February 2, 2012
By Nick Larsen
The Nerd Rock Feature (Trophy Unlocked-All Features Read)
From Seattle, Washington, a new kind of Nerd Rock rises. Varying from ukuleles to electric solos, the nerd rock band, Kirby Krackle is redefining the musical genre as a whole. Comprised by two huge pop-culture junkies, Kyle Stevens and Jim Demonakos, this duo has released four album since 2009 quickly becoming one of the biggest names in the Nerd Rock community. As stated on their “Kirby Krackle Super Power Love Button Set”, they “write original songs about superheroes, video games, love, girls, and things that are awesome.” From starting as just a small band playing music at comic shops, Kyle and Jim have played at venues across the world and were hired by Marvel to create the theme to their web-show “Who Watches the Watcher”. Now my friends follow me as we explore the world of my favorite band Kirby Krackle.
Original band members Kyle and Jim have spent their lives becoming well- studied students of the pop-culture world, allowing their music to become completely infused in their nerd world. Kyle Stevens was engulfed by the comic book’s around the age of 13. He would go on to professionally release multiple albums over his musical career, 5 of them as the front man of the band Laymans Terms. He also released a solo album in 2007 called Songs From The Orange Room, wrote and produced an album for actress Gigi Edgley, and finally created a hard-rock album called Collider. Kyle is the voice behind the music, the front man of Kirby Krackle.
Jim Demonakos is known as the founder of Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con and the chain of retail stores The Comic Stop. As for Kirby Krackle, he is the writer behind music, lending his well rounded pop-culture knowledge to create some of the best nerd themed music my ears have ever heard. Jim has spent his career writing, promoting and editing a variety of books and has even written his own graphic novel, The Silence of our Friends, which will be released January 2012. These two men are the voice and face behind the band that has picked up several members through out the years, from GMK the Great and Kristina Horner to Adam WarRock and Joe Quesada (Marvel Comics Chief Creative Officer), allowing a diverse sound and feel to each and every album and live show.
In the year 2009, their first self-titled album Kirby Krackle was released to the public, quickly becoming popular in comic shops across the nation, marking the birth of the Kracklehead army. This 11 track album (with the 11th being a hidden track), introduced a wide variety of original music and styles from one band in ways that have rarely been seen before. From songs about Mario Kart and The Fantastic Four to a ukulele song about a zombie apocalypse and a love song with a twist ending, Kirby Krackle had arrived. This writer had the great pleasure of being introduced to this album through a live performance at his local comic book shop, Comic Book Jones, where he also met the band in person as well (I have also met them every year since at the New York Comic Con). I’ll stop referring to myself in the third person now. Both Kyle and Jim are amazing people to meet, if you ever have the chance to see the band perform live, I highly recommend doing it. Where was I? Oh yeah, the album! Right from the beginning you are hit with the story of a go-kart racer looking for the way back to the beginning. A lone racer who has been hit by turtle shell after turtle shell, slid on banana peels, and shrunk by constant lighting bolts. There’s a princess in the rearview mirror and Italians on either side, as he loses control, a little yellow man in a smiling cloud brings him back on course. This is a tale almost everyone can relate too my friends the tale of a Mario Kart racing, detailed in, “Back to the Beginning”.
The second track, “One of the Guys”, personifies the Fantastic Four character The Thing. The song dives into his state of mind, giving the listener an idea of his view on the world as well as his view on himself. The ever loving blue-eyed Thing seeks to balance being a friend, a lover and a fighter. The third track “Up, Up, Down, Down” follows the tale of a guy hoping to have found his love at his local comic book shop. He wonders if she even notices him, then she says “Hello”, and that’s when he knows, everything will be okay. At least he thinks that. This would become the first of many songs to have its own music video, the majority of which are animated. You probably think I’m going to keep going track to track describing the music and different topics. Well I would, that’s only because they’re my favorite band, but to save you from my non-stop rambling I’ll stop myself. To wrap up this album I’ll discuss two final tracks.
The seventh track on the album is easily one of my favorites just for the topic and how unexpected it was when I first heard it, “Teabagged”. For the innocent reader out there, no it’s not about the drink; it’s about the act of crouching on your opponents face in an online videogame so the last thing they see before they re-spawn is your virtual junk. A whole song done in the grandest of fashions, all about teabagging someone, about ignoring the fact you are being shot at in all directions just so you can take a squat on the unlucky soldier’s face. Finally, the ninth track, “Counting On You”, takes a slow pace to set the mood of millions of people looking up to one man. As he flies through the night, some call him a bird, others a plane, but to most he is simply known as Superman. Recalling the timeless origin story, the band describes how every night, countless people watch from their rooftops in the hope of seeing him. That these people go to sleep knowing he is there to pick them up when they are drowning and to save them when they fall. They are all counting on him. This first album set the bar for the Nerd Rock community, with a legion of Krackleheads gathering daily, we waited for word of a second album, and when the word was given, it was shouted.
