The music industry puts up with a lot of bad press (sometimes deservedly so) for producing what many consider made-for-profit drudgery, especially when it comes to the Top 40 charts. But Beware of Darkness are one of those hidden gems that pride themselves on making music that not only warrants a top spot, but are sounds with soul. It’s no wonder everyone has begun to take notice. Barely a year into their careers, Beware of Darkness have already released a debut full-length that’s been turning heads and found themselves on tours and festivals that bands with years of experience could only imagine. You won’t meet many who put the importance of their music improving the well-being of those around them over hitting the big time. Substream got a chance to talk to frontman Kyle Nicolaides, a humanitarian ready to take over the world.
Substream Magazine: I saw on your Facebook that there’s some “supermodel” claiming you’re the father of her baby. Did you know you were that famous already or did stuff like need to happen first for you to see how popular your band had gotten?
Kyle Nicolaides: You know how people talk about the moment that they made it? (Laughs) We were joking about it, we all thought it was funny. It’s flattering, you know, I thought it was really entertaining. The girl I was dating at the time didn’t think it was that funny, but I thought it was great.
SM: Rolling Stone premiered your video “All Who Remain” not too long ago. What was it like seeing your music there?
KN: Yeah, it’s one of those milestones that everybody wants to hit. We’ve had such a big year, just to see where we started at the beginning of the year and how we ended it. All the touring that we did and getting on TV, it’s been so exciting to actually have a band that people care about. It’s mind blowing. We just finished up a short headlining run and it’s so inspiring when people like us enough to come out.
SM: “All Who Remain” was beautifully shot and well done. Where did you guys shoot your video?
KN: Yeah we shot with this girl named Mandee Mallone and we rented out this big warehouse in downtown LA and shot the whole thing in a couple hours. We just wanted to make something that set the mood of the song that wasn’t too overwhelming, but people still got emotional about. The whole idea of that song is that life can be beautiful and tragic at the same time, and it’s that weird taste in your mouth that can be hard to swallow.
SM: Are you guys planning on making anymore music videos from Orthodox?
KN: Yeah we are, actually. We split the record into four sides, which in order are Ignorance, Loss, Depression and Enlightenment. I was thinking about making a video for all of those sides. We have a new video for “Amen, Amen” coming out, which is going to be like a collage tour video. We took all of the video footage we have from fans and video we shot ourselves from every show we played in 2013. It’s going to tell the story of our first year as a band.
SM: Orthodox was your debut album. What’s it been like to see so much success come so quickly to your band?
KN: Honestly, I think the biggest thing for me that was completely unexpected, was actually putting out a record and influencing people and helping them. Our first trip to London and having someone come up to me and tell me this song helped them so much, that’s something I had no idea would happen, but it’s so inspiring. With our new single, “All Who Remain,” we’ve had people come up to us after shows and tell us how much it’s touched them. It’s such a blessing to have a song like that, because it’s not about us, it’s about what these songs can do for the people. I’ve been thinking about my role as a songwriter and a performer. I’m here for humanity, to give back art and help them. I want more and I want to make everything bigger and better too, so I’m already working on a new EP to put out.
SM: As the old adage goes, you’ve got your whole life to write your first album. What drew the three of you to create this smooth, alt-rock sound?
KN: I’ll be honest, I thought the writing on the first album was all over the place. It was done with no understanding that the songs would be released. When I wrote those songs, I thought that maybe they’d come out one day. I didn’t set out to write an album. You’re right, you do have your whole life to write your first album, which is good because you aren’t stressed or worried, but it’s bad because the album isn’t as focused. That’s why I’m excited to write the songs for the next album because I feel it’s going to be a lot more focused and better.
SM: How did Beware of Darkness come together?
KN: It was coincidence how we met, but we all have really similar backgrounds in music. We all have a root in gospel music. We would play in these things called sheds where gospel musicians can get together and just play. It’s not about how cool you look, what you’re wearing or how attractive you are, it’s just a matter if you can play. I moved to LA and I tried to get into that indie, hipster scene, but they really wouldn’t accept me. I wound up getting in with that gospel scene and met Claudio Cueni who recorded half of our record, and has done stuff with 2Pac, Nas and Boys to Men. He introduced me to that whole scene.
