Chatting With Kidsmoke & Premiering Their New Track “Passenger”

Kidsmoke’s emotional new track “Passenger” is here, just a little over a week before the English quartet hit the U.S. stage for the first time.

Hazy with reverb, it’s the perfect song to let your mind wander to. The melody was inspired by ‘60s pop but the lyrics are far more melancholy. “[The song] is about losing direction in life, being swept along with the crowd and feeling helpless to stop it,” Lance Williams, rhythm guitarists and singer of Kidsmoke, tells BTRtoday. “Quite often our songs follow a light/dark theme where the music is bright and poppy, but the lyrics are capturing a darker story.”

“Passenger” is only the second single from Kidsmoke’s forthcoming debut, which they hope to release later this year, but U.S. fans are eagerly anticipating their arrival. Kidsmoke made waves in the states when their song “Take Me to the River” was featured on Netflix’s science fiction anthology series Black Mirror and they are now coming across the pond for the first time.

Listen to the new song “Passenger” and read the entire interview with Kidsmoke below.

BTRtoday (BTR): What made you guys want to start a band like Kidsmoke?

Lance Williams (LW): James and I have been in bands together since school and a few years after our previous bands ended we decided to start writing songs together again. With Kidsmoke, James writes the music and sends instrumentals over to me, then I write the lyrics and vocal melodies, Morrissey/Marr style.

Listening back to the early demos, we were influenced by bands like Wild Nothing and The Pains of Being Pure at Heart at the start, but things have evolved since then. It took a while to get a solid line-up and we struck gold when Sophie and Ash joined the group as they bring so much to the table. Recently, we’ve really pushed things forward, more and more opportunities have arisen and we’re enjoying every minute.

BTR: What gets the juices flowing for you guys musically?

Sophie Ballamy (SB): We each have a huge range of influences and musical interests, which is amazing because we’re constantly suggesting new music to each other, but there are definitely a few common threads that have had a big impact on Kidsmoke such as The Smiths, The Beatles, Kate Bush and Wilco.

LW: I’ve always been influenced by ‘80s music but over the past few years I’ve spent a lot of time listening to more niche ‘80s bands like Prefab Sprout, The Blue Nile and The Go-Betweens and I think you can hear that in our songs, especially on the new album. For me, those bands produced some of the best songs ever written and are massively underrated.

BTR: Tell me about this song premiering here, “Passenger”—any underlying meaning we should know about?

LW: “Passenger” is about losing direction in life, being swept along with the crowd and feeling helpless to stop it. I think our love for The Beach Boys is evident in the vocal harmonies and like a lot of those ‘60s groups we are also naturally drawn to writing three-minute pop songs. Quite often our songs follow a light/dark theme, where the music is bright and poppy, but the lyrics are capturing a darker story. I think “Passenger” falls into that category.

BTR: It’s the second single off your forthcoming debut, how’s it been making Kidsmoke’s first album?
SB: It’s in the final stages of production right now and we’ll be ready to release later this year. Making the album has been a great experience. A lot of hard work, but great nonetheless. We started writing in early 2018, shaping the songs in rehearsals for a few months before beginning recording in July 2018 with our producer Russ. We drank a lot of tea during the recording process.

Ash Turner (AT/ drums): We’re really lucky that as a band we get on so well together, so we tend to be able to work through ideas and make decisions without too much fuss. Russ is a ridiculously talented musician in his own right, so we were able to bounce a lot of ideas off him if we need some extra help.

BTR: Your song “Take Me To The River” was in an episode of Black Mirror, which is super cool. What was that like for you guys?

James Stickels (bass) We were so happy when we heard the news that we might have a song featured on Black Mirror. It took a little while to sink in as we’re all genuinely huge fans of the show and then of course we had a little bit of a wait to see if the scene they’d used the song in would make the final cut. Watching the episode for the first time was pretty surreal. It’s a great story and we are really pleased to be part of it.

BTR: So this will be Kidsmoke’s first U.S. hit, what ideal reaction would you like from the crowd?

AT: We’ve always had a lot of great support from fans in the States, but this time we will actually be in the U.S. the week of release as we’ll be showcasing at SXSW in Austin, TX. It’s our first trip to America so we are super excited to play some shows and meet new people. Our main showcase is at Swan Dive on Wednesday, March 13 at 10:45pm. We’ll be playing some brand new songs too.