The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact
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The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE

Denver, Colorado, United States | INDIE
Band Alternative Avant-garde


This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



"Video Co-Premiere: The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact – “After the Trade”"

Denver, Colorado ambient drone four-piece The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact, already guests on our pages early this year, have readied the follow-up to their incredible Decay cassette. Though the new work comprises no more than four tracks, the whole thing runs roughly over forty minutes, so I am tempted to call it an actual full-length. Anyway, apart from the digital release, Standstill will be put out on limited edition vinyl via Morning Pony, the new label associated with our beloved Colorado music collective Act So Big Forest.

Below, take an exclusive look at the video for the mildly psychedelic, immensely contemplating LP opener “After the Trade”, marvelously visualized by Rachel Evans.

Pre-order Standstill now over here.

This is a co-premiere with our friends over at Tome To The Weather Machine. - No Fear Of Pop, Henning Lahmann

"Co-Premiere: The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact - "After The Trade""

"After the Trade" could be about water and leaves and flowers and nature. It should be. After all, the way these visuals all softly blanket themselves on top of one another in Rachel Evans' beautiful video for the Kevin Costner Suicide Pact makes it seem like the two (music + video) are inseparable. It's a gorgeous tribute to an equally gorgeous song, which gently ebbs out as an example of the band's daring voyage into pop forms while retaining the "ambient/drone" descriptor nicely. Slowly beating harmonies, tons of space and that delicate hum beneath it all, a lone signal slowly effected and morphed, taking on a life of its own while realizing a magnificent, once-hidden potential.

However... and I'm just saying... there is a distinct possibility this song is about the band's collective lament following the 2010 Denver Nuggets' blockbuster trade of Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

p.s. This is the Tome's first-ever co-premiere, and we are very excited and honored to be sharing the duties of unleashing this fantastic video and news of the band's release via recently-minted Morning Pony Recorder (an offshoot of the Ft. Collins, CO-based collective Act So Big Forest) with one of our favorite blogs, Berlin's No Fear of Pop. This one carries with it the catalog number PONY003, and signals perhaps the young label's strongest release to date while making us Tome'rs salivate for what lies ahead in an extremely promising future for Morning Pony. The album, called Standstill, is up for pre-order (here), and thank heavens. This one has been standing still for just about as long as I can stand... still for. Vinyl, fellas, get on it! Drinks all around! - Tome To The Weather Machine, Crawford Philleo

"An Interview with The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact"

The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact is a different breed of ambient/drone altogether. With a strangely humorous name that many either love or hate, this quartet of soundscapers is one of the most interesting and unique projects out there right now. Based in Denver, CO (which is known for a variety of musical scenes, but not particularly for its ambient artists) the foursome are creating sounds that remind one of William Bassinski’s sublime compositions which seem to be ever-unfolding, even long after the initial listening experience. This is music best served with a high gravity brew and a smoke-filled room of your closest friends. The number of members isn’t the only thing that sets this group apart. Few bands playing music of this style are interesting to watch when they perform live. The KCSP seems to have a knack for keeping the attention of their audiences. The form the band takes on stage is especially strange. It reminds one of a magic circle; they seem to be consciously concentrating energy inward, and driving sounds upward and outward. The four members, which include Nathan Wright, Peter Goodwin, and brothers Carson and Tyler Pelo, first met up at the University of Colorado at Boulder a few years back. Since then, the band has released some standout material, including an amazing cassette release titled Decay, and a number of digital albums on their band camp. All the while, the KCSP has been busy playing a long list of shows, to include two sets which I had the pleasure of seeing at this year’s inaugural GOLDRUSH music festival (you can read reviews of each of their sets here and here). On the brink of their upcoming LP Standstill, you can now preview the album via streaming here, watch a video for a track from the album here, and pre-order a copy here. I recently exchanged a few emails with the guys to talk about their musical backgrounds and tastes, and what its like to be in a four-piece drone band in Denver. Here is what followed:

1. I’ve seen Nathan quoted as saying “Sketch comedy is the best way to describe it.” Does this description fit the band name, the band’s approach to making music, or both? How much do you rely on improvisation as the basis for your soundscapes?

