Though they've been praised by the local music press and almost any indie artist of rank in the area knows them, it's quite possible you've never heard of Kingsbury. But the members of the introverted band admit that it's their own fault. "We don't really hang out," concedes T.J. Burke (drums, programming). "We'd rather be at the house, even if we're doing remixes of Fall Out Boy to make us laugh, y'know?"
Frontman Bruce Reed (vocals, guitar, keyboards) acknowledges, "We need to get out of the studio-cave and go hang out with people."
However, their unsociability isn't entirely to blame. Thin street promotion and infrequent performances over the three years since their debut EP (This Place Is Coming Down) was released have resulted in a profile disproportionately low compared to their reputation among the cognoscenti. "Our thought was always to keep it a mystery or let the hype build up," says Burke, "but now we're kind of questioning if that was the right thing to do."
In fact, the imminent release of their first full-length album, The Great Compromise, on ascendant local imprint Post Records has them rethinking the method they've taken to public outreach. The group originally sprang from the coastal hamlet of Vero Beach, Fla., and describes that fact as influential in the approach they've taken to date.
"We definitely approached it with a small-town mentality in the first year of being a band," says Reed. "When we first moved here, we didn't really get what it was like to be a band in a big city. We're small-town music people. You didn't really have to be even good to be a popular band `in Vero Beach`. So what you did was play out of town."
But being surrounded by the recent success of Orlando peers like Band Marino and labelmates the Heathens, whose campaigns for local support were both fierce and diligent, Kingsbury is gladly revisiting the drawing board. Reed states, "Seeing other bands doing well in your own community encourages bands to work harder, and I think that's what builds communities."
Their base of operations was officially transplanted in the winter of 2003 when three of its five members — Reed, Burke and Mark Freeman (bass) — moved to Orlando to further pursue the band while Reed and Burke attended Valencia Community College's Music Production Technology Program. Now, only these three remain from the original lineup and serve as Kingsbury's core.
Though recent lineup changes have brought the band back up to a quintet, new additions Samantha Christine (guitar) and Alexis Hamlin-Vogler (keyboard) arrived late into or after the recording of this debut album. Apart from the help of Wes Jones (Apollo Quartet), the lush, dark folds of the record were woven by the original trio. Citing influences like Calla, Talk Talk and Sigur Rós, this is a band that exists for mood, and sonically this effort is light-years ahead of anything they've done in the past, more fully manifesting the emotional weight previously hinted at. According to them, the lunge forward was the result of a healthy trimming of fat and a more purified vision. Says Reed, "Losing two members sort of cleared the air for us to go, ‘All right, what do we really want to do?'"
What they wanted for this first full-length was to do it right. And, to Kingsbury, that meant doing it themselves. "From day one, it was the three of us recording it, producing it, writing it," proclaims Reed. All were actively involved, but it was Reed who helmed the studio process. As the band's captain, creative control is something he takes seriously and the reason behind his staunchly DIY philosophy.
"I think that the home recording process is great because you do exactly what you want and you can take as long as you want," he says. "If we had to record this record in a two-week period with somebody else, it would've sucked. We were rewriting and changing and doing different things every weekend. It's not for everybody. But for us, even if we had big budgets and all that stuff, I'd still want to record everything ourselves."
In addition to more consistent regional touring, the band plans to make a stronger local push for this album. Burke admits, "We need to dive into Orlando, which we haven't done." It's a scene they've become invested in, however incidentally.
"In hindsight, I think we did well by picking Orlando," reflects Reed. "When we first moved here, it was like, we're gonna live here and go to school and then we'll move to Portland or Athens or one of those hot-spot indie places. But I think at this point, we're like, let's stick around Orlando for awhile. There's definitely a movement in this city that I think is worth sticking around to see where it goes."[email protected]