The Killingtons
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The Killingtons

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"The Killingtons"

The Killingtons' excellent guitar dynamic combines piercing and flowing elements. Instrumentally, these songs are good enough to listen to on their own, but the singer is no slouch as he pours his heart into emotionally chancy lyrics. Fine Emo that's as poignant and sonically challenging as the best out there.

- Rolling Stone


"The Killingtons"

It seems there's a Southern California rock quartet for every lawyer in the U.S. these days. Unfortunately, most of them lack in creativity and talent. Not so with the Killingtons.
As a fan of bands like Zebrahead and the like, I was sent a copy of “California Life” by the Killingtons. Weary to open a six-track record, they did just that and killed… and for those who don't know the lingo, that's good.
Overshadowing the pop success of the punk influence in music with bands like Blink 182, and so many others, the Killingtons blend simple sounds with complex emotion set to a faster beat. The beat-keeper, G. Britt, pounds the percussion passionately while Ben Collett's rhythms strum correctly and fervently. An aspect rarely seen in post punk, or the dreaded word describing the new genre (Emo), is the use of keyboards, played by Kristyn Mancuso, all done with a flair for melody and harmony.
The namesake of the band rests with' guitarist/vocalist James Killington. Seeming unparalleled vocally, Killington leads the band's musical symphony that is sometimes angry as well as demanding.
This ultimate California road trip record lends guitar riffs from all walks of the musical life and creates powerful transitions on tracks like “Give In” as well as the title track. “Weekend Drive” spells out the perfect emotion for a trip right up the Pacific Coast. “California Life” picks up where most fly-by-night Southern California bands leave off. - Maximum Ink


"Lollapalooza"

(killingtons review paragraph #8)

LOLLAPALOOZA
VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATER
SATURDAY, AUGUST 16



The best band at Saturday’s Lollapalooza was all hot Indian/Middle Eastern percussion rhythms and hypnotic, transcendent singing. A fluid fiddle player bowed the strings of her instrument magnificently, adding colorful new elements to a combo whose music had become predictable over the years. The band’s flowing, orange-tinted wardrobe and shorn locks added wondrous visual stimuli to the sonic presentation.

Yeah, when the Hare Krishnas are Lollapalooza’s best band, you know the day’s mostly been a bust. So much a bust that we opted to leave early, just before A Perfect Circle started their twilight set. For there was nothing in our imagination that any of the four headlining bands could’ve done that would have challenged us, excited us, fed our intellect or revived our faith in the holy spirit of rock & roll.

During the traveling fest’s first four years, Lollapalooza gave us such gifts many times over. But that was all pre-"alternative," before the word became just another marketing device, and certainly before Lolla’s death-spiral years of 1995-1997, when the fest’s producers tried to pass off Metallica as hip and cool, neatly repackaged for KROQ airplay.

So when we first heard Lollapalooza was being resurrected this summer, we were hopeful. We wanted to believe the bands would be diverse enough to include quirky jazz and country acts like the Charlie Hunter Trio and Palace Songs, as it once did, as well as a wild mix of "rock" in all its variants. We wanted the potential to discover new favorite bands—bands we’d never heard of before Saturday. We wanted musicians of different colors, genders, cultures and styles to weld themselves to each other and explore the possibilities of what new, weird, wonderful things they could sculpt. We wanted art and poetry and beauty. We wanted to free political prisoners in countries whose names we couldn’t pronounce. We wanted to free our minds. We wanted our asses to follow.

Instead, we got a triumph of mediocrity. A broken promise. Sterility. Blandness. A touring Exploit-O-Fest that’s now the aural equivalent of name-brand margarine. A slick sea of product placement that rivals the Warped Tour for crass commercialization.

Evidence, you want? Gladly. Though the show was sold out, people could still buy tickets through the Ticketmaster website—but only with an American Express gold card. There were text-messaging games Lolla-goers could play throughout the day, but only if you owned the right brand of cell phone. In the gaming tent, kids—potential recruits, really—could blast away at big, bad Iraqis on the U.S. Army’s official video game, an unseemly bit of propaganda more apropos for Ozzfest than what Lollapalooza once was. Women were marginalized, from the print ads that depicted nubile young things thumbing their way to the show, to the Paint Your Tits booth (staffed by two creepy-looking guys, of course) we encountered in the amphitheater’s vendor area. Where once there had been political and social activism tables of all viewpoints—right-to-lifers and pro-choicers coexisting!—we now counted just two, stuffed away near the beer hut, which charged $10 for a single brew.

