Interview, Music

Kids Like You & Me on Their Sixth Anniversary, Punk Slime, and Their Thirst for Rock ’n’ Roll

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For the past six years, Kids Like You & Me have been straight-up crushing the Boston music scene: Whether writing about new releases, releasing bands themselves, or putting on shows, KLYAM have you covered. As they reach this milestone of achievement, our pals Glen and Chris are taking a moment to reflect before their stellarly stacked anniversary party. They talked to me about their upcoming releases, positive vibes, and monumental basement shows.

Boston Hassle: How would you describe everything KLYAM is and all that you do?

Glen: KLYAM is our expressive passion for nonmainstream, underground rock ’n’ roll and local music.

Chris: Well, for starters the name Kids Like You & Me comes from the lyrics to the Black Lips song “Bad Kids.” Actually, one of our best friends and one of the KLYAM founders, Ben Tan, chose that name. I think if Glen and I had picked the name, it would have been something far more obscure or absurd haha. It really is the perfect name, because it symbolizes an all-encompassing union of young and young-minded folks.

BH: What were your intentions and motivations for starting KLYAM?

Glen: Until the summer of 2009, us two pals were previously and concurrently at the helm of our high school’s student newspaper and our own independent news and entertainment blog that for a while focused on topics being covered at large by bigger media outlets. Toward the end of our high school days, we began writing more live reviews and album reviews and, for Chris and I, music was starting to become our main excitement. For me, KLYAM was anti-journalism—I loved to write about anything and everything because it was all so new and exciting. There was no organization or format, it was anything goes. It was saying bye-bye to high school and this came at a perfect time because punk slime and rock ’n’ roll, thanks to our super-fanaticism for the Black Lips, was really planting its seeds for what we’d eventually evolve into. I never had any grand ambitions for KLYAM and we never really got together to plan the site or anything. In fact, our friend Ben Tan came up with the name one day and we were like, Yeah, that’s it. That’ll be it. To give an idea of my motivations for KLYAM—I’ll say that prior to KLYAM, I owned and operated my own Boston sports website for more than six years. That was very organized (it had to be) and successful in my eyes, simply because I was doing something I loved—writing about sports. It probably was very amateurish, poorly written, and fanatical in the eyes of many, but that never once stopped me. My true passion evolved to writing about music and I wanted to carry that spirit with me to KLYAM.

Chris: Ohh damn, I don’t think I’d want to revisit my angst-ridden, quasi-anarchist 19-year-old self to examine what was going on in my brain back then. Honestly, we didn’t really have any intentions and motivations. We were just awkward teenagers with a thirst for rock ’n’ roll and radical ideas. Nerds at heart, but not really into “nerdy” things. We were more interested in slimy rock ’n’ roll and slimy beer. I’d like to thank our sponsors at Natty Ice for always believing in us . . .

There was never any intentions, because we were totally clueless at the time. The underground music world was still foreign to us. If you told me in 2009 that we’d still be talking about KLYAM now or that we’d have a record label, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. Everything we’ve seen and experienced is way beyond our wildest dreams. I thought we were going to be the awkward dudes standing front and center of the stage two hours before the show started for the rest of our lives . . . well, I guess sometimes we still are those dudes . . .

BH: How did you first get acquainted with the Boston music scene? And what are some of your favorite things about it?

Glen: For a while—the first three to four years of going to shows around here, we had zero connection to anything going on in Boston on a smaller level. We saw mainly bigger bands at bigger venues, so occasionally there would be a local opener. As we started to see “smaller shows”—I’m talking Great Scott, for example—we were exposed to more bands that I now know were connected to an actual scene that was going on in Boston. For whatever reason—maybe us not actually being from Boston, but from a suburb (Wakefield)—we didn’t connect the dots with the bands that we dug. For me, getting acquainted isn’t or wasn’t a time, person, or place. That’s the beauty of it. Chris introduced me to basement shows up in Lowell, where there was something of an actual scene going on. After that we saw some basement shows around that were monumental (though of course we did not realize it at the time), like Kal Marks and SaraLee opening for Peach Kelli Pop. So by going to the basement shows, we got to see familiar faces. And we learned many of them were in bands or were connected with actually making underground things happen or simply people who enjoyed the music. There’s all types of fun people making their way out to shows, playing them, and making them happen. We were these two random kids who took the train out or were accompanied by Papagiorgio because we wanted to see and write about our experiences. It’s different now and better because we directly talk and interact with the same people who inspired us in the first place! But I’ll forever be grateful for the people who organized the shows we attended and the bands who played them. And kids like you and me, who are taking a portion out of their day to document meaningful events or recorded music or whatever.

Chris: We were pretty much outsiders when we started KLYAM. So, for the first couple of years we mostly just covered some of the bigger garage names, i.e., Black Lips, Jay Reatard, The King Khan & BBQ Show, Ty Segall, Nobunny, Hunx and His Punx, etc. We didn’t know anyone in Boston, and the local music scene wasn’t even on our radar. We simply became acquainted with it through seeing smaller national/international bands of that garage ilk playing basement shows. So, we heard about these local, underground shows because we wanted to see our favorite bands when they were on tour. For example, in 2011, Peach Kelli Pop came to town and her band played at the old Problem House. Seeing a show in someone’s basement was such a foreign concept to us, but we immediately gravitated toward it and we saw SaraLee at that show and we were blown away by them. I picked up my first Compass there; I think I still have it somewhere buried in my room. Through that show, we heard about places like Gay Gardens and some of the other spots and local bands and we just kept going to more and more shows.

