IT’S “20 QUESTIONS WITH CROSS” DAY!
I started 20 Questions With Cross last year and it was really satisfying to see the number of interviews I was able to post in such a short period of time (from probably mid May until the end of the year).
What really made the interviews very special to me was the amount of fun I had working on each one of them (I know some of them could have been better, but that’s how we all learn and grow) and that amazing feeling of being the first one to know exclusive information, that maybe many of us were wondering, about a band or an artist being interviewed.
I got to meet many great artists, people I’m in love with their talent, others I’ve been a fan of for many years. They all have been so down to earth and so kind with me. And I can’t thank enough each one of them. I got to check out new music I probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for these interviews. In few words, it was great and I’m willing to put as much time, probably more, into working and looking forward to get to interview many other artists and bands or get back to some of the ones who have been part of all that fun in 2020.
I thought to start this year with an incredibly talented guy. I would call him a musician, dark folk inspired singer, songwriter but all that wouldn’t be enough to include every type of art he is capable of delivering. His name is Jeremy Kilgore. He’s one of those artists I call complete. I would compare him to Dax Riggs and you’ll see why.
Hey JKill! I hope it’s ok to call you that. I stole it from one of your videos on YouTube. (laughs)
Cross – How did you get that nickname?
JKill – Lol.. “JKill”. I actually got the nickname because there were several people named Jeremy that all my friends ran around with, and they were getting us all mixed up in their phones, so they abbreviated our names. I was JKill and there was a JDill and a few others. Also everyone thought JKill was kinda fitting for me.
Cross – Thought so. Now, we’re going to talk a bit about music at first, go through a couple of way-to-often-asked type questions, but it’s the answers what makes them interesting. First and foremost I want to know what was the first thing that got you into music. Singing or playing an instrument (guitar maybe)?
JKill – The thing that got me into music wasn’t music actually, it was the idea of being on stage. When I was a kid, my cousin and I were very acrobatic and we would climb things and do backflips off cars and all that. One day we were at a theme park, and we climbed on an empty stage just to play around because we were bored. We were running across the stage, doing flips off things. When we were through, we had a crowd standing at the stage, and they threw money to us. And from that moment on, I did everything I could to get back on stage. I used music as a way to get on stage later on. I believe it was bands like Nirvana and Pearl Jam that really made me have an opinion of my own about music and what I like. Then once I heard a Pink Floyd solo, I knew I wanted to be a guitar player.
Cross – That’s interesting. I love stages without a crowd to work on and make stuff ready for the band. It makes you feel like you’re above things. Once the crowd shows up, is my time to vanish. (laughs)
Did you study music and when did you feel like you knew enough and you could use or break the rules to start coming up with your own?
JKill – I was in orchestra in jr High, when I was about 11, 12 years old.. which was also around the time I started listening to bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Sound Garden. But I had no interest in playing a violin. My father told me if I learned how to play one he would buy me an electric guitar. So I did and he followed through and bought me my first electric. It was funny though, being in orchestra with no desire to be there. I got in trouble quite a bit for playing my violin like a guitar. As far as breaking the rules about what I was taught to write my own music, I have a very different approach to writing. It’s almost as if I don’t have to write, but rather listen to what’s in my head. It’s like the songs are already written and I just have to figure them out. All I have to do is listen.
Cross – You can play violin too, great! I didn’t know that. Watched a… I’m not sure what it was exactly, if an interview or a sort of tour in Steve Vai’s house… he said the exact same thing. Said that every song it’s in his head and he just needs to find time to sit down and get it all on paper.
You been playing live a lot. At least since I started following you. Do you have a band? (Tode?) Or do the musicians you play live with change over the years, or change from show to show? ( never had the pleasure to see you play live, we live too far away from each other but I did enjoy a lot those Facebook live videos you used to do from the live show you were at, at the time.)
JKill – I have been playing live since around 1995, and started playing 5 nights a week for 10 years straight just until recently. Now I only play a few tunes a month, just for fun. I’ve been in several bands over the years. My first band was a death metal band called “Nuclear Winter” but then I went on to more bluesy stuff because I had a natural ability to play the blues at a young age. I started playing with blues bands around Houston by the time I was 16. This continued on for many years until I started singing in a metal band and formed the grunge band “Tode” with my son Ashton on drums. But often times I hire friends to fill in when I’m recording or have to put on a full band rock show.
Cross – That’s why you’re that comfortable on stage. Playing with your own son that must feel great. What inspires you Jeremy? Who are those artists or bands that took you under their black wing and helped you be the artist you are?
