Music News & Reviews

Music: Ten questions for indie band PK

PK, above, will open for The Mighty Fine on Friday at Downtown Brew in SLO.
PK, above, will open for The Mighty Fine on Friday at Downtown Brew in SLO. PHOTO BY RICHARD FUSILLO

If you want to make a living playing music these days, you’ve got to promote yourself. And with a bazillion other bands infiltrating the Internet, you’ve also got to be creative.

PK, an indie rock group that formed in the North County, has found one novel promotional tool: It goes to high schools and performs during lunch hour.

The band members began playing together while attending Templeton High. But they’ve become more serious in the past couple of years. Led by Travis Hawley’s vocals—which sound remarkably like Robert Smith’s from The Cure — the band recently released its CD “Into the Roaring.”

The band, which opens for The Mighty Fine at Downtown Brew on Friday, has also embarked on a communal effort with other bands, setting up their own gigs in cities such as Bakersfield and Fresno.

In addition to Hawley, the band includes bass player Mikel Van Kranenburg, guitarist Matt De- Pauw, guitarist Nick Fotinakes and drummer Kevin Menesez. We recently spoke to Hawley, Van Kranenburg and Fotinakes at their rehearsal space in Paso Robles.

Q: Are you guys fans of The Cure?

Mikel Van Kranenburg: I love The Cure. They’re one of my favorites.

Travis Hawley: It’s funny — they wouldn’t be one of my main influences. I would never say that. But I love The Cure. I grew up listening to The Cure.

Q: Did you just happen to sound like The Cure?

TH: The only thing I can think is that I lived in England for four or five years when I was a little kid. So I was wondering if it could have messed me up somehow.

Q: Do you guys ever cover any of their songs?

MV: Not in any concerts. But back in high school, we played their songs all the time. “Boys Don’t Cry.”

TH: I think “Close to Me” would be a fun one.

Q: I noticed on your bio sheet that Springsteen is an influence. When did you become a Springsteen fan?

TH: Kind of as we got older. When I was younger, it was all about punk rock and things like that. And I was never into classic rock. Now it’s pretty much all I listen to— music of the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s. But I remember being really young and hearing Bruce Springsteen—he was on TV at Matt’s house — and being, “Who is this guy?” making fun of him. And then Matt’s dad hit me. He was like, “That’s the Boss!” And then years later I went back and apologized to Mr. DePauw.

Q: What does PK refer to?

TH: Matt actually came up with the name. It’s supposedly the most sonically pleasing combination of letters after DJ and OK. Now we just have to come up with as many different acronyms as possible.

Q: I noticed you guys talked about going to Fresno and Bakersfield. Can you think of less glamorous places?

TH: They’re close, and I think our goal right now is to build markets within 2- 1/2 hours. San Francisco is another one. We’d love to get to L.A., but it’s such a small fish in the biggest pond in the world.

MV: Another good aspect of playing places like Bakersfield and Fresno is that they’re not huge cities with a billion things to do. And kids really enjoy coming out to shows because there’s not a lot else to do.

Q: On the album, it seems like there’s a lot of songs about the other guy. Who’s the guy who got spurned in the band that’s writing all this stuff?

TH: I write the lyrics. It’s hard to talk about your own lyrics. Sometimes the lyrics will be switched around — I’ll try to write lyrics about another person’s perspective. Sometimes I write songs as if I was the girl ... That sounds pretty bad — leave that out.

Q: Another thing you guys do is pitch shows to high schools. How

does that work?

TH: We’ll do it for colleges as well. It’s just a different way of promoting. You can get out on the streets and pass out fliers. But it’s way more effective to go to a school. And they get a sample of what you sound like. And if they want to hear you, they’ll stick around and talk to you and then they’ll probably come to your show.

Q: So you guys actually play during lunch times at schools?

TH: At high schools, it gets uncomfortable because it actually feels like you’re in high school again.

MV: When you’re in school, you don’t want to be there. You’re like, “I want to go home.” Then you get some cool band that comes in. We’ve got a half an hour to perform for them.

Q: What’s your rock star fantasy?

MV: I would love a yacht. A yacht with a pool on it. But realistically, all I want is to be able to live comfortably and play music with my friends.

Nick Fotinakes: I’d like to quit my day job.

TH: We’ve talked about that. But when it comes down to it, music is so much harder than any day job. We love it, but it’s intense.

NF: It’s juggling 20 different jobs at the same time.

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