N: In reference to the quote, I see a connection between our work and something like Sketch comedy because of the improvisational nature inherent in the music. We usually begin with some sort of structure, direction, or theme, but the finished product is always outside of our control, even though we are the ones controlling the sounds.

P: We all have pretty similar senses of humor and have a pretty hard time offending each other. We have phrases or colloquiums that we pass throughout our circle of friends that end up as song titles or even band names. Its kind of a never ending game of telephone that we hope becomes more awkward as it goes along

C: I wouldn’t say that we rely on improv for the basis of it, but more of what we choose to add to the roots of our music. We might have a melody, idea, loop, whatever and after we get that down, like Nate said, whatever happens after that is almost out of our control.

2. What’s the musical background of each member of the band like? Any formal music training, or are you self-taught?

P: I was in band during middle school. I was the rhythm section. Started playing guitar when I got into high school. Been mediocre, at best, since.

T: Carson and I did everything together in some form or another. He started on alto saxophone, I played trombone. We both did choir in high school and went to all-state our senior years, ironic now that we play in a primarily instrumental band. We picked up guitar, bass, drums and the rest of the parts necessary for a garage band and thought we were cool.

N: My dad gave me his Stratocaster when I was about six, and I basically haven’t put it down since. I know BASIC theory as a result of a combination of things, but the only formal training I had was when playing guitar for my high school jazz band and needed someone to teach me how to actually read music.

3. I’ve read that you were each in bands with different styles of music (Ska, Punk, Post Rock, Country-western) before meeting and forming the KCSP. Does this varying background of influences make it easier or harder to work together as musicians?

T: We’ve all played in/gotten sick of/written with/developed in/absorbed so many different kinds of music it’s hard to not say what has or hasn’t had a lasting effect on the music we make now.

4. I’ve seen two of your sets live. From what I can tell you’re live performances sound almost identical to your recordings. Do you take the same approach to performing as you do when recording? Or are there different processes involved in each?

P: We start in many of the same ways both live and in studio (garage). Although there really isn’t one single way a song gets written, recorded, or performed live. We work around loops that serve as the themes to many of the tracks, and improv a bit around the rest.

T: Lately we’ve been trying to record with as few overdubs as possible. Capturing it all on the first take keeps it spontaneous and ‘live.’

5. I was particularly alarmed by the amount and variety of gear (one set featured a record player, and I can’t even begin to count how many pedals). What types of instruments and electronics do you typically use? Is it an ever-changing palette, or is there a certain set-up you use each time?

P: We have a pedal bank of sorts that we all draw what we want out of. Delays, loops, reverbs, mixers, modulation and oscillation effects. Whatever we have laying around.

C: We all play guitar and/or bass, so they naturally work their way into the music. Everything else, whether it’s melodica, drums, vinyl, reel-to-reel, 16mm film, computer, etc., usually gets added on to a loop or melody, unless it’s the general basis of the track. Generally, we try and stick to a particular sound for each release and sometimes stray from the instrumentation.

6. When the KCSP plays live, rather than facing the audience, you all face inwards towards one another, with a mound of gear in the center. Is this also how you practice? Is there a reason for this type of set-up?

T: We practice in the same way we play live, with all of our gear in the center spread between us all. It helps us connect, being able to face one another while we play. I’d hate to say it was intentional, but our live set-up now has an almost Brechtian nature to it, alienating the audience and thrusting the focus on the music being performed, not how we perform it.

7. Denver seems like more of an up-beat music scene. How does an ambient band fit into this? Do you think the KCSP is more successful due to your 4-piece band set-up, rather than a solo or duo would be?

C: I don’t think that we can say that we would really thrive in any particular scene of any city. Denver has been generally receptive of us, and we love what we’ve done here, but yeah, there’s usually not a huge ambient or drone scene in any given place. I do think that our need to change what we’re accomplishing and there being more than just one person performing it, might make it slightly more intriguing to watch live.

8. I’ve heard talk of a band called Fellow Citizens being the pre-curser to the KCSP. Can you tell me a little more about Fellow Citizens, and the progression from that project to the KSCP today?

