Interview: Killin’ Candace Vocalist Aaron Lee

Hollywood’s Killin’ Candace play a blend of hard rock they like to call “love/hate rock ‘n’ roll” that’s dark, raunchy and above all else fun to listen to. Killin’ Candace are currently working on their next album Straight From the Underground and just released the title track as a single. Here is KC vocalist Aaron Lee.

Okay, first – what is Killin’ Candace all about? What is your vibe and groove? And what is the driving spirit behind the band?

We for sure aren’t your average, generic new band…there’s genuine substance behind our music and lyrics, and we keep it pretty real. I maintain the same message in every interview also – that we’re not here to get our ego’s fed or carry the typical cliche, ‘rockstar persona’. I’d describe our vibe as a “no-nonsense” hard rock band with a driving, aggressive sound, making real music for real people. As far as genres go we are a mesh of punk, rock, metal, and the driving spirit behind the band is simply the passion for the music and wanting to put out solid material that people can connect with!

What image do you want your music to convey to your fans?

I kind of want people to perceive us however they choose to, without forcing a certain image on them. I’m very much a straight-up person and don’t beat around the bush when it comes to communication and relaying messages etc, so I have a tendency to be very direct when it comes to my music and lyrical content also. I will say that I am comfortable being the rebel, challenging the “norm” within society, and being the voice of the people that choose to not speak out against certain “controversial” subjects. You might even say I have that ‘Jekyll & Hyde vibe’ to my personality (being a Gemini), so I can see based on the music and my message(s) within the newer material that we could quite easily be labelled as the rebellious ones 😉

What are some things about Killin’ Candace’s style that shows off your uniqueness and individuality?

We decided to go against the grain and not conform, or reinvent a style done previously. Of course you’ll hear certain influences in our sound but we do our best to hold our own and put out our own brand of ‘Rock’ music. As a vocalist and front man (in any era of music) I think it’s important to have your own swagger and show authenticity, so I always try to project as much of my personality into the songs as I can, and do my best to stand out in that sense. I feel like our sound is very much “our” sound, and that it would be hard for someone to approach us and say we’re a carbon copy of another band. Ultimately I always want people to know that we’re the band that’s out there putting a modern spin on that ‘Hard Rock’ sound.

Did you find it hard to break into the business and what was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome?

I still don’t know if we have broken into the business or if we’re still on the outside, or maybe we have one foot in the door?! I have definitely worked my way up to a good point and made some solid connections and contacts throughout the years of playing in bands and being in the Hollywood music scene. I think the biggest obstacle to overcome is financially sustaining as an independent artist, because it’s a big investment just to even get rolling and to get noticed. Also, realizing that other bands and artists don’t have to be your competition, because in my early twenties I was fighting against my ego and always wanted to be better than this band and that band, but at the same time didn’t go anywhere. Once I really grew into my self and started to focus more on songwriting and putting out solid content, the veil dropped and I realized that music circles should be more about mutual support and building as a community.

What satisfies you most while performing live as a band? 

It’s all about the energy created between you and the guys you’re playing with, plus the crowds vibe too. I enjoy playing the music I play but ultimately the best high is feeding off of a solid crowd – interacting, and seeing people embrace your music and presence.

How have you seen Killin’ Candace evolve since you first started?

It’s a constant roller coaster, and I’m still seeing the project and sound evolve. Just like everything in life goes through seasons and phases, I see the same motions with my music and band. As far as the style and music goes – rather than accept, settle, or be one-dimensional I really try to stay dynamic and show versatility in my writing. The demo songs I recorded in 2016 for the band were very much on the ‘melodic Metal’, almost industrial sounding side, with a lot of bite and drive. I kept an aggressive edge to the sound when I recorded the debut EP but was also in a phase where I was expressing myself as a form of therapy, for shit going on around me – so the debut EP was focused on me getting out a lot of pent-up emotions that i needed to shed. This new phase of the band and the current sound i am writing still maintains a heavy vibe, but the message(s) in the songs have a more deeper meaning.

What are a few of the struggles when trying to balance home life, work life, and band life?

