The Sexy Accident
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The Sexy Accident

Band Alternative Rock


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"Rocks with the enthusiasm of a hormonal teenager"

It's hard to miss a name like The Sexy Accident. Score points for a catchy moniker. Guitarist and lead singer Jesse Kates, bassist Patrick Fent, and drummer Daniel Torrence are power pop pugilists fighting to express their views on those human strengths and weaknesses - love, lust, loss, and infidelity - that make life more than a to-do list. The band's latest album, Kinda Like Fireworks, shows their finesse at delivering tightly composed pop songs that employ unusual time signatures and catchy hooks.

Ringleader Jesse Kates isn't new at the recording game. He's progressed from two instrumental albums as a member of Whitford to Sleight of Hand, a solo record of loop-based guitar music. Next, Kates formed The Sexy Accident and released Tourism, an album of indie pop with chewy hooks billed as Weezer meets Elvis Costello.

Kinda Like Fireworks follows closely in the footsteps of that Weezer meets Costello comparison. Lead track "Baby, It's Not Cheating" jangles hard like a Ma Bell plastic telephone.

"My Girl" is immediately catchy with its quick guitar hook, peppy drumming, easy-to-digest lyrics, and Kates' staccato vocal delivery. "Gardener, Gibbet, Misery" slows down the pace and surges with emotional intensity. It's honest and naked, stripped down to a guitar, bass line, and superb drumming that add crisp context between breaks in the singing.

"Flirting With Disaster" rampages like Godzilla moshing across Tokyo in emo-power pop mode as Kates sings about lust for a friend.

"Hey You" ditty bops on a great beat. Kates' choppy guitar buzzes with a hornet's nest of angst as he snips with hurt about the frustration of long distance between two people. These aren't weighty subjects until you realize that something similar happened to you, or might, someday, somewhere. Then, it all makes sense. The drums and bass and guitar kick in behind that near snarl of vocals. Those two words - Hey You - become the most eloquent address, statement, accusation, and pleading ever uttered.

The compact hits keep coming in short order with firecracker pop of "Morning Drive," the soft-edged longing of "Lonely Days," and the poignant narrative of "Skies."

This record rocks with the enthusiasm of a hormonal teenager, but with the perspective of an older brother who has gone down the rocky path of love and loss. Kinda Like Fireworks is a fun, energetic listen that plays out the thrill and ache, the scathing moments and soothing memories, that make us pursue relationships. - Present Magazine

"Our regional answer to The Fountains of Wayne"

Kansas City's music scene is known for its hard-ass bands. Groups as tough as railroad spikes serving up hard metal, hard alt-rock, hard punk and even hard country. It's a foundation set decades ago as our provincial, Midwest location made it difficult for an act to get known without making some serious noise. In a sea of ultimate fighters, what's a clean, shiny pop band to do? If it's The Sexy Accident, they come up with a confusing name and just try their best to let the songwriting do the talking.

With "Kinda Like Fireworks" the Kansas City trio takes a deep breath, shuts their eyes and dives into the mix with short songs, jangly guitars and the least-threatening vocals on this side of the Mississippi. Singer Jesse Kates has kind of a Smoking Popes thing going on, but the group doesn't go for that huge wall-of-distortion sound. It's a pregrunge style that evokes the new-wave songwriters of the '80s, clean-cut pop artists like Marshall Crenshaw, Joe Jackson and Elvis Costello...

...The Sexy Accident launches its less-is-more approach from the top, though with mixed results. "Gardner, Gibbet, Misery," a mostly two-chord wonder, shows how little is needed to fashion a devastating and memorable pop song...

...With all the cranky posturing in the Kansas City scene, The Sexy Accident, in spite of its ridiculous name, could become our regional answer to the Fountains of Wayne. A charming, clever, nerd-core trio that doesn't take itself too seriously. "Kinda Like Fireworks" isn't quite an M-80, but those little paper popper things can be fun too, and a lot less scary. - Ink KC

"Driven by catchy melodies and smart, real-life lyric-writing"

This Kansas City-based band's second LP is just as driven by catchy melodies and smart, real-life lyric-writing as their first, 2006's Tourism. But they're tighter: a forceful, even fiery power-pop trio.