P: I wouldn’t call Fellow Citizens a precursor to the KCSP, because we were trying to achieve different things through different means with that project. We worked in a collaborative effort to write and record music together, but the ideas behind the music were very different and executed differently. We were an indie pop act, of sorts. In terms of a timeline though, yes, Fellow Citizens was the project we were working on before the KCSP.

T: There was a lot more singing and people in FC. KCSP started on a FC holiday when all the pedals were still lying around. KCSP has always been more about sound experimentation over pop structure or art-rock, which was more of an FC thing.

9. I think it’s appropriate to say that your music induces meditative states in some listeners. Is this something you intentionally aim for, or does it evolve naturally on its own?

all: Yes, both.

10. I know you’ve released some cassettes. Will Standstill be your first LP as the KCSP? What can you tell us about this upcoming album? How does it differ from your cassette releases so far?

P: We are super excited about the upcoming release of Standstill. We recorded the album about a year ago and have been hoping that it would be released on vinyl specifically. We have sort of held onto this album for awhile until we had the means of releasing it the way that we wanted to.

T: Endweekend, our first release, was built on bass loops being cross-faded and effected. After making that album I had been compiling loops for another release, but wanted a different approach to it. Standstill became that idea with all of us playing the same source tone and compiling all of our own effects of the same loop live back into one. Limitations and rules about how the loops were to be effected and played were set at the beginning of the recordings and we effectively spread a one person process to the larger ensemble of the group.

C: Standstill basically became it’s own entity. It was an album based off of loops, that none of us played on, if you consider the conventional terms. It basically marked a point of us not caring about what the instrumentation on the album was, but what the overall aesthetic is.

N: In it’s approach, I think it’s krauty.

11. What’s in store for the KCSP in the future?

P: We have a ton of recordings coming close to a finish. We recently did some recording with Chris Rhem of Caddywhompus for a little split coming out (hopefully) very soon. We also have a recently finished album that we don’t know what to do with yet. We’ll see what happens with that, but we’re very excited for the future.

12. If each band member could pick their two biggest musical influences of all time, who would they be?

Tyler: 1. John Cassavetes, 2. Morton Feldman

Peter: 1. George Winston 2.The Wire

Carson: 1. Black Dice 2. Erik Satie

Nathan: 1. Walter Benjamin 2. Women - Foxy Digitalis, Rachel Evans

"Denver Best New Ambient Project - 2011"

If you ever had the pleasure of seeing Fellow Citizens perform their ambitious and atmospherically charged pop songs, you can be excused for not expecting what any members of that band might bring to Kevin Costner Suicide Pact. The name of the act is humorous, but it also suggests that the music has a serious side. And while it's doubtful that the three members of this band grew up listening to Hearts of Space late at night on NPR, you can hear strains of the types of soundscaping that Steve Roach would have explored. Essentially combining ambient space rock with noise, Kevin Costner Suicide Pact is one to keep. - Westword

"The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact doesn't stick to a script"

Sketch comedy is the best way to describe it," says Nathan Wright, discussing the process of composition within the Kevin Costner Suicide Pact.

"It's not verse, chorus, bridge," adds Carson Pelo. "It's more of a flow chart. Things don't necessarily have to go somewhere, but they can lead into something else."

Although the music is serious, meditative and a perfect merging of the intellectual and the evocative, the members of Kevin Costner Suicide Pact have a well-developed sense of humor that is obvious from song titles like "Monkeys, Monkeys, Ted & Alice" on End Weekend and "Savage Fucking Garden" from the forthcoming album Standstill. Even the name of the band is an inside joke.

"The name itself came from Nathan and I when we were drunk in his dorm room looking at funny, goofy band names," explains Carson's brother, Tyler. "We were both blown away by the Tony Danza Tapdance Extravaganza. So 'Kevin Costner Suicide Pact' came out of my mouth, and we decided to go with that. The first album we always wanted to do was going to be called Gloveless. But we never got around to that one. We'll see."

The quartet met while Peter Goodwin, Wright and Tyler Pelo were students at the University of Colorado at Boulder, living in the same dorm. The Pelo brothers cut their musical teeth with a ska band called Skallywag and the Funky Bunch. Goodwin, who grew up in Carbondale, was in a handful of punk bands with the intentionally offensive names you'd expect; Wright had relocated from Dallas, Texas, to go to school. "I tried to find a place to go that was the exact opposite of where I grew up," adds Wright. "Turns out, it was very similar."

