Referencing the innovative producer-turned-puffy-wigged-murderer, The Kill Spectors are a psych-punk duo split between Austin and Northern New Mexico. The geographic conundrum has made for a slow-paced start. Few have heard, much less witnessed, the band’s '60s girl group and early punk-inspired rocking. But while the story of The Kill Spectors begins at the end of 2009, the bigger story starts years ago.
Drummer Keith Herrera was responsible for co-founding and running Albuquerque’s Resin Records in the early '90s. The label's function was to release albums for friends' bands and bring touring shows to town—that is, to the formerly desolate, crackhead- and hooker-infested Downtown district, in an era when only Beyond Ordinary and the Golden West operated there after polite business hours. Eventually Herrera's band The Drags (see Dirt City Archives, page 42) became popular and frequently toured, his label partner moved away, and Resin Records' locally legendary operation turned to ashes. Herrera moved to New Orleans for what was supposed to be just a summer, filling in as drummer for a band called Golden Showers. He ended up loving the city and became a booking agent for French Quarter venues the Shim Sham Club—now One-Eyed Jack's—and the late, great Matador. He remained there for seven years, playing in the Detonations. In 2005, after losing his band as well as thousands of records and four drum sets to the flooding and looting of Hurricane Katrina, he headed home to Nambe, N.M.
Now Herrera’s in a band for the first time since New Orleans—and apprehensively beginning to collect records again. He’s one half of The Kill Spectors. The the second half is Frankie Medina, a musician and sometimes producer who plays in Austin-based bands Frankie & The Zombeats and The Dirty Hearts. Medina’s been temporarily living in Santa Fe, though he’s originally from New Mexico. He and Herrera went to the same high school, where they had band class together.
"When I'd visit on the holidays, we'd joke around about how we were gonna make a band that pulled out all the stops,” says Medina, who sings and plays guitar in the project. “It eventually just happened.”
Their sonic kinship materialized in the form of a 7-inch single recorded during Medina’s last visit. But, he says, “We're still in the process of pulling out all the stops.”
"Even though we recorded the 7-inch last Christmas, we have only been a band since April of this year,” says Herrera. “So we're still a ‘baby band’ and in the very early stages of even learning how to write and work together."
Medina says his intention for The Kill Spectors is to “have a band here in my home state that I can have fun with when I need a break from Texas—kind of like having another wife in another state or country. Although I won't be wiring Keith any money."
The duo played its first few shows over the summer, thanks to their newfound residential proximity. Hearing The Kill Spectors is like pouring ether in your ears—it’s euphoric and strange. But it’s also danceable and tough. This is loud pop music that contextualizes the Phil Spector nod in the band's moniker, a quasi wall of sound that’s somehow created by only two people.
Right now The Kill Spectors have no shows on the horizon, but there's an ongoing effort by sapling followers to change that. Medina and Herrera continue to work on songs. Fans and potential fans can keep abreast of their project’s comings and goings on MySpace and Facebook, where they can listen to the "Red River Street" 7-inch. The 45 RPM single, released under the Espanola Recording Company label, is also available at goner-records.com.