Lurk: Frontman Kevin Kiley Refuses to Let the Passing of Time Stop Him On New Album, "Around the Sun"


(Photo credit: Courtney Kiara Boyer)

As a Chicago hardcore native, I’ve always found Lurk to be a really exciting band to keep up with. While Chicago is typically well-known for heavier bands, from the beginning, Lurk’s unique sound has always offered something different than the norm, drawing bits and pieces from proto-punk, new wave, hardcore, and everything in between. A Lurk show is always guaranteed to be three things - fast, loud, and more than anything, fun.

Lurk are set to release their new record, Around the Sun, on September 17th. This will be their second release with Pure Noise Records, as well as their first full-length album. I had a lot of fun speaking with frontman Kevin Kiley about his background in the Chicago scene, playing shows of all sizes and genres, as well as some of the inspiration behind Around the Sun, which focuses on themes like personal issues, to the passing of time - and why you shouldn’t let it stop you from doing what you want.

(Photo credit: Vince Gudauskas)

AA:  Introduce yourself with your name, what you do in Lurk, and a random fact about yourself.

KK: Random fact…. Ooh. I don't know, that's a tough one. I should be more prepared for these questions [laughs] But my name's Kevin, I sing, play synth, play guitars, and other stuff in Lurk. Random fact about myself is... I’m currently moving! I don't know.

AA: What was the first punk or hardcore show you went to? What impact did that have in keeping you involved in music?

KK: I started going to shows in, like, 2006, but they were moreso concerts. I wanted to see Ozzy Osbourne and System of a Down and, you know, big concerts. The first “show” I went to was at the Congress Theatre in 2007, Darkest Hour and a lot of Ferret Records bands... I think Every Time I Die played. 

I mean, this is forever ago, but it was when I first witnessed the show setting outside a big concert, how much closer you felt to the band, and how much more involved everyone seemed physically, and, overall, just people chatting with bands, people buying merch, people wearing each other’s shirts. It just took off that, like… More formal vibe of a concert, and it felt more welcoming, more fun, and a real culture. So, I’d say that was like the first “show” I went to. And then, from there, I got into like hardcore, metalcore, punk, death metal, all kinds of stuff after that.

AA: What made you want to start a band that sounds like Lurk?

KK: Most of the members of Lurk had another band prior to Lurk that was more alternative rock, indie rock, that kind of emo revival stuff. Everyone in the band had come from some kind of punk background, and we just got bored and wanted something fresh and different. It just felt like, the whole time we were playing in the other band, it sounded like a culmination of everything else going on, and I feel like that was a big trend in the early 2010s - there was just a lot of regurgitated things going on. They were really good, and I still like them, but we just wanted to do something pretty harshly different than anything we had done, but also what was going on around us. Something that was just more energetic and played into more of how we naturally play. I mean, Pedro [Unzueta, drums] is a punk drummer, he plays fast, and we all wanted to play fast, or like... something just more exciting. 

(Photo credit: Courtney Kiara Boyer)

AA: As someone who also comes from the Chicago scene, I believe I went to a lot of your first shows, and I noticed you don’t play a lot of shows with bands that make the same kind of music you do, mainly because there’s just not a lot of bands that sound like Lurk! How does playing those mostly mixed shows make you feel?

KK: Oh, sick! I love mixed shows. You’re constantly just showing off to different people. It always seems like we are constantly on a mixed show, just because Chicago, in general, is mostly heavier bands. At least, within our reach, there’s Drag City Records and stuff like that, as well as bands like Twin Peaks. But, as far as, like, who we have grown up around, and going to shows and stuff, the hardcore scene here is defintely more heavy-leaning than punk-leaning, if that makes sense. And I'm sure like everyone pretty much knows that, so it's definitely mostly heavier bands we end up playing with, which is cool, but it's just not necessarily by choice. It's just kind of who we end up playing with. But it always feels cool to play mixed stuff! We toured with Grayscale, who's like a pop band, and then we’ll play with Knocked Loose, and I don't think it doesn't make sense either way, so that's cool. It just leaves more opportunity, I think.

AA: Speaking of Grayscale - while you’ve played with a lot of heavier hardcore bands, you’ve definitely explored outside the genre as well, playing with bands like Grayscale and Every Time I Die. What are some of the differences in playing those bigger shows, versus the more intimate, smaller ones?