JKill – I’m inspired by anything that catches me, or makes me feel something. Many many talented musicians and bands sound amazing, but if I can’t relate or they don’t make me feel something, I might listen to them but it won’t inspire me. I’m really inspired by pain and death. Because you can’t fake it. Death is creepy and scary, but it’s real, so there’s this thing about it everyone wants to avoid. But if you can create something beautiful with it, like an image or a song, then you’ve made art. And when it comes to the sorrow involved, that can’t be faked. So it inspires me because I know it’s something we can all relate to.
Cross – In your live shows you do cover songs from different bands. I’ve heard you cover Dax Riggs – Didn’t Know Yet What I’d Know When I Was Bleeding (One of my favorites of his) Hands down to you man! Alice In Chains – Nutshell, Hendrix – Voodoo Child, Floyd, Pearl Jam, to mention some. How can an artist achieve that, to be able to sing and play whatever song they feel like it? (That’s why I compared you to Dax at the beginning of this interview cause in my opinion he is one of the few artists who can do that.)
JKill – I think that if someone is going to sing other peoples music, it’s important for that person to connect to that particular song. I think you really have to love it, or it’s going to show in the performance. It’s one thing to sound bad, but if you hate what you’re doing up there, the audience is going to hate it too. But when it comes to actually performing the song, I’d say have fun with it, and make it your own. Find the key you want to do it in, sing it the way you feel comfortable singing it.
Cross – That’s what I’m saying. Many try to do covers but they try so hard to make it sound exactly how the original band played it or sang it. You add part of yourself that’s why your covers are enjoyable.
I don’t know why I always thought you were/ lived in New Orleans Louisiana. You’re Texas based right?
JKill – I live between Houston and Galveston. It’s funny you mention Louisiana though, because I get that quite a bit when I meet new people. People say I sound like I’m from southwest Louisiana. But that’s only a few hours away from here.
Cross – You ain’t just a very talented musician. Recently you became a Doctor/Nurse? How did that happen?
JKill – I’m a cardiac technician, I work with cardiology. It was kinda by accident actually. I was going to school because I was bored and I signed up for some health classes while working in a chemical plant. However, there was an explosion at the plant one day before school. I came into class that night a little shook up, and told my teacher what happened and he offered me a job at his hospital.
Cross – Ladies and Gents, you heard him, he can fix hearts too. (laughs)
You’re also a great cook. (Maybe that did confuse me about your location. I love Cajun cuisine.) Is that like a hobby of yours?
JKill – I do love to cook! Probably a little too much. Lol. It is a hobby but it’s also something I plan to turn into a business one day. I kinda look at cooking the same way I look at music. Because I try to never play a song the same way twice and when I cook, it rarely turns out the same. But if it tastes bad, I have no one to blame but myself.
Cross – I’d love to taste some dish you came up with. I love food, it fixes my mood. You do paint too. And you’re really good at it. Was it like you had to choose from two loves and you chose music (to invest more time and energies on)?
JKill – Painting has always just been an interest but I never spent a lot of time with it. The first things I ever painted were these finger paintings I did with oil paints on canvas. They were pretty dark and morbid. Black background with red paint. The images were of a decapitated head and a woman on a meat hook. They were part of a horror series I was wanting to work on along with a music project along the same lines. The music did well and I had a small cult following with it. Some of it ended up talked about on forums in other countries. The paintings ended up in an art show and I donated them to a friend. Years later I became a spray paint artist just for the fun of it. I got good at it and then became burned out. It’s not a simple hobby unfortunately. It takes a lot of space, time and money to get good at it. Unfortunately I don’t have the space right now to practice. But I plan to pick it back up one day.
Cross – I’ve seen a couple ones you shared on Facebook, which were pretty good but, I don’t think were any of those. I’d like to check those out though. And you’re right, to explore more mediums in visual art it needs space and the right materials. That’s why I stick to a paper and pen usually. (laughs)
How’s the book going? Jeremy has been working on a book for a while and I had the pleasure to read some of it.
JKill – The book is an ongoing project I have been working on for about 2 years now. I write and then I put it away and come back to it a few weeks later. At this point in the book, I’m just working on a back story, filling in gaps, adding detail and doing some character development.
Cross – Can’t wait for you to finish it so I can read it, complete. Do you like books in general? To be able to write a book one has to be a reader, right? How does that work for you?
JKill – I actually don’t read anything. Lol. I have probably only read a few books in my life aside from school books. I think the reason I don’t read is because if I have any spare time I like to be the one creating something. But I do like to take the time to appreciate other people’s creative sides. I love visual art, movies, poems, and there have been a few books I have read that I got into, but it’s not as much my thing as it probably should be for someone who likes to write. However, much like my music I feel as if I don’t have to write anything at all, I just have to listen to what someone else is saying and write it down.
Cross – Now that’s a bummer. (laughs) Thought I’d get out one or two titles from you to add to my reading list. But yeah, school books is considered reading. How about horror movies? If so, can you name couple of your favorites and if you feel like it to kinda explain why you like those?
