by Alexandra Mrozowska
– Senior Columnist —
After three years of silence, the Italian Hard Rock outfit Beverly Killz returned with their sophomore full-length. However, a few things about Kingdom could have raised quite a few eyebrows. It turned out to be a self-made album, released independently from any big label and well-known names of the music industry – and made available free of charge in the Internet. What’s prompted such choices? What’s been going on in the band’s camp lately and what other changes does the future hold in store for Beverly Killz? Hardrock Haven caught up with the musicians to find out – and discuss some other things as well.
Hardrock Haven: It took you three years to complete the follow-up to your first full-length album, 2012’s Gasoline & Broken Hearts. What was the band up to during that period?
Beverly Killz: In 2013 Daniele replaced Johnny on the guitar. That took us off the scene for a while – then it took us some time to resume playing live and composing. Also we’re very slow… lazy Italians! (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: You had Gasoline & Broken Hearts mixed by Dennis Ward and distributed by Perris Records; now you’re back with an independent, self-made release. Why it’s not a big label and top producer or sound engineer involved this time around?
Beverly Killz: It depends on several reasons, money being the first. Labels nowadays won’t invest money in a small band, leaving all the investment of recording, mixing, promoting etc. up to the band itself. We’re happy about our previous release but we couldn’t wait to have a big budget again. We really wanted to release something soon. Also, Mak had just started his own studio so the obvious choice was to let him follow the recording and mixing.
Hardrock Haven: What advantages and disadvantages does this kind of independence bring?
Beverly Killz: Of course you will save money and, especially, have a lot of time to record, listen, re-record and mix until you’re really satisfied … but you end up working without the assistance of the “experts” and with no distribution at all for the record.
Hardrock Haven: What is even more surprising, Kingdom was made available for the whole world to check out via SoundCloud and YouTube. Why? Is it due to the unprofitable nature of the music industry nowadays?
Beverly Killz: We really felt the need to release these songs, a bit like “closing a chapter.” We didn’t want to wait to book a studio or get a reply from a label. We thought a free release would make our songs available to anyone who’s interested, which is a good way to promote ourselves. And, yes, to put a price on those songs would produce a really small income and prevent too many people from getting to know our music.
Hardrock Haven: One could say that making your entire album available for free in the Internet is a kind of backlash against anti-piracy policy. With frequent pre-release leaks and uploads of the newly released albums, is it like releasing printed albums stopped making sense nowadays?
Beverly Killz: Well… perhaps if you’re a big band, then it still makes sense. A good share of your fans still want the printed album and we also printed some copies for this very reason. However, most people nowadays listen to music via Spotify or YouTube … or download mp3 files (legally or not). Vinyl records and CD’s are basically collectors’ items right now.
Hardrock Haven: Right, you’ve also released a limited number of copies of Kingdom to order for the listeners with more traditional approach. What kind of feedback did you get – with the whole album available in the Internet, did people bother to buy the actual CD?
Beverly Killz: Yes, we sold copies both using our official website and at live shows. When people feel involved, they often want to support us and take a “piece” of Beverly Killz home with them. It’s funny, because most online orders come from USA and we didn’t have any kind of promotion there … none at all!
Hardrock Haven: Do you as listeners turn to services such as iTunes or Spotify nowadays or still value regular CDs? Or maybe you turned to the resurging vinyl format…?
Beverly Killz: Some of us are real collectors … still buying CD’s, rarities, old Japanese releases.. but it’s not the case with every band we listen to. In most cases, we’re also “digital” listeners.
Hardrock Haven: Even self-made releases cost a lot. What about the financial aspect of playing in a band these days then? I suppose you don’t manage to make a living out of your music – how difficult is it to keep up both with daily jobs and Beverly Killz?
Beverly Killz: We love music and we love play Rock ‘n’ Roll as loud as we can! This is our passion but … unfortunately, as you said, we need our jobs to survive. Sometimes is gets difficult to manage Beverly Killz and to reconcile it with the rest of our lives. You know, rehearsals, live shows, composing, recording sessions onto rehearsals … This becomes hard – especially when you run into the local “show business,” a very frustrating thing altogether. You need to be strong to go ahead with yours ideas and projects. Also, another aspect is that the scene is too crowded and you need to spend more time and money for the promotion than playing with the band! The financial aspect is even more discouraging… money earned covering just the costs. The problem is way too complicated to be explained in just a few lines really. There are many aspects involved in this bad situation that we share with many others bands…
Hardrock Haven: Kingdom was very similar to your previous works in some aspects, but there were also a few surprising moments throughout the album. Did your inspirations evolved since your Street Rock/Sleaze Metal debut EP released in 2010?
