When he talks about his band’s relationship with MTV, Kai Kennedy sounds like he’s talking about his parents-in-law.
“We get on well with them,” the Locksley lead guitarist says. “We’ve got a good relationship.”
The two are such good pals, MTV asked Locksley to headline its Choose or Lose Tour. The timing was advantageous, as the band was eager to promote the September re-release of its album Don’t Make Me Wait. “It forces you to be more politically aware when you're on a political tour,” Kennedy says. “We didn't need to be galvanized by a tour to be interested in politics, but it helped.”
The band does its best to educate concertgoers on the candidates without picking sides. Locksley also circulates a petition in support of a veterans’ bill of rights. As for getting to rub elbows with the Washington elite ... not so much. “I'm feeling like that might not really happen,” Kennedy admits. “When you get down to the business of it, it's a rock show with a couple of really decent bands.”
Locksley’s spoon-fed garage rock is effervescent with a dollop of punk energy. The guitar stirs the drink, and the sing-along vocals come in short, declarative sentences. There’s no virtuoso instrumentation, but in a band that deals mostly with straight lines, it would only get in the way. Though they’re plenty handsome and well groomed, there’s too much party in Locksley’s players to make them safe and sterile.
Fans and advertisers haven’t been afraid to touch. Though it’s unsigned, Locksley has sold thousands of CDs, and its songs have been featured in a handful of commercials as well as some MTV shows. “It's almost impossible to get on the radio for a lot of decent bands,” Kennedy says. “Commercials are a way for millions to hear your songs, and that’s why you get into this in the first place. You want to share your music with as many people as you can.”
Even before the band made the move from Madison, Wis., to Brooklyn, N.Y., it’s been surrounded by family and friends that have supported its every endeavor. That’s one of the major reasons Locksley’s in no rush to ink a record contract. “That's a huge part of how we've been able to be semi-successful,” Kennedy says. “The people that have gravitated towards us are very giving. We’ll always be thankful for that.”
After the Choose or Lose Tour, the band will head back into the studio to record a new record. Kennedy expects the album to be laced with a more eclectic group of influences to go along with the retro-rock that’s already made its mark. “I think we’ll be pulling a lot of Motown, from ’57 to ’63, and a lot of swing,” Kennedy says. “We’ve also been on tour with The Hives and The Rapture, so I know their influence will find its way on the album.”
After that, Locksley gets back on the road in support of The Kinks’ Ray Davies. “He’s one of our favorite songwriters of all time,” Kennedy says. “Playing songs with him will be a trip.”
But before all that, the band has a tour to finish and a message to get out. The Choose or Lose bus will pull into the Launchpad’s back alley on Wednesday, Oct. 22, a mere 13 days before Election Day.
Kennedy says his goal is to get people to the polls with conviction in their hearts and Beck in their brains. “I hope people figure out what they like and dislike about the candidates,” Kennedy says. “Then, when they make it into the voting booth, I hope they do it with a head full of Beck’s Mutations.”
During Locksley’s last visit to Albuquerque, the band helped celebrate the Launchpad’s re-opening after the Golden West fire put the venue out of commission. Kennedy remembers the show well. “We didn’t know it was the first show until we actually arrived at the club,” Kennedy says. “I was ecstatic to be part of the rebirth of one of the more interesting clubs we've been to.”