Interview with Brian Kanagaki of Loma Prieta
Last Saturday, when most people had already arrived at the small airfield in Rokycany to gather for the annual celebration of Fluff, one of us had the opportunity to catch Brian Kanagaki from Loma Prieta at their last minute gig with Dangers in Erlangen. This is the result of this very spontaneous interview.
First of all, could you please introduce yourself?
Brian: My name is Brian Kanagaki and I play guitar in Loma Prieta. You just started your European Tour a few days ago. How were the first shows?
Brian: So far, the first two shows have been really, really great. It’s kinda hard to know what to expect on this kind of tour when you only come once a year. But the first two shows have been amazing and I feel like we are all pretty tired in getting used of being here but so far it’s been great. We couldn’t ask for anything better.Tomorrow you’ll play at this year’s Fluff Fest. What are your expectations for this show?
Brian: Man, I really don’t know. I think we are playing pretty high on the bill this year, which is surprising, very, very surprising. It’s a great honor. Fluff Fest is always been great. I played there, I think, four times with, between Loma Prieta and another band that I was in. And it’s kind of mind blowing that we’re playing - I think we’re headlining Sunday. It’s such a strange feeling where I feel like where we don’t, like, deserve to play there, you know. To me we’re the same like punk band….…it’s a pretty big and popular festival in Europe!
Brian: It really is. I feel like as far as festivals that I care about and I like, It’s the best one and it’s such a good feeling that your band is doing well enough that they want you to play in that spot. It’s already gone above and beyond my expectations, so I’m just excited to play and hopefully play well.
From the point of view of a touring band: What are the main differences between touring in America and touring in Europe? Any pros and cons?
Brian: Oh man. It’s so different. It’s so, so different. They are both great. I love touring in general. Touring in the US is a little bit more lonely, I would say, like there is less interaction with promoters and venue staff and even the fans, because here in Germany, and in Europe in general, you normally build up contacts with the same promoters over the years. They cook you dinner and breakfast and you normally stay at their house. So, you really build the friendship and you feel like you are part of the community, even though we don’t live here. They are usually the people that I stay in contact with throughout the year. In the United States it’s definitely friends that book our shows as well. But, since we live there it’s not as important to hang out after the show with everybody, because since we live here, we can see the guys all the time, even though we tour. You take it for granted, because you know, you can do it whenever you want to, or you can travel there on your own outside of the band. So, you don’t put as much thought into it what you’re doing every day. And in some regards it seems a little bit like work, touring the US; because you are there for one specific purpose of playing music. In Europe you kinda have the opportunity to sit back and relax a little bit, because you know that things are gonna be a lot smoother than in the US. That and the drives in Europe are way, way shorter. Every drive we had so far has been one to two hours and in the States it’s normally five to ten every day. So, I feel lucky to be able to come here, as often as we do.You just announced your new LP called “Self Portrait”. How would you describe your sound on the new album?
Brian: It’s pretty hard. Not on this album - in general on every album - it’s pretty hard to describe what we’re going for and what the sound or the aesthetic of the band is to anyone. This one is definitely, forward progression for the band. It’s the most mature music that we’ve written. It’s definitely the most melodic and pretty music. It is a little bit smarter than the music that we’ve written in the past. It’s not just fast and loud and short; there’s some melody in there too. It’s kinda something that we all wanted to do as a band, as we all get older, we try to progress and just work organically with the band. We never sat down with an album, saying “we want to do this, or we want to do that”. It’s kinda always worked out easily for us, as far as the songwriting goes and I feel like this one is just a very large progression from the last record and I think it’s the best one. I know, every band says that about every new record, but it’s the best one because we finally figured out what we’re doing as a band and I’m very proud of it. It’s hard to – we wrote on it for three years - put that much into something and not be somewhat let down in the end because it was such a huge chunk of your life. But I think that we did the absolutely best that we could and I really love it. I hope everybody else likes it.Can you tell us what the lyrics are about?
Brian: Man, on this new album, I seriously didn’t write or do any vocals. This is the first one that I’ve been on in a couple of years where I haven’t done anything and it was logistically kinda hard, because I moved to the Eastcost after starting to record the LP. The lyrics on this one, are a lot more literal than the other albums. In the past it’s been a little bit vague and it’s been a little bit open ended and I think that these lyrics are more direct and even with the song titles and with the record title, we wanted to be more obvious what we are going for, because it is such like an extension of ourselves. We wanted you to know what we’re talking about.
…sounds promising! I’m really looking forward to it. Back on the road: What is your current tour soundtrack?
Brian: So far, on this tour, there hasn’t been any music yet. We’re touring with Dangers, who are really close friends and we haven’t seen them in a while. So, it’s been us catching up, talking shit and sleeping a lot. Yeah, this might be one of those tours where we just talk the whole time. The drives are short and we like each other a lot and it’s gonna be a lot of storytelling and hanging out.One last question: It’s been told that you currently have or at least didn’t have a fix home. Is that true? If so: How did you end up deciding to give up the domestic life? How did it work out / does it work out?
Brian: I guess, when I first started touring a lot with Loma Prieta and Punch, this is probably five or six years ago. It’s one of those things, where I was gonna, I quit my job and I was going to take just a month, or two off to do music and then it turned into something that was a lot more fun and a lot, I don’t know…
The both bands were progressing and getting more popular at the same time and I was touring a lot with both bands. I think at one point there was two years in a row where I did like 200 shows with both bands combined and it was really hard to have any kind of normal life outside of the band and it felt really weird to play that many shows and be away from home and come back and have a normal relationship with your friends and I feel like sometimes, they get upset with you when you leave for that long. Not that there are jealous or anything like that, but they kinda resent what you’re doing and they feel like you’re leaving them behind for a little bit, so when you come back it’s almost like a bummer to go home. So, for a while, I just decided to not have a home and in between tours I would travel and I would stay on the friend’s couches. I kinda just used the band for all that I could to get out of it. I thought it was a great way to see the world and see my friends and to play music and keep the momentum going. It made more sense than having any bills, because you don’t really make any money doing this. Touring became more comfortable than being home. It’s really hard to go home to nowhere for a month. I went home to San Francisco where I lived and I didn’t have a house or anything. So I had to stay at friend’s couches for a week or two and then they get bummed that I was there, so I’d go somewhere else, so I’d go to my parents place and it just seemed easier, touring and to be on the road and traveling. So I just kept doing that and it felt more normal than anything else. I did that for three years and then we took time off to write this record and I had to get a job again and an apartment. This was really hard and now it’s the opposite where it’s hard to leave home. I have a dog now. I’m married. Me and my wife, we both have a real adult job, so now I have to consciously think about what tours we’re doing and what makes the most sense and it’s a little bit harder. So, I’m glad that I did those three years or how many it was when I could. Because as you get older, those opportunities don’t come as often.Thanks for taking the time for answering my questions! Enjoy the rest of the Tour!