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Beware of Darkness – Orthodox, the DenverThread Record Inter/Review

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Beware of Darkness is on the upswing - and just appeared in Denver last week. (Photo: Rebecca Joelson)

Beware of Darkness is on the upswing – and just appeared in Denver last week. (Photo: Rebecca Joelson)

LA’s Beware of Darkness played the Larimer Lounge a few days ago, and those of you who were there no doubt saw a hi-energy performance that will likely be relegated to many “Were you there when…” threads of conversation soon enough.  If you haven’t heard of them yet, it’s probably just a matter of time before you will. Beware of Darkness is on an upswing – and that’s a good thing.

Their hometown pedigree notwithstanding, this power trio has a lot going for it that actually sets them apart from the usual LA fare. Remember Mother Love Bone – the proto-grunge glam-metal outfit fronted by Andrew Wood that spawned most of Pearl Jam (and arguably the Seattle explosion itself)? Beware follows in those pretty large footsteps, and adds some Black Crowes swagger, and  almost Beatles-esque songwriting on their debut record. “Orthodox.” Heavy in guitar, this record is a solid, straight up rock ‘n roll record. Sure, there are debut record shortcomings, but the overall feeling of this one is that it’ll lead to more good stuff from the band.

The first single, “Howl,” bleeds Billy Corgan with it’s central riff, but quickly evolves into a raucus scream, not self-conscious at all. Other tracks like “Sweet Girl” smack of pop, while others wax anthemic – like “Amen Amen” or “All Who Remain” – and don’t carry the swagger through, but the balance of this record makes for a strong debut. 

I got the change recently to speak with an erudite and delightful Kyle Nicolaides – frontman/guitarist from  – as he re-strung his guitar for the Denver show, and learned a few things about the beautifuyl women in Denver and the power of the Used Record Bin.

Read on, to get a taste, below the link to the strong “Holy Men” (not on the new record):

DenverThread: How’s the tour going?

Kyle Nicolaides: “Great  – Denver is one of our favorite places to play…. Everything seems so healthy here – Denver has the most beautiful women in any of the places we’ve played…”

DT: Coming from an LA native, that means a lot.

KN: “But it’s a different kind of beauty – it’s a natural beauty. It feels organic here. It’s nice. Walking down the street, it seems everyone is just leaving their yoga class or something.”

DT: Tell me about the band name – any relation to George Harrison’s tune from 1970?

KN: “It has everything to do with it- I got that record at Amoeba. An y’know when I was growing up in Santan Barbara, all the CDs were like $20 – that’s why people are pirating music, by the way – and when I got to LA,  I went to Amoeba records, and found the used bins. They’re a musical lifesaver – and when you’re broke, the used record bins are beautiful. You can lay down a few bucks for a cd – or less – and learn about so much music. That’s where I got the record, and it just stayed with me – especially that song. That record really stuck with me – it was like the first one I’d found that actually tried to express someone’s belief system with pop music – tried to make someone’s life a little better.”

KN: “It’s so important – y’know – I remember I was on Wilshire in LA one day when we were thinking of a band name, and I saw the record and the title “Beware of Darkness,” and I thought – hey, that could be a cool name. And it means so much, too – about watching out for negativity & all that.

DT: And George Harrison has always been that way – always so deep, spiritual, and so often so underrated…

KN: “Yeah! And the title of that song is so much like our music, my attitude. I mean, it’s “BE AWARE” of the darkness. Y’know, you can choose not to fall into the darkness. I just feel like there are so many people who don’t realize they have that choice, y’know? Life is like that – you can meet a challenge, or deal with something by choosing to take it on, or you can react in a programmed, reactionary way. Life is like that, and so is our music.”

DT: Does the name get a few heads to turn? It seems like such a typical Doom/Metal/sludge sounding name – which your band decidedly is not.

 I like Smashing Pumpkins, but I’m not the biggest fan of Nirvana. I mean, when these bands were playing, I wasn’t even conscious! 

KN: “Yeah – everyone always thinks we’re going to be some thrash metal band – and obviously we’re not. Every time we go to the UK, as soon as they hear our name they laugh. And – even now – the sound guy here is blasting metal out there while I’m re-stringing. I had to tell them they had to get this guy to stop playing metal. It’s like he’s warming up the crowd…and we’re not that band.”

DT: How about influences? You’re definitely rocking a ‘90s sound – full of Smashing Pumpkins, a little Alice in Chains, Primal Scream, maybe even a little Black Crowes swagger?

KN: “That’s so funny, ‘cause i never listened to them [all those ’90s bands]. I mean, I like Smashing Pumpkins, but I’m not the biggest fan of Nirvana. I mean, when these bands were playing, I wasn’t even conscious! I liked some of the Alice in Chains from then, but just the acoustic stuff, and a little Soundgarden – but everyone hears that sound in us.”

DT: It’s not a bad thing, necessarily – I think it might be your huge guitar sound – and you have an almost Black Crowes or Mick Jagger swagger in your voice and guitar – so there’s a’60s base and a ‘90s cover, maybe.

KN: “When we recorded this album, I was listening to Fiona Apple and David Bowie more than anything else. But we do get the ’90s comparison a lot.”

DT: You sound a lot older than your media kit makes you look – you’re obviously a thoughtful person. How old are you?

KN: “Thanks! I just turned 23, actually.”

DT: Well – you’re a man wise beyond his years – both musically and phiolosophically (as much as I can get from a 10- minute chat, anyway).

KN: “I hope – I believe that’ll serve me well  – that it’ll turn out good for me, and help me through a lot of things. I think so. I’m a pretty positive person.”

DT: I do, too. Just keep digging through the used record bins, and you’ll never really get old.

 

 


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