Way back in 2007 the blogosphere was abuzz about a band out of Jacksonville, FL called Black Kids. Following the success of their debut album Partie Traumatic in 2008, fans waited for years with nary a peep out of Reggie Youngblood and co. until a surprise re-emergence this year with their long-awaited follow-up Rookie. I recently sat down with Youngblood, his sister Ali, and bandmates Dawn Watley and Owen Holmes to chat about the new album. They also played a few songs live for another FMQB SubModern Session, which you can listen to here.
FMQB: Good to have you here with us and here in general because it’s been quite some time. I’m sure you’ve been answering this question in every interview since you’ve been back out on the road, but why’s it been such a long time since we’ve heard from Black Kids and what have you been doing in the interim?
Reggie Youngblood: Usually I’m kind of glib about it and say that I’ve been watching television non-stop (which is true), but in all honesty, we just couldn’t find the songs we wanted. We would go into the studio in earnest and work pretty hard. I think we probably recorded three albums since the last time we released one. But this was the only session that stuck, that felt good and felt right. All the elements were in place. We were in a studio we liked in Athens, Georgia (that’s where I live now). We were working with a producer / engineer that we really loved, Andy LeMaster. We finally had a batch of songs that made sense as a follow up. We had choruses that we liked. I couldn’t write a chorus to save my life for some reason, well at least not for this project. So, it was just waiting for things to fall in place.
FMQB: So, it was no drama or anything crazy like that?
RY: Sadly, no. It was just wanting it to be something that we liked before we put it out there. I think it would’ve been unfortunate if we put out the songs that we didn’t really care for.
FMQB: Yeah, of course you don’t want to put out something that you’re not proud of. When you came out with the new record, did you wonder if people would remember you and how it would be received?
RY: Well, we usually made it a point to go out and do a couple weeks on the road. So, y’know people were coming to the shows and our online interactions with our fans are pretty lively.
FMQB: So people knew that you were still a thing and your fans were probably very eager for some new tunes.
Owen Holmes: Yeah, they never really let up.
RY: They were very aggressive. Almost belligerent. (Laughs)
FMQB: How are they receiving what they’re hearing?
RY: With joy!
OH: And relief.
FMQB: They’re latching on to the new songs?
RY: Yeah. It does seem like a good follow-up in that it’s different, but the same.
FMQB: It has the right feel. I’m curious that if you had released some of what you recorded in the interim, would it have not felt to us like Black Kids?
RY: It would’ve been a trap that most bands fall into, which Owen and I refer to as "mature second record." Y’know the cellos are there all of a sudden, apropos of nothing. The lyrics were going too earnest because I was sick of the bratty tone of the first record. So then, I just split the difference and it felt pretty good.
FMQB: Some bands will put out that "mature second record" and it might not be as well received so then they’ll kind of go back to the sound that made people love them in the first place. So, you just skipped a step in there.
RY: We showed some restraint and did not release the "mature second record," which is a sign of maturity. (Laughs)
Find out more about what Black Kids are up to and see their latest videos at BlackKidsTV.com. Listen to their SubModern Session performances of "Rookie" and "In A Song," plus an old favorite, "I’m Making Eyes At You," here.
By Josh T. Landow