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The Daily Tar Heel

Q&A with Boone band Rainbow Kitten Surprise

The band Rainbow Kitten Surprise is playing sold out shows Friday and Saturday at Cat's Cradle. Photo Courtesy of Emily Quirk.

The band Rainbow Kitten Surprise is playing sold out shows Friday and Saturday at Cat's Cradle. Photo Courtesy of Emily Quirk.

If Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s sold-out weekend at Cat’s Cradle feels like a homecoming, it’s because it is. The band, which was formed in 2013 at Appalachian State University, has been touring extensively in the Midwest in support of its albums “Seven + Mary” and “RKS.”

In anticipation of their Friday and Saturday shows, Swerve Assistant Editor Rachel Jones talked to all five band members about their influences, roots and plans for the future.

The Daily Tar Heel: How does Boone influence you?

Charlie Holt, bassist: There’s a lot of folk music in Boone, like Doc Watson has a huge influence. It’s a small town, but there’s a lot of college bands. So we were always inspired by seeing other live shows in Boone. It’s really great playing a college town because people spread the word into other states.

DTH: What did starting as a college band mean to you?

CH: Just having people there, ready to learn, ready to listen to new music — I don’t know, I think that the college town vibe helped us branch our music out. In high school, no one would show up, but in college, there’s that culture of going out and seeing music. There’s a built-in crowd at a lot of venues. And everybody talks like all the time, so word of mouth spreads really quickly compared to other towns.

DTH: What advice would you give to college musicians?

Jess Haney, drummer: You’ve just got to find those other people who have the same passion for music that you do. And don’t be scared of it, just do it. Get out and play music, and if people want to hear it, then they’ll come and listen. That’s kind of what happened for us.

DTH: What are your biggest influences and how have they changed?

Sam Melo, lead singer: I think just generally as far as I’m concerned writing-wise, my biggest influences as far as lyricists are Isaac Brock and Modest Mouse and Paul Simon. Particularly Isaac Brock because he showed me that song structures could be whatever you want them to be and you can hold a really conversational tone even over pop music, and it creates sorts of a believable, relatable experience, if that makes sense.

DTH: What do you think that zeitgeist is that you’re trying to capture?

SM: Oh, man, I don’t know that there is one right now. I think that the zeitgeist is all kinds of fucked up. I think indie music just kind of generally is going down the shitter. I think hip-hop is the future and anything that can sort of bridge the gap in creating and telling complex stories — kind of like folk music used to, but without the tropes and simple meter, simple rhyming structure. If you can kind of expand the way you’re delivering the story and pack as much punch in as little time as possible — I think song times generally are going to shorten to about three minutes just because we live in an ADHD generation and nobody can handle five minute songs with two minute guitar solos anymore, even though that’s gonna come back eventually.

DTH: Do you think you have songs that translate better to a concert setting than others?

Ethan Goodpaster, guitarist: We actually play a lot of our songs pretty drastically differently on the road than they are in the studio recordings, just to translate them better to a live setting because a lot of our songs have more of a chill, low vibe to them.

DTH: What can people look forward to for these two shows?

Darrick “Bozzy” Keller, guitarist and singer: So I feel the people who are coming to our Cat’s Cradle show who haven’t seen the show that we’ve worked out for this Midwest run; they should be expecting something that you probably don’t get often from a rock concert. We work in monologues to make it more theatrical and just the dynamics of our set. So I think that they should be expecting the unexpected and a good show. They should dance and have a great time.


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