Carson, a year behind the other three members of the Suicide Pact, initially went to CU to be in the film program, but things didn't work out. Instead, the foursome put together a band called Fellow Citizens that started out with a country-Western musical style until the guys discovered post-rock, like Do Make Say Think, and angular proto-indie rock, like Pavement. From there, their collective musical interests transformed the sound of Fellow Citizens into the kind of mutant Americana that should happen more often but rarely does, because of the tendency of many musicians to want to stay true to a sound or an aesthetic.

Two years into the existence of Fellow Citizens, the Pelo brothers were the only members of the band in town, and they used a Digitech loop pedal with a hundred-loop capacity to create soundscapes that anyone in the band could add to, and Kevin Costner Suicide Pact was born. As amusing as it is, not everyone was thrilled with the name of the band.

"My parents, for the longest time, tried to encourage us to change the name," says Tyler, with a glint of mischievous amusement in his eye. "That was just more fun for us to go, 'That's the name. I'm gonna get it tattooed on my skin if you keep complaining about it.'"

If the moniker can be construed as anything but inspired absurdity, the music itself evolved from those loops — with guitar and bass and electronic instruments layered over the top, often during the course of improvisational sessions — to something akin to the compositional style of Morton Feldman, a contemporary of John Cage's.

"He didn't care how fast you could play an arpeggio," Tyler elaborates. "His written compositions weren't standard notations. He was obsessed with Persian rugs, so he would draw maps or graphs or colored charts or flow charts. We're starting to explore more of that in actual compositions. But I think that looking at our music in that mindset instead of a verse-chorus structure, or even a time-signature structure, provides more of a map of when things are coming through."

During recent live performances, the guys haven't played strict songs so much as the touchstones Wright and Carson Pelo noted earlier, with points to hit during a song to give it an informal cohesion. But rather than the way a typical band operates, where one or two members are primary songwriters — or even bands where everyone is a primary songwriter getting credit for particular songs — the Suicide Pact operates outside of those parameters.

"It's very much based on what everyone else is doing," Tyler points out. "I'm not going to be the one to make the first loud, distorted noise. I'm not going to be the one to jump out unless the song calls for it. It's more about taking in what everyone else is doing and seeing how you can complement that."

"I think we kind of like the idea of being in a group where none of us wants to be the standout musician," adds Goodwin. "None of us wants to be the guy who's ruling the whole thing."

"You can't have a lead singer of an ambient band," concludes Wright.

The group's latest setup sometimes takes even playing instruments out of the picture as each member uses a pedal effect or a piece of hardware or a computer on a tone generated somewhere in a synergistic chain of sound. Especially on the songs for Standstill.

"The other big thing about Standstill, too," muses Tyler, "is that we're starting to incorporate new restrictions, and all of us are playing with the same source tone. The stereo outputs of my tones used to go into everyone's pedals. Now we've changed that. Instead of a big stream, it's a feedback loop that's really dangerous — because if all of us turn up at the same time you'll just get straight feedback. Now we've got it so that Carson's tone goes into Nathan, then goes into me and into Peter. So at any one time, any one of us could be playing an instrument and everyone else can be affecting them."

A similar technique is used by artists like Minamo and Geologist from Animal Collective, but the Suicide Pact's particular take on looping incorporates the ability of each member of the band to manipulate the source tones rather than all tones going to one source, with one person wielding that power on any given song.

"It's like if we were those four-armed characters from Mortal Kombat; in a circle jerk, you can reach out to everyone else," summarizes Carson with a laugh.

