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A Dirty Dozen with KYLE NICOLAIDES from BEWARE OF DARKNESS – October 2019

| 9 October 2019 | Reply


According to a recent press release: “After a three-year hiatus, alternative rock band BEWARE OF DARKNESS (aka Kyle Nicolaides) is back with the exciting new single “Bloodlines” out on October 11th via Bright Antenna Records. The powerfully infectious song will remind you how much you missed Beware Of Darkness. The track ushers in the rebirth of a sound that is rock and roll dipped in mindfulness, and is as refreshing as it is addictive.” We get Kyle himself to discuss new music, influences, and much more…

1. Tell us a little about your new song “Bloodlines.”  What might a fan or listener not grab the first or second time they listen through?  Are there any hidden nuggets the band put in the material or that only diehard fans might find?

Loads actually, If you play the song backwards, it reveals the plot to the new Star Wars movie. I whispered parts of my will and inheritance into the bridge for anyone who listens closely, and in the guitar solo the rhythm patterns that guitarist Jeff Schroeder plucks are actually Morse Code coordinates to a Music Man guitar I buried in the desert. Just kidding. The only thing I can think of is there’s a guitar trick I do where you use a Digitech Whammy pedal to dramatically scoop up to an entire chord, that sort of sounds like a tape machine turning on. I love that sound. I cut a lot of the rhythm guitars at my house which is something I’ve proud of and the first Beware of Darkness release to do that.

2. What got you into music, and can you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to be a musician?

As a kid, 4 or 5, I had a wildly traumatizing fear of the dark and going to sleep every night. I thought monsters were outside my window trying to come in and get me, so I created this imaginary game where if I sang, it would keep whatever demons or monsters outside at bay, so that’s how and when I started singing. Singing was the only thing that soothed me and what I would later realize were depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It’s why I have such a close relationship to my voice and get disheartened if I can’t sing for any reason. A couple years later, maybe I was 7, I remember having this absolutely wild epiphany moment in my mom’s car. It was night, I was in the back seat of her old Mercedes and I remember the moment, still so vividly, we were crossing over a freeway bridge that arched over the lanes, I looked up toward the sky, the universe was smiling, and I had this overwhelming feeling that I wanted to do something different with my life, with my time on earth, just a zap ping of realization downloaded to me that a 9 to 5 wouldn’t cut it, and I had to find something special to do. Within a few weeks my best friend started taking piano lessons, and I followed suit, and nothing was ever the same.  Music hit me so hard, and it almost felt divine. I think songwriting, sound, and music have always been a way of healing for me; a spiritual medicine. The way I grew up, music was always around, always there. My Dad is the most passionate music fan out there and Mom would play me Bonnie Raitt, Sting, and The Beatles endlessly as a tater tot.

3. Building on that, is there a specific song, album, performer, or live show that guided your musical taste?

Songs: “Cant Find My Way” – Blind Faith; “In The Waiting Line” – Zero 7; “Airbag” – Radiohead; “Dear Prudence” – The Beatles; “Theme” – Jon Brion; and “Too Many People” – Paul McCartney.

Albums: Nick Drake – Pink Moon; Radiohead – Ok Computer; Beatles – The White Album; Jeff Buckley – Grace; and Paul McCartney – Ram. I adore Paul McCartney so much. He’s my favorite of all time.

Live shows: We were on a family vacation in the motherland of Greece when I was in junior high, and my dad saw that the White Stripes happened to be playing a theatre in Thessoloniki. We changed vacation plans and I was front row GA next to my Dad, we got bruised ribs because the pit was an absolute ruckus and 3,000 Greek people were pushing against it, and it forever changed my life. There’s something special about being young and seeing your favorite band when you still see those musicians as bigger than life idols, and not these diva demons or flawed humans backstage bitching because the hummus is warm. It was magical. When I was 12 or 13, I saw Jet, The Vines, Wolfmother, The Hives, The White Stripes, The Strokes, Queens of The Stone Age, all in a 9 month period and it blew my mind wide open.

4. Who would be your main five musical influences?

The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jeff Buckley, Paul Simon, and Kanye West.

5. If you could call in any one collaborator to do a song with, who would it be, and why?

Mike Dean. I idolize his productions and would love to do a rock song with him. I bought most of my studio gear trying to find out what gear he uses on what he uses. I think he’s the greatest out there right now. Malay would also be a blast.

