John Caffery, from Kids on Tv fame, spoke to our newest team member Andy Schmidt.
Andy: “The mandatory name question”. Is there any relevance
behind Kids on TV?
John: Originally, when Mike e.b. and I started KOTV we were in love with the song “Kids in America” by Kim Wilde. Mikey wanted to call the band Kids in America and I definitely did not want to be associated with American politics and ideals in 2003. I thought about it for a few days and suggested Kids on TV for two reasons. Mikey was a child star and literally was a kid on TV. Secondly, when my parents divorced when I was two, I would visit my dad and he would sit me in front of the television. I became obsessed with whatever was on, from sitcoms, to cartoons, to commercials. I found it so hard to pull myself away from TV even for a few moments that when I was six I peed on the carpet and just moved over to continue watching. So for me, the name was a reference to how television acts as a babysitter or a drug in our society.
Andy: This month you played the Nuit Blanche festival with Holy Fuck at the Works & Emergency Services Building. Being based out of Toronto, were you excited to take part in the festival?
John: Actually we were programmed to play early on in the evening. Our performance was over by nine thirty. This made it possible to enjoy a lot of the evening. It was actually ideal. I was really excited about the line up for our event. Holy Fuck, Nifty, Wyrd Visions, and Polmo Polpo all shared the stage with us so we were thrilled. I heard a lot of negative feedback about the night but personally I had a blast. I saw lots of good friends, stayed out till 7 in the morning and checked out many exhibits, and enjoyed seeing the city so alive at night.
Andy: You recently released your debut album “Mixing Business with Pleasure” with Chicks on Speed Records. How has the overall response been so far?
John: The response has been really great. Chicks on Speed felt that if people are going to buy music these days they want something special to take home, so they really let us create what we wanted. Each CD has ten covers within it, and people get to choose their favourite. The crowd seems to recognize songs by the first few notes when we play live. That is really exciting for us.
Andy: When recording this album, did you find it difficult to capture the power and energy of your live shows onto CD? I read that you also only recorded with just two microphones and a broken laptop. Considering the gear, did you create the album you wanted?
John: It is definitely difficult to communicate all our feelings without being able to directly engage the audience. That is one of the reasons the album took so long to come out. We would record, re record, and re-write until we were happy. The album evolved a lot over the years, which we were happy to experience. The gear did not feel limiting, our prior experience was the major limitation. We were learning how to do everything for the first time.
Andy: Instrumentally - what’s your approach? What separates you from other bands that simply sample drum sounds and looped synth lines?
John: Our approach is usually figure out what we want to address lyrically, write a beat, add bass, percussion, and the two guitars over top. When KoTV began there was already a lot of boring electro surfacing, we have been very conscious to avoid the trappings of the genre. Although there are samples within our work, most of the electronics are original and written by Scott. We like to experiment with genre and push ourselves to embody new sounds.
Andy: Your lyrics appear to bring awareness to what some may find offensive or taboo issues. Where do you draw inspiration from during the writing process? Do you have any pre-set issues that you’d wish to address before any beat is made? How much crudeness is too much?
John: I draw inspiration from Toronto and the people whom I am surrounded with here. The Blocks recording club, Keith Cole, Luis Jacob, $100, Holy Fuck, Woodhands…this city has many jewels within it. KOTV try and create homage and tributes to artists whom we feel deserve it. There are definitely pre set issues that I want to deal with. For instance, some of the material I am currently working on deals with apathy, and another song I am working on handles narcissexualism. KOTV are a message band and there are issues we want to discuss with our audience. I don’t think we have reached the limit of crudeness yet, I am a GG Allin fan.
Andy: What was it like working on the Giggles in the Dark Remix album for Lesbians on Ecstasy?
Andy: Scott did the majority of the work on that remix. We love playing with LoE. They are sisters to us. The remix was really enjoyable because the song we remixed was originally by the Toronto queer core group Fifth Column. Scott had originally played shows with them in the early eighties. Scott had been in several experimental and noise projects throughout that decade. He had also released a cassette compilation featuring Fifth Column. So, this project really fit into our mandate of referencing artists that we feel merit it.
Andy: How has your relationship been with Chicks on Speed Records thus far? How did this relationship come to be?
John: They have been very supportive of what we do. It all started by me mailing the label a demo. They requested a song of ours to be included in the compilation “Girl Monster”, a history of electronic and punk feminist music. We were absolutely honoured to be in the company we were. Afterwards, they offered to release our album. We met for the first time this year while we were on tour. We love what they are doing.
Andy: In 10 words or less, describe what Kids on TV is all about for those who don’t know.
John: KOTV is all about empowerment. A dance floor freak out that will get you thinking.
Andy: What does the next 5 years hold for KOTV? More records? More tours? 5 more annual Bathouse shows?
John: Definitely more records, more tours, more super 8 films, and more of our videos. Currently, we are experimenting with installations, and we are collaborating with Ohbijou on a 4 song EP. Ohbijou are incredibly talented and a lot of fun to work with. That will be the next thing to surface from the belly of Kids on TV.
Image: Kid With Camera