JKill – Horror movies are my favorite!! I’d have to say The Exorcist and the Evil Dead are the two I like best. The acting and make up along with the story in The Exorcist is probably the best I’ve seen in my opinion, especially when you take into consideration the fact that Linda Blair was just a kid at the time and how long ago the film was made. The Evil Dead had different perspective of demonic possession, while it was definitely evil, there was humor in the movie as well. I ended up naming my son Ashton so we could call him Ash. Lol.
Cross – There you go. (laughs) Great choice there. The Exorcist, Blatty’s horror masterpiece novel. I wasn’t even born when Raimi came up with The Evil Dead.
You had a photo shoot recently. Are you trying to get into that business? What’s up with that?
JKill – The photo shoot in my apartment actually didn’t have anything to do with me. I let a photographer do a photo shoot in my apartment because I have a lot of room, and a modern style home with French doors and a lot of natural lighting. I personally don’t have much interest in photography. I respect it when I see that someone has taken a good shot or someone has really nice photos taken, and I myself would like some good promo pics taken, but I myself don’t know much about photography.
Cross – What have you been listening to these days (or last year)?
JKill – The music I listen to really depends on my energy levels. Lol. If I’m feeling energetic and wide awake, I’ll listen to some Acidbath or Pantera, maybe some Machine Head. Most of the time I’m feeling laid back, so I’ll listen to some acoustic mellow stuff. I’m big on singers who can pull off an entire show with just a microphone and a guitar. Dax Riggs, Elliott Smith, Ray LaMontagne, are some of my favorites. And sometimes I just listen to instrumental music, with piano and strings, because words sometimes distract me. My all time favorites are Pinkfloyd and Acidbath though. Everything else is just a filler, but I really enjoy a lot mellow acoustic stuff.
Cross – What gears does Jeremy prefer for live shows or recording? From mic to guitars, amps, strings too if possible. (One of my strings broke recently and I had no clue which ones I had on my guitar. I was lucky I got Ernie Ball strings as a present. And it turned out, kinda everybody I know uses them.)
JKill – As far as gear goes, I’m pretty picky about my equipment although I use a variety of different stuff. I only play fender electric guitars and Martin acoustics. I use Bose PA systems, but I’m a fan of JBL and Yamaha stuff as well. I play Ernie Ball strings on my electric and elixir strings on my acoustic. I sing through a sure SM58 and my guitar amp of choice is a blackstar tube amp. Tube amps sound best in my opinion.
Cross – In one of our conversations you sent me a song, “Open Baby Torso – Dead Girls and Graveyards”. I loved it. Was driving the first time I listened to it. It was awesome. Soothing vocals. Obscure and chilling at the same time. You added that you were working on a project. Is that song part of this project? How is it going?
JKill – Open Baby Torso, is that obscure project I was talking about earlier that made its way to some forums. I have an entire album like that, and I do plan to re-record the entire thing sometime this year. I have several projects I’m working on at the same time. Open Baby Torso along with the Tode album and my solo album. All while trying to finish this book. I’m also planning to write a short horror series based around the Open Baby Torso songs as well.
Cross – If the other songs are similar to Dead Girls and Graveyards that’s going to be awesome. Can’t wait for all that. Songbird is the only thing I found on your Bandcamp. Crazy solo. Is there any place where people can check more of your originals and support you?
JKill – Songbird is an original that’s on my first EP which is on iTunes and most other digital platforms. Over the years I have put so much music in places and friends band family members have uploaded my music to so many places, that I can’t even keep up where most of it is. But if it’s out there it’s on YouTube as well. I do plan and hope to get all of my music organized into certain places as get my website back up and running after I finish these albums.
Cross – Where do you record and master your songs?
JKill – When it comes to recording my songs, I usually track them at home using garage band, so that I can work out exactly what I’m going to do before going into the actual studio. Then once I have everything together I go to a studio in Austin where me and a few fiends record together, recently my son has been coming along to record the drum tracks for me.
Cross– They sound professional that’s why I was asking. Anything else you might like to add Jeremy?
JKill – All I’d really like to add is that 2020 was a crazy year, but it forced me to be productive and so I’m hoping that in 2021 I’ll have something to show for all the work I did this past year. I have plans to release 3 different albums, a novel and and a small horror series of short stories.
Cross – I’ll be waiting patiently for all that. Thank you for your time Jeremy, it’s been a pleasure! Check out Jeremy’s work below.
YouTube Channel – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnmJeKSket3npqHn_w2GeOw
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/jeremykilgoreofficial
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/jeremykilgoreofficial/
Bandcamp – https://jeremykilgore.bandcamp.com/releases