It’s been a pretty eventful month for Kylesa. They just finished up a tour and Spiral Shadow, the follow-up to their critically acclaimed Static Tensions, was released by Season of Mist on October 26th. I caught up with Laura Pleasants (guitar/vocals) and Corey Barhorst (bass/keyboards) after their set at Webster Hall a few weeks back. And although I was barely able to speak due to a cold, and Laura was barely able to hear because she just stepped off the stage, it turned out all right. Here’s what they had to say:
You’ve been on the road with High on Fire and Torche. How’s that been so far?
Laura: It’s been awesome. We toured with High on Fire in 2005, and we’ve toured with Torche a bunch of times, so it was just like going on tour with friends and family. It’s been great.
Apart from set times, is there a difference between opening as opposed to headlining? Do you change the set around for the audience?
Laura: We just have forty minutes to play, but we’ve been playing the same set every night.
What about your plans after this tour? Are you planning any headlining tours or anything?
Corey: We have some stuff in December. We’re doing some shows on the West Coast; more Northwest.
Laura: Yeah. We’re playing with Baroness and Black Tusk in Portland, and then we’re playing Seattle and Vancouver.
Corey: And then between Christmas and New Year’s, we’re doing the East Coast with Clutch for a few days.
Laura: [To my friend in Clutch shirt] We’re going out with your boys! Clutch rules! So that will be a fun After-Christmas party with Clutch for a few days, and then we’re going to Australia. And I think before we go to Australia that we’re talking about doing some US headlining dates, and I can’t remember if it was going to be West Coast or East Coast. I think it’s going to be…
Corey: Both, but at different times.
Laura: January we’ll do maybe East Coast, and then when we get back from Australia, go to the West Coast.
Spiral Shadows is being released in a couple of days. I haven’t had a chance to see the actual album yet. Did you work with a producer or engineer?
Laura: Yeah. Phillip, our other guitar player, produced it. He’s produced our past few records. We recorded at The Jam Room which is in Columbia, South Carolina. We’ve recorded there for a long time, and we’ve worked with engineers there for a while. It’s a very comfortable recording environment.
Your albums have some pretty distinct artwork. How closely do you work with the artists?
Laura: Album art is especially important, so we work very closely with the artist.
So you give them the ideas?
And this album has a black and white cover which says a lot to me. What is the significance behind that?
Laura: It’s pretty monochromatic. Well, there are two different versions. The digipack is printed on an optical board, so it’s reflective and psychedelic. We had that in mind with the design. And it’s the end of a decade. We were wanting to do something very specific. The artist we chose does really really good work in black and white, and we wanted to keep the colors pretty simple.
Is there an overall theme to the album?
Laura: Well, lyrically, there is. Musically, it’s open to your interpretation. Lyrically, we had a common theme of distance.
Your lyrics seem very personal.
Laura: They are. Yeah.
So with two different singers, do you each write your own lyrics?
Laura: We do.
Do you discuss what the songs are about first?
Laura: We do, and we’ve written lyrics together for so long. We’ll discuss what we want to write about. When it get more developed with what the songs are about, we’re just really on the same page. So writing lyrics to each other is really easy.
I notice that with each album, the different sounds seem to coalesce a lot more. Is this a conscious decision, or does that just come with being comfortable writing together?
Laura: That just comes with creative growth; just growth as a musician and jamming together. We’ve all been playing together for a long time.
And for the record, Don’t Look Back is not a Boston cover?
Because you’re way off.
Corey: You know, it started out to be a Boston cover, but none of us could figure out how to play the song right. So we wrote it our own way, and we just kept the title the same.
Laura: That’s funny. No one’s asked us that.
Really? Well, it’s new.
Laura: Boston’s good.
Laura: It’s a rocking song.
If you were KISS, and painted your faces for a persona, what would you be?
Laura: I’d be a lion, because I’m a Leo.
Corey: I think I’d just be anything green. Like a lizard or something.
Laura: No. No. No. Corey would be a fucking weasel.
Corey: Yeah. I guess a weasel.
Laura: That would totally suit you, dude.