"Louder" by Dublin, Ireland based punk outfit Kid Karate is a punchy, two-and-a-half-minute blast of minimalist rock 'n' roll, a song that you can memorize the lyrics to before it’s over. Its video sees the three-piece ripping through the track in a tiny, cutesy den they’ve converted into a practice space, complete with a dozen or so amplifiers. The walls shake. The neighbors might be pissed. The band should probably get out of town.
And that's exactly what they’re doing. On September 10, the band is landing stateside to begin a 10-city tour, bringing their stripped-down "gritty, raw and brutal" sound that dwells, as we’ve rightly said in the past, "somewhere between the fuzzy blues of The Black Keys, the danceability of The Rapture, and the aggression of Queens of the Stone Age." We caught up with the group to ask inappropriate questions about Bono, and obvious questions about the band’s name, among other things. Catch up with the boys below and be sure to check them out when they come to your town.
Noisey is partnering with Bushmills Red Bush for a 10 city tour across America with Dubliners Kid Karate and local bands in each city. Click for more details on the free party in your city.
VICE: Tell us about Dublin and the music scene there? In our minds it’s a magical place of rolling green hills and folksy good cheer. How right or wrong is that?
Kevin Breen: In reality, Dublin is the tech capital of Europe, with rent prices too high for the average Dubliner to afford. Venues are being torn down to build luxury hotels for American tourists, gangs of youths in tracksuits patrol the inner city looking for a bit of ultraviolence, and the rain is constant. A perfect environment to create art.
The rest of Ireland, sure: rolling green hills, fairies, leprechauns. All kinds of magic and pubs and Craic and shit like that.
Is there a big punk scene in Dublin or in Ireland? What are some of the bands you and others making music like Kid Karate are listening to?
Breen: There has always been a healthy punk scene in Dublin—there have always been social injustices to fight in this town, from gay rights and women's rights to racial prejudice and crumbling social services. There is anger here at our neoliberal government who profiteer off large multinationals while we have record homeless figures, a drug epidemic, and gang warfare.
Some of the bands making waves right now are Fontaines DC, Girl Band, Just Mustard, Jr Brother, David Keenan, Squarehead, Loah, Fehdah, Murder Capital, the Scratch, Thumper, Kynsy, Jafars, Melts, Music City, whenyoung, Meltybrains?, Extravision, Sissy, and Ssmmutt, to name but only a few. Then we got huge pop acts like Hozier, Kodaline, and Dermot Kennedy. And classics like Thin Lizzy, U2, Rory Gallagher, Van Morrison, Sinead O’Connor, the Cranberries, My Bloody Valentine, the Undertones, Stiff Little Fingers, and apparently Aphex Twin is Irish, but I don't know how true that is.
We all kinda know each other in roundabout ways. The scene feels very tight over here as Dublin is really a tiny city but what we lack in population we make up for in output. The music we listen to as a band for inspiration is almost too numerous and varied to list off, it goes from ABBA to Zeppelin, Kendrick to Creedence. If the groove is tight then alright.
Here's a link to my Spotify... I'll make an inspiration playlist at some point.
You guys are set to tour the US, which you’ve done a couple of other times in the past. What are you looking forward to most and least about touring this large land of ours? What, if anything, is particularly charming or terrifying about it?
We've done one full tour of the states before, we went from Los Angeles to New York City hitting San Fran, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Burlington, New Haven, Boston. That was with the old drummer and myself. I was actually born in San Francisco (moved to Ireland when I was just a kid), so going back for the first time since was a trip. Sadly I didn't get to spend much time there. You don't see much when you're on tour. For the other lads this is their first time in a lot of these US cities.
Oisin Trench McMahon: For me, touring is all positive. Having a truly new and fresh experience going city to city is the most rewarding vibe. The folks you meet along the way are what make it truly special. Also really looking forward to getting real fat with your daft portion sizes.
I'm excited to see Portland and Seattle. World's best drum shop is in Portland, and so much of the music I grew up loving is out of Seattle.
Ian Macfarlane: Personally I have never toured west of Texas so the idea of playing both coasts and taking in Chicago, Denver, and Texas is an unbelievable prospect. I love touring and have happily slept on many floors around New England, but this tour will be a whole different animal. The United States has such a wide variety of culture and landscape for a single country so it'll be wild waking up in new towns with profoundly different identities every day.
I think we're all fairly excited about playing in Denver, since none of us have ever been. Personally, having never been to the West Coast, I'm dying to see Los Angeles. Because it seems like such a departure from the European culture we're used to here. I also have a real soft spot for Boston, a lot of great memories from their DIY scene.
Are you at all familiar with American reality television? If yes, what’s your favorite? (And if the answer is Vanderpump Rules can we do a second, off-the-record interview about just that?)
Breen: I'm familiar with American reality TV, yes, but I've never heard of that show. I quite like Queer Eye and I know Ian is huge fan of Drag Race. Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives is a classic.
This question may be obvious, and is no doubt dumb. But have you ever seen Karate Kid? If you haven’t, it’s about a kid who moves to a new town, and is bullied by a team of karate-master teens. But then he befriends a very old Japanese repairman who exploits him for free labor while also training him to fight his tormentors. Could this movie take place in Ireland or is that a strictly American scenario?
Breen: Hahahahaha we’re a band called Kid Karate of course we've seen Karate Kid. I've seen the original and the remake. The original is superior.
The plot of this movie plays out on the hard streets of Dublin on a daily basis, little scumbags going around karate chopping phones out of people's hands
Simply because you're Irish we'd like you to settle a long-time debate between friends. Bono: Altruistic Savior or Self-Serving Prick? Please elaborate.
Breen: Ah, people are just mad ‘cause he doesn't pay his taxes or something like that. I've met him a few times now and he seems like a nice chap. He can sure write the bejesus out of a song.
Let’s wrap this up with a speed round. Hugs or handshakes?
Vinyl or streaming?
Both but mostly streaming cause it's easy and I'm lazy.
Nas or Lil Nas X?
Harry Potter or a book for adults?
Oh, books for adults. I often like to sit by the fire and read some Joyce.
Led Zeppelin or Black Sabbath?
Probably Zeppelin, but also probably Sabbath.