Travis and Nick of PK: Musical Nomads

Let’s be honest – when we think of California, we don’t consider the possibility of there being small towns. Automatically our minds are wired to confuse the word California with Los Angeles. In some way, we believe that everyone from this state is somehow related to a celebrity of some kind. We forget that there is genuine talent cultivating in places which lie beyond the City of Angels. But, you know, it doesn’t matter where the boys of PK are actually from. As my friends and I like to believe, it is not about where you come from, but how you continue to grow and impact others in the places you chose to root yourself.

With their album, Into the Roaring, I feel like PK has given me some type of teleportation device. One moment I’m in Venice, Italy being serenaded by a gondola man with the song, “Aimer a La Folie,” and the next, I’m in a chateau in England with the song properly entitled, “London.” But happily, I’m never in the same place twice. PK does an incredible job of taking me on a journey, investing me in stories, and showing me the scenery of a world I am only beginning to explore. (And to think I thought I could only get this sense of escapism through literature. Ha!)

Despite their journeys, Travis and Nick stopped in to answer a few questions I had which may or may not include how Travis entered the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike competition in the Florida Keys. (Just kidding!)

Ashley Jean: First off, I was just curious as to how I should properly address each member in the PK band, considering you all have different aliases. How did you all manage to come up with those interesting nicknames, anyhow? (I have to say, I really think “Button” is the best even if I have NO idea what the meaning behind it is. Aha.)

Nick: You can address us by any name you like actually! We do prefer manly tough nicknames that fit us though. Like Zeus or Hammer Smash. We get all sorts of fun names made up for us… plus we all are all like exactly the same height and we get mixed up all the time. We’re the type of people that don’t correct you when someone calls us the wrong name…we just roll with it. It’s fun! Haha and as far as my ‘Button’ nickname I can’t remember! I’m guessing it’s cause I’m as cute as button though.

Ashley Jean: I find it quite interesting that only one member – I believe it was Matt (Fingerfire 33?) – who mentioned that one of his influences was The Killers. I say this because I think Travis’ vocals are really reflective of Brandon Flowers’ vocal range. So is Matt the only fan of The Killers/ Brandon Flowers in the band? Or are you all fans but maybe they’ve just really influenced Matt the most?

Travis: The Killers have written some of the best rock music of the 2000’s and will probably be one of the most remembered bands of our generation. As far as Brandon Flowers having a major influence on my voice, I don’t know… Not really. I’ve always just done what I do and never tried to be any one else. I am certain that I am influenced without knowing it, and have always welcomed the idea of influence. I’m extremely complimented when people compare my styling to other artists because all the artists I’m told I resemble are from the BIG types of bands not obscure stuff. (Bono – Old U2, Robert Smith – The Cure, Danny Elfman – Oingo Boingo and Brandon Flowers -The Killers.)

Nick: I’d say we are all actually fans of the Killers for sure. Matt’s wanted to be Brandon Flowers for Halloween the past 3 years pretty much.

Ashley Jean: Recently you competed for the Rolling Stone cover contest, and I happened to check out the video. So while I don’t want to waste time talking about why you make music – because you make that point so poetically clear in the video – I want to know what do you think is important about recreating that sound you captivated in the studio show-after show?

Travis: A lot of bands get it all mixed up. They focus on writing songs they think other people want to hear…We write songs that we’d like to hear. We write songs that we want to play and by keeping that mentality we don’t lose our passion for the songs even after playing them night after night. I think that’s something that really comes through when you see PK play live. You can really see the bands that write for other people in their live shows. You can just tell that they’re not all in. PK is always all in.

Ashley Jean: I had to ask, because it seems like you are all pretty interested in baseball (Yeah, I checked your batting averages!) and because there have been a lot of reports about this: do you think it’s worth risking your life to catch those homerun/foul balls that go out into the stands?

Nick: Oh totally! Everyone wants to catch one I’d say. I just heard a story about how some dude tried to duck out of the way when a home run ball flew into the stands and it blasted his girlfriend in the chest or something. She broke up with him like the next day. I saw a video too where another guy dropped his baby to snag a homer. That’s how awesome it is to catch one. Even true love and babies don’t come close.

Ashley Jean: Alright, alright – back to the music—kinda. Travis, how do you think your literary influences (Hemingway and Bradbury) have shaped your voice as a singer?

Travis: Hemingway could say something in two words that took another author a chapter. I’ve taken a lot of themes of nostalgia from Bradbury and I’ve taken Hemingway’s Iceberg theory where facts float above water and the supporting structure and symbolism operate out-of-sight. You need to know exactly what’s going on when you write, not just what you put down on paper.

Ashley Jean: Same applies to everyone else: how do you think your non-musical influences have influenced your guitar and bass playing?

Nick: Man I’d say sometimes even the non-musical things influence us more. We all love really cheesy movies and it totally pumps us up when we are writing. Sometimes we’ll put on some sweet action movie or old cartoon in the background while we write. Plus stuff like our friends and our lives on the road and what not totally influence how we play.

Ashley Jean: You all seem like pretty avid gamers. If PK could design a video game, what kind of gaming could we expect? Like would it be more like classic Nintendo or really intricate adventure games like the ones made for Xbox?

Nick: We are super video game nerds so this is a hard question! We are all across the spectrum when it comes to games. Rico is probably the most hardcore of us all…he’ll stay up till like 5 in the morning playing these crazy online RPG games or something so he’d probably create that. Mikel would most likely just live in Halo world. As for me and the rest of us…old school Nintendo for sure. We aren’t too good with the whole 3D environment thing. OH or actually I want to create a virtual reality Matrix world where I can plug my head into it and just fly around all day! That’d be great.

Ashley Jean: Are you the kind of band that likes to give out the meanings of their song lyrics, or are you really hoping fans will derive their own meanings? I ask this because I really think the song, “London,” is utterly romantic and I want to know if it’s based on a real romance.

Travis: I like to be fairly straightforward with lyrics and I think it’s pretty difficult to write what you don’t know. I like to paint a picture of a time and place but even if it did happen to me I don’t like giving up the details. Real life and real stories can be so disappointing. Listener’s imaginations will fill in the blanks.

Ashley Jean: On the subject of all things romantic, while it might not be completely important – you have mentioned who your future celebrity girlfriends are going to be. I couldn’t help but wonder—are there any man crushes? Any bromances you wouldn’t mind forming with some celeb men?

Travis: I feel like we just had this conversation on tour somewhere. There are a lot of celebrities that I wish I could take the place of and be…but I don’t think they’d be that great to hang out with. Everything would consistently be about them and how great they were… that’s no fun. I’ve always heard Bill Murray is an awesome guy to hang out with in real life. I could believe that.

Nick: Yeah I just want to be Han Solo…or any role Harrison Ford has done pretty much. But like Travis said he’s probably really boring to hang out with in real life and wouldn’t stop talking about himself. So I’d freeze him in carbonite and hang him on my wall. Mikel would probably want to date Vin Diesel.

Ashley Jean: And finally, do you think you all could make me a 5-song mixtape that you might drop on my doorstep to woo me over so I can be your summer lover?

In your eyes,” Peter Gabriel
Highway to the Dangerzone,” Kenny Loggins
(You’re) Having My Baby,” Paul Anka
She’s Like the Wind,” Patrick Swayze
Hey,” Julio Iglasias

originally published on July 25, 2011

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