The Sunset Strip Music Festival is taking over Hollywood’s most famous boulevard August 18-20th for a weekend-long concert and street party sure to make some noise! SSMF is in its fourth year and the 2011 lineup features headliners Motley Crue, Bush, and Public Enemy. We caught up with opening act, Kill The Complex, who recently took the #1 spot on KROQ’s “Locals Only” and will be playing The Roxy this Saturday, about sharing the stage with these music legends.
Kill the Complex- Ted Barakat (Drummer), Gabe Heredia (Guitar & Vocals), Mike Elling (Bass & Vocals), and Dann Saxton (Lead Vocals) have had quite the exciting year. They scored major airplay on KROQ (106.7) one of Los Angeles’ most popular radio stations, they released their record Evolution (on January 1st) and produced their upcoming untitled acoustic record… not to mention opening for some of the biggest bands in rock history. Not bad for a band who only took its current form just over a year ago. The story of Kill the Complex…is well complex.
“Dann and I were both in different bands recording demos. The producer for those demos was Gabe. He was working on the albums at his studio which he owned and that’s how we all met. Over the course of time, the relationship just morphed into us all playing together and the original band was called Butane. We had a pretty big following under Butane because we played the Warped Tour in 2005 with bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Thrice, Fall Out Boy, Offspring, Billy Idol, and other big headliners. When we split ways a few years back with our original bassist, we didn’t want to lose our fan base. Our album at the time was called Butane-Kill The Complex. Dann is a lyricist and it had meaning to him so we went with that. To us it says ‘deal with your shit, get over yourself’ and it’s really representative of our group,” explains Barakat.
The band is the first to tell you that chemistry is one of the most important factors in becoming a success. “From the time Butane started until now, we have had about 11 or 12 bassists. Our last one was a great musician and now plays with Filter, but he wasn’t the right fit for us,” said Heredia. “When Mike joined the band it was an like an exhale for me, he just got it, there was no adjustment period or hump of being uncomfortable. As wrong as some of our past bassists were is as right as Mike was from the start,” added Barakat.
This last year the band focused more on producing their upcoming acoustic record than playing shows but when they did play they filled Hollywood’s most notable hotspots. The Evolution album release party was at The Viper Room, where the band has had a great track record. “Our experience in LA has been somewhat atypical of what other bands experience. We were lucky to find venues that have really supported us, it’s not the usual ‘churn and burn’ you hear about. We’ve even played shows at The Roxy sharing nights with Vertical Horizon and Puddle of Mudd- groups with number one songs!”
It’s no wonder the band is looking forward to returning to this venue for SSMF. Other recent venues for the band have included The Avalon, House of Blues, and most recently their July acoustic show at Hotel Cafe. “We’ve been working so much on our acoustic album that it will be great to get back to some heavier stuff for the festival this weekend. I remember when it was still Public Enemy from 1989 and they were on MTV. It’s crazy just being a part of the SSMF history and being a part of the history of these bands. I am sure other bands in the festival feel this way too, just honored to share the stage,” said Heredia.
Since their airplay on KROQ, the band has garnered a lot of industry attention including being approached by managers and labels and is currently looking for the right fit. “The KROQ thing has been amazing. We sent them a press kit and begged them to play our music but didn’t hear a thing for months. Then all of a sudden Mike forwards us an email that we get at literally 8:55pm that we are going to be played in the 9pm “Locals Only” segment. I’ve heard The Chili Peppers on that show! Our first week we were played in between She Wants Revenge and Cold War Kids, bands that have played Coachella, Bonnaroo, and Lollapalooza. The second week we made the top five and by the fourth week we had the #1 spot. We had beaten out some of our favorite bands, it was surreal,” said Barakat.
“I was so excited I was running around my place screaming like a 13-year old girl at a New Kids’ concert. We are all from different places- Ted from Connecticut, Dann from Minnesota, Mike from New Jersey, and I’m from Argentina- but Hollywood is our home now. There is nothing more Hollywood than getting airplay on KROQ and playing the Sunset Strip Music Festival. It’s so exciting,” added Heredia.
The band has already signed a deal with MTV and their songs Get Away and Wonderland have been featured on hits like Jersey Shore, spiking their iTunes sales in countries as far and wide as Australia, the Czech Republic, and Switzerland. Up next for the band? The release of their acoustic album, shooting a music video (for either Shine or Get Away), a showcase in September, followed by an October 13th show back at The Roxy through KROQ. You can get their music and follow up for tickets at Kill The Complex.
SSMF will conclude on Saturday with a street fair (between Doheny and San Vicente) featuring live music venues, outdoor stages, street vendors, a beer garden, and nearby VIP parties and lounges. Last year’s festival attracted over 13,000 attendees with performances including Slash and The Smashing Pumpkins, plus 70 other bands. Something tells me this year will be sure to top those records.