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By Kimberly Annette

(In collaboration with Johnny Zapp)

My recent sitdown with Kyle Nicolaides (lead singer, guitar) and Daniel “Dan” Curcio (bass) from the band Beware of Darkness at the Uproar Festival in Mountain View, CA, gave me great insight into what drives the band creatively. Upon meeting Kyle and Dan, they both seem to be quite unassuming down-to-Earth guys, but after chatting, a deeper understanding of their music became apparent. Kyle’s answers gave me a new perspective, and after viewing their onstage performance later in the day, it just blew me away. “Holy insanity! Could it get any more explosive?” 

I hope you can enjoy some of the same insights I found with them and their music. 

ROCK RAG: We’re here with Beware of Darkness. Dan, you’re the bass player, correct? 

Dan: Bass player, yeah.

ROCK RAG: And Kyle you’re the lead singer/lead guitar, right? 

Kyle: Yeah.

ROCK RAG: In listening to your new album Orthodox, there’s an array of influences that come to mind. As both songwriters and musicians, what records influenced you while you were growing up?

Kyle: That’s a good question. Growing up? The Beatles and The White Album.

ROCK RAG: Good choice!

Kyle: But when we were cutting “Orthodox,” right before, it was Extraordinary Machine by Fiona Apple. Grace by Jeff Buckley. Hunky Dory by David Bowie. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy by Kanye West.

ROCK RAG: Nice. That is a very wide scope of artists and different kinds of music. So where does your inspiration come from?

Kyle: Everything, I guess.

ROCK RAG: Just from all the music, from everything as a whole?

Kyle: Just everything. Whatever hits you, you know?

ROCK RAG: Yeah, yeah. I get that. I totally get that. 

Kyle: Just as long as it’s good; as long as it’s great songwriting.

ROCK RAG: Definitely. Going from The Beatles, where can you go from there? 

Kyle: They’re the best.

ROCK RAG: What can you tell us about your songwriting process? Is it a team effort or music first or lyrics first? 

Kyle: It’s different every song. Some come together really quickly within minutes, and then some take a couple of months. I wish I could say it just happens like this, but literally every song is different. Like a song like “Howl” came together in like 15 minutes, but then a song like “All Who Remain”… well, actually that came together quick too. Actually, I’m trying to think what’s on the record. They all come really quick, you know, like the bare bones of it and the lyrics and stuff. And then, you know, sometimes the arrangements are perfect, and sometimes you’ve got to work on it, and then sometimes you’ve got to change the instrumentation around; so it is, it’s different every single time.

ROCK RAG: All the fine tuning. 

Kyle: Yeah.

ROCK RAG: I love “Howl,” by the way. It’s an awesome song.

Kyle: Oh thanks, thanks. Yeah, it’s a different purpose to it with every song — like the intent behind the song.

Whether it just pops or whether you’re like, “I need to write a song with this.” The coolest part of making a record that I didn’t realize is how a song is never finished until the record’s mastered. A good example of that is “Amen, Amen,” which I wrote for one of my best friends back when I was like 19. And it’s interesting because the girl who I wrote it about, we were really close, and the whole song is about the experiences I had with her. And then when we go to make the record, like two or three years later, her role in my life and my role in her life completely changed. So I added lyrics to make it relevant to when we cut it. So I thought that was really interesting. You can kind of update songs and stuff ….

ROCK RAG: Oh yeah, as you go. That’s very cool. This question is for you by Johnny Zapp, who wrote the original ROCK RAG Beware of Darkness article <LINK>. 

Kyle: That sounds familiar. I think I read it.

ROCK RAG: You read his article?

Kyle: It was really good.

ROCK RAG: Thank you. He absolutely loves you guys. 

Kyle: Is he here today?

ROCK RAG: No, I just asked him to send me some questions because he knows your music. From him: I am a music geek in regards to recording equipment. Which acoustic guitars (specifically) were used on Orthodox

Kyle: That’s a good question. It’s a Martin. I don’t really know what model it is. But I got it when I was 13, and it’s the only acoustic guitar I’ve ever used.

