A Quarantine Interview with Kitchen Dwellers Max Davies
When COVID-19 shut down the country, the live entertainment industry was hit extremely hard. Bands and artists, venues, promoters, production companies and many more people have been stopped in their tracks with no clear plan as how to continue, or when events will resume. This holds true for Bozeman’s Kitchen Dwellers, who went from a summer of touring and festivals to cabins and fishing. We recently took a few minutes to catch up with guitarist Max Davies and got his perspective on the future of the band and the future of the industry.
Brian Ripple: How have things been for the band in general? How is everybody holding up?
Max Davies: We’re just taking it day by day like everyone else. Thankfully the band is healthy at the moment and we’ve been able to continue working on things. This has been the first summer we’ve been able to enjoy being in Montana for a while so we’re just trying to take advantage of being at home.
BR: If I am not mistaken you abruptly ended what you were doing in April, and came back to Bozeman to regroup? What were you guys initially thinking at that point, and how has all of that evolved and changed in the past 5-6 months?
MD: We wrapped up a bunch of dates in early March in Texas and the Southwest and came back to Bozeman to regroup for a few days before the next leg in the midwest. Then the announcement was made that there would be mandatory quarantine and only essential businesses operating, so we knew that we wouldn’t be playing live but I think the extent of restricted gatherings was still unknown to us at that time. We had some really great things scheduled that had to get canceled but I think we were still hopeful that maybe the fall through New Year’s Eve would see us returning to the normal tour schedule. I flew back to Chicago to get our van and trailer at the end of June and it was starting to hit home that this really was a long term situation.
BR: What were some of your bigger shows and festivals that The Kitchen Dwellers (KD) had booked, that didn’t happen in 2020?
MD: We were set to open the Peach Music Festival over the 4th of July, play late night sets at New Orleans Jazz Festival, a couple of Winter Wondergrass events, Summer Camp, Rooster Walk, and some club dates that all would have happened by now. A lot of festivals postponed to the fall and now have rescheduled for next year entirely.
BR: I see that everybody has been busy enjoying the summer and getting outside. What have you all been doing outside of playing music to stay centered and busy?
MD: Yes! Everyone has been able to reconnect with the outdoors and our love for Montana which has been incredible. A couple of the guys have been fishing and hiking a lot. I just got back from a Salmon River trip and took my little brother on the Beaten Path in the Beartooths. Neither of those things would have happened this summer, so it’s bittersweet but I’m super thankful for that.
BR: The KD have been able to have a few live shows during this? Could you tell us about them, and how these have been?
MD: We joked around that we were still on tour but just doing it from Bozeman. With everyone living in the area, it’s been possible for us to get together. We started doing Zoom parties of all things. A group of people would hire us to play for a couple of hours and it was a fun way to hang out with people and get to play “live”. Lately, we’ve been going down to Denver and taking part in these dinner shows where a ticket gets you a four-course meal from a celebrated chef and we play after everyone eats. We also took part in some virtual events and live streams. For a while, we played live on Facebook where people requested songs during the day and then we would do a TRDwell countdown at night. It’s been fun to try and get creative with things and just do something different. We connected with Griff over at the Dusty Pockets studio and he’s been a huge help with the audio and video side of things.
BR: What are your thoughts on the drive-in concert format?
MD: As far as the drive-in shows go I think they are a great way for people to enjoy live music safely. We did one in Fort Collins and the general consensus from people was that they didn’t realize how badly they needed some live music. The band too! It felt so good to play in front of living, breathing people. That was really our first time playing in front of people in nearly four months so it was pretty surreal, and a joy to be there doing it.
BR: Can you tell us a little about the “Live From The Cabin” shows that you guys did? Can people still view these?
MD: Yeah! I believe these shows are still available on YouTube. Our good friend lives near the Bridger Mountains and has a little hunting cabin with views of Ross Peak and the Crazy Mountains. We went to the cabin with a film crew and camped out there for a weekend, filming sets each day, and released it as a live streaming event. We could play as late as we wanted and had to transport our gear by 4-wheeler. On the second night, we brought in lights and played a set of music dedicated to Pink Floyd, with their songs mixed in with ours throughout the show. I think at one point Torrin was walking around the cabin with an ax while we played and used a cast iron pan as an instrument. Things got weird at the Cabin.
BR: It looks like The KD have another live Drive-In type show in Cheyenne, WY with some of Salmon’s Leftovers coming up. Can you tell us about this show that is coming up?
MD: Yeah, so it’s at the Terry Bison Ranch in Cheyenne, Wyoming on September 5th over Labor Day Weekend. We’re really excited to do another Drive-In show and adding the Leftover guys makes it that much better. There may even be a couple of other special guests coming along for the ride.
BR: The KD have been doing some studio stuff too right? What is the story behind the new “Reheated 2” session?
MD: We recorded Reheated Volume 2 at the end of February and worked on mixing it and getting it released in March and April. Our Reheated series is where we choose a band and recreate their songs with our own twist. Pink Floyd was chosen this time. We are super happy with how it all turned out and tried some new things in the studio. I can’t say I’ve ever seen a banjo go through a talkbox before. I also got to play some electric guitar which is something we don’t usually do. The songs we chose focused on government, isolation, and loneliness which was purely coincidental considering we recorded right before the pandemic hit the U.S.
BR: What about writing new material? Have you guys had much time to get into that this summer? Any plans for a new KD studio album in the near future?
MD: That is very high on the list of things right now. Everyone has new material and we’re planning on getting together in the woods soon to do a bunch of songwriting. I can see an album coming out in the not too distant future.
BR: Looking forward, what are your thoughts on the music industry, from big tours, down to small clubs like the Filling Station? How do you see things playing out?
MD: The music industry will bounce back but I think it will be a slow return. It’s great places like the Filling Station that can do limited ticket shows and I hope that helps, but the reality is that it’s difficult right now. Some places we’ve played before are shutting down for good. Bands that have been living out of a van gigging just to get from show to show may dissolve because everyone needs to find work to pay bills. Not to mention all the crew and tech people that are out of work right now. I just know that people need live music and the world is a better place for it so it will always find a way to be there, but like so many other things in life right now we’re at a bit of a standstill. I’m just trying to stay positive and stay busy.
BR: What can people that want to help support live music do?
MD: If any bands sell merchandise, that’s always a very direct way to support them. There are lots of opportunities to stream or catch musicians on the internet. The quality of live streams is improving and I think it’s something that won’t go away so just tuning into what people are doing online is supportive. Sweet Relief is also a great organization that has been providing assistance to musicians via donations.
BR: Do The KD have anything else up your sleeves? Any more shows or album drops that you want to tell everybody about?
MD: Although I can’t go into much detail, we are working on a project similar to the Cabin Shows that we’re super excited about. We’re also hoping to be able to do some stuff locally outdoors before it gets cold, so fingers crossed that comes together. We just need to thank everyone for the continued support, our last couple of shows at the Rialto were some of the most fun we’ve ever had on stage and we miss everyone and hope to return soon.
Keep up to date on all things Kitchen Dwellers by connecting with the band on their website and social media.