Beverly Killz: For sure – as time goes by, you discover new things, change your tastes, new bands come out and all these things influence the music you write. Also, some of the songs on our previous album Gasoline & Broken Hearts were written long before the release, while the songs on Kingdom are all quite new. Well… except “Blue Nights,” which we’ve had “almost finished” for about five years. Finally, we recorded the music – but we still weren’t happy with the vocals in the chorus… we kept waiting and waiting and the chorus your hear on the album was written on the day we actually recorded it!
Hardrock Haven: Do you think the band is up to more experiments sound-wise in the future?
Beverly Killz: Experiments is not a word that we like as it sounds like trying something different for the sake of difference. But one of the advantages of being independent is just to do as we feel, no label telling us which style we should have. If one of us wrote a song a’ la Leonard Cohen and the five of us liked it we would play it happily! (laughs) Okay, we can’t really do that – it was just an example! (laughs)
Hardrock Haven: I think the lyrical layer of the album is as important as the musical content. What’s inspired the new songs in terms of lyrics, and could you take us through Kingdom lyric-wise, song by song?
Beverly Killz: With pleasure, but we don’t want to bother the readers too much (laughs). Just a very quick hint:
“Your World” is about a particular girl that unfortunately was close to us during the early days. She’s one of those fake people that spread hate and grudge, acting like saints on social media but deprived of empathy in real life. Life’s great without having her around! As for “My Kingdom For A Whore” – as you can easily guess it’s inspired with the adventures of one of the greatest comedians of all time, also known as our former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi (laughs).
“Second Home” expresses our bitter feeling about losing unity and the camaraderie among the members of a band and also, the strong wish for that driving force to come back.
“Shock To The System” is about a famous populist political movement here in Italy. Many things changed since its arrival but still too many questions remain unanswered…
“Blue Nights” was inspired by Blue Velvet, a David Lynch movie. One night, after some beers, a weird discussion started: “what if there is an occult underground scene hidden away from this dull living”? You know… what is it like to be trapped in a 1940s time-warp, a place where time freezes for everyone while the band is playing the swing… you barely remember your past life dancing under the moonlight with a lady that happens to be a one-night stand or a partner in crime…
“Crazy Little Girl” is an ode dedicated to a teenage girl after a break-up. Early loves are often the most cheerful ones but also the toughest you have to face when it’s over. Mostly because that reckless snippet of life is supposed to last forever when you’re young.
“My Way Or The Highway” is Vince’s testament. It’s like, “I am not a easy guy to deal with not because I’m rude or hostile but because I refuse to be a sheep, a follower in life. 10,000 people doing the same shit doesn’t mean they are making a rule to follow. I can’t pretend to be always right and of course I’m not but if I want a thing to be done, it is my way or the highway. No compromise. Me against the world, like Neo in Matrix. I may be wrong, I may lose the match but I win my battle against the common lack of integrity, the only thing that really counts to me.”
Hardrock Haven: Kingdom’s cover artwork is a painting by a Polish painter Pawel Kuczynski. Where did you come across his works and why have you chosen this particular painting to illustrate the album?
Beverly Killz: We’d started with the idea that “My Kingdom For A Whore” would be the title track so we were looking for an idea to represent that kind of dirty, corrupted power and how often people are ready to embrace it. We were looking through the works of many good artists via the Internet until a friend of ours showed us the works of Pawel and they were really perfect. Many were appropriate (go to his website and find out!) but the pigsty is the one that put a bitter “sad but true” smile on your face; it really fits!
Hardrock Haven: How do you personally interpret the front cover? Is it a satire of the show business, or perhaps the entire contemporary world?
Beverly Killz: The both things, with particular regards to the social and political situation here in Italy. The idea is of some time ago but it is still actual. The limousine represent the corrupted power of any social level, the politicians and all those are legitimated from the people that, in a way, deserve them.
Hardrock Haven: The album finally out, what are your current plans?
Beverly Killz: Going through some changes again… but for now we keep the surprise. Fans won’t be disappointed!
Hardrock Haven: Is there anything you’d like to add in the end?
Beverly Killz: Beverly Killz are going to be renewed with a new line-up, fresh ideas and more aggressive sound, always near to the original Beverly Killz’s Hard-Street-Rock sound. We’re sure that’s gonna kick some asses. Stay tuned!
Visit the band online: http://www.beverlykillz.com/