Uncle Kurtis
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Uncle Kurtis

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | INDIE

Asheville, North Carolina, United States | INDIE
Established on Jan, 2017
Band Rock Punk

Calendar

Jul
31
Uncle Kurtis @ Static Age Records

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Aug
03
Uncle Kurtis @ The One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Aug
08
Uncle Kurtis @ Soulshine Farm Music Festival

Green Mountain, North Carolina, United States

Green Mountain, North Carolina, United States

Aug
14
Uncle Kurtis @ The Odditorium

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Jul
15
Uncle Kurtis @ Static Age Records

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Jun
20
Uncle Kurtis @ Alley Cat Social Club

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Jun
08
Uncle Kurtis @ The One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

May
20
Uncle Kurtis @ Salvage Station

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

May
04
Uncle Kurtis @ The One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

May
01
Uncle Kurtis @ The Odditorium

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Apr
06
Uncle Kurtis @ The One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Mar
14
Uncle Kurtis @ Fleetwood's

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Mar
11
Uncle Kurtis @ Asheville Music Hall // One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Mar
02
Uncle Kurtis @ The One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Feb
06
Uncle Kurtis @ The Odditorium

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Jan
15
Uncle Kurtis @ The Grey Eagle

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Jan
05
Uncle Kurtis @ 103.3 Asheville FM

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Dec
22
Uncle Kurtis @ The Odditorium

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Nov
28
Uncle Kurtis @ The Odditorium

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Nov
24
Uncle Kurtis @ Fleetwood's

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Sep
15
Uncle Kurtis @ Back Yard Bar

Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States

Black Mountain, North Carolina, United States

Sep
14
Uncle Kurtis @ The Mothlight

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Sep
13
Uncle Kurtis @ Isis Restaurant & Music Hall

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Sep
02
Uncle Kurtis @ Static Age Records

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Aug
22
Uncle Kurtis @ PULP Under The Orange Peel

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Aug
16
Uncle Kurtis @ Asheville Music Hall // One Stop Deli & Bar

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Aug
11
Uncle Kurtis @ Soulshine Farm Music Festival

Green Mountain, North Carolina, United States

Green Mountain, North Carolina, United States

Aug
03
Uncle Kurtis @ North Pack Square

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Jul
17
Uncle Kurtis @ Sly Grog Lounge

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Asheville, North Carolina, United States

Music

Press


It’s not at all unusual for four 14-year-old boys to start a rock group. It is, however, remarkable when that band gets high-profile gigs in local bars and cuts an album of songs, all within a year of forming. But thanks in part to parents drawing on their contacts, that’s what has happened for Uncle Kurtis, an Asheville-based quartet of rising ninth-graders. Uncle Kurtis plays an album release show on Thursday, Aug. 16, at Asheville Music Hall.

“Each of the dads for this group has some connections, and a lot of people are calling things in,” says Roger Darnell, father of vocalist Riley Darnell and enthusiastic spokesman for the band. He says that local club owners are “willing to accommodate us in special ways” by scheduling all-ages shows.

Bassist Quinn Sforza jokingly suggests another reason why his band lands sought-after bookings in a competitive local market full of worthy musical artists: “I don’t think they know that we’re all 14.”

The band’s studio album, Let’s Kill Uncle Kurtis, was released on Girth Records, an indie label run by the brother-in-law of one of Riley’s teachers at ArtSpace Charter School. The group’s music reflects each member’s musical heroes. Sforza laughs when he mentions his influences: “Les Claypool, Jaco Pastorius, Flea … as stereotypical as it gets.” Guitarist Jackson Lee says his tastes run toward “avant-garde composers, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream.” (Drummer Graham Barrineau was unable to make the interview.)

While the instrumentalists in the group cite the sway of ambitious artists, Riley draws inspiration from punk. “To get in the state of mind that I like to be in for shows, I watch Bad Brains videos,” he says.

Some of Uncle Kurtis’ songs feature knotty riffs, but many are built around one- or two-chord motifs; the group members agree that the approach is a sort of a band signature. The vocals consist mostly of Riley shouting seemingly off-the-cuff lyrics over the musical foundation. He says that he jots down lyric ideas on his phone. “And then, whenever they start playing a song that they want to turn into a real song, I’ll just pick one that I think fits the best,” he says.

