KIN means family. But KIN also does symbolise an all female band, based in the New York area, who makes a brand of hard-edged, groove-oriented bluesy rock. Driving force are four good friends Jodi Vaughan (vocals), Colette Russen (guitar), Colleen Mullarney (bass) and Lisa Barone (drums). Four musicians who have such a strong believe to keep the band going. Since KIN (known as the band BRIGADE in their early days) was founded in 1993 they openend shows for major acts like SLAUGHTER, WARRANT, FIREHOUSE, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss from KISS, HEART, and BLUE OYSTER CULT. This year their first debut album "Behind Closed Doors" is released. Of course Metal Maidens became curious about the band's history. It seemed they had a lot to tell!
What are the musical roots of each bandmember and how old are you?
Colette: "I'm twenty-eight. I played with a couple of cover bands in high school, and a band called THE TROUBLE with Jayne and also a blues band called THE SHARKS. Neither of which ever got anywhere past recording a demo tape." Jodi: "I was raised on gospel and country as a child. Back on the farm I don't think there was a day that went by that I wasn't humming or writing little stories and poems in my head and on paper. In my early teens I was given a chance to DJ at a local radio station. This gave me the opportunity to work with all types of music. It also gave me the insentive to audition for my first band CRYSTAL REIGN which was a southern rock cover band. I was a member of this band up until the day I packed my car and moved to New Jersey where I met up and joined the making of BRIGADE which down the road would become the now acclaimed KIN."
Lisa: "I'm also twenty-eight. I've been playing the drums since I'm about eight years old. I played around in a few bands but none as serious and awesome as KIN."
Colleen: "I grew up listening to a lot of 70's rock. Although I didn't start playing until the mid 80's, the 70's is a major influence in my playing. As for my age? The girls call me the baby of the band."
How did you get together as a band?
Colette: "I joined the band in 1992, when it had already been formed for a while. Jodi and Lisa had been working together for a while with a different bassist and guitarist. When their last guitarist left, they placed an ad in a local musician's newspaper. I had heard of them, and since I had no music project going at the time, I auditioned. I don't think that we really think of ourselves as "all-female." We just happen to be four women who have a certain kind of chemistry together musically. I've never been in a band that worked as well musically as this one."
Jodi: "I moved from Georgia to Jersey in mid-1990. In July of that year I was introduced to Lisa by a mutual friend. We had instant chemistry and began working together. Forming an all-female band wasn't planned. It just kind of happened. Actually, I was petrified on my first audition, because the band was female and not male."
Lisa: "Jodi and I got together in 1990 and played with a bunch of different people but it just didn't seem to click, then we met Colleen and Colette and that's when the band really took off." Colleen: "Towards the end of 1992, I answered an ad the girls placed in a local music paper (not necessarily looking for females). We just clicked automatically."
First you were known as the band BRIGADE. Why did you change the bandname?
Colette: "It's actually a funny story. While we were in the studio recording "Behind Closed Doors", we were trying to think of a name for the album, something that reflected the relationship we had with each other. We're very close, like sisters, and we were looking through the dictionary, trying to come up with something that meant family, but a cooler word. I came up with KIN. Everyone else was kind of wishy-washy about KIN as the name of the album, but someone said (I think it was Colleen) that KIN would be a great name for a band. It turned out that no one was really attached to BRIGADE as the band's name, so we all decided to rename the band. Of course, that still left us with the task of finding a name for the album!"
BRIGADE released a four-track EP "Brigade" in 1995. What happened with the band after the release?
Colette: "We really didn't do enough to promote the album. We were still kind of beginners at the music game, and we let the ball drop, as we say in the US. We were also going through a little band crisis at the time, kind of wondering if it was all worth the work. I'm happy to say that it was!"
What can the fans expect from the new album "Behind Closed Doors?"
Colette: "Great music, of course! No, really we had a great time in the studio, and a lot of that is reflected in the album. We don't get too deep, either. We just want to rock! We write what we write and how it comes out is what you'll hear on the CD."
Lisa: I think fans can expect just great straight ahead rock songs with catchy hooks and amazing lead vocals."
You got some help of additional musicians in the studio...
Colette: "We had decided we would like some keyboards on a few of the songs, and, although I can play keyboards, I'm not as good as a real keyboard player. Our engineer, Chris Vollor, knew a talented keyboardist, named Jim Labita. He did a really great job. When we were working on "Four Little Butterflies" the back-up vocals were not coming out like they had in rehearsals. We tried a million things, before we asked Kandy Cox, who is a friend of Colleen's to come in and sing. She did a terrific job, so we decided to use her on a few other songs. We used Jeff 'Flash' Gordon on "Box". He doubled Jodi's lead vocals all the way through the song. He added a kind of 'spooky' element to the song that we liked. Rich Moses is a drummer who works for the band as Lisa's drum tech. He was visiting us in the studio and started fooling around with a conga part, and it was so good we ended up recording it. I think it was a good decision to use extra people in the studio. It added other dimensions to the songs that we couldn't provide ourselves."
KIN had the honour to work with producer Ben Smith (better known as the drummer of HEART) during the recording of the EP. How did you get in touch with him?
Colleen: "Lisa, Jodi, and I were at a HEART concert. As usual Lisa was able to get us backstage where we ran into Ben. We told him all about the band and luckily we kept him long enough that HEART left him behind. Next thing you know he is in my car listening to "River of the Deep".
But why did you choose to produce "Behind Closed Doors" yourself.
