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editor's note
Rock Kills Kid
Bassist Shawn Dailey on the band’s burgeoning success
by Katie Sauro

Are you nervous? You damn well should be.

Over the past year, Shawn Dailey’s tiny band has grown in name and number, going from a revolving door for musicians to a steady lineup, from empty clubs to sold-out shows, and from a solitary E.P. on Fearless Records to a soon-to-be-released debut full-length on Warner Bros., entitled
Are You Nervous? And they just keep getting bigger and bigger.

L.A.-based five-piece Rock Kills Kid has escaped the inherent uncertainty of indie rock anonymity and thrown their black-clad selves into the glaring limelight, touring relentlessly with the likes of She Wants Revenge, garnering critical praise, and landing a record deal with a major label. Dailey, the bassist and behind-the-scenes ringleader, has been there for all the highs and all the lows. 

Frontman Jeff Tucker started RKK by himself about three years ago, while Dailey was still playing for Bright Life. The two bands had the same manager and were soon introduced, which ultimately resulted in Dailey joining Tucker’s band. While the latter was holed up writing songs, Dailey took the helm, procuring a van, and recruiting a guitarist and keyboardist for their first tour. “I’m pretty good at talking people into things,” he says, rather modestly, of his distinct ability to get what he wants from the unsuspecting.

The band started off slowly (it was really little more than a couple of guys, a van, and an arsenal of Tucker’s songs), but with a tiresome tour schedule and undying patience, the band has since solidified into a talented five-piece that is gaining avid fans and winning praise every which way they turn.   

Dailey attributes a large part of the band’s success to the radio play of their first single, “Paralyzed,” a mix of synth-driven indie pop and a clear 80s influence. When he noted that Seattle’s own KNDD has been playing their song, he laughed, saying of their upcoming show here, “Hey, maybe there’ll be people there this time.” Dailey can rest assured that this time around, RKK’s fans will likely equal or outnumber those of the headliners.

This is due in part to all the hype surrounding the release of
Are You Nervous? The album is chock full of the same 80s-sounding pop-punk and new-wave rhythms as the first single, comparable to modern-day indie-popsters Franz Ferdinand and Interpol, with spacey guitars and synths, although the vocals are more Bono than Paul Banks’ drone.  This description, however, renders both pleased and disturbed reactions from Dailey.

“We’re a straight rock band,” he says defiantly. “Everybody says we sound 80s, but I don’t think so.”

He does admit that since the members of the band grew up in the 80s, it’s inevitable that their sound would incorporate aspects of the music they listened to growing up (“just like Pearl Jam draws from Led Zeppelin,” he says), but despite the constant comparisons to U2 and The Cure, among others, Dailey remains steadfast in the claim that they are simply a rock band.

Yes, simply a rock band… that has taken America by the balls. And with “Paralyzed” all over the airwaves, dominating the top spot on L.A.’s infamous indie-rock-streaming radio station, KROQ, and the band’s extensive upcoming tour with headliners The Electric Six, there is no stopping them from, well, taking the rest of the world by the balls. It’s only a matter of time.

Nervous yet?

The boys roll into Seattle on March 15 at Neumos. Check for tour dates and for a sneak peek (or “sneak listen,” in this case) of Are You Nervous? which will be released April 25.