I think the answer is in the question with this one lol…”trying to balance home, life, work life, and band life?” – until you’ve established yourself in the industry I imagine it’s damn near impossible. I’ll say this…a lot of independent bands and artists (as much as it’s our passion to play music and live the lifestyle) are reluctant to go out on the road because it tends to be more of an investment. It can be uncomfortable and even an inconvenience, and you don’t always break even – especially if you’re an up and coming act, and living in a city like Los Angeles (where you’ve got such a high cost of living) – the truth is that a lot more musicians than you’d think are scraping by while trying to have/develop a music career. So when it comes to touring (unless you’re an already-established band) most people are more concerned about making enough money on the road to be able to still pay their bills and rent when they get back home. I almost feel like the days of the “Rockstar” are fading because of how pathetically bands are compensated for our art also (with regards to royalties, streaming, downloads etc). Then you have to factor in splitting any earnings between four or five band members (or paying session musicians), giving management, booking agent(s) their cut too. I think one of the guys from Mastodon said it best in an interview last year, where he ranted on similar things that i just touched on, and mentioned how fan’s were getting irate at the fact that they were having to sell their shirts at close to $40-50 because of the percentage of earnings that wasn’t even ending up in their pocket(s). I know i went a little off topic with that answer but for a lot of indie bands it’s a struggle just to get out on the road and afford the expenses, and that’s just touching on balancing the “band life” part!

Have you ever written a song that you weren’t very satisfied with but everyone seemed to enjoy it?

Looking back on some of the lyrical content I wrote for previous bands, it’s not my proudest work haha. Thankfully I’ve been mostly happy with the material I’ve put out in the past few years, and my songwriting has matured to a good point where I’ve put out music without too much anticipation. I had recorded a couple acoustic songs that I thought were just OK a few years ago, I just threw them up on Soundcloud for people to check out with no real intent behind the songs, but I had a friend that absolutely loved them, so that was kool, but it was never a direction i cared to take myself in as I’m more in my comfort zone when I’m playing Rock and high-energy music. I think similar circumstances though would be me being quite critical of my performance(s) in the studio and wanting to re-do certain parts, or if i didn’t execute something in a way where i felt it’s convincing, I’ll always want to attempt to better my last take. I try to strive for the same thing with songs, where i want the next song I write to be as good as, if not better than the last.

Do you like recording in a studio or live performance more?

It’s a hard question to answer because there’s positives to both, so I’d say it’s 50/50. I love recording because you see and hear your songs come to life, and go from bare bones to a full production masterpiece. Then at the same time in the studio sometimes I’ll get reminded of how rusty i am or need to be practicing because my performances and execution might be slack here and there (though we are our own biggest critics also lol). Playing live (as mentioned earlier) i really feed off the vibes of the guys I’m playing with, the energy we create in the sound, and the response from the crowd. These days I think i do prefer to be in the studio rather than playing local shows though, because as much as I enjoy playing live my goal with this project is to market us as a touring act, so I’d rather be putting in time in the studio and be producing solid material and content that we can then release and perform out on the road.

What updates can you give us on Straight from the Underground? How is it coming along and when can we expect it?

I’m happy with the direction we are going in and how the sound is evolving also (since last year’s EP release). I’ve been working to write a good solid first album and am content with the first few songs i have lined up for release. I thought I’d be moving a little quicker with the recording process but i decided to do it song by song, in my own time, and release a couple teaser singles while building up to the album release. The latest update is that we are set to drop the “title track” from the album ‘Straight From The Underground‘ on Monday, November 11th, so this will give you a little taste of what’s to come! As far as the album release goes – I don’t have a confirmed date as we are still in the recording process, and you know how it goes, there are aways set-backs when it comes to the entertainment industry…but while the album is being recorded and finished up i plan to drop two singles between now and then.

Will there be tours to support Straight from the Underground? If so what territories would you like to cover and what one dream venue would you like to play?

I hope we’ll be able to accompany the album release with a tour, or even jump on a potential tour supporting a headliner while beginning to establish ourselves more. I’ve toured across the U.S. previously but mostly hit the East coast and Mid-West, so I’d definitely like to tour and explore more of the West coast and hit cities like Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento etc. I think I’ve got a long way to go until I play a dream venue but I always think about going back to the UK or my hometown as part of a tour and playing some of the venues that I used to go see my favorite bands play. That for me would be pretty sentimental!

Have you created any ideas for the type of music videos you will make for Straight from the Underground?

Funny you ask…I literally was story boarding and going over concepts with my co-director this morning in Hollywood! Yes, I am accompanying the single release of Straight From The Underground with a lyric video, that will drop the same day the song does on Monday, Nov 11th, so keep your eyes on YouTube and the band’s social media pages for that! I’ll be shooting the full promo music video for “Straight From The Underground” over the next couple months, in different locations, so more to follow on this as it develops. I anticipate that the video should be released by March 2020.

What is the one most important thing you would like the world to know about Killin’ Candace?

We, TOOL and Rage Against The Machine know what’s up in the world, and Epstein didn’t kill himself…