Colette: "For a couple of reasons. The first was purely material. Ben lives in Seattle and we're in New Jersey/New York. We're separated by 2,000 miles. He and his wife were about to have a baby, and it wasn't really feasible for him to come out here. It would also have cost us a lot of money that we didn't have at the time. The 4-song EP was produced in about two weeks. The album took almost five months. The other reason was musical. Ben did a teriffic job on the EP. We learned a lot just by watching him and listening to his ideas. He helped us get a little perspective on our music. So, when it came time for us to go into the studio for "Behind Closed Doors", we applied all of the things that we learned from him, and did it ourselves. However, it is a lot more difficult to be a producer and a musician at the same time. You can't relax because you are either playing or criticizing what you are listening to."
Why did you also put the song "River Of Deep" (from the EP) on the new album?
Lisa: "River Of The Deep" is such an amazing tune!! We knew this cd would be heard by a lot more people and we didn't want such a great song to go to waste and not be heard."
How does KIN work in the studio?
Colette: "Lisa, Colleen, and I go in and record our rhythm tracks together first. We feel that this makes the music sound less sterile and "studio", and allows each of us to interact with one another (eye contact and such). After we're satisfied with all of the rhythm tracks, I go in and lay down a few guitar overdubs. This is where I can get creative. Usually I wait for Jodi to be finished with her vocals before I do my leads, because I want to be able to hear how she sings certain lines so I can incorporate that attitude into my solos. That's my favorite part, the interplay that goes on among musicians."
What's the foundation of a KIN song?
Colette: "Mostly a riff. Lisa brings in a riff or Colleen and I are jamming on something and we just work it out. We try to get a tentative song format together, and then Jodi adds a melody and lyrics. This is generally the way songs are written with us."
Jodi: "It may be one that gets the fire going, but it's all four that keeps it burning."
This time Colleen also played on a fretless bass. Quite a challenge?
Colleen: "Yes, it was a challenge. The song really needed a fretless. I could just hear it. So, I needed to sit down a figure out how I was going to accomplish this. It took a few tries, and I'm happy with the outcome."
To what bands did you listen to in your teens and to what bands are you listening nowadays?
Colette: "I started playing guitar in the "Guitar God" period of the late 80's, so there are a lot of those influences in my playing. I listened to RUSH, AC/DC, LED ZEPPELIN, WHITESNAKE, STEVE VAI, JOE SATRIANI. Then, when I realized that my nature was not to play 'fast and furious' all the time, and that I wanted to express a little more emotion with my playing, I turned to the blues a lot more like STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN, ALBERT KING, ERIC CLAPTON, JIMI HENDRIX, TAB BENOIT. I just believe in using the entire instrument to emote."
Jodi: "I've had the pleasure of listening to all types of music. Growing up a southern baptist preachers daughter gave me the chance to listen to a lot of gospel and country music. And as far as rock and dance are concerned I can thank my older sister and brother for that one. This day and time I still love listening to AEROSMITH. Steven Tyler is an amazing performer in my book. Also, I enjoy JEWEL's music when I've had a long and stressful day."
Colleen: "In my teens I strictly listened to rock. Now I find myself listening to just about anything that catches my ear."
Which musician(s) had a major influence to each one of you and made you decide to pick up an instrument in the first place?
Colette: "I don't think any specific musician made me want to pick up the guitar, although I have tried to emulate many of the players I listed above. I was being a rebel teenager. When I was in high school, I was a very talented flute player, and my teachers told me that if I practiced five to seven hours a day, I'd be professional in a few years. Well, when you're a kid, you don't want to hear that. So, much to my mother's chagrin, I picked up the guitar. I got into University playing the flute, but I never stopped playing guitar, and here I am!"
Jodi: "BETTE MIDLER with her role as "The Rose" in 1978 I believe."
Lisa: "For me it was and still is Ann and Nancy Wilson of HEART. The first time I heard "Dreamboat Annie" I knew that was it, they had such an effect on me I knew I wanted to make music and from that day on I've been hooked!!"
Colleen: "My brother Ricky and some local musicians in my area."
Is the band a hobby for you or a professional job?
Colette: "Well, it's more than a hobby, but doesn't pay enough for a professional job (yet!), so all of us have other jobs to make ends meet."
Jodi: "I consider it my profession, but I also believe you should take it serious enough to be dedicated, but not to the point it drives you insane. After all, I started playing music because it was fun."
How does KIN enjoy herself on and off stage?
Colette: "On stage, of course, we love to entertain and have fun. Off stage, we do fun stuff together. On occasion we all go away for a weekend, just the four of us. It's great. We work on new material and just hang out."
What are the ambitions of KIN?
Colette: "We want to get signed to a major label and tour for real and be able to do music for a living."
What are the future plans of KIN?
Colette: "We're already hard at work on music for the next album. We're trying to do as many shows as possible to promote "Behind Closed Doors" and we're also shopping the album to major labels."
Do you have anything to add to this interview, any comments or is there something you'd like to say to the readers of MM?
Colette: "Thanks for the chance to be interviewed! And to the readers of Metal Maidens: Rock On!!!"
Jodi: "I'm sure a lot of you know this and have heard it over and over again, but you only live once and if you have a dream I see no harm in trying to make it come true. If you do, then the best of luck to you."
Lisa: "Thank you very much for giving us the opportunity to be in your magazine."
Colleen: "Yes, take a chance and pick up a copy of our new CD "Behind Closed Doors", you won't regret it. I promise."
Interview by: Liselotte Hegt/courtesy of Metal Maidens.
BRIGADE: 4 track EP "Brigade" ('95)
KIN: CD "Behind Closed Doors" ('98 Blackpaw Records)