KK: It's kinda generic to say, but the smaller ones can definitely feel cooler, because there just seems to be more energy. In the bigger ones, you can sometimes feel more removed. I don’t know, it’s so unpredictable. Like, sometimes we were on that Grayscale tour, and we’d be playing to 800 people or something, and it'd be awesome and just great - and then sometimes, it just isn’t. But yeah, playing a packed room of 100 people, on the floor, is definitely more fun than playing a massive stage to a packed room of 1,200 people - but it also equally excites me. I don't know! It’s hard to say. We’ve played some DIY shows that are packed and have been, like, a blast - so, I mean, I don't think that'll ever get old, no matter what venues and lineups we play.

AA: Yeah. I think sometimes when I see bands asked a question like that, they think they have to definitively pick one, but I don't know, in their own way, I think they can both be cool.

KK: No, yeah , I feel blessed to play a show with Every Time I Die or Knocked Loose at the Metro, even if it's opening or whatever and there's a divider and six feet between you and the next person, it’s still sick. And like, playing a packed room to 800 people, and you’re right there, is also sick. It's just for different reasons, I guess. 

Album art

AA: What inspired the album title for Around the Sun?

KK: Originally, it didn't have a title, and we were back and forth on that. The last track is called “Around the Sun,” and it's sort of a bookend to the overall theme of the album. I don't know if [the album] really has a central theme, but a lot of the lyrics that I've written for it revolve around time and the irrelevancy of it.  We just pulled the name of the album from that song. It felt right, fit with the lyrical theme, and it had a nice ring to it. I love the imagery of the art that goes along with it, it just makes it feel more real. I don't know how to explain it. It felt more like an album with that name and with the art and everything.

AA: Did you do anything differently while writing and recording the Around the Sun, as opposed to previous releases? How was the process?

KK: We always just kind of wrote some songs and had a collection of them and we were ready to record and were like, okay, this is going to be an EP, let’s go record these and put it out - but when we got the green light to use more runtime, [we decided] to put in some different sounds and get experimental. We have a lot of influences and we try to incorporate them, and with more runtime, we can do that. There’s more synth in it, there’s weird effects going on, there's just like a lot of ups and downs to it, and that was super fun to do… As opposed to, with an EP, sometimes it’s over as quick as it starts. So, it was cool to actually put together what feels like a real record. It starts off intense, and then there’s swings in mood and feel. That was super fun to record. The recording process was also much more fun. We did like 3-4 weeks at Bricktop, and it just felt great to go in every day and chip away at this grand thing.

AA: Out of curiosity, when did you do the recording?

KK: [laughs] So, we played the Every Time I Die show, and that was the day of the shutdown. No one knew if that show was going to happen. I think we went into the studio two days later. So we were all freaking out, but basically, we were like, well - this is going to be this way for a while. Let's just hole up together and work at this. And we all just isolated with each other. You know, there was really nowhere to go, which I feel like made the experience even more special, because it's like the world outside stopped moving and there was nothing else to be distracted by - I mean, other than the news, of course. It was just bizarre. We would step outside to get food or something, and it was like a ghost town. It just, I don’t know, made the experience really wild. We did that and recorded this in March of 2020, so we’ve been sitting on it for a long time.

AA: What kind of things were on your mind when writing the lyrics for this record?

KK: A lot of 'em are just about personal things, political commentary or whatever. It's not like a concept album track-to-track, there's different topics, but I'd say, overall, there seems to be a recurring theme of my mental balance with, like - am I like accomplishing my life goals? And the time... Am I behind? Should I have done more? Just constantly questioning and thinking about things like death. There’s a larger theme at play, just about time, and that there is no timeline - that everyone’s is different. And, you know, people can get in their own head about it, including myself. While we were doing this, it became even more real, a year and change has gone by - and it feels like nothing has happened. 

So, everyone’s kind of stuck in the same position here, like… Everyone can feel very unaccomplished, but since March 2020, everyone’s been in the same boat. So there isn’t any right answer, and there’s no use in beating yourself up over things like that. But yeah, that seems to be the theme of it... Talking about life challenges, and anxiety about time slipping away.

AA: I think that’s gonna make it relevant for a lot of people, because, like you said, we are all in the same boat, and I've had a lot of conversations in the past year with people where they’re anxiously saying things like, “oh, my 20’s are slipping away,” or, “oh, I’m not going to be able to do this thing in this timeframe anymore,” and it’s like…. Do you realize this past year and a half happened to everybody, and nobody is more ahead of you right now? [laughs] You’re good!

