Things to Do in Fort Wayne and Beyond

Post-grunge rockers get ready for live shows again

The Kickbacks facing some familiar setbacks

Michele DeVinney

Whatzup Features Writer

Published January 13, 2021

With a dearth of gigs in 2020, local bands and performers had to figure out how to proceed with their creative endeavors.

For the Kickbacks, the open slate invited an opportunity to record the music which had been part of their performance sets for some time.

Playing originals

The group itself is relatively new, though the relationships which brought the band together reach back a few years. Drummer Kris Collier and guitarist Eric Williams came together in the way that many local musicians do, though mutual friends. In this case it was bassist Ryan Boger.

“I went to a Super Bowl party, and Eric was there with his high school band,” Collier said. “I knew a bunch of guys in the band, and Ryan introduced me to Eric. We jammed a bit, and it just flowed.”

The three played together for a while until Boger left in 2016. Looking for a new bass player, the Kickbacks turned to Jeff Cottle.

“Jeff had been around a lot, sort of our number one fan,” Collier said. “Ryan had been a punk/metal guy, but Jeff fell right in line with the post-grunge/alt style that Eric and I liked. There was no push and pull in our styles at all.”

In 2018 the Kickbacks released two seven-song EPs featuring their original music.

Finding a balance between being a band with original material, which is how the trio envision themselves, and doing covers has been a bit of a challenge as they try to book themselves into local venues.

“Six years ago, the opportunity to do originals was very slim,” Collier said. “We put together a cover set that we could sprinkle in with our originals. A lot of venues know us as a band that plays originals and that we prefer to play original music. How much we can do that depends a lot on the crowds.”

shutdown blues

As has been the case across the board, the Kickbacks were hurt by the shutdown and continue to find it difficult to find gigs during these cold-weather months. They’ve instead decided to head into the studio where they’re recording their first full-length album, set for a probable late spring release.

“A lot of our shows were getting canceled, and we had a lot of material that we’d written and had been performing live,” Collier said. “A lot of the songs were getting a really good reaction, and we wanted to record them.

“This record has 14 songs, including nine newer tracks. There are also a couple of demos that we’re re-recording, and some re-imagined acoustic remakes of earlier songs. We just thought if we weren’t going to be able to do any shows because of COVID, then we could focus on the recording and writing process.”

The band hit a snag in their ability to promote themselves when Facebook shut down their page which had nearly 2,600 followers.

“We played a show at Freimann Square and went live on Facebook with our first set of covers and originals,” Collier said. “And after that our Facebook page disappeared. Just poof, it was gone. Everything we had posted was gone.

“We tried to appeal it, but we just set up another page as TKB Band, and right now we have just over 450 followers. We want to promote it more, but it’s hard when we have no shows coming up. There’s just nothing to share right now.”

That should change as production of the new album continues and, hopefully, more shows can be scheduled. The band is hoping that by that time, shows can be scheduled, especially once the weather allows for outdoor, distanced performances. Another avenue of exposure for them has taken a hit, and some of those aspects of reopening are still unknown.

Back in the studio

“We also lost the large shows, where we’d get to open for larger national acts,” Collier said. “Those provide a big injection of fans for us. Our first national show was opening for Nonpoint at Piere’s, and we got to play in front of almost 1000 people that night.”

In the meantime, the Kickbacks are happy to explore their music through the recording process. Unlike the two EPs in 2018, these feature songs which have a larger Cottle influence which is one way that the band is very different than it was just a few years ago.

“Jeff is even singing on a couple of the tracks this time,” Collier said. “And Eric and I have gotten a lot better at ripping samples or little riffs together. And with Jeff we can really be a post-grunge band rather than being pulled to the punk or metal side.”

And they’re also planning for performing again, whenever and wherever that might be.

“We’ll just take it as it comes. We’ll get through the recording, and we just met to revamp our cover set list. Once O’Sullivan’s open their doors to bands again, I’m going to be knocking down their door. I love them.”

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