By Andra Litton & Max Dropout
To say the Ka-Nives are uncontrollable is an understatement. Watching the three members, Matt Murillo, Will Adams and Tony Hall sputter around on stage like a pack of half-retarded, sugar-addled kids is more like an episode of Romper Room than a rock show. But then again, that retardation, sugar-spasms, and the interactivity of stupid shit like the aforementioned show might just be the very brine of the modern rock n’ roll dynasty of which the Ka-Nives are very much a part.
Considering the band’s ADD-pace, it’s no wonder it took me about three months of long-distance interviews, and a reference to the band wench roadie wingman, Ty Mahany, before I was able to get a half way straight answer on the band’s status.
The Ka-Nives have shifted into a sort of limbo, ensuring an infrequent appearance from what may very well be the most energetic third-coast act today. And thus, the band’s trio of late December dates with the Lottie Collins quickly became some of the most anticipated of the season.
Rocket scientist (he likes being called that) and bassist Tony Hall relocated to New York City in October of 2003 leaving the band in a holding pattern. Even their album is half-finished, only worked on in increments during Tony’s periodical returns to Houston. Matt Murillo, previously one of the masterminds behind the Jewws and Junior Varsity, now works on other musical projects including Houston’s clusterfuck boom White Whale. Will Adams, not to be confused with his older brother John who is in that other Houston party band, Fatal Flying Guilloteens, keeps himself busy by touring with friends, working on abstract animal art, and being a plain genius.
After months of being looped around and ultimately procrastinating writing this article, I finally decided that the best place to catch up with the Ka-Nives is the only place that they are ultimately confined: on stage.
When I caught up with the guys it was an unseasonably warm December night in Austin. Sweltering hot, by my December standards– a steamy 73 degrees outside and 90-something inside of Beerland. The Ka-Nives are setting up, while the crowd is getting saucy and progressively more drunk– just the way the Ka-Nives like it, mostly because they’re really only half-band, half-comedy routine. Murillo uses these opportunities to insult everyone in the audience and to throw out new one-liners.
At one point during the show, a gaggle of UT jocks wag past the door, and are ultimately roped into Matt’s razor-sharp net of berations.
“Hey, everybody, turn around and say hello to the frat boys outside! Look, they’re confused. They can’t decide if they should come in, or not. Hey, guys! Special Cigma Fi discount. Only five dollars!”
The band bowl through a set of classic favorites– all covers! Surprised, surprise. Somehow, though, to call this a cover band seems a gross inaccuracy since, between their flailing antics and high volume garbage truck racket, most of their renditions barely reach a point of intelligibility or recognition. These songs are the passenger; the Ka-Nives are the unhinged chauffer with pixie sticks jabbed up its nostrils. The inevitable point of impact sends the unfortunate tune through a windshield, and onto grating asphalt, face first, rendering it an unfamiliar heap of bloody hamburger that not even loved ones can distinguish.
By the end of the set, the audience is anointed in beer and bruises, and most everyone has this dumbass grin on their faces like Mickey Mouse just passed the dutchie from their left hand side.
I catch up with the guys by the merch/pool table a few minutes later, and the conversation starts out with Murillo passing the buck. What ensues is more like a shit-talking session than a Q&A…
So, I’m supposed to be doing an interview with you.
Murillo: Good luck. We’re drunk.
Well, Tony told me to interview Ty instead because apparently he has all the answers.
Murillo: Actually, that’s not a bad idea either. I bet the interview would be funnier that way.
Is that all you’re really going for in an interview? You don’t really want people to know about your band, just as long as they know it’s a joke?
Murillo: No. Who needs information?
I heard you started recording a new album last summer. How long until we should expect that out?
Hall: Well, we did start recording a new album in the summer when I was home, but we were really drunk the entire time, so we ended up having so scrap the entire thing. I swear, we can’t get through a practice without drinking. The other day we tried to practice without drinking, we got through about a song and a half and Matt stopped practice and said, “Man, My mouth is so dry, who wants a beer?” I guess that kind sums up what this band is.
So did you have any better luck with the recordings this time around?