As for the music: once there was an eclectic clashing of genres; now it’s mostly just rock-band-rock-band-rock-band. And that’s why we cut out with the setting sun rather than suffer through A Perfect Circle; the self-centeredness of singer Maynard James Keenan we can barely tolerate even when he’s with his other, better band, Tool. Or Audioslave, the poorer, tamer parts of two much-missed bands (let the Rage Against the Machine reunion countdown start any day—please!). Or the not-half-bad-but-not-half-great-either ordinariness of Incubus. Or Jane’s Addiction—fronted by the guy who helped start Lollapalooza—now desperately, depressingly making a go at the sort of fame they ruined with heroin the first time ’round. On their new record, they sound old and used—how can we miss you, indeed, when you won’t go away?

And yet, we still found music we liked. Old friends the Killingtons, with JK Thompson helming an all-new lineup, were like aural comfort food after years of fad dieting—they’re more melodic, graceful and hooky than ever, and the new songs we heard were terrific. Banyan, side-project brainchild of Jane’s drummer Stephen Perkins, were also superb, a four-piece punky jam-band with Nels Cline on guitar, the iconic Mike Watt on bass, and a guy who twiddles around with paint as the music goes off—Dead-ish prog-rock meets the Minutemen’s old esoteric outbursts. There was this trio—we’re pretty sure the name was Golden Buddha—who blasted a sort of punk-meets-raga cacophony of rhythms. Jurassic 5 were fantastic, throwing out smart, witty rhymes and going off on kazoos while DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Mark took over mid-set for some mind-melting turntable gymnastics.

But nothing topped the Krishnas—and we can see them for free at Venice or Laguna Beach almost any weekend - OC Weekly


"The Killingtons 3 EP 7"

Call it rock, call it power-pop, call it emo (just not around me). No matter what you call it, the Killingtons have released a splendid three-song teaser. This three piece builds up their songs until they reach a sort of crescendo, bust out some rock, then break it back down only to build it up again. The first time I heard them I thought they were pretty good, but the more I listen to them, the more I like them. And their live show is just as good. I can't take my eyes off their drummer. Saying “he goes off” would be an understatement. My favorite song on here is "Thursday." There's this part of the song where they are at a peak, everyone briefly pauses and all you hear is this cool guitar feedback, then they go right back at it again. It gets me every time. You'll know what I'm talking about if you listen to it. I can't wait to hear a full length from these Southern Californians who are destined for bigger and better things. But in the meantime, be sure to pick up a copy of this 7". - Hand Carved Magazine


"A Matter of Settling In"

When it comes to the world of rock’n’roll fashion, things come and go. Boots, hairdos and pant styles come and go almost as quickly as the leaves blossom and fall from the trees each year. There’s one thing, however, that’s always fashionable for bands to wear: their musical influences on their sleeve.

With hundreds of acts vying for the allusive attention of the underground set, it’s always tempting to make where you’re coming from as visible as where you’re going. There’s 2,000 bands that sound like NOFX, 1,500 like Fugazi and hundreds bearing a more than casual similarity to Braid. Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but it’s also a fast lane to getting your band’s idea to the masses.

If that’s the case, the Killingtons would be one of those perpetually out-of-style kids that littered the halls of high school. Though the band knocks out some rocking post-hardcore that’s as much at odds with the emo stereotype as it is in love with it, parading its favorite bands in its songs is one of the furthest things in the band’s mind. With a background stretching far from the traditional punk and hardcore canon, the Killingtons’ background frequently comes as a surprise to many of its fans.

"A lot of bands come up to us and say ‘We really like your sound. What do you listen to?’" said bassist Chris Meunch. "We tell them, and it’s like ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ But no, this is stuff we love."

The stuff the band loves, big surprise, isn’t a mix tape of Fugazi B-sides and forgotten Honcho Overload tracks, but rather an encompassing mix of everything from Britpop to shoe-gazer bands like Catherine Wheel to deep electronica. Such a musical outlook isn’t just good for throwing fans for a loop, it also provides the Kilingtons—singer/guitarist JK, guitarist Mitchell Townsend, drummer Michel Bravine, and bassist Muench—with a style that’s not so easy to pin down. Just trying to easily describe the quartet can be a difficult prospect.

"We just got back from doing some dates with Nerf Herder and we were joking with them that we call ourselves shoe-gazer metal," Muench said with a laugh. "We’ve heard so many different terms. We have a big rock sound, but we do have a big influence from the shoe-gazer bands like Catherine Wheel and My Bloody Valentine. We’ve had people call us emo, which we don’t consider ourselves a part of. We’re very melodic, moody, an aggressive shoe-gazer band."

Maybe one of the reasons the band’s style isn’t so cut and dried is the amount of time it spent developing it. While the band’s first full-length release, The Killingtons (Meg), hits stores this month, it comes after a five-year incubation period. Getting together again in 1995 after playing in high school bands, JK and Muench reunited to form a power pop band, with Dan Hennessey playing drums; after Hennessey would be forced to quit the band to study photography, the remaining pair would be stuck searching for a replacement drummer. It wouldn’t be a long search.

