Artist to Watch: Kilroy Kobra
10-piece retro-rock band Kilroy Kobra has been busy gaining a following in the Atlanta music scene, having just released their debut LP Man of the World back in September. The 10-piece band includes: Michael J. Barnard on drums, Michael Denness on percussion, Zachary Harrison on trombone, Andrew Rowland on trumpet, Edward Gloria on bass, Matt Petino on guitar, Tommy Uribe on guitar, keys and lead vocals, Joshua Seckman on synths, and vocalists Carly Jones and Asiel “ZaZu” Langely.
Frontman/producer/multi-instrumentalist Tommy Uribe met the majority of his bandmates within the past year—Harrison and Rowland through Barnard—but he says that he wrote all of the material on their debut album long before actually forming the group.
To form the band, Uribe claims that he first sought out musicians online. “Eventually, I started hitting people up over the Internet,” he says, laughing. “I found our bassist via Craigslist. He had friends in another band that was breaking up, so they ended up being our brass players. So we’re all still kind of getting to know each other, but it’s been awesome.”
While the band may seem like a hodgepodge of different personalities, their sound is cohesive, tailored, and, yes, diverse.
Uribe says that to draw inspiration, the band used Spotify to create a playlist where each band member added five songs that they liked monthly. This helped the members get a feel for everyones’ tastes and visions.
The bandmates come from a variety of musical and cultural backgrounds, bringing a unique edge to their sound.
It’s hard to know where each of us come from, since we are 10 people,” Uribe states. “We come from a lot of musical backgrounds. I come from a Latin American background, but I’m really into psych rock, so it’s kind of a mixture. But everyone kind of brings their own flavor. It’s exciting to bring all of our genres together. Honestly, I kind of want to live in a more compassionate world, and I find the best way to do that is through music.”
The diversity definitely comes through in the band’s unique sound. Uribe grew up simultaneously listening to Latin American music and classic rock (The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, all that good stuff). Now, he says he can’t seem to find many genres that he doesn’t feel inspired by. These unique combinations of sound drive the tone of the band.
The cultural melting pot of Atlanta also serves as inspiration for the group. The singer says that having an audience open to combinations of sounds allows the band to experiment. “The audience of music listeners here are very open to a lot of different genres, and that’s what I want to do: I wanna challenge listeners to listen to many genres,” Uribe says. “Find the similarity in music instead of the difference. It’s more rewarding that way, I think. There are so many different cultures (musically and literally) here in Atlanta that we should celebrate that, in an inclusive way. Why can’t hip hop and psych rock bands share the stage? Why can’t a funk band play a Latin song? Those questions seem ridiculous for obvious reasons, but why aren’t there more artists locally doing this? So, why not us?”
Uribe tells me that the new group is still figuring out how to write together. Since the lead singer had originally written alone, there has been a bit of a learning process for the musician. He felt that writing alone was too much of his “own flavor,” and that adding new musicians with individual sounds added a lot to the texture of the overall result.
He reveals that the band has already started writing new material together. “After we recorded the whole album as a band, it just all came together. Now, two or three people are mostly getting into the songwriting, and everyone else is kind of adding their ideas on as we go. It’s a collaborative effort for sure.”
This unorthodox group recently released a new project in the form of a visual album entitled Man of the World.
When asked about the process for the album, Uribe says, “a few of the songs in Man of the World were songs written while I was in another band, Otium, that just didn’t work out but that I wanted to hold on to. As that band started to slowly break up, I started going to the Atlanta Institute of Music and Media and was introduced to the creative world of recording. That led to an infinite source of inspiration due to me not having to rely on other people to come up with musical parts, changes in the song, other creative ideas—it was just all me, and I was learning to become inspired in other instruments I wasn’t skilled at thus eventually learning how to play those instruments, including it in my recordings, etc. I started having so much fun with it that I thought I’d purposely plan out an album with all the musical choices I’d love to make in a perfectly tuned album for my taste. So I did precisely that.”
The young musician goes on to reflect that he listened to his favorite albums in detail before recording, paying attention to song order, music theory, and the overall execution of the albums.
“I applied certain things I learned from all my favorite records, wrote a bunch of new songs and added some old song ideas that I re-worked to make sense in Man of the World.”
But, Uribe says, there was still something missing; he needed input from artists with different perspectives to give his album texture.
“Once I got to the end of making and recording the album, I couldn’t help to notice that eventually everything sounded like it was just me—duh, no shit! It didn’t sound alive and collaborative. The reason I say that is because, being from South America, the musical culture that I grew up in was a collaborate party. Everyone is involved, no matter what the topic of the music or the feeling, everyone is just trying to have a good time and letting the music come from within everyone.”
Kilroy Kobra also puts significant effort and thought into the band’s live shows. The frontman assures that improv and audience involvement are to be expected from the band’s unique performances. Ever inspired, they also try to mesh other types of art into their production, as well as having themed shows and special guests from time to time.
Kilroy Kobra is currently collaborating and writing with different hip-hop performers in Atlanta, so be on the lookout for new material.