Kevin Costner Suicide Pact has confounded some audience members and caused others to enter meditative states — and whatever its music can be called, or however it can be described, it has effectively crossed its own boundaries with every release. And it's already helping to make ambient music exciting again by virtue of the inventiveness of its approach. - Westword, Tom Murphy

"The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact - Decay"

Aside from some of the supergroups in the realm of ambient music out there (Fenn O'Berg, for one) and some one-off collaborations, there are rarely true "bands" of folks weaving extended drones like these as a collective unit. And though Fenn O'Berg (the collaborative computer-improv project consisting of Christian Fennesz, Jim O'Rourke and Peter Rehberg) could definitely be up there in the "for" section on this review, it would only be because of the whole "band" structural makeup thing. Unlike the Fenn O'Berg, KCSP sounds like it uses very little, if any, computer manipulations, opting instead for organically composed hums drawn from a series of acoustic trappings from instruments, amplifiers and tape loops. And though the individual instruments, samples, or noises to be found within Decay's fairly wide girth aren't always easily discernible, a strong sense of communion and collaboration is definitely palpable on the tape. That is, behind the noises there are real people, and you can absolutely hear that there is more than just one person at work here. Bits and pieces are separate and distinct while also interlocked and swirling about in multi-helixes, like synchronized swimmers or complex molecular chains to create genetic, living organism-like compositions that share intimate ties to all things natural. Amidst the pulsing drones, humming strings, haunting vocals and delicate, skeletal guitar pickings, Decay is also laced with samples and loops of thunderstorms, children's voices and birds to invoke a holistic vision of the elements a-la Brian Eno: earth, water, fire, and air—it's all here. Even the rather oddball (and magnificent—likely the tape's strongest work) "Mayflies (For Strings and Pedals)," which opens with a single orchestrated-jazz ensemble sample, soon morphs into a breathtaking swell of color, transforming the sample itself into an instrument that performs in concert with other loops and string instruments, everything mashing into itself and finally becoming absorbed, once again, by a very natural feeling aesthetic.

But these very-living things are also dying. And in this respect, KCSP align nicely with one of last year's tip-top besties, God Was Like, No from The Fun Years. I mean, the album is called "Decay" after all, and most of the mountains of sound KCSP well up throughout the album's run-through are highlighted, defined really, by their tendencies to break apart, fracture, and decompose. There's also a very telling sample toward the middle of the tape with someone describing the process of decay on a molecular level, characterized by its release of energy, which is a sentiment very strongly felt throughout the album, perhaps in the form of raw emotional discharge. Guitars release soaring cries of either pain, love or both, and their magnitudes in both beauty and sheer volume are enough to guarantee goosebumps.

I definitely felt a prominent presence of ambient/drone work in my listening and writing here at the Tome in 2010, and this—the first truly great release of 2011 (and it's only the 5th of January!)—has me thinking this trend may just keep on trucking. If artists (or hopefully, more bands like this one) keep cranking them out with ingenuity, passion, and a deft aptitude for composition like the KCSP... you'll be hearing very few complaints from this corner of the webiverse. - Tome To The Weather Machine, Crawford Philleo


Act So Big Forest affiliates The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact from Denver, Colorado have released a new album on cassette this Tuesday. The ambient collective has delivered a stunning assemblage of 13 marvelous sound collages made up of noise, drones and tape loops, music that completely absorbes the listener with its dreamlike soundscapes that will take you away to places far beyond the Rocky Mountains. Buy Decay on tape via Buckingham Pie Group or digitally on the group’s bandcamp. As expected, stuff from Colorado never disappoints. - No Fear Of Pop, Henning Lahmann

"Eddy Sweater"

Act So Big Forest, the Fort Collins music collective headed by Candy Claws' Jonathan Alonzo, recently hooked up with Buckingham Pie Group to drop this fantastic tape from The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact. A short while back I mentioned Fort Collins' ability to always provide good beachy tunes, but I guess they're not satisfied with just the beach. The KCSP started with just two members, but the duo is continually working with other artists on the tracks, allowing for varied but still cohesive sounds. Tape loops stack on tape loops as explosive ambiance continues to rise and fall in explosive textures on these droned out wonders. Moments of the tracks leave you anxious, waiting with abated breath for the next peak. The KCSP deliver in a huge way with this tape, leaving me eager for what's next. - Get Off The Coast, Jheri Evans

"Critic's Choice: Kevin Costner Suicide Pact, June 10 at Larimer Lounge"