I love being able to hang out with friends and meet new people at shows. There’s a quality show to see every night and I hope to make at least one person’s acquaintance at every show. Being able to see my favorite bands on a regular basis is a definite upside and probably something most music fans don’t have the privilege to say. Oh, and Peter Crowley.

BH: How has KLYAM grown since the start and developed into a label?

Glen: The early days were a filthy mess of all sorts of things (and not necessarily just music). Musically, I was just really beginning to appreciate garage and punk. It still hadn’t won me over completely—I’d still be reviewing the day’s biggest “indie” releases, but after a while of soaking in a variety of styles, I started to zero in on the kinds of rock ’n’ roll that we presently champion. And I’m thankful for that. We thought of the label thing fairly early on, but it wasn’t until we had seen Fat Creeps a bunch of times (in 2012) that we both agreed that we had to put their EP out on vinyl. It was just too amazing of a thing and they were our favorite local band.

Chris: We had tossed around the idea of starting a label for years, but it was just that, an idea. One of those things you say you’re going to do, but it never comes to fruition. We really didn’t talk about it much, to be honest. But then, in the spring of 2012, we saw Fat Creeps and we became obsessed fans, going to all of their shows; it’s actually kind of funny looking back now, because we really hadn’t experienced anything like that before. Without even much conversation between ourselves, we approached the band about putting their EP out on vinyl and the rest is history. We really didn’t have any intentions—Hell, we didn’t even know how to start a record label, we just did it. We had to.

BH: What are some of your KLYAM highlights of the past six years?

Glen: Documenting our journey into the world of underground music. There are specific moments that have made music “real” to us, including being one of the first websites to recommend and write about the Orwells, who we’ve seen and hung out with every time they’ve come to Boston. They were merely 16- or 17-year-old kids at the time with hardly a following in their own town. Reaching out to NOBUNNY and him responding KLYAM, GET HERE, I’LL GET YOU IN, referring to his 21+ show at PA’s Lounge (when we were nineteen), and meeting and talking to him after the show. Seeing the Black Lips a dozen times, going backstage last year (thanks David Woods) and hanging for a bit with them and King Khan & BBQ. Reading a nod or two in the Boston Compass about us! Organizing or helping to organize every show that we’ve been involved with. Releasing records and tapes that we will forever be happy about releasing. Meeting friends and amazing people at shows!

Chris: We’ve seen and written about so many amazing shows, it’s insane. It’s too many to mention. A personal highlight for me last summer was booking a show with Cumstain from Oakland, CA. They have been one of my all-time favorite bands since 2010, and they sent us a message on Facebook about doing a show in Boston; I was ecstatic. So, we co-hosted a show with Boston Hassle and BUFU at the JP Drive-In, and I finally got to meet them in person and see them play. I had envisioned seeing them in a small, sweaty basement for years. It was a self-fulfilling prophecy. That actually got me motivated to book more KLYAM Presents shows around Boston. We had done a couple in the past, but we felt pretty discouraged. But, that show worked and so I figured I could do this again and we’ve been doing them ever since.

BH: Are there any bands, releases, or shows that you guys are excited for?

Chris: I’m going to sound like a proud parent right now, but all of the bands on KLYAM Records: Fat Creeps, Nice Guys, Miami Doritos, Back Pages, the Electric Street Queens, the Prefab Messiahs, the Barbazons, and G. Gordon Gritty. Of course, we’re very excited for our sixth anniversary show, which features three of those KLYAM bands: the Barbazons, Nice Guys, and G. Gordon Gritty and one of our favorite bands from way back, Atlantic Thrills from Providence, will round out the bill. It takes place at the Middle East Upstairs on Wednesday, July 1, and everyone should come!

There’s so many awesome local, national, and international bands that we’re excited for, too many to mention, but if you read KLYAM or go to a KLYAM show, or check out our Facebook page, then you will know what we love.

I’m beyond excited for this year’s Fuzzstival! 34 bands in three days. Jason Trefts has really outdone himself this time. Illegally Blind has definitely been an inspiration for us, and I don’t get inspired easily; looking forward to that.

BH: What do you have planned for the future of KLYAM? What are your hopes for it?

Chris: Of course, we have this big sixth anniversary show! Can’t plug that enough. We’re doing a few more shows this summer including a collaboration with BUFU on August 1 at Out of the Blue Too for Nice Guys’ BUFU tape release. We’ll keep doing the label and website for sure. No official announcements yet, but keep an eye out for the next KLYAM Records release(s).

As far as hopes go, I’d love to curate a KLYAM festival with all of our favorite bands some day. I’d also like to host more of our favorite national/international bands when they come through to Boston on tour. I hope to meet more people in Boston and beyond. I want to reach out to other kids that feel like outsiders and make them feel included as much as possible. I think people are too negative and too serious. We’re pretty light-hearted, fun-loving people, and we want to facilitate and maintain that positive vibe. We’ve been criticized for being too positive and I just think that’s funny. It doesn’t even bother me, because if I let it bother me then I’d be taking myself too seriously and I don’t want to do that. First and foremost we want everyone to have fun. That’s the gist of it, that’s rock ’n’ roll.

Be sure to celebrate Kids Like You & Me’s sixth anniversary on July 1 at the Middle East Upstairs with The Barbazons, NICE GUYS, Atlantic Thrills, and G. Gordon Gritty!! 

8:30 pm//18+//$10// Fb   

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