The band's singer/songwriter/guitarist, Jesse Kates, sings with a devotion and sensitivity that's sometimes surprising; his voice will rise above the rock, catch air. His guitar will too, alternating between lightness and crunch. The songs switch too from the rough to the gentle, by telling stories sad and sweet. Within them people make mistakes, hurt each other, and express their love, through road trips and a shared knowledge of each other's eccentricities.

This musical and lyrical balancing of hurt and tenderness is to the album's benefit, making it a very human sort of rock 'n' roll album. - The Big Takeover

"Brace for an impact after listening to Mantoloking"

“ ... the forthcoming album exhibits a darker edge lyrically and musically than its predecessor, Kinda Like Fireworks ... there’s no doubt that The Sexy Accident have reached higher, worked harder, and dreamed bigger than they have previously … Indeed, brace for an impact after listening to Mantoloking. This cohesive set of songs is built on lyrics that strike true with meaning beyond catchy phrases and refrains.” - Pete Dulin, -

"Everything hangs together, the anger and the angst, the love found and the love lost."

“Everything hangs together, the anger and the angst, the love found and the love lost ... Not a bad accident.” - Jonathan Aird, Americana U.K. - Americana U.K.

"A huge amount of energy and humanity"

“ ... a huge amount of energy and humanity ... this is one we’d likely hold as being worth its price ... an essential download.” - Aidan Williamson, Strangeglue - Strangeglue

"The band has grown in its songwriting"

“Gone are the simple power-pop chord progressions and fast rhythms of last year’s release, Kinda Like Fireworks. Instead, the quartet offers a slowed down, more mature sound reminiscent of ’90s college rock ... Overall, the band has grown in its songwriting ... The group took a risk in adjusting its sound, but it may have been a risk worth taking.” - Liz Garcia, ink - Ink

"The Sexy Accident Interview"

Jesse Kates leads the Kansas City-based band The Sexy Accident, whose debut album Tourism has been one of the year's true delights. It's infectious, punchy pop-rock, with songs rooted in everyday life - one of those albums easy to play again and again, and enjoyable each time. To catch up with the band, and listen to their songs, check out their website and MySpace page.


What aspect of making music excites you the most right now?

Singing. I spent the five years before the Sexy Accident writing instrumental music of one kind or another. First with Whitford, then Bandocalrissian, then with my solo looping guitar stuff. I love instrumental music, and the "pop" bands that I like (e.g., bands that have verses and choruses) still have unique instrumental underpinnings. But all along I've really loved the storytelling aspect of music with words. The honest truth is it took me a while to finally muster the gumption to start singing in public. I've always been a writer, and some of the songs on the first Sexy Accident release are six years old. Finally getting those songs recorded properly has really got me energized and inspired to write new songs. I really can't move on until work that I've done is given its proper due. When I have a backlog of unrecorded material, it's time to record, or there won't be any new songs forthcoming.

At this point, I look at the instrumental music as my "training with Ninjas in the orient" phase. I learned to communicate without words. I figure if I can still do that, if I can carry an emotional message solely through the instrumental component, then when I bring the lyrics in the whole package will be as powerful as it can be.

What aspect of making music gets you the most discouraged?

Lack of time. The need to balance writing, rehearsing, marketing, designing flyers, keeping up with the newsletter, etc. There's so much to do, and I enjoy all aspects of it. But since I'm not in a position to make music my career, it can be difficult to do everything with the level of quality that I'd like. I have a wife and a new son, and they're my top priority when I'm at home. My day job isn't exactly slouchy, either. The music is getting increasingly squeezed.

But I'd rather be busy than bored, and stopping is not an option, so it's all good. Maybe someday we'll have some help that we can really count on, somebody to take care of the business end while we focus on being a band. But I don't know if that happens anymore, or if it ever did.

