*”I started this band totally ‘Do It Yourself’ and been running it ever since like that. Nobody’s ever given me advice, I’ve never really asked for it because as long as we got by and had a good time, I was able to tour, put out albums, I’ve been happy.” – Kim Nekroman
Life on the road of broken down vans and time; with a Danish accent dipped with American rock n’ roll Kim Nekroman talked about life, music and “Living the Dream” during our interview for the Pensacola News Journal’s weekly music column “Music Matters”.
As co-headliners of the “Tonight We Unite Tour” that featured punk legends The Casualties, the Nekromantix switched closing spots throughout the tour. For the Pensacola show, Nekroman, Francisco Mesa (guitar) and Lux (drums) had to follow a Casualties set that featured guitarist Rick Lopez starting a near riot, impromptu punk crowd games and more while peppered about a non-stop throttle of teeth-gritting street punk.
The Casualties definitely gave Kim and company a run for their money in the intensity department, but the two bands are two separate beasts in the same cage. At Vinyl Music Hall, the monsters shared the stage for a crazy night of music.
Here is a link to the Pensacola News Journal article and the full interview where Nekroman discusses music, racism in the rockabilly scene and his relationship with Horrorpops frontwoman Patricia Day follows below.
KN: I’m standing here in Virginia, in the rain.
MS: With the touring, performing, recording, what is the greatest part of the entire Nekromantix experience for you?
KN: That’s a hard question because it’s sort of like when you do one thing, you kind of miss the other and vice versa, so I say it’s just a combination. I think that life experience is probably what it’s all about when it comes down to it. But then, you’re on the road for a long time, you’re like “Oh, man. I really want to go into the studio”, but after a week in the studio you’re like “This is boring.” It’s kind of like that. I think it’s the combination when it comes down to it.
MS: I have to ask you, last week, on your Facebook page you wrote…”Living the Dream”. Your story is inspirational, you served your county and then all of a sudden you started this rock-a-billy band and you’re touring the world. What does that phrase “Living the Dream” mean for you?
KN: Well actually, that phrase, I didn’t put that in the status. We had another breakdown and we were just trying to keep the good mood in the bus and I wrote that “Living the Dream” knowing that people would not know what’s going on right now because “Living the Dream” that day was sitting on the side of the freeway waiting on a spare part. That was, I guess my Danish sarcasm.I knew people would read it as a positive thing, which just made me laugh. Sometimes I actually do write random stuff on Facebook just to see the funny reactions. Because it could turn a crappy day into something totally different because people come up with all sorts of funny comments.
MS: That’s true. The human mind is a crazy thing sometimes.
KN: Exactly and I mean, why not use the Facebook thing for exactly that. It doesn’t have to be one direction communication thing.
MS: You mentioned the breakdowns on tour. What is the craziest thing you’ve seen on the road?
KN: I don’t know. I mean…it’s almost like, “Been there, done that.” I guess I’ve seen everything by now. It’s crazy because the last six tours we didn’t have any-knock, knock on wood-any breakdowns at all, but these breakdowns, they haven’t been major, but major enough to keep us stranded until we get the part, its minor things, but minor things can result in losing a show.
MS: I know the Tonight We Unite Tour just kicked off the beginning of July. This is your headlining show, you’re with The Casualties, Down By Law, Lower Class Brats, What are your expectations for this tour for you and the Nekromantix?
KN: This tour is actually a co-headlining tour with The Casualties. Like tonight, they’re closing the show and we’re just swapping. It’s kind of different because we both draw two different audiences and there is a crossover audience. I guess the cool thing is to play to somebody different than you usually do. That’s always a good thing. That’s why it’s always amazing when you go out with bands of different genres, we’ve been touring with now Casualties, we’ve been touring with Rob Zombie and you know it’s always interesting.People are like, “Oh, what the fuck is this shit?” waiting for the headliners. If you can make at least two or three new fans or just see on Facebook, “Oh, these guys are cool. I bought the album.” Then that’s an achievement and that’s a good reward. Because it’s one thing playing the music for people that have been following you for ages, but if you can impress somebody new, that’s always a cool thing. And that keeps the spark going because when you’ve done it many years, I’ve seen other musicians, they’re bored and they don’t really have it anymore. I guess it can be hard to act like a teenager when you’re not a teenager anymore, but to me, when I’m up there onstage, I could be 18 because to me, like playing, you know playing a game or something, and that’s…as long as I have that feeling, I’ll keep continuing. If it one day felt like a job or like, (drops into a deep business man voice) “Oh, I have to go on the road to make money, to pay blah, blah blah, blah,” I’d be like “Fuck that!” I would rather get a normal job.
MS: I agree. This leads to my next question. I saw you guys last year at Vinyl Music Hall and you had The Howlers with you and they had a black frontman. I’m black myself and I wanted to ask you, “How do you feel about the diversity in the rock-a-billy scene” there’s a small bit of racism that exists in a small degree. How do you feel about that?
KN: You know what? You actually make me laugh right now because he’s actually Mexican.
MS: Oh hell (We both laugh)
KN: But you know what, the worst. Ok. This includes more than you can ever imagine. The front guy and the guitarist are actually twins.
MS: Aw. No way!
KN: And you know what? All the time we’re joking, calling them black.
MS: Yeah, yeah. I thought he was.
KN: And you know what? I can’t wait to tell them this because they’re going to laugh their asses off.
MS: Oh god, that’s insane. That’s fucking awesome.
