In today’s GO! Magazine, I had enough room to tell you about Portland’s Water & Bodies, a new band from four of the five fellows who brought you the longtime prog-punk band Kaddisfly. Two of those fellows — Beau and Kelsey Kuther — grew up in Bend. (Aaron Tollefson and Chris Ruff round out the lineup.)
Water & Bodies is playing Saturday night at PoetHouse Art to benefit local humanitarian organization Rise Up International. Also on the bill are the Empty Space Orchestra and We Are Brontosaurus (sorry about spelling your name wrong in print, guys). That’s a mighty fine lineup of quality rock bands. You should go see this show.
Still unsure? Download a song from Water & Bodies’ brand new EP and take it for a spin:
Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough room in GO! to do as much on this band as I would’ve liked. Maybe next time. But here in limitless blog-land, space is no issue. And Beau Kuther was nice enough to do an e-mail interview in which he fills us in about the band and its origins, motivations and goals. I’ve edited it for spelling and punctuation and posted the full interview after the jump.
Frequency: What happened to Kaddisfly?
Beau Kuther: Our bass player and good friend Kile Brewer decided to leave the band last July. He wanted to pursue other avenues of life with his wife in Denver. Not really a shock to us because it’s not like we were making tons of money or had any big plans at the time. After 8 years I think the wear and tear of being in a touring band just got to him and he didn’t want to live that lifestyle anymore, which is totally understandable.
We spent the next 5 months trying to figure out what to do next ’cause we all very much wanted to continue making music. Do we get another bass player? Stay as a four-piece? We had a major label interested in us enough to pay for us to record some demos. So we did that as a four-piece. Nothing from that panned out. It just didn’t feel right anymore playing as Kaddisfly. We wanted a fresh start with a new outlook on music. The best thing for us to do was put Kaddisfly to rest and be excited about life and a new musical outlet.
F: Were you all bummed about the end of that band, or did it seem like a relief, a blessing in disguise, something that needed to happen? In other words, was it time to move on from Kaddisfly?
BK: Of course we were a bit bummed. We’ve been eating, breathing, and sleeping Kaddisfly for the last 8 years, but as we have found out many times along our journey, something great always comes from a bad situation. If your intentions are pure, good will always come your way. It was time to move on. Ya know, it was time to see what else was out there and we couldn’t be more excited.
F: How did Water & Bodies come about?
BK: When the four of us started writing music together 6 months ago it was amazing. Kelsey picked up the bass and started incorporating some synths and drum machines into the mix. Aaron was writing simple yet melodic guitar riffs. Chris was singing melodies that bands in the ’80s would die to write and bringing the piano into almost all the songs. The music was just flowing out of us. It was different than anything we had ever done. The approach to writing was so pure. The music was so groovy and fresh. We had a hard time coming up with a name, but one day Aaron and his brother Cory were driving to Eugene and came up with the name Water & Bodies. He called me and asked me what I thought. We all just looked at each other and said yes! That’s it! This is Water & Bodies.
F: What’s the difference? Are there different motivations? Different goals? Different philosophies? Different ways of doing things?
BK: The main difference is the music I guess. How we go about writing songs now versus how we have in the past. The writing process is more open now. We’ve written songs based off bass licks or drum rhythms. Chris is taking on a more storyteller approach to writing lyrics. He is trying to get his message told in a more upfront fashion instead of always having the meaning of a song be so ambiguous in the lyrics. There has even been some switch up of instruments where Aaron will jump on bass and we have two drum kits going. Just doing whatever we can to make a song reach its full potential. We just want to write good honest songs that people can enjoy on any level.
F: I saw this on the band’s blog: “Ryan sent over more mixes to listen to and I am blown away at what we have accomplished. Recording live just sounds so much better. It’s so raw and real sounding. It captures the moment and the feeling of this music like nothing else. It’s what we have always wanted to do, but in the past have always had outside voices telling us other wise.” Can you elaborate a bit on that? Who was telling you to do otherwise? And how is Water & Bodies more what you always wanted to do than any other project was?
BK: I guess you could say the outside voices were one part our own and one part people working behind the scenes with us. By the end of Kaddisfly I feel like we were trying too hard to write a “song the industry would like.” I don’t know, we were all just in a weird place. Not having Kile with us and not really knowing the future of the band had us all overthinking everything. We were kind of lost in why we play music in the first place.
Once we made the choice to start over with a new outlook and mindset it just felt right. A cleaning of the mind I guess you could say. We weren’t thinking about any of the BS. We were just enjoying playing music together and having fun like when we jammed for the first time years ago. When it comes down to it we are just four friends trying to do something pure, fun, and honest for anyone who wants to listen and enjoy.
F: Besides its music, Kaddisfly was known for being a bit quirky – the long song titles, the interesting artwork on the CDs, the big concepts behind the albums (like the seasons/geography motif on “Set Sail The Prairie”). Is that something you want to continue with Water & Bodies? Or do you plan to strip much of that stuff away to put more focus on the music?
BK: We just want to write good timeless songs. We want to follow in the footsteps of great bands that we have always looked up to like Tears for Fears, TOTO, Smashing Pumpkins, and Steely Dan whose music will live on forever. We strive to write undeniably good music on any level.
F: What’s on the horizon for W&B? Obviously the EP just came out and a physical release is due soon. Are you working toward an album?
BK: Yeah the EP just came out which was goal number one for us. We are very happy with the music, but even more excited about the music we are writing right now. My friend Josh Northcut, who plays drums for Prize Country, was at one of the first Water & Bodies shows. After the show he came up to me and said, “Wow, if this is the music you guys are writing now I can’t wait to hear what you will be writing a year from now!”
That’s always stuck with me ’cause I hold his opinion very high and I’m excited about the future. We are all working real jobs for the time being and enjoying life in Portland. We have been playing locally a lot and the reaction has been amazing! People are coming out and having a blast at the shows. It’s always a big party! We are going to do some short tours this summer. Heading down to California in July for a string of dates. We are going to try and release a vinyl/CD package for the EP in July as well. Just taking things as they come, ya know. We have a ton of new material so I bet we will start doing some pre-production for a full-length soon.
F: Finally, Bend is always a homecoming for you and Kelsey. What do you most look forward to when you play in Bend? Anything you want to say to the hometown fans?
BK: I look forward to the familiar faces and places. Even though every time I’m back in Bend there is some new development that wasn’t there a few months prior. Bend is a wonderful town, I guess you could say city now! I feel very fortunate that I grew up with such amazing surroundings. After being around the country many times there really is no better place! Oh and Super Burrito. Shout out to Mark Nason, Jake Price, and the rest of the Bend crew for always making our time spent in town a party! Love all you guys!
Tags: Water & Bodies