Interview Tar Tar: Sons of Hippies unedited

Photo by Phillip Wilson
Katherine Kelly, lead vocals, guitars and keyboards; and Jonas Canales, percussion, synthesizers and vocals. The Sarasota band’s sound is a nice combo of ’70s authenticity, ’80s weirdoness and modern-day eclecticism. Earthy beats bring you down to earth while soaring guitars and synths take you elsewhere. Kelly mesmerizes crowds with that certain smoky, slightly spooky sexiness of Patti Smith and other famous female singers who can pull off strength and mystery without excess.
1. How did your collaboration with Jonas come about? Was he ever in Nous Rapport? If not, how do you know each other and how did you bond?
Jonas was never in Nous Rapport, he was and is currently in a band called Third Society. We met at a show a few years ago playing in separate bands. He pretty much begged me from that point on to start a side project, which I wasn’t ready for. A long time passed, I started playing solo, then realized I wanted a drummer to accompany my music. Jonas was my first and only choice. It started that way, with him accompanying my music, and quickly turned into a collaboration and we began writing music together – something I’ve never done with anyone else. Bonding moments include: attending Bonnaroo ’08 together, dressing up in eachother’s clothes, and drinking eachother under the table.
2. Why the name “Sons of Hippies”? Has the name brought about incorrect assumptions about your sound?

Jonas’ first language is Portuguese. His second is Spanish. In both of these languages, there is not a direct word for “children,” one simply uses the plural form of the word for “son,” keeping the masculine-gendered noun. From the very beginning, Jonas would always call us “sons of hippies” instead of “children of hippies” because of this language issue. I always found it endearing. Not until we were taking drugs at Bonnaroo did this become so apparent, and that’s where we decided on the name.

The name hasn’t brought incorrect assumptions about the sound yet, primarily because most people comprehend that the name is suggestive of a state of mind rather than a musical style.

3. Could you briefly tell people about your previous band and why you broke up?
I broke the band apart because it was obvious to me that we were going in four divergent creative directions.
4. Are you going to keep active with your solo material and performances? If so, how often (the best you can anticipate) will you be playing out and writing songs?
I’m going to definitely keep playing solo. After The Sons finish touring this fall, I’d guess I’ll have one to two solo performances per month.
5. Though you have your own sound that’s not derivative of any one thing, there’s a quality to your vocal delivery and the tone that reminds me of certain things I listened to as a teenager — like Siouxsie and the Banshees, Echo and the Bunnymen and Kate Bush. Did/do you listen to any of that underground-type stuff from back then?
Yes. I love all of the bands you listed. I’ve also gotten comparisons to Grace Slick and Kristen Hersh (Throwing Muses).
6. Is there a personal song in your solo or band set list that you’d like to talk about?
I wonder if this is a trick question. Only because I reveal little emotionally in my songs… All I can tell you you is that I’m working hard on solo material that addresses more personal things, which I rarely write about. My songs are more literary and didactic, but I understand that for others to relate with them, I need to give more of myself.  
7. Did your parents play a role in your musical upbringing?
Definitely. My grandmother was married to the folkie, Eric vonSchmidt, and they traveled every summer with their children to the Newport Folk festival and Cambridge, MA (where folk music and culture was exploding). Her daughter (my mother) went to Woodstock and trained me at a young age with Hendrix, The Stones, and The Beatles. My father was a poet. Although he had a debilitating addiction to 80s music, he taught me everything I know about words.      
8. I like how you guys pull off the dark and moody overtones without sounding too goth or pretentious. Can you think of any ways you brighten and balance out your sound? (Like the vocal harmonies “ba da ba bas” in “Don’t Forget”?)
This all has to do with the collaboration concept of the songs. Jonas, for the most part, comes up with the more rhythmic backing tones of the songs, while I seem to write the more apocalyptic lyrics. The lyrics of Don’t Forget were written completely on-the-fly, by me, honing concepts of transient-ness and transcendentalism. We’ll always pull it off because Jonas is a professional optimist while I’m a consistent pessimist.
9. Are there any female singers who annoy the hell out of you? Who are they and why?
I am annoyed by any singer, male or female, without integrity, vision, and heart.
10. What’s your guitar-playing background? What guitars/equipment do you especially like to play with?
I have no classical training nor any professional background. My opinion: if you hear it you hear it. That said, I’m a Fender girl through and through. I can’t play anything else. I bought my first American Standard Stratocaster when I was 15 and now I play a Jaguar. Other than guitars, I’m really into my Digitech JamMan Loop pedal that allows me to play guitar on top of my spontanoeusly recorded live guitar. And my ElectroHarmonics Big Muff Pi distortion pedal. 
11. Recording news?
Soon. Very soon. 🙂 Hoping to contribute to WMNF’s Tale’s of Lust comp, but other thatn that, give me/us another 2 months.
12. (Just for shits and giggles) do you like the smell of patchouli?
Ha! Good question… I wore patchouli oil every day in 8th grade. I don’t mind it – bit for the record I enjoy the #2 hippie smell… Nag Champa.  

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