"A band in Kansas becomes Abandon Kansas."

I’m always wondering how bands pick their names. It’s like a tattoo – once you decide it will stick with you forever. That’s how I feel about Prince. It will always be Prince and the Revolution, no matter how many times he changes. The same with John Cougar. When I found out about Abandon Kansas’ name origin, it made me want to learn more. Jeremy Spring, vocalist for the group, recently stopped by to chat.

Q – Where did the name Abandon Kansas come from?

A - The band name is a joke that my roommate came up with in college. It’s a play on words, supposed to sound like “a band in Kansas”. No deep meaning and no hatred for our home state, we really enjoy Kansas.

Q – What would you say is the band’s greatest strength in terms of being successful?

A - We have paid our dues on the road, playing 250+ dates a year the last three years. We love playing music and we enjoy doing it every night possible across the country. At all of those we love connecting with people, sharing a meal with them, and crashing on their floors. We may not have the biggest fan base, but we have such a massive family across the states that it makes touring a big reunion. Another strength that has helped us is our ability to walk the line between churches and clubs. We write music that is accessible to most all age groups and walks of faith.

Q – Who are the members of the band and what does each bring to Abandon Kansas?

A - Brian plays drums, takes care of maintenance on the van and trailer, and works out with P90X on the road. Brad plays guitar and provides the fancy footwork to keep the first few rows entertained. Nick plays the bass and sings backup vocals. I write the songs, sing, play the guitar and keys, book the shows, and make stuff happen!

Q – What is your favorite song on the EP and why?

A - My favorite song on the EP is the title track, “We’re All Going Somewhere”. It may not be my favorite musically, but I really connect with the lyrics and it’s not a romantic song at all. I’ve tried to break out into new lyrical territories and this song is one of those experiments. This song is sort of a philosopher’s lament. I think all of us have dealt with the complexity of fate and how our decisions play a part in that. Hopefully this song just encourages whoever is listening, and lets them know they aren’t the only one asking these questions.

Q – How do you go about composing the music and writing the lyrics? Do you have a process? Do you write as a band or individually?

A - On this latest EP I wrote the six songs, music and lyrics, and brought them to the band so they could write their parts. Right now we are putting together some new songs and Brad and Nick have been bringing more and more ideas to the table. We’re definitely a band, not a solo project with a backup band. Even when I have the songs finished they usually end up changing pretty significantly by the time everyone has put in their influence.

Q – Who were your musical influences?

A - Lately we have been listening to a lot of Phoenix, The Killers, Kings of Leon, and John Mayer in the van. Individually we all have varying tastes in music.

Q – A lot of bands are influenced by musical acts of yesteryear. Sometimes this results in critics saying that so and so sounds just like Led Zeppelin or the Beatles. How do you incorporate your influences in your music but still maintain originality?

A - I personally can’t stand when a band wears their influences on their sleeve. Sometimes I think we’re a little too cautious in our band just because we don’t ever want to be accused of ripping another band off. Unfortunately there are only so many notes available. I think the best way to use influences when we are writing is just to capture the general vibe of artists we enjoy. To observe the kind of feelings those artists give us when we hear those songs, and then try and write music that gives us the same feeling, not necessarily sounds the same. For me, I enjoy music that takes me to another place in time or place. I try to write music that does the same, it’s a craft we’re constantly honing.

Q – Being an unknown band, do you ever get jealous toward people that appear on “American Idol” who end up becoming ‘famous’ overnight?

A - My parents love that show! How can I get jealous at anyone? We’re able to do what we love and we’re able to pay the bills doing it. I can’t be jealous, because I’m overwhelmed with thankfulness. I want to write the music I enjoy playing, play live music throughout the week, travel the country, and meet new people and hear their stories. We’re able to do that now in a van. If that changes someday because we’re on a bus, then I’m going to want the van back. Hard work gets you pretty far, and so do knowing people and a fair amount of good luck like winning “American Idol.” The public is so fickle and so is the music business. We can’t get too jealous when one artist is more successful than the other.

Q – What would you say is the biggest challenge being a musician in today’s musical landscape?

A - The biggest challenge is separating Abandon Kansas from the pack of bands out there right now. There are simply too many bands on social networking sites and going on “tours” for the music business to keep up. Venues, promoters, labels, and radio have a hard time wading through the swamp of posing bands out there. We have to work hard at being fresh original artists, creating a good product, and selling it in a genuine way.

Q – Anything you wanted to add?

A - We just returned from a trip to Ecuador the first week of March. We went to South America with Compassion International, an organization our band has worked side by side with for a couple years now. Compassion works in 26 countries helping to release children from poverty by providing food, clothes, education, and spiritual guidance. We are the voice for the children here in the states and we work to find American sponsors for the kids. Brian, our drummer, actually sponsors a child himself from Ecuador and we had the chance to meet him on our trip. It was a powerful trip! We already believe in what Compassion is doing, but now that we’ve seen it first hand, we’re back on tour as advocates for the children we saw being release from poverty in front of eyes!


Jason Tanamor is the Editor of Zoiks! Online. He is also the author of the novels, "Hello Lesbian!" and "Anonymous." Email Jason at jason@zoiksonline.com.

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Anonymous said...

wonderful interview


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