence from various genres and all we’ve been inspired by over the years. The lyrics tell a story of shaking free from ones grip and coming out on top. However, I think this is something you’d just need to hear to truly understand. Over the course of the song it builds to be very in-your-face and closes out the EP on a strong note. We all love playing it and it may very well be our best in terms of instrumentation.
-Generally, how do you guys go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately?
Typically, I work out the basis of songs on my own and either bounce the ideas off the guys or send them a demo to spend some time getting in touch with their own inner creativity and working out parts that in turn, they bounce off myself and the others when we get together. However, it all depends on the song. Sometimes things just happen and we can all ride the same energy at once and a song essentially writes itself in 15 minutes. I do feel that the strongest ideas will originate from someone looking deep within and losing themselves in an emotion or mindset that they are experiencing right then and there on their own.
-I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
Of course! Although most of our time is spent working and two evenings a week are dedicated to rehearsals, we do find the time to see each other outside of the “band” setting.
-How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
I suppose the band has grown as a movement. The message or concept has remained the same but it is better conveyed to the audience now than it was when AK was first conceived.
-Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
Personally, I love performing live, however, I am happiest in the studio. It’s where those bedroom or basement ideas begin to come to life and it’s a very satisfying feeling to hear these ideas that previously weren’t even a thought in our minds.
-Where can fans see you perform next? Do you have Fall tour dates lined up yet?
Fans can catch us at The Casbah in Hamilton, ON for our EP release show on October 4th. We’ll be booking some more Canadian dates to support the release of our EP. Having recently bought a van, we’ll be working to sort a US tour for early 2020!
-What do you think makes for an ideal show? What has been a favorite show of yours in the past? Any favorite venues?
Ideal show would be a venue with great sound and even just a handful of people who are very excited to see you perform. Don’t get me wrong, playing to 15,000 would be great but to really connect with a couple people means the world. We played a blink-182 tribute set the other month and it was a whole lot of fun. People really enjoyed the set and their energy was easy to feed off of.
A favorite venue I’ve played is The Opera House in Toronto. As for catching shows, Budweiser Stage in Toronto has been the setting for many fond memories over the years.
-How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
I’m on socials daily interacting with those who care to say “Hi”. Social media hasn’t done too much in terms of big numbers, however it has allowed us to genuinely connect with many people from around the world and build relationships between the fan and artist. It definitely helps get our music to more people. Even if a post can make one new person check out a song, that’s a win in my books.
-We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
I think we all use music as an escape and that’s why we are so drawn to music and being in a band. The music of many different artists has acted as an escape for all of us over the years and we hope our music can do the same for someone else.
-What musicians have really been inspiring you since you first started making music?
The list is far too extensive to solo anyone out. I’ve been inspired by artists of all genres and eras, but I’ll say that I was inspired by blink-182 to be a musician and start a band.
-What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
The message we want to convey is to be yourself, follow your heart and chase your dreams. If you feel alone, know that others feel like you and we’re all in this together. I hope listeners can take away a sense of understanding and feel like there are others out there going through similar experiences on a quest of self-discovery and growth. We all share in the human experience and I feel there is often a disconnect between all of us as a society. I hope our music can help break down those barriers.