What better way to celebrate Easter Sunday (or passover, or a long weekend, or the fact that the sun’s actually out) then by checking out a new band? It’s a good job that we’re here for you, as are Kylver…
As a band, we are based in Newcastle Upon Tyne and we all live close to the city centre. Jonny (guitar), Jim (Bass) and Barry (Drums) are originally from South Shields and I’m James (Organ) from Middlesbrough.
How did you meet?
Kylver started in 2013 with Jim, Jonny and original organ player Neil jamming in their rehearsal space after previous bands had parted ways. Barry joined on Drums a year later and this line-up featured on 2015s The Mountain Ghost and 2016s The Island. Neil left the band in 2017 with Jim moving to keys and friend of the band John Pope standing in on bass before I joined in 2018 as permanent keys player, having met Jonny at Byker Grave Festival.
How long have you been playing as a band?
First gig for the current line-up was April 2018 supporting Hallas on their debut UK show which was a really good one, BYOB probably had something to do with that. For the original line up the first gig was back in 2015.
Where does the band name come from?
It originates from a Swedish runestone which was found at Kylver, Stånga, Gotland in 1903. Some archaeologists believe that is associated with magic but it is still a mystery as to what is written on it. The evocative nature of the Kylver stone and its history is a fitting metaphor for the band, especially the first album The Mountain Ghost which weaves a tale steeped in mythology and European folklore. As a band history and archaeology interest us and we often try to stop off at notable historical sites when on tour.
What are your influences?
We all have fairly contrasting tastes, which always makes the music choice in the van a heated discussion. We don’t really sit down and try to write music in the style of x, y and z but at the same time, the influences of bands like King Crimson, Yes, Rush, Tool, Mastodon, Zeppelin, Sabbath, Pink Floyd, Russian Circles etc. can be heard.
Describe your music. What makes you unique?
We play instrumental progressive rock/metal. It’s dynamic in sound with bits of classic rock, doom and sludge. We’ve had comparisons to post-rock as well. We like to think we’ve carved out a unique and recognisable sound; the philosophy behind being an instrumental band is to really let the music stand on its own. We often play with doom and stoner bands so of course, when we rock up with the Hammond Organ and Theremin it piques the interest of the crowd – I don’t think there are many bands in those scenes where the bassist plays the Theremin with his headstock.
Do you have any particular lyrical themes?
Despite being an instrumental band, we try to create atmospheres and passages that contain a narrative quality. An instrumental concept album is perhaps a little abstract but each of our albums has its own story. The Island follows a privateer ship and its crew that set sail in search of a mythical island that was said to hold a portal to another world in space and time. A space-pirate-musical if you will. The full stories that accompany our albums are available to read at bandcamp and they come to life in the music videos for “Hy-Brasil” and “The Great Race”.
What’s your live show like? How many shows have you played?
Our live sound is heavier than we are on record, albeit often tailored to the crowd we are playing to. We like to use visuals where possible, there is a video from our show with The Fierce And The Dead in London which captures Kylver in live form – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDAltkWlWFs
What’s the wildest thing you’ve seen or done at a live show?
We played at Brave Exhibitions festival last November and had a full-on hardcore kid complete with neck tattoo floor-punching along to a 14 minute prog-epic. One of our favourite parts of playing to mixed-genre crowds is when you look and see a crowd of smiling faces all from different walks of life.
What kit do you use / guitars do you play / etc.?
Jonny plays a classic Les Paul and a Flying V through a Marshall JCM800 with a tube screamer type set up. There are too many pedals to name but he recently switched to using a Line 6 Helix for live shows, mainly for reliability.
I play a 1979 Hammond X-5 – the portable version that still needs two people to shift it and use a Korg Triton and Kaoss Pad live. We are big proponents of some of the classic sounds from the 70’s with the Mellotron and Rhodes featuring heavily in our sound, although we haven’t been able to gig with an original model yet. We run a midi keyboard through logic mainstage for the Rhodes in the live show.
Jim plays a Yamaha 5 string through a TC electronic amp and a Moog Etherwave Theremin, Barry uses Pearl Drums, Sabian/Meinl cymbals and 3M Branded Gaffa Tape.
What if anything, are you plugging/promoting at the moment?
We are playing our first live shows of 2019 with Everest Queen in April – we will be in Hitchin on the 18th, Tiverton on the 19th, Camden on the 20th and Nottingham on the 21st. We also have a show in Banbury on August 2nd on our way down to play at A New Day Festival in Kent on the 3rd. On top of all that we have a local headline show at Trillians, Newcastle on June 27th.
What are your plans for 2019?
Record the third album – it’s been some time since The Island was released in 2016. We are a long way through the writing process and are starting to finish off the demo. We’ve played one track live in our shows last year and will be previewing more new material at upcoming dates.
If you were second on a three-band bill, which band would you love to be supporting and which band would you choose to open for you? A chance to plug someone you’ve toured with, or a mate’s band we’ve not heard of before!
It would be good to play with Telepathy and Old Man Lizard again.
Header image by Idene Roozbayani Photography