Hall: Yeah, a little better. Last night the guys from the Lottie Collins recorded the song we played tonight, “Katobi Rock and Roll” by Yokohama Ginbae. We’re so unorganized, it’s like, we want to record a song and we just do it in about three hours. But it sounds good and we had wanted to do a cover of that song for a while, but Matt isn’t really good at learning Japanese. We figured, free Japanese singers! Lets do this!
Do the Ka-Nives even have any original songs?
Ty: They are all covers now, I think they might work on some original stuff though. Once they do a song it’s eternally theirs.
Well, what is your favorite song that you cover?
Hall: My favorite is “Allright” by the Coastliners, but Matt and Will might say “Dear Dad” by Chuck Berry.
Is the whole band a big joke? Or did they actually form the band to be… well… a BAND. If that makes sense.
Ty: They formed a band to have fun. The whole point of a band is to have fun. A rock band anyway. Other bands are formed to have the opposite of fun I guess. Like indie bands. Also the Ka-nives are like the dick joke of rock.
Oh, the Ka-nives are supposed to be fun?
Ty: Maybe not fun for other people, but real fun for themselves.
Andrea got hit in the head by a cymbal once. I think she bled fun.
Ty: People always get hit with something, it’s like a low tech Gwar.
But less costume changes?
Ty: There are only costume losings. Think Janet Jackson but with better tits.
All right. so Tony moved to Brooklyn. Are the Ka-nives even trying to record anything? What is the “status” of the band?
Ty: They will always be a band because they are spiritually bonded by a thick rope of stupidity. Tony comes back to Texas every once in a while like for the Gay Pride parade and what not, so they play a couple of shows and record what they can. They do have a new “album” coming out in a little while. They recorded some stuff the last time Tony was here. I heard some of it and it’s really good. And when I say good I mean I really like it. That I back there should be italicized so people know that I have really bad taste in music. And I must add to the answer that Will is very good at internet.
Speaking of Will, I heard that he has some sort of mythical powers. Will Adams vs. a pack of rabies-infected sugar gliders. Who would win? (Describe in detail.)
Ty: It’s funny you should ask that because Will beat up a Mexican wrestler at Traders Village one time right after purchasing a sugar glider. It was awesome until we found out it was a little girl who had been badly burned and was wearing that protective burn mask thing. Plus her trip to Traders Village was provided by the Make-A-Wish foundation so it was on the news. I think Matt ended up eating the Sugar Glider.
Somehow this interview just leapt into the even MORE ridiculous realm.
Ty: Ka-nives, baby!
What was the most fun at a show ever? Would it be the infamous New Orleans show that poor Aubrey got attacked at? Or the show you got attacked by a Christmas tree?
Ty: New Orleans show definitely. That was the best night followed instantly by the worst night ever. I still cry when I think about it, mostly remembering how Aubrey smelled. I won’t go into the whole story but we drank more beer than any band ever at the Circle bar. The “band” was the Ka-nives, me and Count Ridiculous as roadies and Beth and Aubrey as the Boom Chica Boom dancers. The seven of us drank $42 thousand dollars worth of beer or something and I almost beat up Barry Cowsill. Then we went downtown where the incident happened. You can ask Aubrey about that. Also I threw the Christmas tree at the Ka-nives not the other way around.
I haven’t seen any of Matt’s other bands– does he do the drumming/singing things in the other bands too?
Ty: He is always the drummer because it is the thing he sucks the least at. Plus if you ever see him you know he HATES drums. He literally tries to kill them. Besides singing and drumming he is the main insulter. He is the Don Rickles of dick jokes.
Yeah. I noticed that in person Tony and Will are definitely the quiet ones and Matt is definitely the heckler. But I know Tony, so I know he’s as much of a dick if not more than Matt. What gives?
Ty: Well, Tony doesn’t have the nuance that Matt does. If Tony started insulting folks he would get his ass kicked. Matt gets away with it because he looks like Will Ferrell. I should add that Tony is like the anchor of the band, Will is a fucking maniac, Matt is murdering drums and shitting on the audience and Tony is off to the side slowly dying a bass player’s death. He usually does pretty well in the mid-song chug-offs though.
So keep an eye out for that mysterious album to someday be finished by the Ka-Nives, but donít hold your breath. New York is a long way from Texas.