Kieskagato

Kieskagato

BandAlternativeRock

Portland alternative rock band that blends elements of progressive rock, hard rock, retro soul, jazz, and a dash of Latin create an intensely eclectic sound all its own.

Biography

In 2000, the five musical innovators known collectively as Kieskagato moved from their original home of Madison, Wisconsin to seek their fame and hopefully fortune in the friendlier musical confines of Portland, Oregon. The Pacific Northwest has done wonders for the band both creatively and opportunity wise, as they’ve become an integral part of the region’s rock scene.

In 2002-2003, Kieskagato expanded their territory beyond the realm of “regional success story,” hitting the road and doing shows all across the country, including stops in Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver, Wichita, Lincoln, Nebraska, St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Santa Fe, Seattle and their hometown of Madison, Wisconsin. While performing in Minneapolis, the band was discovered by Chris Imara, an Iconic Rocket executive; he’d been out scouting another band, but immediately saw endless potential in Kieskagato. Capitalizing on that momentum, the band is excited about the promotional buzz surrounding You Are The One Who Can, its first major independent release on Iconic Rocket Records.

Modern rock fans looking to be tantalized by true originality will immediately gravitate to the band’s intensely eclectic sound, which blends elements of progressive rock, hard rock, retro soul, jazz and even a dash of Latin—sometimes all on the same song. Fans have compared their vibe to the likes of Radiohead, Calexico, King Crimson, 70’s Miles Davis (when Dave Jorgensen takes his hands off the Rhodes and picks up the trumpet), the Beta Band, U2, Blue Nile, Pink Floyd and early Genesis. Kieskagato’s mission statement is simple: “We play rock music that presents artfully constructed momentum, tugged heartstrings, and blunt power in a shiny package for your listening pleasure.”

Kieskagato (whose name combines the Russian and Spanish words for “cat”) seduces on many levels, from the trippy lyrics of Jorgensen and lead singer Josh Vasby to the group’s expansive musical landscapes. You Are The One Who Can’s opening track “Omaha” starts out almost as a folk-rock piece before becoming Latinized via a splash of brass and then soul-jazzed via more intense grooves and the Rhodes. “See You At The Meeting” starts out all trippy and mystical before evolving into a crunch-funk rocker.

“Confidence” blends Vasby’s dreamy vocals with a swinging Latin trumpet flavor and, later, a Doors-influenced keyboard swirl. The closer “Thursday” is another trippy rocker that combines tastes of psychedelica with an edgy grunge attitude. The band’s grand sense of humor is reflected in some of the album credits, particularly on the pop-jazz instrumental “White Castle,” on which bassist/trumpeter Adam Schultz is “catering director” and his brother Derek, usually the guitarist/keyboardist/percussionist, is the “eating director.”

The origins of Kieskagato take us back to 1996, when founding members Derek and Adam Schultz, Josh Vasby and drummer Bryan Fairfield began playing shows in their hometown of Madison and later Milwaukee, while they were still in high school. Originally called RM 101 (after the name of a room in George Orwell’s 1984), the band’s original sound was more direct as it reflected the Guns N Roses, Radiohead and Nirvana sensibilities of the Schultz Brothers. A three song EP recording at Smart Studios (Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage) helped the band increase its local following, but a mutual feeling of being stifled, both creatively and opportunity wise, on the Madison club scene led them to seek greener pastures (literally and figuratively) in Portland.

When they arrived in Oregon in August of 2000, an immediate decision was made to formulate a new, more sophisticated sound that would be a bigger, more thorough expression of everything they daydreamed of as they worked their restaurant jobs. Enter Dave Jorgensen, a noted jazz performer with a Madison band who officially joined Kieskagato just after the group recorded the critically acclaimed Half of What We Wanted in 2001.

His joining the band had a ring of destiny to it. After the band had split for the Coast, Jorgensen by chance moved into the house next door to where they had lived. Then Jorgensen pursued a day job opportunity to work for a bank in Oregon, and ran into the boys there. He played on some tracks and soon became an official member, adding the Rhodes and trumpet (i.e. the old school soul-jazz flavors) to an already expanding palette.

“I don’t think we dumb anything down,” says Vasby. “But because of the stuff we listen to, it’s always got that pop aesthetic. We don’t let things get too crazy. It’s always the melody line driving things. We’re not trying to put together something that sounds complex. We’re just making it sound good to us.”

Discography

Half of What We Wanted, 2001 (as RM 101)
You, Are The One, Who Can, 2004 (as Kieskagato)