An Interview With War Kites

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Jack Rawlins (vocals/bass) Sam Morris (lead guitar) Henry Ainsworth (rhythm guitar) & Connor Di Leo (drums) make up War Kites, an alternative/indie band who formed in Birmingham, U.K., in 2013. They recently released their debut album, “Skinny Dipping In The Koi Pond.” You can check out the album and the rest of their music here, on their SoundCloud.

I recently had the opportunity to chat with these four talented guys from across the Pond over email, and I asked them about their new album, their musical inspirations & the thought process behind a few of their songs.

 A Perfect Playlist: How did the band get started?

WK 2jWar Kites: (Sam): Jack and I knew each other from previous bands, and I knew Connor and Henry from school (they were a couple of years below me). When Jack’s and my band broke up I was like “we have to get this drummer Connor I know, he’s insane!” and Jack suggested this guitarist he knew (Henry) who liked experimenting into different genres, which kind of made it all fall into place.

APP: How would you describe your sound?

WK: (Connor) Well… It’s a mess really. The album I mean. There’s no real logic or consistency, but we like that. We just played what we thought was right and recorded it. We sound different at every show; I’d like to think we’re unique… Listen to the album! It explains a lot haha.

WK: (Henry) I’d agree and say it differs hugely from track to track. My favourite sound, by that I mean the sound that I aim for most, is found in the middle of the album, on the Skinny Dipping tracks; a sort of airy, heavily reverberating, clean guitar. I like the indistinctness of the instrumentation, like shoegaze records of the nineties.

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APP: How did you think of the name War Kites for the band?

WK: (Sam) It’s a funny one, because bands always have really cool stories about how they came by their name, but it really did take us ages to come to it! We tried out a few names before we came to ‘War Kites’ and then one morning Jack just came out with it and we all loved it!

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APP: How do you become inspired to write a song?

WK: (Connor) Believe it or not, as a drummer, I do in fact contribute to the song-writing process. I am often given an idea or stimulus by another member and I attach it to a vibe. I work best when trying to create a landscape or story. Like painting a picture I guess. I’m not great at making up a riff or melodies but I do love my chord progressions!

WK: (Jack) When I listen to a classic song or an album. Not specifically from the same genre. But one that hits me or connects with me in some way. I pick up my guitar and create a riff for a start and build from that. Lyrics come out of nowhere I suppose. My literature studies definitely help, but apart from that it’s all up in the air.

APP: Who were some of your musical inspirations as a kid, and who are they now?

WK: (Sam): I was hugely into the alternative rock/emo movement, like seriously. Fall Out Boy were a huge inspiration to me early on, but nowadays I’ve fallen more into more of a desert rock persona; I love Queens of the Stone Age.

(Henry): My dad’s music always had a huge impact on me growing up, and so I’ve always liked ‘old’ bands, for lack of a better word; the likes of Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen etc. To some degree this has stayed the same, and I’ve explored far more in this area; David Bowie is an idol to me. I’ve also of course found my own niche genres that I love. I’ve moved away from rock music a lot lately, into quieter electronic and acoustic genres alike. Lo-fi folk such as The Microphones, Mountain Goats and Neutral Milk Hotel heavily influence the way I play with sounds, with far less emphasis on polishing. On the other end of the spectrum, I’m also a huge fan of heavily produced dream-pop indie bands like The Antlers and Beach House, which inspire me with atmospheric backdrops to beautiful songs. I could go on forever, basically, I like a lot of music.

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(Jack): I started off pretty obvious. The Beatles were always a favourite from growing up and my parents playing a compilation. Classic rock always gripped me to an extent, but also metal and fast paced music. Now I’m into extremely chilled music, really avant-garde stuff. I still appreciate a great songwriter though; I’m going through a Neil Young phase at the minute.

war kitesAPP: Describe your new album, “Skinny Dipping in the Koi Pond,” in one word?

WK: (Henry) Ever-changing.

APP: What is one successful song you’ve heard that you wish you would’ve written?

WK: (Sam) ‘Jose Gonzales – Heartbeats’ is just a beautiful song, for me it would definitely be that one.

(Jack): ‘Africa’ by Toto.

(Connor): ‘Happy Birthday’.

APP: My favorite songs by you guys are “I Found No One,” & “Jeff Bridges.” Where did the inspiration for those songs come from?

WK: (Sam) ‘I Found No One’ was a funny one, we’d finished the album and Jack and I were just playing around with some chords that we really liked. It didn’t really fit in with the rest of the album, but we liked it far too much to let it go, so we just recorded it right there, in one take, and left it on the end of the album as a nice conclusion.

(Jack): ‘Jeff Bridges’ was a chilled homage to the eponymous actor, who inspired most of the band in the film ‘The Big Lebowski’ and other films. The song is about trying anything to be noticed, and making the most out of youth to the point of running away from pressure and subjection.

APP: Have you guys done any recording/any shows in America?

WK: (Connor) Not yet. YET.

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APP: Anything else you want to say to readers of A Perfect Playlist?

WK: (Connor) Blogs like this is what this industry should be all about. Keep them alive, read, share and follow them! Also, keep listening to music; everything and anything.

(Henry): Exactly. Don’t get hammered into a single genre or style of music. There’s so much stuff out there, and anything written sincerely by somebody who means it is worth listening to, it’s a rare opportunity to look inside someone’s head, and even if you don’t know them I think that’s fascinating. Some of the best music is written by the people whose only training is a few guitar chord tutorials online and ten years’ experience as a lumberjack, even if they can’t sing for shit.

(Jack): Love each other and keep on rockin’ in the free world.

This is the first time I’ve interviewed a band for my blog, so it was really exciting to be able to talk with War Kites & put this post together. Thanks so much to Sam, Jack, Connor & Henry!

Wanna see/hear more of War Kites? Click below for their social media!

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