"A friend of ours brought Michel in to an audition on drums. They just met the day before. He walked in and we wouldn’t let him leave after that," Muench gushed.

The trio’s style would slowly migrate away from its pop-punk leanings to its more full-bodied indie rock sound as well. Starting while playing with Hennessey, the Killingtons began tweaking their style, slowly pushing it in the direction of bands like Sunny Day Real Estate. It’d be a period that would find the trio writing, trashing and then writing more songs in an effort to discover its sound.

"We sat in a rehearsal studio for six months, two days a week just writing songs. We’d go through them and then go ‘No, we’re not happy with this,’" Muench said. "We kept writing and writing until we landed a set we were happy with. Since then, we’ve kept writing and writing and we’ve landed a style that we all love, and we’re still at."

For many songwriters putting a bullet so mercilessly into the heads of their creations would be an act of heart-wrenching destruction. For Muench and company, it was a simple matter of growing up. Trashing its songs was never an obstacle to the band, simply because it knew where it was progressing.

"I like the music more now than I did then," Muench said, describing the band’s ease to let go of songs. "It was less of a style that I enjoy."

Building a style every member of the band could fully throw themselves into wasn’t the only step the Killingtons would have to take before finally maturing to the band making its appearance on The Killingtons. Playing as a trio for several years, it wasn’t until recently that the band picked up its second guitarist, though, according to Muench, it was a change the band’s members saw coming a long way away.

"For a long time we were in denial about needing one," Muench said. "The way the album was recorded, we told JK we had to have another guitarist because there’s parts if we played it live it wouldn’t sound right."

Similar to picking up Bravine, the Killingtons didn’t have to search high and low for their newest member—he was literally sitting in the studio with them the whole time. After engineering the band’s album, Townsend was a quick shoo-in as a second guitarist.

"He was there for the whole process," Muench explained. "He’s just this amazing guitarist, so he knew everything anyway. We didn’t have to teach him. That was a big deal with us."

After five years, then, the Killingtons’ trajectory is finally set. Its lineup is established, song styles are cemented. Still, however, the act’s style isn’t totally focused and set permanently. With a new member, come new dynamics, new songwriting possibilities, and, of course, a lot of excitement for the future. It’s a future Muench looks forward to with anticipation.
- Aversion.com


"The Killingtons self titled"

PopMatters home
short takesThe Killingtons
The Killingtons
(MEG)
by Jeremy Hart

Okay, prepare for a bit of rock-critic sermonizing. Ready? Good. Over the last few years, I've noticed a lot of good middle-of-the-road rock being marginalized by both the indie world and the world of alt-rock radio, and dammit, it sucks. Bands that aren't obscure enough get the cold shoulder from the indie kids, and bands that don't strictly follow the formula are ignored by the mainstream. The result? Bands that don't fit in either scene end up in musical Limbo; sometimes they're lucky enough to get ghettoized as "emo," but even that sub-genre has become stratified and formulaic lately, and really doesn't mean much as a whole.

So, what does that have to do with The Killingtons (who aren't, just to get it out of the way, a ska band in any way, shape, or form)? These guys are part of the new school of pop-rock bands, exemplified by folks like Jimmy Eat World and Samiam, who aren't afraid to dig out their own little niche between the two musical domains. Inevitably, the "emo" underground and mainstream rock are converging more and more, and in the process borrowing sounds from one another and evolving; a little Police melody here, an odd-sounding Archers of Loaf guitar bit there.

Take The Killingtons' music as a prime example of the combination -- raging, complex indie-rock guitars, insightful lyrics, and punk intensity, married to poppy melodies, a heavy dose of unjaded romanticism, and almost arena rock-style production. There are elements of a lot of different bands and styles on here, from The Cure to Sunny Day Real Estate; Swervedriver and My Bloody Valentine are as much touchstones as Husker Du. "All My Friends Are Vampires" and "Belly Dancer" are catchy, fast-burning rock songs, nicely balanced out by the beautiful swirling Britpop of "Ninety Three" and "Bent." Heck, "Balladovie" is a sparkling, ethereal ballad (with even a little of Jeremy Enigk's solo album thrown in for the shine), and the band follows it up with "Staring at Concrete," a track that starts slow and delicate but then cranks up the amplifiers and turns into one of the better songs the Smashing Pumpkins never wrote.