What are you up to right now, music-wise? (Current or upcoming recordings, tours, extravaganzas, experiments, top-secret projects, etc).

We're writing constantly. We have the skeletons of at least seven songs done, and three more in refined form. We're taking the approach this time of playing everything live as often as possible before we hit the studio. I've never had the opportunity to do that before, for a variety of reasons, and it seems like a great way to go.

I find that the thrill of live performance really pushes me. I start adding all sorts of little inflections and points of emphasis to make things more dramatic. I just don't think that way in a basement studio – there's just not enough pressure to perform! So I figure this way, we'll be able to go through that process of inspiration and discovery before we commit things to tape.

Recording-wise, this time we're going to track everything live (or close to live). We're thinking about heading up to Electrical Audio in Chicago, as that's their preferred working method so far as I know. I want everything to sound more raw, more real.

What's the most unusual place you've ever played a show or made a recording? How did the qualities of that place affect the show/recording?

This one's easy. I played a show on my last looping tour at my grandmother's retirement home. It was wonderful. I had to turn my amp down so quietly that I was hearing my guitar more acoustically than through the amp. When you're layering 16 guitar parts on top of each other with no metronome and no undo, it's important to be able to hear yourself, so I was a bit nervous at the lack of monitoring. Thankfully, I had been on the road long enough at that point that I actually pulled off one of my better performances. (It's that whole pressure thing. I work well under pressure.)

The best part was playing for my grandmother, who's one of my favorite people in the world. And the rest of the audience were full of questions, too, like "we can't understand what you're doing! Explain yourself!" It was great. I don't think any of them will go out and buy a Brian Eno disc now or anything, but I'm pretty sure I added a little variety to their routine. They seemed to enjoy it.

In what ways does the place where you live (or places where you have lived), affect the music you create, or your taste in music?

I seem to be including lots of references to places I've lived, places I've been. I've got lines about the Pennsylvania Turnpike in two of my new songs, and there are lots of other references to place throughout my work. But in truth, I think the references are really about people. The places remind me of what it was like to be there with someone. I would never write a song about the Turnpike in the abstract. It's all about relationships, for me. Romantic ones, friends, family. There is no poetry without love. I truly believe that. So new places bring new people, and I think that's the most important thing.

Only two of the songs on Tourism are really Kansas City songs, and I'm not saying which to protect the innocent. I'm new to the area, which is ironic, as people have commented that we sound like a Kansas City band. Maybe we do. Perhaps I'm too close to see it.

When was the last time you wrote a song? What can you tell us about it?

I just finished one up this week. It's about road trips. But again, it's about going on road trips with somebody, not about the road trips themselves. In this case, the somebody is my wife. The song sort of charts our growth from poor college kids trying to get away from stress that seemed like a big deal then, but seems very innocent now, through to the present day, when escape still seems like a wonderful, wonderful idea at times.

Ultimately, I want people to appreciate their lives. I want to appreciate my life. So in part I think I'm trying to show that "heavy" things can really be quite silly, yet balance that with the recognition that life is beautiful, life is magnificent, life can be profound.

I think it's profound and beautiful to play Zelda in your room when you're 14 and dying for a crush to call you back (who of course never does) and I think there's some lovely irony when you get yourself into credit card debt so you can go to New York with your new girlfriend and "escape."

There's some sort of unifying uber-thingie behind what I'm doing, but I'm not sure I've puzzled it out yet. I hope I never really nail it down. As my favorite creative writing teacher said, you don't need an agenda to write. If you have an agenda, you're in trouble already. Or as David Gedge said recently on stage, "Don't blame me, I'm just a conduit."

As you create more music, do you find yourself getting more or less interested in seeking out and listening to new music made by other people...and why do you think that is?

This is a really great question. I'm as interested as ever in finding new music, if not more so, but two things have started to happen. Sometimes I find it harder to find things that I like because more things seem like rehash. Yet at the same time, I find it easier to appreciate a wider range of music because I can hear what is unique about any given band. So it's very weird.

