Since the beginning of time, wildly eclectic acts like Vicious Kinids have struggled to answer the simple, age-old question “So, what do you guys sound like?” Fortunately, the Long Beach band found a way around all that by creating a weird enough name that forces people to ask a different question– “What’s a Kinid?” It’s no surprise that question become the title of their debut album back in 2014, after the alliance of local musicians met through the Long Beach bar scene and decided it was time to create a style no one else was doing.
Relying on an alchemy of acoustic folk, reggae, country and punk rock, Vicious Kinids created a sound that has the ability to catch people off guard while still making them smile, not unlike their offbeat moniker. Singer/guitarist Matteo Alldayo says it was originally inspired by the Vermicious Kinids–monsters that eat Oompa Loompas in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.
“I figured if changed it to ‘Vicious’ and we’re in an acoustic rock band with logos that look like we’re metal it would be dumb and funny,” says Alldayo, who created the band with Jamison Roy back in 2010. Since then they’ve expanded into a raucous, six-piece, rocking shows from the House of Blues Anaheim to Harvelle’s in their native LBC. Tonight, the band returns to the latter underground haunt to play a long-awaited release show for their sophomore album Shark Eating Mermaid. The completion of this eight-song album was a long time coming for a band that’s gone through lots of changes in life and as a band in the four years since What’s a Kinid? Came out.
“In the last album we were all just single and partying and then everyone…got married,” Alldayo says with a laugh in his laid back Bluff Park apartment surrounded by paintings of his wife and dogs, the majority of which were done by the band’s percussionist Copeland Holt.
“This album has a lot more energy and it’s the first album where I’m not writing about hating something or someone,” he says. “This one’s more songs about having a good time, a reflection of old feelings and coming through it on a positive side…the first one was like a hate letter to all my ex’s.”
From a tactical standpoint, the band was also a lot more prepared and focused when they entered the compound with producer and engineer Antoine Arvisu.
“When we went into the studio we wanted to be ready to go before we went in and it shows in everything we did, everything was first, second take,” Roy says.
As eclectic as the band is, the process of creating Shark Eating Mermaid forced the Kinids out of their comfort zone on many occasions, partaking in softer ballad tracks as well as intense rhythmic transitions that range from rock to Latin and other forms of world music.
“All of us like so many different types of music–I like everything from hip-hop to country to cumbia, we just explored different avenues that I wouldn’t normally feel comfortable doing,” Alldayo says.
It helps when you’ve got a pretty well-trained squad of musicians–one of which happens to be a first chair concert violinist. In that respect, Agnieszka Borzuchowski is the band’s secret weapon. A classically trained virtuoso from Poland with an affection for rock and country, Borzuchowski’s skills as a musician and a composer have helped the band develop a unique sound while also keeping her compadres in check.
“It’s weird to see us who are coming from a creative, “Let’s have fun and play music” kind of vibe, and she comes from a place where it’s a fuckin hardcore competition,” Alldayo says. “She’s quick to call us out on every little part because she’s able to reel us in on things where sometimes we’d be sloppy.”
Be it a songwriter, manager or taskmaster, everyone in the band occupies a steady role. The lineup is rounded out by drummer Shad Stensell, keyboardist David Machuca. Part of what makes Vicious Kinids work is the fact that they are actively independent in everything they do.
“We do everything ourselves, all of our own marketing, all of our own booking, all the deals for recording, we do everything in house and I kinda like it like that because we do everything the way we want,” Roy says.
Tonight’s show is the culmination of that effort, celebrating an album that was funded completely by revenue from playing shows. As hard as the band is to categorize, they’ve shown the ability to work just as hard, and when they hit the stage, they still party even harder.
“I think the reaction to this album is gonna be really positive,” Roy says. “We’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into it and we’re really happy with how it turned out.”
Vicious Kinids perform with Devil Season, Mike De La Torre and Shawn Maloy at Harvelle’s tonight at 8 p.m. For full info and tickets, click here.