Since getting together a year ago (some of the members had played together in other groups before their 10th birthdays), Uncle Kurtis has been booked at Soulshine, LEAF Downtown AVL, Sly Grog, Isis Music Hall, Salvage Station and The Mothlight. Roger Darnell says his son’s group has a loyal following, one made up not just of kids.

There’s an unapologetically bratty demeanor to the 10 songs on Let’s Kill Uncle Kurtis (four of which feature explicit lyrics). And the subject matter is sometimes intentionally provocative: “Back to Iowa” is a first-person victim account of a child kidnapping; the central character develops a Stockholm syndrome-type attachment to his male abductor and rebels when returned to his parents. Roger steps in to defend the band’s lyrics penned by his son. “The things that they like to sing about and carry on about make them all laugh together,” he explains.

The lyrics of the nearly six-minute, one-chord album closer “Rubber Man 35” concern a motivational speaker who appeared at ArtSpace. “His father told him not to have sex until he was 35,” Riley Darnell recalls with a laugh.

The violent nature of the album’s title might strike the wrong chord, especially at a time when many teens are protesting gun and other forms of violence (Uncle Kurtis played a concert fundraiser benefiting Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action in May). Sophia Miller, designer of the album’s cover art, claims responsibility for the title.

But when pressed to explain its meaning, Miller just shrugs. When she drew the album cover art, she included a speech bubble above the floating head of drummer Barrineau. “There was some room above ‘Uncle Kurtis’ in the speech bubble,” she says. “So I wrote ‘Let’s Kill.’ And then that just became the album name.”

“It’s not really meant as anything,” insists Riley. “It doesn’t really matter. It just sounds good, I think.”

The lengthiest track on Let’s Kill Uncle Kurtis is the ambitiously titled “Simfonia LaMousea,” a two-chord improvisation that runs more than 13 minutes. Its inclusion is explained in part by the band’s need to record enough music for a full-length album. “It wasn’t like we ran out of material,” explains Sforza, possibly joking. “We ran out of good material.” (The rest of the band responds with hisses and boos.)

Right now, the four members are enjoying the summer before starting high school; their plans beyond that aren’t sharply defined. “We just want to make more songs,” says Riley. “Further develop them, and kind of round them off before we record them.”

WHO: Uncle Kurtis with Seven and a Half Giraffe and Over the Edge
WHERE: Asheville Music Hall, 31 Patton Ave., ashevillemusichall.com
WHEN: Thursday, Aug. 16, 7 p.m., $5 all ages; those younger than 18 must be accompanied by a guardian - Mountain Xpress


Hosts: Johnny P. Kennedy (JK); Cinnamon Kennedy (CK).

CK: That was Uncle Kurtis with Anthem for the Ugly.

JP: Yeah that is, for me, a great song. And I know people who are more technical songwriters are like, stop being an idiot. But that thing is like, what is it, B, D and E chords, and there's no chorus in terms of guitar playing. And who knows if the guitar is actually on beat all the time, and the drums playing a lot of high-hat, like washing-machine sound. And through all that simplicity and noise, it's fantastic; it's great. Like, anyone who adds complexity should listen to that song, because it's like, three power chords, and washing-machine drums...

CK: What does that mean, what does washing-machine drums mean?

JP: (imitates drumming sound)

CK: Oh. That's what I play.

JP: And it's just perfect. Obviously the thing's held together with it's anthem-like chorus of Anthem for the Ugly... is just like that, Anthem for the (pause) ugly, Anthem for the (pause) ugly - is so hooky and true, you're gonna follow this through. But I think the whole song is great, dynamic, super-garage, messy punk stuff. I love it.

CK: I love this band. And I want to say that I am the reason that they are famous. It's because of me. Because I teach yoga to this woman, who's friends with the guy who's the singer, like her son is friends with him or something. I don't know. So she was like, you like punk rock, you should listen to Uncle Kurtis. It all came through me. I take credit. I'm going to take some of their royalties. Should we reveal their secret?

JP: I don't know we should reveal their secret, because I think it's actually-

CK: They have a secret.

JP: -I think it will diminish their power, because then I think if you're like, oh, I get it now...

CK: But what about our global audience? They don't know the secret...

JP: I think they will be like, oh, I get it now... and so I think we should just be like, honor them as like, honor them as like a punk band.

