This Is the Kit is returning to Belfast in April, bringing us music from their latest album Bashed Up, and a host of beauties from previous years.
The music collective has been described as understated folk rock. They’ve also been labelled under indie folk, and lyrical folk. There is always that folk base to whatever threads they are weaving, no matter how far from home they musically travel. But, they do travel, and they travel a lot.
Kate Stables is the figurehead of This Is The Kit – a singer songwriter who plays guitar, trumpet, percussion, and banjo. The band is ever expanding and contracting, depending on where they’re playing and who is available, adding that extra intrigue to the type of harmony you will hear on the night, the different touches on the guitar, the level of bass, or how much violin.
They are presently signed to Brassland, the record label of Aaron Dessner – producer, songwriter, and guitarist for The National, with whom they have toured. Dessner produced their 2015 Bashed Out album.
Ahead of their 7th April gig in McHughs, Kate Stables took some time out to answer a few email questions for Gigging NI about what she has planned for us on this tour. It seems This Is The Kit will take the form of a trio this time around, with Stables accompanied by Rozi Plain and Jamie Whitby-Coles on drums. ”The power trio version! As alas secret weapon Neil (Smith) has other gigs at that time”
“I’m toying with the idea of bringing a keyboard player from Paris along too though” she continued. “He’s called Vincent Mougel and has a band called Kidsaredead. He’s an insane musical genius and can play a real mean bit of piano/keys. So if he’s free then we’ll hopefully be bringing him along too. I’m gonna write him a message right this minute! We shall see!”
They’ve been touring a lot since Bashed Out was released. The many and various band members have their own musical projects to work on, and tour with. They also have lives outside their music. I wondered if they’d had the chance to work, or think, or contemplate any new projects in the intervening months. As a touring musician, and a mum, Stable’s answer wasn’t that much of a surprise. “There’s a lot of thinking time on tour when you’re travelling all day long. But I have been finding it really hard to find the time to write and actually get on with the projects that I’ve been dreaming up in the back of the car.”
She went on to explain further. “It’s just the eternal time management conundrum. Everyone has it. We get pulled in a lot of different directions by a lot of different responsibilities, and it’s not easy to be strict and put your foot down about what gets priority. I’m trying to finish writing the next album as we speak. But check it out, I’m answering emails instead!”
As the most recent album, plenty of songs from Bashed Out feature on the tour. Some of which they had been performing for years, others were new for them to play. “There’s a clump of them that we usually play” Stables explained. “When we were making Bashed Out, Jesse (D Vernon) wrote a lot of arrangements that didn’t get used in the final recordings, so it’s really nice to get them out for the gigs with the horns. So yes it does depend on who is performing .”
In some previous performances they have featured saxophone players. “Songs like “Silver John”, “All In Cahoots”, Spores All Settling”, and “Cold And Got Colder”. Those ones are a real pleasure to play with Melanie and Terry on baritone and tenor saxes. But then we’ve also regularly been playing ones like “Misunderstanding” and “Vitamins”, and we usually play “Bashed Out in the set, to the point where I wonder if folks are sick of it by now!
The arrangements of the songs are a movable feast for This Is The Kit. “The songs just evolve little by little. I feel like songs never really get “finished” Stables explained. “There’s no definitive version. They change themselves subtly all the time, and before I know it I listen to the album versions and get a surprise at just how much they’ve changed. Which I think is a good thing. Personally I like it when I see a band and they don’t just do a carbon copy of the recording. So maybe that’s another reason why they change a bit.”
As a band they have toured and supported other artists including Iron & Wine, Jose Gonzales, and the National. Will they be touring with the National again? “I feel like touring with them was quite the “once in a lifetime” experience. Would be greedy maybe to expect it to happen again! One of the great things about the National is their passion for new music and helping out new bands that they love. It was amazingly great of them to give us the chance to open for them on tour and I feel like it’s nice for them to give that chance to other bands.”
“They’re very great guys and I’d love to work again with them in some way or other in the future. They’re good lads.”
Click here for tickets: This Is The Kit at McHughs Basement – Thu 7th April 2016 -20:00