ROCK RAG: How can you go wrong with a Martin? 

Kyle: It’s beat to hell right now actually, and I made a promise with this minister in LA when I stopped getting life out of it that I would give it to him. So honestly, I think it’s that time right now because the last time I was home, I picked it up out of its case, and it was just a complete wreck. So I think he’s going to get that, and then I’m going to get either an older Martin or a Gibson or something. But I don’t know what the model is. I don’t know, it’s just a Martin.

ROCK RAG: Being a bare bones trio, would you say you tracked a good portion of the record live in the studio, recording performance takes?

Kyle: Yeah, the basic tracks were cut live. We overdubbed it.

ROCK RAG: Let’s go to the tour. How’s it been going from the beginning of Uproar to now?

Kyle: The last time we were here, we played Shoreline Amphitheatre and it was Warped Tour, and it was pretty miserable, honestly. This tour has been incredible though. All the bands are really cool and everyone’s really made friends with each other. The shows have been going really well. It’s so nice because every show we’re seeing more and more people who either know who we are, or know “Howl” or know our songs. So that’s so much fun, because we did Warped Tour and we were playing for literally seven-and-a-half people a day. So it’s so cool to come back to these same cities and see how it grows. I’m bummed this tour is ending. It’s been so much fun. It’s been so positive.

ROCK RAG: Playing for like seven people, you can’t feed off the energy. 

Kyle: That’s cool once in a while, but when you’re doing it literally for like two months straight or whatever, it’s like, “OK, what’s going on here?”

ROCK RAG: No, I’m so glad. I’m so glad that it’s going better for you guys. Last question. You strike me as the kind of band that has a ton of material in the can from previous sessions, as well as guys that write demos on the road. Orthodox just dropped, but something tells me we will be getting another record in the not-too-distant future. Would my Spidey sense be accurate? 

Kyle: The Spidey sense is completely right.

ROCK RAG: So you guys are working on something now? 

Kyle: Yep.

ROCK RAG: Fantastic. Do you have any idea when…? 

Kyle: No idea. No idea when it’s going to come out; no idea what it’s going to be or sound like. Yeah, everything’s going well.

ROCK RAG: Fantastic. Is there anything else you want to tell me about? 

Kyle: Our next single is called “All Who Remain,” and it’s going to come out in a couple weeks, I think.

ROCK RAG: Tell me about the song.

Kyle: It’s about losing a favorite person on the planet. I’m really excited about it because we’ve never had a song that has hit people this hard. Honestly, I think it’s more reactive than “Howl,” like the response we’re getting.

ROCK RAG: Really?

Kyle: Yeah. And it’s a different kind of response, but it’s great. It’s the kind of thing where it’s a blessing because we have people come to the shows and don’t know who we are and hear that song, and buy a CD and they come write on our online pages and stuff, and say, “Oh, I cried listening to this,” or, “It helped me get through the death of my grandpa,” or something. So that’s really powerful. And it’s encouraging for us too, to know we have a song like that. So I can’t wait for it to come out. I think it’s going to be really good.

ROCK RAG: All your lyrics across the board are pretty deep. I mean, they’re pretty intense lyrics. 

Kyle: Yeah, they’re…

ROCK RAG: There’s a story behind each one. 

Kyle: Yeah. Yeah, totally. Totally.

ROCK RAG: You’re not just a poppy rock band. You guys are deep and you have methodical thought behind everything. 

Kyle: Yeah, it’s funny — I thought the record, when it was going to come out, I thought it was going to be so dense it was going to choke people and stuff, but so far it hasn’t done that.

ROCK RAG: No. I think people are sick to death of all this auto-tune and no organic-ness to the music anymore. So people are looking for that depth; they need the depth.

Kyle: The biggest thing with this record and the band is just making it meaningful, making it honest.

ROCK RAG: That’s fantastic and I’m so glad you guys are sticking true to that. Don’t ever let them change that. 

Kyle: That’s a good cornerstone; just whatever you do: be honest and mean it. 

UPROAR PHOTO GALLERY

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Beware of Darkness Interview at Uproar
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