Members of Nashville's Hollywood Kills believe their collective inability to grow the hell up has been a blessing rather than a curse, Besides fueling unabashedly nerdist songwriting efforts like "Jean" (about Marvel Comics' X-Men uber-mutant and Phoenix-force avatar Jean Grey) and "The Architect" (about WWE RAW wrestling star Seth Rollins), the four-piece Nashville outfit's shared manolescent affliction has seen them through 11 years and four album releases, with a fifth one to come in the latter half of 2017.
"Most musicians, as they get older, they tend to fall out of love with playing music," says HK vocalist and rhythm guitarist Brent Powelson. "But that love never died for the guys in this group. That's what brought us together, and that's what made us continue to play with the same energy we've always had."
"The difference is that, with all of us in our 30s or older now, we tend to be a little more selfish in our approach," says drummer Johnny Angel. "We're more worried about making music that pleases us, rather than worrying about what anybody else thinks. If other people enjoy it and want to come along for the ride, then that's a bonus."
The Kills have deep roots, ties that reach back well before the band's founding. Three of four members grew up in Nashville, and Angel and Powelson trace their relationship back to pre-school. As youngsters, they shared the same Cub Scout troop, and grew up playing together in a number of other, similar rock 'n' roll outfits -- "We've been playing the same style for a while," says Angel. "Which I guess I would describe as fun, energetic rock ' roll." -- before coming together as core members of Hollywood Kills in 2006.
It's been a fun ride, Angel says, though not always an easy one; there have been more than a few rough spots along the way, such as when the band's talented founding vocalist Jonathon Jircitano departed in 2013, after appearing on the first two HK releases, 2008's "The Hollywood Kills EP," and 2009's "Idiot's Guide to Desertion."
Having served as backing vocalist and chief harmonizer during Jircitano's tenure, Powelson was able to slide more-or-less seamlessly into the frontman role, albeit with the necessary concession of abdicating lead guitar chores to newcomer Cody Wilson.
"(Jircitano's leaving) was like a roadblock, and a stepping stone at the same time," Powelson says. "For me, it was like working a job, and suddenly someone says, 'Hey, we're giving you a whole new set of responsibilities. It took some adjustment.
"Jonathon was one of my favorite singers, so he really influenced me even as I was singing backup for him. We kind of grew together as vocalists."
Lucky, too, was the fact that Jircitano and Powelson both sing in a similarly keening tenor. The Kills' sound is a puissant fusion of classic pop and majestic prog garnished with a sprig of punkish energy. And like Jircitano before him, Powelson with his potent warble can ably transition from candied melodicism to harrowing high drama in keeping with the music's beguiling tonal shifts.
"I've always seen this band like I see a movie soundtrack," Angels says. "There's a theme running through the music; it's similar in some ways. But then you go from a crazy rock song, to a soulful number, to a piano ballad. All in the same set."
"Johnny and I grew up as emo kids, and then we evolved," Powelson says. "We discovered the Beatles, and started understanding what they did. Then there was Queen, and later, Muse, and the Temptations and Michael Jackson.
"All of that stuff has had an influence on our sound. I don't think you can pin us down to any one thing. In fact, if everyone who heard us compared us to the same band, I would feel defeated. We would probably rethink what we were doing completely."
The Hollywood Kills will play Preservation Pub Friday, June 9 at 10 p.m.