KK: [laughs] Yeah! Dude, I turned 30 during quarantine. And it's like, first off turning 30 sucks, no matter which way you spin it. I was dreading it for as long as I've been around, but especially during this…

AA: I know you’re going to laugh at me - but I’ve been struggling with age stuff over quarantine too, because I turned 24, and now certain younger people act like once you turn, like, 23, you have to get off the internet and go get a 401K, start a family… [laughs]

KK: You got it. I’m gone. No problem. [laughs] And that’s just kind of what I’ve been thinking of! Even moreso because I'm older, but also just like, lyrically, I think a lot of it is about not subscribing to that kind of shit, you know? Whatever. I don’t give a shit. 

AA: Even though normal shows weren't feasible, you guys managed to do the next best thing by streaming a show last December. How did planning that come together? What was the experience like?

KK: We got hit up by University of Wisconsin-Madison [a.k.a. WUD Music]! It was perfect because it was like, it’s been a while, we should fill this gap, this void, with something, and we had Bricktop where we did our album - actually, I live five minutes from it - and were friends with Andy [Nelson] who records there, so we hit up some local friends of ours to film it, and just came into the studio that we recorded the album at, and put together the set! It was super fun, it didn't feel like a show, it honestly felt more like going in to record an album, but it was cool, we streamed it, we were chatting with people and yeah. It was just something to look forward to one weekend during all of that when everyone was going stir crazy.

AA: This is your second release with Pure Noise. What’s it like to work with them?

KK: It's super chill, it’s great. They’ve got some bigger bands, they’re a big label, but working with them is so easygoing. I can shoot them a text or whatever and we just chat about stuff. It's been very smooth. They believe in our band, which is great, and I don't know yeah! Cahil is great, Jake, Kat, everyone over there is super sweet, and just, like, down to do what we wanna do. I can't complain.

AA: Did you have any hand in planning the music video for “Crack a Smile”?

KK: yeah! So Michael Herrick did that, and he also did the video for “Electro-shock.” He was actually on our last tour because he does a lot of filming for Hot Mulligan, he does all their videos and stuff - he’s great. I mean, he's our friend already, so when we were planning the video, he would FaceTime me and we’d shoot the shit about ideas. But, I mean, overall, that was him. He literally shot, directed and edited the entire video alone, which is insane.

We knew we wanted some kind of 70’s [feel], some weird shit goin’ on... And because we have another video coming out as well, we wanted this one just to be kind of fun, kind of tongue-in-cheek, kind of weird-but-also-goofy, it's also kinda dark... There's some weird shit going on in the video. I feel like it fits the song really well.

AA: Do you have a favorite song from the album?

KK: Hmm. We haven't been able to play them live yet, but when we play them at practice, they’ll come back to me, and I'll be like, “I really like that song, wow, wasn’t feelin it as much before.” So, it changes, but I think the song “Strut” that's on the record is one of my favorites, if not my favorite. The first song on the record, “Chromosome,” is definitely one of my favorites.

I'm stoked for people to hear those, we’re putting out a single actually on Wednesday called “Bermuda,” and that was probably my favorite to record because it’s very vibey, it sounds like some desert sci-fi music or something, so that was super fun to record. I was surprised  - it was actually Pure Noise’s idea to make that a single, and I was like… Wow. Even Andy who recorded it was like, really? So I think that’s really sick. I'm all for showing as much variety as possible.

AA: If you had a friend coming through Chicago for the first time, what are some places you’d recommend they have to check out?

KK: Well, I’d probably take them to Maria’s in my neighborhood in Bridgeport, that’s the bar over here to go to, good food as well. There’s obviously Reckless Records, and… A venue… hmm. I don’t know. I love Sleeping Village up north, too. I’m trying to think of a good low-key venue, I think Sleeping Village is pretty low key. Also, seeing a great show at Bottom Lounge is, I feel like, always a cool Chicago experience. I don’t know, I've seen some awesome shows there. Those are some good spots, I’d say.

Lurk’s next show - day 2 of Gulch’s final Chicago shows

AA: Any upcoming plans you’d like to talk about?

KK: We got some Chicago shows and some more to be announced, we got touring lined up in early 2022, so I'm excited to announce that and get back out there. Otherwise, the record comes out September 17th, so less than a month away. Yeah! That's it, I don't know, that’s all I got!

AA: Any last words you want to share?

KK: Hmm… nah. [laughs] I don't know, go order the record. You could put that Get vaccinated... Put some PSAs in there.

AA: Yeah, so we can keep going to tours... Or, duh, sorry, I meant shows. Go to shows. [laughs]

KK: [laughs] do both! Go to tours, go on tours. Go to shows. For sure.

I’d like to thank Kevin for giving the time out of his day to talk to Resonating! You can keep up with Lurk via their links below:

Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Bandcamp | Merch

Additionally, you can check out the singles from Around the Sun below - make sure to check out the full album on the 17th!


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