Life, Death and Devotion, Part Two: The Killingtons Reunite For Two Shows
JK Thompson, circa 1999
The members of the band the Killingtons went from living in a van together on tour to saying hello while Christmas shopping or at someone's birthday party. At the peak they had bands like New Found Glory and Jimmy Eat World opening for them and played alongside Sonic Youth and the Get Up Kids. After a 10-year run (and even appearing on the cover of the Weekly in 2000), the band known for its rolling guitars and loaded, lovelorn lyrics imploded in 2005.
Two years ago, they got together to play three songs at a memorial for a friend. Lead singer and guitarist JK Thompson and bassist Christopher Muench started talking. Their wounds healed and it felt good to be the Killingtons again. Finally, the band is taking the stage for two proper goodbye shows. But don't call this a reunion, says guitarist Mitch Townsend--it's a reconvening. We sat down with the band at Townsend's Huntington Beach home. It was the first time they'd hung out in years.
OC Weekly: The lineup changed over the years. Why is this version reuniting?
Thompson: This is the lineup when we were at our best creatively. This is the lineup that released the full-length.
Townsend: Yeah, I came in and ruined it. [laughs.] But when you put out a full-length, things start to become a reality.
Thompson: That record was difficult. It took about a year to record. We had bad technology compared to today, and scheduling issues.
Townsend: We made that album on a computer that could barely send an e-mail. We even lost songs a couple of times.
Thompson: I literally cried. That album did have a certain charm though because of all the trouble.
Michel Bravine on the drums.
How did Mitch join the band?
Thompson: Mitch was the engineer for the record.
Townsend: It wasn't until after it was done that I joined.
Thompson: Vince (Pileggi, the Killingtons' long-time manager) brought him in on a 60-day trial.
Townsend: I was touring with a band before then, Red 5, which broke up . It was good that Vince called. I would have been more prone to sitting in my house and being a big baby about Red 5 breaking up.
Muench: It's the 10-year anniversary of that record.
Thompson and Townsend in unison: Really?
Did you tour a lot for that album?
Townsend: We did the worst tour ever. We pulled up to a place in Philly and they didn't even know we were playing. Then they wouldn't pay us for playing. There was another place in Virginia Beach. They thought we were an acid rock band. People ate clam chowder watching us. That tour, I turned into the old, grumpy grandpa. I was spoiled with Red 5.
Muench: That tour drove me to drink. I hadn't drank since high school. We had the biggest, gnarliest fight in the van one night.
Townsend: The directions were the problem. This map led us to what looked like Sleepy Hollow. Somehow Chris ended up getting yelled at.
Thompson: I remember just wanting to put our money together and go home.
Muench: They were all bickering and I got up and started swearing. We called Vince and it ended up being the owner of the club we were playing at's house. He gave us the wrong address.
Thompson: Sorry for yelling. [Shrugs]
[They all break into laughter]
So why did the band break up?
Muench: We were all going through a lot of rough stuff at the time. My mom had just died of breast cancer.
Thompson: And Mike, he didn't really leave the band. That was just me being a jerk. He got offered good money to go on tour with the Jealous Sound. So I started looking for a new drummer.
Townsend: OK. That's enough dirty laundry.
Thompson: If we made T-shirts for this show, it should say something like that. No more dirty laundry.
Townsend: After that tour it was miserable, but we were soldiering on. We were impatient because we weren't getting where we wanted. We knew we had a good record, and we felt like we really had something cool going. Coming out of the Red 5 stuff, I just dwelled. Whenever I look at old articles about us in the LA Times or OC Weekly and read some of my comments I'm like, 'What was my problem?'
Muench: Me too. I sounded like a pompous ass.
Thompson: I was the king of pompous.
A lot of bands who opened for you went on to have pretty big careers. Do you dwell on that?
[All three look at each other and laugh
: The Killingtons were like a rockstar camp. If you were going to play with us you were going to make it big. [Laughs] Kara's Flowers, which went on to become Maroon 5. New Flound Glory. A bunch of others. I should have gone to therapy for that.
: It's easy to look back and see glaring things that went wrong. But it's not so easy when it's happening.
What was glaring?
Townsend: It's like when you're a kid and you throw a rock at a cop car and you think, 'That was stupid'--but at the time it was totally fun.
So do you think this reconvening might turn into something more?
Townsend: Let's just get through these two shows first.
The Killingtons perform with Valley Arena at Alexs Bar, 2913 E. Anaheim St., Long Beach, (562) 434-8292; www.alexsbar.com. Friday, April 23, 9 p.m. $TK. 21+. They also perform with Teen Heroes, Jeff Caudill (of Gameface) and Michael Rosas (of Smile) at the Glasshouse, 200 W. Second St., Pomona, (909) 865-3389; www.theglasshouse.us. Sunday, April 25, 7 p.m. $10. All ages.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Orange County, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.