It's coming near the best of both worlds, at least for people like me, who love lots of thick, overdriven guitars blasting through sweet melodies and pretty harmonizing, but who happen to find the lyrics of your average "Buzz" band to be roughly on the level of bad 4th grade poetry. Is The Killingtons perfect? Not quite; I'll be the first to admit that sometimes it's sappy (see "In Memory")...but sometimes it's pretty brilliant, as well. - Popmatters.com


"Local Flavor: The Killingtons"

local flavor: the killingtons

by kristin findlay


As I drove down the 405, listening to KROQ's "Zeke's Back Yard," I got my first taste of the Killingtons. I'd met a couple of the band members before: Chris Muench, the melodic bass player and Michel Bravine, the new drummer were friendly faces from my daily visits to the Coffee Bean, where they hold down their other jobs. But I'd never heard an actual song of theirs. The radio blared "The Best I Know," a catchy song that covers a range of emotions. Inspired to check out their first full-length album, I immediately related to their lyrics, which tackle the harsh realities of the daily grind.

In contrast to this power emo KROQ sound, the songs, "Balladovie" and "In Memory", are peaceful, soothing and romantic. Singer JK's harmonizing vocals are reminiscent of Michael Stipe's voice peaking out above U2 guitar licks. It's an open door to euphoria, pitching and weaving from a feel good dreamy vibe where every note vibrates through your body, to a more energetic, intense, cock rock n' roll.

Being a rock star wasn't their childhood dream; it just kind of fell into the Killingtons' laps. Five years ago in high school, James Killington Thompson (JK), the singer, guitar, and keyboard player and Muench, decided to jam. And I don't mean strawberry. Pretty soon they were addicted to the musical experience and fell deep into the spell. On stage, the instruments started to play them and as JK put it, music became a "form of heroin," eventually taking hold of them to the point where they couldn't live for themselves.

Quiet and delicate on the outside, yet loud and solid on the inside, the Killingtons’ personalities mirror their dynamic music. Michel Bravine a quiet type known by his friends for catching animals in cages, joined the group, replacing Dan Hennessy. Finally, Mitchell Townsend, a guitar player (formerly of Red Five) was added to the Blend, bringing both talent and looks.

Compared to other local bands these guys have done pretty damn well. They've not only sold over 2,000 copies of a five-song cassette and 1,500 copies of a three song EP, but have also played on many compilations and performed at the Warped Tour. They have wonderfully supportive management (same guys who manage Real Big Fish) and equally devoted fans. Like most bands, the Killingtons have spent time living off nothing, experiencing lack of respect and depression. However, nothing could compare to the tragic loss of two of the band's biggest fans: Muench's mother, Wendy to breast cancer and father, Michael to a stroke. The song "In Memory" mourns their deaths and asks a question that's crossed most of our minds... "Does God exist at all?"

With a newfound energy, the Killingtons hit the road to tour with Real Big Fish. Now that they've made their first album, they’re spreading the melody all over the US. Getting their music out there and doing it their way is the next step. Playing locally gives them the fuel and support they need to rock other lands, but they have goals way beyond the Southern California. They are aiming for the UK, but no matter what, as JK said, they "aspire to tour this whole earth, stopping for no man...We represent a whole other scene that doesn't require Budweiser, Marlboro reds, and missing teeth to enjoy. We're no Limp-Creed-Korn kids but we try."

If they would just put their Pearl Jam/Cranberry's/Liz Phairish track Bent to a trance beat, they might have a number one hit, but the Killingtons have never compromised their musical values for their audience. The challenge is trying to turn on the "majority of fickle tasteless music listeners that prefer simple rap metal songs to anything melodic and different," as JK put it. Even so, the Killingtons envy those who went into law or the custodial arts because at times anything would be better than dealing with the music industry! They're in no hurry to get signed. Rather, they're going to keep paving their own road to success and will stop only when the right hand is extended.

So do they remain slaves to their music? Yes, indeed. "Without music I would shoot myself," says JK, "...like a doctor or priest, music transcends and changes lives. It enhances emotions and gets people's attention, causing a stir of thought." And they definitely do a great job in just that. - Zeal Magazine


Discography

1999: The Killingtons 3 EP 7"
1999: The Killingtons American Made EP
2000: The Killingtons self titled full length
2003: The Killingtons California Life EP

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

As grunge-rock was diminishing in importance and popularity, The Killingtons broke into the Southern California music scene in 1995, influenced more by Europe's music scene than by modern America's. After recording and releasing a six-song demo, The Killingtons toured for months in various clubs around the country. With their name spreading by word-of-mouth, thousands of copies were sold and a loyal fan base increased as The Killingtons' momentum grew over the next few years, gaining them national appeal.
Three national tours and four releases later, The Killingtons gained the credibility they much deserved. Their latest release, California Life, is made up of layers of soft melody, huge guitar choruses, calculated danceable beats and wailing vocals. In The Killingtons' nine year existence. they have not only accrued a loyal fan base, but have also influenced musicians as they continue to share their passion.