TKO Faith Healer: Hear To Believe
by Daniel Coston
for the Tangentsmag.com website
It was a feeling that I haven’t felt in a while. That feeling that you get when you see a new band, and you slowly realize that this is the best thing that you’ve heard in ages. Enter TKO Faith Healer, which I discovered when they recently opened for Richard Lloyd at Snug Harbor. Guitarist Bo White will be recognizable to many in the Charlotte music scene, but the rest of the band is relatively new. TKO Faith Healer plays a stripped-down, primal sound of Rock & Roll. Hypnotic, with a straight-forward presentation that could, and should take over the world. Bo White took on our questions via email, and here is the result.
Tangents Magazine: How did TKO Faith Healer come together?
Bo White: I approached the guys about forming the band after having seen most of them play previously. I was struck by the nuanced approach each took with their instruments, genuinely unusual and fully committed to their weirdness. I felt it would sound good together, and I knew it would be cool to hang with these guys on a weekly basis.
Tangents: The band feels a hybrid of influences from 70s post-punk, and more recent bands, like early National records. What does the band sound like to you?
White: It just sounds like the amalgam of the band members’ styles to me. We’re not trying to be retro. But I would agree that it sounds kind of like what you’ve mentioned. Following our performances people have compared us to The Monks, Iggy Pop, Rolling Stones, Lou Reed. My dad compared us to garage bands like The Seeds and Music Machine. So I guess we’ve heard more proto-punk comparisons, all very flattering when people are excited enough to comment.
Tangents: Did you have an idea of what you wanted the band to sound like when the band was formed, or did it evolve?
White: Yeah. I expected everyone to play the way I’d seen them play. Not to say they aren’t adaptable. But I feel this project is everyone just letting it come forth naturally. There has already been some evolution as we discover new deliveries and instrumental punches we can get away with. I think it could get really varied in the future.
Tangents: It also struck me at the Snug show that you all are really into the sound that you’re making right now. There was no jokiness in the presentation, you all were playing this music with a purpose. Would you say that is true?
White: Exactly. It’s all because of what I mentioned above. We’re all in agreement on the method of combination: make the most of what we have and don’t overextend (unless we’re using it as a tool to mess with the audience). I’m sure we all have different reasons for why we’ve arrived at the sounds we’re making individually. In particular, Brett has taken a near religious pilgrimage approach to his exploration of tone and style over the years. Examining his guitar rig is like stepping into a mad scientist’s lab.
Tangents: What does each band member bring to the band?
White: I wanted to rock out and not overthink it, so I’m playing open G guitar riffs with some hiccuping little flashes of melody around big, dumb rock chords. Brett [Whittlesey] plays some of the strangest guitar solos, a tension machine. Aaron [Rogers] has a signature lilt and enthusiasm to his drumming. Jeremy [Fisher] crafts bass lines in an instant that are way more complicated than you may first realize, never prog-rock or outlandish, and very catchy. Kelly [Williams] has this huge, booming voice. I saw him give an impromptu eulogy at a friend’s memorial service several years ago on the stage of Snug Harbor. It wasn’t sentimental. It was one of the realest, most poignant speeches I’ve ever seen, both in content and the way it was delivered. I saw he could command a stage instinctively without the learning curve of “trying”. This is his first band.
Tangents: How do the songs come together? Music, then lyrics, or all at once?
White: The tunes begin as rough demos with lyrics done by a subset of band members. The chord changes and structure are pretty much all there. Then the full band fine tunes it and sets the swing. Each of us will try a few different kinds of delivery before we settle on our favorite way to play the song.
Tangents: Describe the Charlotte scene, right now.
White: Same as it ever was. It could be easier, and it could be a lot more difficult. I’ve played music here for over a decade, and I like it.
Tangents: What’s next? More shows, recording?
White: There will absolutely be more shows. We aim to have another 6 song EP online in a few months. We have two recording engineers in the band, so I imagine we’ll be churning out recordings as fast as we can write them.
Tangents: How important is playing live or touring to a band like yourselves in 2017?
White: I make music for two reasons that always pay off, for a creative outlet and for life experience. Playing live is guaranteed to give you both. Not to say it’s always amazing or even pleasant, but it is really living. A lot of the experience is expressly unique to being a member of a band.Touring is something that I have done and would do again. But it is not necessary to me.
Tangents: Finish this sentence. TKO Faith Healer is…...
White: …rough and tumble.