6. How would you describe Beware Of Darkness’ music to someone who’d never listened to you before? What is the one comparison a reviewer or fan has made that made you cringe or you disagreed with?

I don’t. I just send them a link, and let them decide. I don’t describe music. I just listen to it. I just make it. I do the same with food. I love experiencing food, but I don’t have the vocabulary to describe it. I know how it makes me feel and to me that’s all that matters. When we first started out, a couple people compared us to hair metal bands and it nearly ruined and upset me so much I almost wanted to quit, and start over. I thought, “How the hell did I get so off my tracks that people are getting a hair metal vibe?” It was so offensive to me, because I think hair metal is the dumbest and worst thing of all time, and here I was, this ultra-sensitive depressive dork, who adores Fiona Apple, George Harrison and Nick Drake, and somehow people are getting Ratt vibes? Nope. It also just got so weird for a minute, because at the beginning of the band, my motto was, let’s just do anything to get on the map, without any regard to aesthetic, or look, or how it would effect us. So our manager at the time and got us on all these heavy metal shows and tours with acts like Korn and Asking Alexandria, and Five Finger Death Punch. We’d be in front of all these audiences who’d never seen a piano before; the type of people who hate Obamacare but love the ACA. The other bands wanted to incite mosh pits & violence, and I remember getting up in front of those crowds with pink flower pants and melodies, thinking, “What the fuck is happening, how did I get here, and what do I do.” Looking back it was wild, and now it’s a good story I guess? But sarcasm is also a front for suffering so who knows.

7. Beware Of Darkness was a 3-piece band but is now a solo project. How did that change come about and how will the music sound differently from then to now, it at all?

This has always been a doozy to explain to people and I’ll give it my best shot. In a lot of ways Beware of Darkness was always a solo act and never a band, but in a lot of other ways it was always a band and never a solo act. I got signed without a band, and then made a band. I was basically always doing everything: I wrote, recorded, and performed most of everything on the records besides drums. That being said I / we never would have done anything if it weren’t for Tony, Dan, Hayden, Lionel, and Jon, and at times when depression hit hard, they cared about Beware of Darkness more than I did, brought more joy to the road then I could, and in other ways brought way more to the table than I ever could. They were in the trenches with me, playing so many crowd-less shows, never complaining, giving their all, slinging merch, and being the kindest and more generous, selfless guys to fans, and in that sense it was always a band, in a van, running around the world even if we were barely getting paid. I tried and wanted to make it a “band.” My dream was to have a consistent U2 or Zeppelin lineup where everyone contributed but it didn’t happen, and that’s a-ok. Life is change, and this just, well, changed. I could just never figure out the correct balance of having it “be a band” and I personally feel it was always a football I fumbled, but in other ways something always felt wrong about it, so there you go. We took press photos and presented as a band, but behind the scenes was always a different story. I could just never reconcile it. You add my depression weaving in and out, (it’s hard to be a team leader when you don’t want to alive) with a tendency to undo everything and destroy everything I was creating, and it happened exactly how it was meant to. It was complicated for me. So I guess now it’s like a Nine Inch Nails, or Queens of The Stone Age setup; a changing breathing thing. Something I do genuinely love is playing and recording with new musicians and when you’re not tied down with members you can do that. I just love watching musicians work and their different approaches cos you can always learn something. It’s so inspiring, and creates so much joy for me. How will the sound change? I can safely say it will be a more focused and better Beware of Darkness, more aligned with the vision of what it’s always meant to be and true to the aesthetic vibe and sound now that I don’t have to be an Uber driver for drunk and high bandmates, give them housing, buying them food and haircuts, and be a codependent band boyfriend all the time. I am now a single mother and thriving.

8. When was the last time you were starstruck and who was it?

Every time I see Rob Schnapf I fangirl so hard and don’t know how to act, and it’s always so embarrassing. He produced records that are so special, like XO by Elliott Smith and The Vines. I guess it’s a weird one for me, cos no one would know who he is if he were walking down the street. I don’t really care about famous people, most of the time its like “Ryan Adams, you’re standing in the doorway, can you please move, I need to get through and buy coffee, thank you.” (This actually happened to me). Once, I was working at The Village Recorder studio, I opened the door, and I was face to face with Nancy Wilson of Heart. It stopped me dead in my tracks, and I melted. It’s also weird because I’ve never listen to Heart and am not a fan at all, so maybe her energy and aura as a person was like a car crash to my consciousness.