KN: It is awesome. It’s fucking insanely funny, but it’s funny you ask me because every tour, I’m counting how many black people actually show up to our shows. I don’t understand because the roots of this music, back in the days, it was black people. I don’t get it. When I meet black people, I’m like, “What is going on?” And most of them are saying, “You know what. They’re just all trapped in that hip-hop thing.” I’m like, I don’t understand it because they’re white people trapped in the crappy Britney Spears, but they’re also white people that have fucking taste, you know. So, I don’t get it. But I don’t think, the people I know, I haven’t met any racist people and I know that as soon as a little tad of it, people are going nuts. Like on the forums. There was this band where one of the members had a past. White power stuff, he had old tattoos, which he actually covered up and was on the right track, but people are freaking out. So I see actually the opposite of racism. Now living over here in the States now, it’s like a different thing. We have all the Latino, Hispanic thing and sometimes there can be something going on there, but in general, I don’t see it. I just don’t get it. Actually on this tour, it’s funny you ask because I actually kind of notice. On this tour, I’ve seen one black person, a female. One and she was all the way up front in Cleveland. And you know, not that she was sticking out or anything, she was like totally, I could see her hair, the way she dressed, she was part of it. And I was like, I’m weirded out, Why don’t I see more. And I know in New Jersey and New York, there’s always a guy, like there’s always this black guy and a white guy always hanging out, they always show up and he’s like crazy huge fan. And it’s like you know, to me, I don’t really see people’s color, but I do notice and I find it kind of weird that it’s still so separated in this country.
MS: I agree. Thank you for saying that Kim.
KN: I think it’s not just one side, I think it’s everybody. It’s just weird. It’s weird because I just moved to a different house in Los Angeles and we don’t like the all-white areas because they’re so fucking square, we like the ones where you have Asians next door, black people across the street, you have…the whole mix makes it interesting. But in general, the psycho-billy scene, I don’t really see any racism at all. I see, I laugh about it is when I hear Mexicans calling each other “n*ggers” you know.
MS: Yeah. That’s crazy.
KN: It’s crazy, but then again, it’s kind of cool because, again, me and this other guy were talking about the other day, “Ok, so you can’t call a black person, ‘negro’ anymore.” That’s a bad word. When I was born, or growed up, it was called a negro, and still to this day in Denmark, that’s what they call black person and it’s not insulting in any ways, but I can see things and then all of a sudden it’s called, “Then you’re a Afro… American” and then you’re a Caucasian. I’ve never before in my life had to spell out my race. Say you go into an emergency room or a doctor’s…”What race are you?” I’m like “I have no fuckin’ clue!” My mom is from Denmark, so I’m half Viking. My dad is from Algeria, that’s Arab and North African, so what the fuck am I? So, I look for the “other”, but I’m like “Who cares!”
MS: Thank you, Kim. Well, when you come to Pensacola, I’ll be a short, chunky black guy rockin’ out.
KN: That’s awesome, but yeah, make sure you come by and say “Hi!”
MS: Oh yeah, I will. I just have a couple more questions for you, Kim. As far as relationships. This is a crazy business, how do you make your marriage work in this crazy business?
KN: Well, I have another band..
MS: Horrorpops, Yes.
KN: With my wife, so then we’re together. It’s kind of..it’s not that bad because half of the time she’s with me on tour and the other half…it can be hard sometimes because, there’s life on the road and you’re away for a long time, but luckily today we have the internet, we have Skype, we have telephones and that certainly helps.
MS: With your history in the music industry, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given.
KN: I don’t know because I don’t listen to what people say anyways. I started this band totally “Do It Yourself” and been running it ever since like that. Nobody’s ever given me advice, I’ve never really asked for it because as long as we got by and had a good time, I was able to tour, put out albums, I’ve been happy.
MS: Do you prefer crunchy or creamy peanut butter?
KN: I’m not big peanut butter fan, if I had to chose one, I guess I’d go creamy. But, to be honest, in my whole life, I may have only eaten two peanut butter sandwiches. I’m not a big fan. I love watching others eat it with fucking jelly and jam and all that shit they put on, but then I try it and it’s all “Ew!” it’s not as good as it looks. Creamy or crunchy.
MS: Can we expect any new Nekromantix albums in the near future.
KN: We’re going to finish this tour. We have a tour in Australia, we have some more touring to do so maybe after Christmas. If you’ve been a really good kid, I’m sure Santa Claus will bring you a new album. Sometime next year.
MS: That was my last question, but is there anything you want to add before we wrap it up?
KN: Not really. Enjoy life, that’s what everybody should do.
MS: I did have one more question, Kim. Seeing these bands coming up now, are there any words of wisdom that you would give to them starting out.
KN: Well, first of all, I’m happy that I’m not one of those bands right now because even though it seems easier to get your name out there because of the internet, Facebook, yadda, yadda, yadda, I think there’s just overload because you get so much crap. What I see often is bands, they play for a week, they record something real fast that sounds like crap and they put it up on the site. What happens, people check it out once and that’s it. It’s kind of like there’s no filter anymore and I think that’s not good for everybody, I think my advice to the bands that are able to create new music, but have a hard time getting out, getting signed; work your fucking asses of and make sure you know that it’s a sacrifice on many parts. It’s not like a normal job. You don’t get your normal paycheck. And the few bands I’ve seen do that are actually doing good now. It took them a couple of years with jobs and they just went out on the road again, and again and again. And now I see they’re actually doing good for themselves. I think the best advice would be, “Be persistent.” And don’t expect to overnight become a rockstar with tour buses, well the groupies are always there no matter what crappy band. They always get laid for some reason. I don’t know why.
– Michael L. Smith