Interview: Stunt Lover talk latest release

Credit: Fitch Photography & Design.

Having played Electric Picnic (Music Festival), Fringe and Life Festival and a host of other venues in Dublin and the EU, Stunt Lover took a break in 2010 while singer and guitarist Kaylee Bear took time to transition. As Ireland’s first trans-fronted rock band, they are back stronger and fiercer than ever with the latest release of their first album, Aldona’s Daughter.

Stunt Lover is San Peric (bass, backup vocals) Al Soldati (drums) and Kaylee Bear (guitar, vocals).- who’s birthday is tomorrow (14th February).

Kaylee explains how the band got back into making music again:

In 2013 I started making music again, the catalyst being [of course] a really incredible, horribly painful and crushing dating experience, which was my first after transitioning, the first time a girl liked me and treated me as the same. Unfortunately, like many first attempts and prototypes it failed spectacularly. It really felt like the only way to deal with it, other than just to explode, was to write it all out. So completely on my own, I started out from scratch again, doing the circuit of singer/songwriter nights around Dublin. It was terrifying. It wasn’t just performance anxiety, but even a more general fear of being in public, of being on display, fear of verbal attacks or even violence. It wasn’t until 2015 that I met San through a mutual friend; he had originally agreed help me mix and master the songs- something he is amazing at, a real natural talent coupled with years of experience. But he actually liked the songs, really liked them, and offered to play with me. From the first time we were up onstage together (with San playing an electric drum pad running through some scuzzy old guitar pedals), all that fear and anxiety went away- there was an almost instant chemistry playing live together that exists to this day, and I think that’s what our audiences pick up on- most of whom just stumble in accidentally to whatever venue we’re playing. And that energy and excitement was only amplified when we finally met Al Soldati a year later.

So we finally had a chance to do these songs properly- nurture them from basic singer/songwriter fodder into a harder, more emotionally charged and rewarding sound that was finally released in September 2017. I suppose Aldona’s Daughter is a concept album in the sense that all the songs are closely related and tell different stories about that romantic experience- there are recurrent themes and little references that even run through the few videos that we have out as well.

I was a little afraid that afterwards, I might not have anything else inside me- maybe this was just a giant ball of anger, sadness, confusion and miscommunication that needed to be removed like a tumor and then… there’d be nothing left. But thankfully two things have helped prove that wrong- the absolute joy we experience playing and creating together, and the overwhelming sense that the world is just going straight to shit. We’re already halfway through another album’s wroth of material and should be releasing some new singles soon- darker, dirtier, faster and, thankfully, liberated from the constraints of the previous subject matter.

As we’re all transplants, it hasn’t been easy to gain traction- even though I’ve been in Dublin for over 14 years, once you stop for too long all that inertia is spent and you find yourself rolling the stone back up the hill again. I think we’ve actually gotten more press and coverage outside of Ireland. But we love playing live, and the audiences can tell we leave 100% on the stage and they love it, so whether we ever make a living at it or manage to sign to a label isn’t even a priority, it would just be icing on the cake.

Check the band’s latest album Aldona’s Daughter below!

We managed to catch up with the band as they talked about their latest release and more!

How has the release of Aldona’s Daughter gone down with fans so far?

Well, we did our release party as part of the Dublin Culture Night offerings at Steambox Gallery & Studios back in September [2017]. At one point when I looked up the crowd was out the door and down the hallway from the stage area into the gallery. So that was heartening. We also have a few heads we rely on for painful-honest-truth, and one of them was so impressed with San’s in-house DIY mixing/mastering that he is now mixing his EP with him; we also have this lovely but totally insane-bonkers fan from Hungary that messages me the lyrics of our own songs; at one point he stopped his scooter in the middle of traffic and ran across the street when he saw us putting up posters for an upcoming show, so that he could get one. If we had about 1,000 of him I’d say the album would be top of the charts at this point.

Can you tell us something about the album no one else knows?

