Download exclusive demo "Night Song"
Photography Tim Barber
Jonny Ollsin and Kim Krans had what sounds like a pretty rad childhood. Jonny grew up in rural Canada playing in the forest and building forts and Kim in upstate Michigan on a farm with tons of animals and a four-wheeler. The world somehow brought these two soulmates together and so the story begins.
Many years ago, in New York’s Catskill Mountains, a boy and a girl meet by chance around a campfire. Kim was there already and Jonny just taking a break from touring with his former band S.T.R.E.E.T.S. They fall in love, get married and two years later they buy five acres of land nearby. On this land is their new habitat. Set against the romantic backdrop of moody sunsets, forest wood and fresh air these two lovers, husband and wife, hole up a little two-room log cabin to create music, breathe and soak in the vibes of nature.
With Jonny’s background making heavier music (also add Iron Maiden tribute band and NYC’s Children to the list), he learned how to properly shred – not just play chords, but rip it up. This skill and precision is applied to the music he makes with Kim in Family Band, but in a much more loving way. He caresses the guitar with his sweet touch, and Kim adds her haunting vocals and stylized aesthetic on top. Miller Path was self-released last year digitally and with a limited run of exclusive vinyl, welcomed warmly with open arms by fans and friends. (Check out the insanely beautiful and fashion-now video for “Children”, for which Kim hand-made all of the costumes, in addition to art directing.) This year’s EP, Cold Songs, was self-released earlier this year and the band recently wrapped up a tour with their friends, the gals in Warpaint. Family Band are a friendly crew, and their fans are their friends. Throughout the world, these fans have helped them support themselves with no help whatsoever from any kind of music industry nonsense. Some of their fans are in bands and they go on tour together; for example, their recent U.S. tour with Los Angeles’ Warpaint. Warpaint and Family Band have a lot in common – beautiful wispy, harmonics with an ethereal pop background, a fashionable sensibility that evokes natural beauty of maybe Big Sur or the Howe Caverns in Ithaca, NY (let’s stay geographically representative). Their friendship seems obvious.
This is what happens when Warpaint and Family Band meet backstage. Everyone likes a good love story. —’SUP
The most obvious and, I’m sure, the most frequently asked question: How is it working with your significant other?
In comparison to working with others?
Kim: The real advantage for me is being able to trust Jonny wholeheartedly, with minor and major decisions. Though we have totally varied musical approaches and tastes, our intentions with the band are aligned, and they support our long-term goals as a couple and as artists. Knowing this puts me at ease, it makes me feel like we can grow into something really cool and unknown together. It feeds the dream. Then there’s the flipside, when we get lost in the muck together, and that’s where the other band members become crucial – to help us get away from the crutches, both artistically and personally that any relationship can get you stuck in.
Jonny: I really like the idea of a ‘family band’. Before we started this project we were having a hard time balancing my touring life with our family life. Then Kim wrote this awesome batch of songs, and it became simple: make the family the band! The only bummer is it can be very hard to find time for romance on the road.
What mood do you find it easiest to write in?
Kim: I like to write in transitional times, or when something feels weird or unresolved. Unfortunately, I don’t find the epic fun times in my life to be related to artistically prolific times. One can feed the other but they don’t happen simultaneously.
Jonny: I just need time and a guitar and I will usually noodle away some new instrumental. I feel generally inspired. I am really more into a process than moments of inspiration, especially in this band. Kim usually brings me a close-to-finished song and I am, like, the workshop guy.
What are three goals you would like to achieve with Family Band in the next year?
Both: Tour Europe! Make our next full-length record! Meet more crucial people like you Warpaint ladies who believe in Family Band and can help to put it forward into the world.
This one’s for Jonny: Whassup bro? And knowing your metal – hardcore roots, how do you appropriate these patterns into the music of Family Band?