Few people not close to the band would ever have suspected that four of the guys from the pop band Fellow Citizens would do music like this. Not because Fellow Citizens doesn't have an experimental edge in its songwriting; it does. No, it's because Kevin Costner Suicide Pact (due Friday, June 10, at the Larimer Lounge) is so far removed from conventional songwriting that it's like a songwriting leap into another universe. The gentle ebb and flow of the group's manipulation of guitar, bass, synth and vocal sounds is reminiscent of Steve Roach's work for Hearts of Space or Eno's work with Robert Fripp: beautifully mysterious and entrancing. In the same realm as Jesse Sola's long-running ambient project Numina, this band's primary charm is in how the music transports you not through force, but by coaxing the imagination on a tranquil, otherworldly journey. - Westword, Tom Murphy

"Review: Goldrush Festival on South Broadway, Delite and hi-dive, Night One, 9/16/11"

For The Kevin Costner Suicide Pact's set, it seemed as though as large a crowd assembled as was possible, given the small space inside and out (the front "porch" of the restaurant open to the elements and passersby). A single tone ebbed in quietly when the band started up, gradually joined by deep, melodic sounds of an origin indiscernible to anyone but the band. Carson Pelo eventually noodled in some impressionistic guitar strains with a composition like crystalline wind. Once a few layers of sound were established and looped, or continued at points, various members of the band manipulated those sounds in a free form manner that always seemed born of a telepathic consensus, a gestalt, between the four guys.

Who knows how much time had passed before Carson eased in a live vinyl sample of a song that sounded like the introduction music from The Silence of the Lambs. Or at least the music from the time Clarice Starling is about to be recruited from training -- some of that incidental music scored by Howard Shore. It blended in so naturally with the band's own music it crept up on you somehow. Of course, KCSP took these sounds and sampled them and subtly fed them back into the mix after manipulating the sound with pedals. For the second to last song, all four guys played guitar, with Tyler Pelo playing bass, and created the kind of thick, haunting cacophony that can only be compared to "Look At Me Go" by Swans, or the music from the most intense scenes in Antichrist. To close out, KCSP played its dreamy chill-out track, "Savage Fucking Garden." - Westword, Tom Murphy

"UMS Travelogue: Mercuria and the Gem Stars, Zebroids, Bad Luck City, Piña Chulada and more"

What could be better than seeing a band calling itself Kevin Costner Suicide Pact at a place called Delite? The calming, chill sound -- not to be confused with chillwave -- of the act chased away a bit of the mugginess of the afternoon. KCSP is like Mogwai without the rock, or like Flying Saucer Attack pushed further into atmospheric abstraction.

Tones hovered like motes catching the streams of morning light through a canopy of trees. Rippling white noise traveled across the room like it was panned in stereo but was in fact two members coordinating their efforts without speaking a word or gesturing. Samples of birds near an incoming tide swam through the soundscape before the samples evolved into children at play echoing like a memory resonating in an obscured part of the mind. Gorgeous and hypnotic.

0725_zebroids-1.jpg - Westword, Tom Murphy


Standstill - LP/digital (Morning Pony Recorder, 3/22/12)
Suicide Ocean - digital (self-release, 3/31/11)
Decay - cassette/digital (Buckingham Pie Goup, 1/11/11)
End Weekend - digital (self-release, 3/15/11)



"Kevin Costner Suicide Pact has confounded some audience members and caused others to enter meditative states — and whatever its music can be called, or however it can be described, it has effectively crossed its own boundaries with every release. And it's already helping to make ambient music exciting again by virtue of the inventiveness of its approach." -Denver Westword

"The name sucked me in, and the surprising, drone-heavy beauty is worth checking out" -Onward Charles

"...KCSP sounds like it uses very little, if any, computer manipulations, opting instead for organically composed hums drawn from a series of acoustic trappings from instruments, amplifiers and tape loops. And though the individual instruments, samples, or noises to be found within Decay's fairly wide girth aren't always easily discernible, a strong sense of communion and collaboration is definitely palpable on the tape. That is, behind the noises there are real people, and you can absolutely hear that there is more than just one person at work here. Bits and pieces are separate and distinct while also interlocked and swirling about in multi-helixes, like synchronized swimmers or complex molecular chains to create genetic, living organism-like compositions that share intimate ties to all things natural." -Tome to the Weather Machine