Generally, if a band is having fun, or seems to be, I like them. I really, really enjoyed seeing the Unicorns because they reminded me of my friends from high school who had punk bands and would play DIY shows in basements, etc. I loved those shows. I loved the energy, the ridiculous antics, the 17-minute sets of 17 songs.

So with the Unicorns, it had nothing to do with the fact that Pitchfork loved them, it was about them being silly and having fun. And then I saw this band called The Mechanical Boy from somewhere in Texas recently and they blew me away simply because they were really, really well rehearsed. They seemed road-weary, but what inspired me was how hard they were trying.

So in the end, I think it boils down to enthusiasm in any flavor – from grim determination to wild abandon. It's fun if the band it putting something into it. I've also been listening to a lot of Billie Holiday, because it's an awesome antidote when my son is cranky in the car. It's hard to be angsty when you're listening to Billie Holiday.

Lately what musical periods or styles do you find yourself most drawn to as a listener? (Old or new music? Music like yours or different from yours?)

I'm bouncing all over the place. I've been listening to the soul station on XM radio, and I've been listening to the KCRW Morning Becomes Eclectic podcasts. I've been digging Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour, because he gets really obscure. He did a whole show on songs about baseball.

When it comes to guitar rock (more in the vein of what I'm doing) I just can't get tired of The Wedding Present, Weezer and Teenage Fanclub. I don't listen to them often, but I'm never disappointed when the iPod decides to shuffle them in. And I've been going back to listen to their influences, like Big Star and The Birthday Party.

My favorite bands tend to be band's bands. Bands that other bands admire, but who never really made it that big (Weezer doesn't fit, obviously). A lot of it is about the guitar sound/approach for me. I like a lot of XTC and Cure stuff for that reason. I like music that's considered, even if that contemplation comes in the form of searing blasts of colossal guitar noise ( e.g., The Wedding Present.) I think Pavement were a contemplative band. I think they were intentional, even as they seemed to personify slack.

Name a band or musician, past or present, who you flat-out LOVE and think more people should be listening to. What's one of your all-time favorite recordings by this band/musician?

Namelessnumberheadman. They will think I'm gimpy for mentioning them, as they are friends of mine, but I got to know them initially because I find their music so inspiring. They are truly, truly talented and write amazing music. Their new album will slay yr face, if that's possible with mostly-acoustic instrumentation and brush-played drums. It's going to be really, really good. I hope they are able to keep playing together for a long, long time, because they're still growing and show no signs of stopping.

What's the saddest song you've ever heard?

Teenage Fanclub's "if I never see you again" is such a lovely, sad, beautiful lament of a song. It sounds like Christmas. Like looking in on the Christmas of a life lost. I wanted to play it at my wedding, it's so beautiful, but it was just too sad. So there you go. And actually, the original demo version of Whitford's "Until he comes home" stacks up there. But nobody has heard that except for me. - Erasing Clouds

"What's not to love?"

There's something to be said about nerdy power pop that can poke fun of itself, and The Sexy Accident is a shining example. One part Cheap Trick and one part They Might Be Giants, TSA out maneuvers all expectations by weaving geeky intelligence and humor throughout their quirky rock opus.

Perhaps their finest moment is Undefeated Champion of The Arcade, where all their elements come together in a perfect unit. It's got a groovy droning guitar line, with nasal-toned vocals boasting about video gaming skills, along with a lament about the arcade being torn down to build a Rite-Aid. What's not to love? - Mish Mash

"The epitome of playability"

Epic, 70-minute albums have their pleasures, but there's something to be said for keeping things short and to the point. There's a distinct pleasure in a quick, compact album where every song hits its mark, and when it's over you're ready to play it again. TOURISM, from the Kansas City trio The Sexy Accident, is one of those albums: 10 songs, 30 minutes of sleek, punchy pop-rock that is infectious and fun, yet still filled with real-world emotions, stories, and settings.

