Head Like a Kite frontman Dave Einmo was kind enough to answer my questions via email prior to last Saturday’s terrific set at Chop Suey. Although I’ve seen them seven or eight times, I’m somehow still a little surprised when just Dave and Trent (Moorman, on drums) take the stage and manage to create all that wonderful sound. I’m pretty sure I had a goofy grin on my face their entire set – their shows are just so much fun! More photos after the interview.
Q: Your shows are like house parties with lots of friends and really great music. For anyone who’s not had the pleasure, you usually have musical guests and/or dancing creatures onstage and glitter confetti and happy fans in the audience. It all seems so effortless, but must take a lot of work – how do you prepare for your live shows?
Dave: I try and make the live shows feel like half party and half theater. Our shows are super festive. I love mixing the dancing, furry animals, confetti, film projections and all the costumed mayhem in with the music. It makes it different every night. It can be complete chaos up there sometimes with people running around slipping on cords and tripping over fog machines. But I feed off that craziness. It’s truly a party.
Q: Head Like a Kite is on my list – what are some of your favorite live bands?
Dave: Wolf Eyes! They are absolutely insane live. I mean, get-out-the-straightjackets crazy. Love it. The Juan Maclean were amazing when they came to town in 2008. Flaming Lips. Cornelius when they do their projections. LCD Soundsystem. Lymbyc Systym. Radiohead. Those guys are kings live.
Q: What are your non-musical influences?
Dave: When I mixed the first two albums, I spent significant time browsing the paintings inside the Art Institute of Chicago, which is one of my favorite museums. The way painters use light and color to create dynamics is similar to the way a music producer uses sound to create dynamics. It’s an interesting relationship that I love to explore. I’m also really influenced by field recordings and found sounds. Have you ever been walking down the street listening to your iPod headphones, and then a plane flies over or you hear a bus drive by, and the sounds they create oddly mix perfectly with the song? On one of our US tours I carried a recorder with me and captured sounds from each city we visited. I used those sounds as a backdrop all over the album “There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere.”
Movies influence me as well. I love the pacing and cinematography of Alfred Hitchcock, which introduced me to the composer Bernard Herrmann, who composed the music for classics like Vertigo and Psycho. He also worked on Orson Welles’ Citizen Cane. The music had a huge impact on the mood of these films. It inspired me to create music that feels like a soundtrack. In the case of the first Head Like a Kite album, “Random Portraits of the Home Movie,” it actually was a soundtrack of sorts since it included samples from home movies my dad shot on an old Super 8 film camera from when I was a kid. We still project those films during our live shows. Although they are often obscured by flying confetti, fog machines, and dancing pandas.
Q: The extremely talented Trent Moorman is your live drummer… he sings and plays keyboards as well – is he involved in the recording and/or writing process?
Dave: Trent is an amazing drummer and is one of the few players I know who can play drums, synth and sing all at the same time. It’s a circus to watch. After I finished recording and mixing the first album, I starting experimenting with how to play these songs live for the first tour. I met Trent, who was playing drums with Graig Markel at the time, and I asked if he’d join me on the tour. It went really well, and he’s been playing on every tour since. He’s primarily the live drummer. But he does appear on some of the more stellar tracks on “There Is Loud Laughter Everywhere,” and also on some new songs I recently mixed for an upcoming album.
Q: Head Like a Kite has toured in some far-flung places – any tales of the road you’d like to share?
Dave: You mean like running around naked at a truck stop in Idaho? Or staying out way too late after a show and ordering scotch at 7:30 AM at a dive bar in Las Vegas? Falling into an orchestra pit in Pittsburgh? Playing in CMJ dressed up as airplane pilots and then having to get on the plane in New York still dressed as pilots and making the passengers a little worried that a couple of hung over indie rockers were guiding the plane back to Seattle? Sleepwalking in San Francisco? Eating raw horse in Tokyo?
Q: What would your fans be surprised to learn about you?
Dave: Trent has run about 15 marathons, and I use to be a pro-am bicycle racer and frequently rode 350 miles a week on my bike. I think that’s why our shows are so energetic. We are still addicted to moving fast.
Q: Any HLAK summer shows we should mark on our calendars?
Dave: For Seattle, August 14 at the Crocodile and Sept 7 at Bumbershoot. Fun times ahead!!!!! Lots more stuff coming up that people can see on our website at www.headlikeakite.com.
Q: You seem equally at ease with your keyboards and your guitar – which came first?
Dave: Thanks. Guitar was first. My mom signed me up for a guitar class at my middle school. I was petrified because I was the only boy in a class of 15 girls. I was in 7th grade so it was a little weird. But I persevered.
Q: You’re the only band I know of that’s caused a riot at a middle school. What’s the story there and do you think you’ll ever be asked back?
Dave: They asked us to play an assembly and we were in the middle of a tour, so we thought it would be fun. We’d play there in the afternoon and then hit Neumos in Seattle later that night. We had 4 fog machines, a gigantic amount of confetti, dancers, and all kinds of crazy circus like stuff going on. We played about two songs and the kids went nuts and started rushing the stage and throwing confetti and the teachers were concerned that someone would get hurt. The kids were screaming so loud, it was hard to even hear the music. It was completely insane. Fog everywhere. Confetti everywhere. Kids screaming. Pandas dancing. Trent and I wear wearing Elvis Jumpsuits with feathered boas and rockin it hard. And then BOOM. We got shut down. No, we won’t be invited back.
Q: What’s next for Head Like a Kite?
Dave: I just finished mixing a new album at Electrokitty in Seattle. It sounds stellar. Her Space Holiday and Boom Bip guest on it, as well as members of The Long Winters, Smoosh, The Saturday Knights, Swervedriver, Animals at Night, and more. It’s a party record. It sounds a bit like a DJ remixing an indie band live. Big beats prevail. It will be out in either Fall 2009 or Spring 2010, depending on label stuff. It takes forever for albums to come out. I’m done. I want it out now!