DETROIT, MI — Kid Rock’s new First Kiss album won’t be released until Feb. 24, but details are starting to slowly leak about its sound and creative direction.
Nobody knows the behind-the-scenes work it took for Rock to get it together quite like Gordy Quist, of the Austin, Texas-based group The Band of Heathens.
Quist and his band’s five members spent a week with Kid Rock at his Clarkston, Mich. home working on at least half of First Kiss’ 11 tracks and also kicked it with him on two Chillin’ the Most Kid Rock fan cruises.
Band of Heathens also has touring experience as it was part of the bill at two Kid Rock shows at Clarkston’s DTE Energy Music Theatre in 20013. The band experienced the wild Kid Rock Best Night Ever Tour with ZZ Top that had $20 tickets, $20 t-shirts and $4 beers.
“He seems to be connected to some pretty interesting people and has done some amazing things,” said Quist of Rock, whose real name Robert James Ritchie. “And he’s earned it; he’s worked hard for a long time.”
MLive.com caught up with Quist to get some insight about working with Kid Rock onFirst Kiss and more about The Band of Heathens, a group that has performed in Ann Arbor and hopes to make a stop in Detroit this spring.
Kid Rock released Tuesday a video for his title song “First Kiss” that appears to show him reminisce about a long lost love.
How did you get connected with Kid Rock and start working with him?
The first we ever heard of any connection with Bob was when our Facebook and Twitter worlds started exploding because he went on ‘Howard Stern’ and said that we were one of his favorite new bands. We had never talked to him, met him or anything! We had no idea he was even aware of our band. And so, I think we connected — somehow. Maybe our manager told his manager about us or something that kind of set things. About a month later (after the ‘Howard Stern Show’ appearance) he invited us to go on his (Chillin’ the Most) cruise; he has a rock festival on a boat.
We became friends that year on the boat and he was really cool to us and encouraging. He seemed to generally be a big fan of the band. It was really awesome, and then he invited us again the next year (2014) and we got to hang out a little bit more. Then right after that second cruise was when we started collaborating together. He then invited us to Detroit for a week to crash at his house and do some recording. We rode around in a golf cart for a week and had a good time!
What do you learn about Kid Rock on a Kid Rock cruise?
We definitely got to see what the sunrise looks like many nights out on the middle of the ocean. It was late nights and a lot of good times. He’s obsessed with music in a really good way; he’s a true music fan. Pretty much all of the time we were hanging out with him he was playing DJ and spinning really cool, obscure records and old records. It was was just all about music; we’re obsessed with music in a very similar way. It’s fun hanging out him. Another thing I learned on the cruise is that his fans are absolutely nuts about him. I’ve never seen anything like it. I’ve never been around any kind of celebrity like that before where people are really going crazy just to be in his presence. It’s pretty amazing.
What do you think Bob likes about your band?
I think … I’m not exactly sure. I’ve never asked him that. But I think he likes our songwriting and all the harmonies. We tend to use a lot of two, three, four-part harmonies in our songs. And our vocals are kind of centerpieced to our songs — I think. I think he really dug that. I think he likes the songs. He’s really all about song. And I’ve gotten a chance to do some songwriting with him and he puts a lot of importance of a good song. That’s awesome. That’s the magic of an album, I think. It’s the songwriting.
Do you have an idea how Bob approached this First Kiss album compared to some of his previous ones?
I didn’t really know him before this record. I really wasn’t around him before he recorded the previous record, so I don’t have anything to compare to. But he definitely had a fire lit to make this record great. He just kept writing songs. We went up there for a week (as a band) and tracked a bunch of tunes, and then we headed to Europe for a tour for about a month. But then when we got back, he wrote a bunch more songs. I could tell he was just hunting for those gems of songs. It’s hard to write songs; it’s hard to write a great song. And you can’t always control the outcome, so I think you just keep writing and mining that until you find something great. And I know he was on the hunt to keep finding those (songs), and I think he did. When we went up there we hadn’t heard any of the material; we just sort of showed up. Then he just started playing these new tunes, and I thought they were great. It was pretty exciting.
How much work did you and your band do with Bob for the First Kissalbum while at his house?
I think we tracked 10 songs that week we were up there. But I know he wrote a bunch more, and we weren’t able to come back up there (due to our busy schedule). I think that we’re on at least half the record, but I’m not actually positive. I don’t have a copy of the record. I haven’t dug in to hear all of it. Some of the guys in my band have. Bob was in Austin (Texas) for the F-1 race 212; he was performing — and we went out and had dinner with him. It ended up being a very late night hang. I wasn’t feeling well and I missed out on the playing of the record. And I don’t think the band got through the whole album that night. They might have gotten interrupted. I haven’t heard the whole finished product, but I’m excited to hear it.
What kind of things do you and your band have in common with Bob?
I think of Bob’s great talents is combining genres and putting them together in a way that’s original and great. I think that’s one thing that my band … we’re not necessarily into huge genre-bending music in the way he is, but we’re all into different styles of music in our band. That’s one of the cool things about Bob’s live shows. It’s kind of like a revue of American music; it’s everything from hip hop to country music to soul music to rock n’ roll. To me, that’s exciting. It’s cool to feel like you don’t have to fit into a box or a specific genre. That’s one thing with our band (we’re trying to emphasize). Maybe you’d say we have struggled with that.
Our sound kind of reaches into a few different areas and sometimes it doesn’t fit into the neatly packaged boxes you can fit into a certain group. Maybe that’s something Bob likes about our band. It’s certainly something we enjoyed about getting to play music with him. It was something where we didn’t have to think ‘Hey this has to fit for mainstream country radio or this has to fit the rock radio format!’ It was more like ‘Hey, anything goes!’ And we now see what happens.
What do you hope happens for the band now that you have this experience with Kid Rock?
We’re just going to see what happens. If nothing happens for us, it was already a great time. It was a real blast getting to record with Bob. It was a lot of fun. Obviously it would be awesome if a bunch of his fans are curious to hear what our music sounds like. That would be great. We’d love to meet those people musically. I don’t know if we’ll go on the road with Bob or not, but we’ve done some shows with him in the past. We’ll be involved as we can be and hopefully make some new fans. We’re pretty much on the road all the time. We try to go out and try to meet people and connect with them musically.