The Fort Worth indie-pop quartet Kites and Boomerangs has been playing high-energy shows with its current lineup –– guitarist/vocalist Josh Garcia, guitarist/vocalist Will Appleton, drummer/vocalist Donnie Simmons, and bassist/vocalist Eoin Donovan –– for a little over a year now. Already, audiences have come to expect a little stunt the band pulls off mid-show, sometimes even mid-song: Guitarist Garcia and drummer Simmons exchange instruments. The switcheroo is more than just a lighthearted bit of “rockstar” stage business. It’s emblematic of Kites and Boomerangs’ collaborative approach to music-making.
“None of us are big fans of the whole ‘frontman’ thing,” said Simmons, 25, an Arlington native who went to high school with Garcia and Donovan. “We think it’s mostly a marketing tool. A label wants you to focus on one person because it helps with publicity. [In reality], most of our favorite bands have amazing musicians on every instrument. There are no frontmen [in K&B]. Everybody sings and contributes to the songwriting.”
In fact, Garcia and Appleton share lead vocal duties and write most of the lyrics, with everyone offering melodies, choruses, bridges, and other scraps of tuneage during rehearsals. This deliberately communal, piecemeal process gives Kites and Boomerangs their unpredictable mix of influences. Funk, R&B, reggae, and Middle Eastern sounds all get tossed into a post-punk blender and are sped up and amplified (especially Donovan’s and Simmons’ springing, pulsing rhythms). Not many bands can say they’ve been compared to both The Pixies and Michael Jackson (favorite artists of the K&Bers, by the way), but Kites and Boomerangs hear that all the time.
Eclecticism can make for great music, but it can also hinder a group from finding an identity. Garcia became concerned about that last year after the band released its debut album. More than one critic described Curiosity, which was recorded and mixed during two long sessions at a Carrollton studio, as “all over the place” stylistically. The band agreed and strove for a more holistic approach to composing new material.
Earlier this year the guys released the EP Pandemic, their first recording with newcomer Simmons. Though he’s a classically trained violinist, he has had more experience as a studio engineer than as a performer. At his apartment, he recorded and mixed the bare bones of Pandemic and the band’s second album, Kaleidoscope, set for release this week. K&B finished the album at a small recording studio in Arlington with co-producer Tycer Whaley. Keeping the songs stylistically cohesive was priority number one.
“We wanted all the songs to sound like they came from the same band,” said Simmons with a laugh, “so the writing process was different on Kaleidoscope. You can run into problems when one guy brings a riff to the table, and everyone just builds around it. It sounds too spread out. So we sat down and all started working on the same song at the same time. That way, there were more than one or two pairs of ears at the inception. A song could start off sounding like funk as long we incorporated punk or indie sounds along the way.”
As a songwriting unit, the band is both prolific and impatient –– the guys are already preparing to go back into the studio. The master plan, at the moment, is to release a new EP every six months and an album every year or so while playing beyond North Texas. Simmons thinks he and his bandmates have earned a respectable following relatively quickly –– Kites and Boomerangs’ souped-up, oddball mix of pop, punk, and world music allows the band to fit in pretty much everywhere.
“We’ve played house parties, benefit shows, food festivals, and headlined House of Blues,” he said. “We’ve even played on a roster with metal bands. We’re open to pretty much anything, because you never know what a new experience will bring.”
Kites and Boomerangs
9pm Fri w/Mix Magyk and Un Chien at The Live Oak Music Hall & Lounge, 1311 Lipscomb St, FW. $10. 817-926-0968.