CK: They're a really good punk band, and let me tell you what I like about them. Okay? Uh... everything! Totally love that song. I really super-love the line, do you wish you had no face at all? That's so good. Also, I really admire all of his many exhortations for us to get funky. Like, this is what we have to do. Like, if we're lumpy or whatever, then we gotta get funky.

JP: Yep.

CK: Funky. Funky is a word that I think could just really exist a lot more in every single song.

JP: You've gotta get funky because this is the anthem for the ugly. Like, get funky.

CK: Yeah, he's like, whatever, do you need a shave, do you have some sags? For your head do you need a paper bag? All you've gotta do is get funky.

JP: Well that's the way it is. If you're ugly and rocking this thing out, you'd better get funky. It's the truth.

CK: There's a nice spoken word about being lumpy or fuzzy or having a fat tummy. Anyway, that's a great song.... - Holy Crap Records


Asheville FM’s Jonathan Price, from the Feb. 7, 2018, broadcast of his show, Tenor To Tabla.

“We just ended that set with Uncle Kurtis from the Live at LEAF 2017 recording from last fall. And that was ‘Worst Song Ever.’ You've probably been hearing a little bit of Uncle Kurtis here on the Asheville FM airwaves; in fact, if you tuned in last Friday evening to Steven Mental Notes Howard, Steven actually had the band live in the studio for an interview...

“I had a chance to see Uncle Kurtis in concert last Saturday at the One Stop in downtown Asheville. I think those guys have only played about five or six shows total and they're all 14 years old... and it was really something. I think you're going to be hearing more from Uncle Kurtis. In my opinion, they had a lot more going on than many bands that are more than twice their age. I'll just say that.” - 103.3 Asheville FM


The four men who make up the Asheville-based rock band The Stump Mutts are all fathers, and three of them have daughters in middle school. Fed up with gun violence in schools, Neal Ward (lead vocals/guitars), Derek Allen (guitars), John Lindsey (bass/keys/synth) and Patrick Wells (drums) wrote the song “#SaveMe” the day after the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla. All proceeds from the song’s online sales will be donated to the nonprofit group Everytown for Gun Safety, as will funds raised at the group’s This is Not a Drill concert Sunday, May 27, at 3 p.m. at Salvage Station. Local grunge rock duo The Styrofoam Turtles and teen rockers Uncle Kurtis open. - Mountain Xpress


"There are several great tracks on this disc, and I hope that some of y’all who are still uninitiated will give this a spin and support these local dudes who have made tremendous strides presenting a solid base of eclectic, original tunes in their first year of existence..." - Tenor to Tabla


Discography

"Let's Kill Uncle Kurtis" - Girth Records, 2018.
"Uncle Kurtis: Live at 2017 LEAF" - self-published, 2017.

Photos

Bio

Launched in August, 2017, Asheville-based psyche/punk band Uncle Kurtis is on-the-rise for originality, musicianship, and captivating, highly energetic live performances. Consisting of Graham Barrineau on drums, Riley Darnell on lead vocals, Riley "Raul" McCorvy on guitar, Jackson Lee on keyboards, guitar and vocals, and Quinn Sforza on bass. The growing list of completely original Uncle Kurtis songs blends the bandmates’ interests in punk, jazz, funk, reggae, and countless other influences. 

After debuting as part of an Experience Music Showcase at Salvage Station, the second Uncle Kurtis performance at the Fall edition of the Lake Eden Arts Festival was recorded, and in the hands of Asheville FM DJ Steven Howard and his colleagues, their original tracks “Back to Iowa,” “Circus Time,” “Pigeons” and “Worst Song Ever” have been getting regular airplay ever since. Uncle Kurtis – Live at 2017 LEAF debuted in the #21 spot on the station’s Top 30 List of LP Releases last December. 

In November, 2017, the band hit Recording/Mastering Engineer Jack Kiefert’s Atlanta-based Rex Recording Studio to record "Let’s Kill Uncle Kurtis." The band recorded the first-ever studio versions of nine iconic original creations. 

Released at a launch party at Asheville Music Hall on Aug. 16 thanks to Girth Records, "Let's Kill Uncle Kurtis" is available on CD, Download + Stream via Amazon, Apple Music, iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and beyond. Uncle Kurtis continues building its audience in Asheville and beyond with live performances at music festivals and numerous renowned venues.