'Playability' is a vague concept I guess, but TOURISM is the epitome of it: an album you can play and play and play - listen to, sing to, live with. The appeal lies in part with their tight, rhythmic, melodic style of pop-rock, with guitars, bass, and drums blending seamlessly. And it also comes from the everyday, universal quality of the songs themselves. Jesse Kates sings in an non-rock-star, low-key style that I find endearing. It fits his real-life style of lyrics well, whether he's singing about the adventures of a video game player ("Undefeated Champion of the Arcade") or lambasting an unfaithful lover ("Ashley Christian").

The lyrics are detailed, seem carefully crafted, and reflect circumstances from life as we know it (in the "Arcade" song, for example, the video arcade is torn down to make way for a Rite Aid). And in every case the musical tone is designed perfectly for the song's content. The video game player in "Arcade" is sung about over more driving, aggressive (but still quite pop) music. The blissful lovers' scene set up in "Morning Pales" is accompanied with gently alluring guitars, for example. Similar guitars loudly explode and ring out during "Bottled in Glass", reflecting both the hurt and the wistfulness of the lost-love tale.

A feeling of loss, wrapped up with memory and wishes and regrets and hope, runs through the album's second half, culminating with the gorgeous final track, "The More Things Stay the Same," an attempted new beginning hopeful in tone if not content. It's one of the most unique songs on the album, catchy even as it's particularly low-key and gentle. It ends an outstanding album on a high note. - Erasing Clouds


Kinda Like Fireworks (2008)
Tourism (2006)
Mantoloking (2009)



It takes a special breed of rock band to be equally comfortable playing a Father’s Day show for some boisterous two-year-olds and sharing pizza and a baseball game with iconic producer Steve Albini. The Sexy Accident happens to be just such a band. And Jesse Kates, the band’s stalwart leader, founder, songwriter, guitarist and vocalist, likes it that way. His two goals: make great music and make it music that anyone would want to sing along to.

Making quality pop music isn’t always easy, as Kates has found out. Over the past six years, this Kansas City, Missouri-based band has struggled to survive a tough musical landscape and the departure of various band members (including, by odd coincidence, two bassists in a row named Pat who each left for Florida). Kates, with his carefully-crafted songs, has been the lone constant, always looking for an audience and a chance to connect. His persistence is now finally paying off with a solid line-up, a well-received third full-length, and big plans for 2010.

The current incarnation of The Sexy Accident began in 2007 when drummer Daniel Torrence joined the group. The 2008 addition of Chad Toney as a second guitarist filled out and firmed up the band’s sound, which has drawn comparisons to Weezer, Nada Surf, Teenage Fanclub, Guided by Voices, Fountains of Wayne and Elvis Costello. After the departure of the second Pat in 2009, Kates found bassist Jonathon Smith and decided to add a female element, bringing Camry Ivory on board to contribute vocals and piano. With no weak links, Kates is excited by the band’s ever-widening range of potential, and the fact that each part, though having to be more restrained at times, can count for more as they strive to create entertaining and sophisticated pop perfection.

In anticipation of a Midwest/East Coast tour in June 2010, the band is recording a new three song EP inspired by everything from Motown to the “Savage Love” advice column. Kates hopes to reach an audience more accustomed to downloading a few tracks at a time than listening through an entire record. He also wants to build on the success of the last album, Mantoloking, which was recorded and produced by Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Soundgarden, The Wedding Present) at Black Lodge Recording. The album saw college radio airplay and received positive reviews that focused on Kates’ storytelling, at turns thoughtful and sarcastic, and the music’s ability to be both accessible and mature.

After an eventful 2009, during which they were listed in The Onion’s annual “Year in Band Names,” The Sexy Accident is looking forward to what the future holds as they continue to come into their own. Kates knows the band's hard work will be rewarded, even if by nothing else than people in a club singing along to his songs. Because the songs are smart and catchy. And that’s no accident.