There was one night in downtown LA that I was playing just a solo show with this band called Kings, who are phenomenal. I looked at the very end of the bar and there was one other white guy in the bar, and it was Tony, which is how we met. Then, Dan’s dad was in Vegas and Dan went out to visit him and his dad told him he had this long-lost half brother he never told him about who lived in Santa Monica. So Dan went out to go meet his brother, and while he was out there he found the shed, and then we all met there. Being in a band together is kind of like getting married. You don’t just wake up one day and be like, “I’m going to find a wife today.” There has to be the chemistry and it has to happen at the right time.
SM: The Los Angeles music scene is super competitive compared to a lot others. Why do you think your band not only thrived there, but has nationally?
KN: I guess it was the right time at the right place. LA is a terrible place to make music. It’s a great place to get your business stuff together. I remember a year ago, we were playing in LA, and no one really cared and we couldn’t get people out to shows. Then after we were on these big tours around the world, we came back and we were that LA band that everyone was crazy about. Which was a nice change, you know (laughs). But it’s important to not get caught up in it because it’s dangerous because it’s this introverted magnifying glass where you think you think you’re way more important and cooler than you are. We all live in LA and moved to LA, but we’re not really associated with the cool kids here. I think that helped us branch out nationally because we’re focused on the bigger picture. I really want to get out of LA. It’s my favorite city in the world, but it can be really hard to make it here. I moved here so I could get all of my ducks in a row, then just be on tour.
SM: Who have been some of your biggest musical influences?
KN: It changes a lot. When I was growing up it was just Led Zeppelin. Then when I was a teenager, it changed from Bob Dylan to Fiona Apple, to David Bowie. I listen to so much music and all different kinds of music. Like, I love Kanye West and this singer-songwriter named Judy Fill that no one knows about who’s just magnificent.
SM: You guys hit up some pretty big festivals last year including Warped Tour and Rob Zombie’s Great American Nightmare. Which was your favorite to play?
KN: I think our favorite was this festival that we got to play in Slovakia called Pohoda Fest. They put us in a headlining slot on a sweet stage with a jumbotron. It was so unexpected, first of all, to be in Slovakia. I remember looking out and thinking, I never thought writing a song would lead me here. You kind of realize that’s the power of music. I got a taste of what it felt like to be a big band, and I loved it so much, I wanted more.
SM: You’ve also been a great support to bands like 30 Seconds to Mars and Smashing Pumpkins. What’s that experience been like to get your music out to such wide fan bases like that?
KN: It’s all how you look at it. It’s so great to learn from these bands how they run their camp and how they run their stage and work the audience. The best thing about touring with all of these bands is that you figure out exactly who you want to be and who you don’t want to be. You feel like no one is there to see you because you’re just the opening bands, so you have thirty minutes to introduce yourself to the audience. It’s really exciting, but it’s a lot of work.
SM: Do you have any plans for touring in 2014?
KN: We actually just booked a show on Valentine’s Day in Vegas at the Cosmopolitan. We’re also going to take three to four week and hit up New York and the northeast. Then we’re going to start writing and recording for our EP.
SM: If you could create your dream lineup, who’d be on it with you?
KN: I would love to go out with Arctic Monkeys, Queens of the Stoneage, Muse and Cage The Elephant.
SM: So what’s the coolest thing you’ve gotten to do as a band?
KN: The one thing that really blew my mind a little bit was just been going all over Europe and getting to see all of these amazing cities. It’s mind blowing because not everyone gets to travel Europe. It’s so cool that we even got the chance to do that.
SM: What are your other plans for 2014?
KN: We’ve got goals of stuff we want to do, but I don’t want to jinx it so I’m not going to say much. But I know I just want to keep putting out stellar music.
SM: Thanks, Kyle. Good luck this year.
KN: Thank you!
Orthodox available now on iTunes!
Interview by Stephanie Roe