The last track of the album, “Love Letters From Strangers / Strange Letters From Lovers” is not only a ridiculously long-titled song, it was going to be the title of the album; the lyrics of that track are almost verbatim from a love letter received, albeit with a little tweaking for cadence.

What’s your favourite track on the album?

SkyBelow. That is also the title of the artwork that is used as the album cover art, and the first song that San and I worked on as a team.

San’s favourite is Sledghammers & Knitting Needles, for the drive and urgency of the song.

How pumped are you for being on Trinity Radio on 2nd March?

That might seem like a throw-away question, but actually, we are really, really thankful as they were not only the first music-oriented media in Dublin to acknowledge us, but their representative said that after listening he was genuinely a fan, and that means the world. I do need to say that have been absolutely amazing ever since we started back up with providing the maximum exposure warranted to a strappy little band, and over in the UK, Ralph Radio has been a huge supporter.

What’s the alternative rock scene like in Dublin?

More or less, it seems the band members went to school with the bookers at the venues, and they all went to school with the new online media writers who maybe didn’t actually study journalism. I’m pretty sure there’s at least two places that won’t book us already, so if I say that we’re probably dead in the water, but as non-Dubs it is tuuffff. Unless you work in the industry as a sound tech on the side or happen to be Rodrigo & Gabriela, you definitely have an extra deck stacked against you as a non-native in Dublin. Now if you’re talking about the Sound… well, Dublin has always had it’s own brand of rock and that will always be prevalent.

If you could work with any band on a new song, who would it be and why?

I think at least one or two of us would probably instantaneously shout out “Against Me!” only because we have a massive crush on Laura Jane Grace [who is one of the most amazing people you can ever witness performing live], but to really get out of our own comfort zone and do something really interesting or possibly dangerous? Huunhhh… For me, Modest Mouse. I would love to see their process for creating such a beautiful cacophony within a single track. For San, which I also tend to agree with, it would be almost any project that Dave Grohl has been associated with.

Have you got any gigs or festivals lined up for 2018?

We do. In 2017 we did a small southern-coast tour of Spain, which was amazing; we have since made some contacts in the other directions and it looks good that we will do a France-Italy-Croatia southern tour this year and hopefully a blitzkrieg weekend in Germany at some point. We’d like to get back into the festivals in Ireland, of course, but you’re never a doctor to your own village. I think Jesus said that.

What was the first gig you ever attended?

My memory of my younger days is pretty dire… so it was either Screaming Trees in Chicago, or Lollapalooza 1992/3-ish with Tool & Beastie Boys and Rage Against the Machine, or Violent Femmes in Valparaiso, Indiana, after having given blood that day and totally tripping out to the giant “Riii-co-laaaa” horn they had onstage… but for argument’s sake, let’s say it was Lollapalooza, because I bought a Beastie Boys baseball cap there. It was green, and had a stitched patch of the god Ganesh on front. I kept that hat when I moved to Arizona, and then to Mongolia, and then back to Arizona and then to Dublin. After I finally transitioned, about 3 or 4 years later my best friend introduced me to his child, who was transitioning in the other direction. I thought maybe some sort of magic relic of manhood would do them well, and so I gave him that hat, after more than 20 years. The hat was older than they were, I remember that.

San’s first gig, I don’t even know why he is embarrassed about this, was Manu Chao in Croatia.

What do you get up to in your spare time when not working on music?

Well, together we have restarted Moxie Studios, which used to be very focused on musicians and then drifted towards visual arts before its last physical space closed in 2014- we hope to change that this year and have relaunched as an artist-led label and facility. I also help steer the Independent Museum of Contemporary Arts [] that manages Steambox art centre in Dublin and STANDARD art centre in Valencia, Spain, and our upcoming space in Italy. Other than that I am working on a more folkpunk/spoken word audiovisual narrative project and trying to finish up a PhD in Fine Arts at the Universitat Politecnic in Valencia. I also have a very co-dependent wolfhound-lurcher mix dog named Ben that takes up an inordinate amount of my time.

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