9. What is the best part of being a musician? If you could no longer be a musician for whatever reason, what would be your dream job?

The best part about being a musician is meeting people. Some of my closest friends I’ve met through music, and I’ve had so many life changing experiences with friends I’ve met because I started a band and wrote songs. I also love and treasure every person and fan I meet on the road. Those interactions give true purpose and meaning to my life. If not music, I’d probably be a therapist? Yoga teacher? Shaman? Author? poet? Run for office in government to try and work to turn this planet around? Or I’d move to the woods somewhere beautiful and isolated and become a monk or guru, totally abandon western civilization and call myself Nicolaides Dass.

10. What is one question you have always wanted an interviewer to ask – and what is the answer? Conversely, what question are you tired of answering?

I’d love for someone to ask me about books that have changed my life or books I think everyone should read. Radical Acceptance – Tara Brach; Still Life With WoodPecker – Tom Robbins; This Is Water – David Foster Wallae; Tao Te Ching – Lao Tzu; White Noise – Don Dellilo; and When Things Fall Apart – Pema Chodren. Or any question about “Fraggle Rock” or “The Dark Crystal.” The questions I’m tired of answering are any question that feels like copy and pasted it, with no regard that I am actual person here spending my finite heartbeats answering. I’ve spent the past 4 days doing nothing but answer email interviews so when I see a thoughtless question, it just takes me more time to have to spin it and over answer it in a way that will be interesting.

11. Looking back over your career, is there a single moment or situation you feel was a misstep or you would like to have a “do over”, even if it didn’t change your current situation?

I love the use of “single moment” here. You’re asking someone who used to painstakingly examine every misstep I’ve ever made, whether it’s saying the wrong word in a conversation, or making a big career choice, and crucify myself nightly, over and over again. I’m talking full blown physically painful and earth shattering panic attack almost every night. Ruminating and recycling like dryer filled with demons that the choices I’d made completely fucked up my life, and I have no future because of those mistakes. It was awful. But to answer your question, most everything I look back on with the eyes I have now and think, Christ of course I’d do that differently, but hindsight is always 20/20. Now, thankfully out of my own vicious crucifixion cycle, here’s my view: After plant therapy and regular therapy I really believe that everything happens for a reason, the alignment of the universe is perfect, and there are no such thing as mistakes or missteps. Whatever we do we are on our path. If you think you made a “misstep,” the only real choice you have is to hold yourself with the utmost kindness and compassion. We’re all doing the best we can with what we have, and we’re all dealing with our pain in different ways, and we made decisions at the time based on what we think is right. Beating ourselves up won’t help anything. It took me a while to learn how to let go, and love myself with every “misstep”. Human are the only species on earth that made a mistake once and pay for it 1,000 times. Here’s the other thing: The way my brain works, I learn the most when I absolutely fucking things up. Now I love failures and missteps because it means you’re doing something, getting out there, living. Society has such a weird relationship with mistakes and failures especially now with social media. We’re expected to be perfect all the time, and people are ashamed to fail or make mistakes, but that’s how human learn!! It’s all backwards! God forbid we let humans be humans here. When there’s no room for trial and error, there’s no room to grow. Now I wake up and whatever it is, yoga, a session, a songwriting day, a show, I pause before I begin and with humility and reverence ask, “What can you teach me today? What do I need to know today?” Because then if you have a “hard day,” make a mistake, or just completely fuck it up it’s the exact lesson you were meant to learn and download that day, and it winds up being a humbling positive experience. It turns pain into purpose, uncomfortable situations into heart-affirming lessons. So to finally answer your question, yes I honestly feel like I’ve made every mistake you can make from touring, to lineups, to money, to branding, to business, to leadership and communication, etc. but those all taught me how I want to do things and how I don’t want to do things. From completely fucking things up, and realizing, oh, that doesn’t feel good, let’s not do that again. But are they missteps or lesson and exactly what I needed to go through at the time? Who even knows dawg.

12. If you could magically go back in time and be a part of the recording sessions for any one record in history, which would you choose – and what does that record mean to you?

The White Album – The Beatles. I’d be enamored to know how they recorded, crafted songs, the gear they use, everything from demo-ing to mixing. What a great question. Wow.





Category: Interviews

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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