Jonny: I could actually see Family Band moving more into this direction, like me giving Kim more technical guitar parts for her to write melodies and words over. Our sound is definitely the meeting of two worlds of influences. After playing metal for 17 years I just play a guitar in a certain way and we never want to fight that. This band has been the biggest musical learning curve for me, just to be okay with quietness, not filling up every space. I am still getting used to playing on stage without a full-on attack, learning to sing without following the guitar line.
It’s super rad!
Any covers you’re itching to do?
Jonny: We used to play a mean live version of Dolly Parton’s “Little Sparrow”, but we haven’t done that in a while. We toss around ideas all the time, but it’s hard to cover a song when we usually would rather work on new material. “Nightbird” by Stevie Nicks, and “I’ll Be Here Where The Heart Is” by Kim Carnes are definitely on the list.
Who is your favorite MC/rapper?
Kim: I love listening to Eminem, because of his frenzied vocal style. Most other rappers are playing it cool 24/7 but Eminem lets you hear anxiety and desperation in his voice, which I think is pretty interesting territory in the realm of rap music.
Jonny: I am just gonna say that Ice-T’s Power was majorly influential on me as a young teen. Before I played guitar I would just try and make hip-hop on my Casio. My favorite rapper now is Shayne Ehman aka ‘KRUPS’. He lives in Toronto now, but I don’t know how you could find his music. It’s waaaay underground.
Who’s your daddy?
Kim: My dad is a truck driver in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. His eyes are even more intensely blue than mine. He used to race snowmobiles and cars. Now he ice fishes.
Jonny: My dad is a medicine man, he teaches herbalism, shamanism, Jungian therapy, Ayurveda, and is into a bunch of other super far out awesome stuff.
What activities, practices, or rituals make you feel most connected to yourself?
What is the first piece of music or movie/art that you remember stoking you?
Kim: Though there were lots of things before this that stoked me, Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation (A&M Records, 1989) made a huge impression on me. That record, plus the video with all the synchronized dancers dressed in industrial goth, that was reallllly cool. I loved the extended music video for Michael Jackson’s “Bad”, but as a role model Janet embodied the ultimate combo: so pretty and so strong. The overall “message” – fight racism and heal the world – also spoke directly to my eight-year-old heart. Dolly Parton was quite inspiring to me too. And Flashdance cannot be left out of the equation.
Jonny: The Rolling Stones were pretty major for me. “As Tears Go By” was my jam. I used to sing it so dearly when I was 10. I guess I have always liked sad songs. Also Dire Straits! When I was very young someone’s dad made us an oldies tape, like “Splish splash I was takin’ a bath” [Bobby Darrin]. I thought that was pretty rad.
What was your family life like, if you don’t mind sharing?
Kim: My family lived on a small farm in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and my sister and I were raised Lutheran. We had horses, cows, chickens, bunnies, one donkey, and lots of dogs and cats. I spent most of my time outside on the four-wheeler or playing Nintendo.
Jonny: I lived on a small island off of Vancouver, BC and basically played in the woods everyday. My parents split and I moved to Victoria, BC with my dad. My family life was and is very good but I wish I saw them more. The main thing instilled into me was find what you love, put your energy into it and the world will support you.
What is your earliest memory?
Kim: Standing with my dad in a vast gravel pit after he finished work. There was a big group of men gathered in a circle in the middle of the pit, they all had dark work pants on and it was kind of scary for some reason. I was holding onto my dad’s legs and then I looked up and it was some other guy.
Jonny: Me standing in the kitchen of the apartment I was born in, and looking into the living room. Nothing was happening but I feel like I was trying to understand the layout of our home.
What did you think about most when you were little?
Kim: I thought mostly about our cats and kittens – at one point we had 32 of them – the California Raisins, faraway places that I imagined when I listened to the Cocktail soundtrack, good snacks after school. I thought about Jesus, and spent a lot of time praying. I loved to pray when I was a kid. It was my secret magic power time.
Jonny: I thought about forts, and exploring, and adventures.