I personally remember waiting each day after the first rumor of a second album was heard, and I began blasting through my speakers the first two singles from the new album the moment they were released, “Ring Capacity” and “Going Home”. The first of the two would become the sixth song off the new album, “E for Everyone” (released 2010), and follow the origin of DC Comics’ Green Lantern Hal Jordan as he fights his nemeses Sinestro. Following extremely close to every comic reference possible, the song builds to a key moment in which the Green Lantern Oath is blasted through the speakers preparing for the finale to the grand battle. Not only was this song a smash hit, but it would go on to have its very own music video just like “Up, Up, Down, Down” and build an extremely large support group that fought to have it featured in the Green Lantern movie starring Ryan Reynolds.
“Going Home”, the eleventh and final track of the album, follows a geek’s journey home (a.k.a. the journey to a comic convention). This song rings true on so many levels from the excitement to the, “Slave Girl Princess Leias with their knowing smiles”, it speaks true to the feeling and passion of any new comer to a comic con. For those of you who read my previous article (“Hey Listen”) I quote this song to describe New York Comic Con, “It’s like a Mecca for geeks under a star filled sky.” Personally this is my favorite album that they have made so to stop myself from rambling to much I’ll tell you of one last song from this collection, “Roll Over”. This is easily one of my favorites, not because of the content but due to the change in style that emerges, and carries through to their fourth album. A mix between nerd-rock and a little rap, “Roll Over” describes a night at the bar with Saturday morning cartoon characters that leads into everyone sharing the same bed. GMK the Great does an excellent job providing the vocals for the third verse in which he raps about the experience in the bar and leads straight into the final chorus as the final people roll out of bed. A perfect flow and mesh of classic childhood characters with the idea of them growing older and more mature with us. The album “E for Everyone”, is exactly what it says, a perfect album for the young and old, with themes and ideas that everyone has grown up on as well as musical styles that set the nerd world on its toes waiting for more.
Another year went by; Kirby Krackle continued to tour and expand their Kracklehead army. Then, in May 2011, a seven track album was released. It included live recording of hit songs from their previous two albums played in Australia aptly titled, “Acoustic in Australia”. Full acoustic versions of songs like “Roll Over” and “Back to the Beginning”, were included on the album which sent 100% of the proceeds towards the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary. Like a free sample at Costco, this would be a mere sample of what was to come, two months later; their fourth album would be released in full force. “Super Powered Love”, a thirteen track album that would show the expansion of their subject range even further by playing off everything nerd. The main difference between this album and previous ones is the subject matter, the majority of the songs revolve around a nameless girl who changes from song to song but, is always present. From “Booty Do Math” and “Then Again, Maybe Not” to “Super Powered Love” and “In Another Castle”, these songs are directed towards a girl. With the exception of the last track (a song about Mario’s ever endless fight to save Princess Peach) these songs find a new personality by veering away from the direct connection to a given nerd-culture icon. Every song from this band is fantastic and I listen too them daily but, at least in this humble writer’s opinion, these songs have a different feel.
Unlike the previous album where I reviewed a select few songs, this time I’m leaving it up to you my reader. Its okay, I believe in you! The album as a whole is fantastic, with each song has its own individual feel and tune, something that I commend Kirby Krackle for being able to do in each and every album they have made. From the child-like fun nature of “Booty do Math” to the cover version of the song “Candy Shop” by 50 Cent called “Comic Shop” to the serious nature of “Hunt’em All Down” (Autobots hunting Decepticons), this album keeps the unique sound that Kirby Krackle is great at, while leaving the music enjoyable for all ages.
From their second album Ring Capacity and “Vault 101” would become downloadable songs for the game Rock Band through the Rock Band Network. Their merchandise, like the Kirby Krackle t-shirt, would be promoted on television on the show Attack of the Show on G4 by Blair Butler through the segment called Fresh Ink. The Chief Creative Officer of Marvel Comics, Joe Quesada would perform live with the band playing guitar at Emerald City Comic Con. Kirby Krackle would go on to create a unique theme song for Marvel Studios for the web show “Who Watches the Watcher?” sending their publicity skyrocketing, swelling the Kracklehead army’s numbers. This Seattle based Nerd-rock band has reshaped the very face of Nerd Rock, allowing their music to reach across all genres of listeners. Their unique sound and musical abilities have set the bar for what it means to be a Nerd Rock band, spreading the word of all things geek. From comics and video games to movies and love, Kirby Krackle has truly shown what happens when you combine the right mix of pop-culture, nerd, and music together all in one. This wraps up my general review of my favorite bands from the realm of Nerd Rock musical style. There are still plenty of bands out there like, Powerglove, Rare Candy, and H2Awesome, so if you have given any of these great bands that I have reviewed a listen, please go out and give the rest a try. You never know, you may find the next big star out there.
As always my fine classy readers, read, comment, enjoy, and eat cookies.