The musical minds behindKid Savant came together in 2006, when two Pike High School seniors needed live music for Promstock, a post-prom party they threw for some friends. The then-unnamed project fell dormant when the two graduated and moved away for college- drummer John Sullivan to University of Chicago and front man Ryan Weisberger to Indiana University. “We quickly grew a little jaded of the music scene there- yodelers and violins and too many cowbells and shit,” Sullivan says of his first two years in college. “We wanted to craft songs that made sense; songs that stood out for what they meant, not for their ad hoc attempts at being original.”
Wanting to avoid the inevitable and looming summer internship, the pair reconnected in the summer of 2008 with the spontaneous decision to move to Montreal. Sullivan jokes, “We got to drink legally and party like the dumb Americans we were, but we made lifelong contacts and recorded our first tracks, like 'Cher aKido'.”
A year later, the duo returned, this time as a full band with the addition of Kevin Pariso on guitar and Andrew Wendahl on bass. In Montreal once again, the band worked on lots of new recordings, as well as taking full advantage of the rich networking opportunities in the city’s thriving music scene. One such opportunity led to the band being flown to New York City to open for Smashing Pumpkins' bassist, Melissa Auf der Maur at the famed Knitting Factory- the weekend that Sullivan claims the band’s members fell in love with NYC.
The men of Kid Savant once again returned to college to stay focused on graduation. While riding out a year and a half of classes, they worked relentlessly at building an online fan base. Later, upon completion of school, the band took root in Brooklyn, finally giving in to NYC’s magnetic pull. Not long after the move, Kid Savant met new member and resident Brooklynite, bassist Dene Farrell, who Sullivan says has been a huge musical and social asset to the group of Indiana-natives.
I asked Sullivan the best advice he's received from Farrell in regard to Brooklyn living. "It's two-fold," he explains. "First, to really stand out, don't get a damn tattoo in this city. Seriously, i think we're the only non-tattooed band in the tri-state area. Second, to overbook dates with girls by at least two more than your intended target; he's convinced there's an equation to ensuring you actually land a date in this insane city."
Presently, Kid Savant has been in New York City for nine months. “We feel deeply connected to what's going on Brooklyn. It's a sort of musical mecca, a proving grounds,” says Sullivan of his new home. “We definitely stand out as Hoosiers, but in a way that evokes interest and discussion. Usually our Indiana twang or accent gives us away, but sometimes it's the IU hat Weisberger wears on occasion. Hats are a seeming faux pas in this hip city of Brooklyn, so it's our real chill attitude and dress that make people question, 'Where are you guys from?' We've also had the drunken confusion during an interview 'You're Indie?' 'Yeah, we're from Indy.' 'You're from indie, what, what does that mean?' 'What do YOU mean?'"
Sullivan continues, "Our fan base has really grown up here, nearly selling out the past two shows we've done around town. Despite the ADHDness of the city, we frequently go back home to just bask in forested silence and hear birds, get our laundry done for us, and slip back into our Indiana drawl.”
Kid Savant’s debut EP, "Drop It on the Stereo" is due to release later this fall. The video for the EP’s first single, ‘4 Years’, debuted on Monday. Below, drummer John Sullivan explains why this isn’t your average music video.
NUVO: How was the video’s concept conceived?
SULLIVAN: The kernel of this video was actually born at a rehearsal in Indy while we were visiting our parents for Thanksgiving and prepping for a recording session in California with producer Sylvia Massy. We were eating some leftovers in my kitchen when someone dropped a plate and it broke. [Bassist Andrew] Wendahl was like “We should start dropping shit more often… and do a music video to it.”
NUVO: How did it evolve into pianos falling from the sky?
SULLIVAN: It took a few months to figure out we wanted it to be a skydive based video with an emphasis on free fall, highlighting it's paradox that you're moving at 150 mph, but at relative speed, it's only as if you're floating.
NUVO: What kind of preparation was required?
SULLIVAN: Our singer, Ryan, began intensive training to become a fully licensed skydiver. Acting as our own production team, we reached out to everyone in the industry and got the attention of Emmy Award-winning aerial cinematographers Greg Gasson and Joe Jennings.
NUVO: What was the actual shooting of the video like?
SULLIVAN: We had no director, no producer, and no writer. The band had to fill all three spots with the help of the cinematographers. We were out in the Arizona desert for 16 hours a day, for three days straight, waiting for shit to fall, pick it up to preserve the land, then do it again… all while Ryan was doing acrobatic jumping six times a day back at the real drop zone.
NUVO: What are your feelings on the final product?
SULLIVAN: It’s totally do-it-yourself. It's our first go at a video, and it's to a song that means a lot to us. This will be the first proper sounds and visuals anyone has heard of us...the rest of our stuff are demos in reality. This is the beginning, and we're beyond excited. There’s lots of enthusiasm here in Brooklyn, but Indy is our home and we want to share this more than anything with our friends and fans there.
Danielle covers local music for NUVO.net and IndyMojo.com.