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Interview: *repeat repeat turn real-life romance into “sweet punk” partnership

They’re madly in love, they’re animal fanatics, and they’re waiting for the day to move to the Netherlands. Meet your new favorite band, surf-y punk rock group *repeat repeat. Atlas met up with Jared and Kristyn at a dive bar in the Phoenix area where Jared spent many a night in college playing pool and hanging out with friends.

Interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

Atlas: So let’s start with your musical backgrounds and how *repeat repeat came to be.

Jared: I grew up in Arizona playing in punk bands my whole life, and for a while some folk bands, and I graduated from ASU in 2009. I knew I wanted to move somewhere where I could build my career more, so I moved to Nashville and played in a few bands. And then I decided I wanted to start a band when Kristyn and I were engaged, and I knew I wanted to have a girl singer with me. I auditioned some  people, but it never really worked out, so I asked Kristyn to sing a few demos. The guy producing our records heard the demos and was like, “I think you found your girl singer.” So it was totally unprepared and we didn’t plan for that, but since we were already living together and about to get married, she heard all the songs because I was writing them in our house.

Kristyn: It made sense, but it wasn’t something we set out to do.

Atlas: How did you feel about that, when you got picked [to be the singer]?

Kristyn: I felt totally weird about it for probably the first three months before I could really picture myself in the role. It took me a minute to get used to it, but I’m so glad we did because now we can’t imagine doing that any other way.

Jared: It’s also really refreshing as someone who played in bands for 20 years of my life to watch someone who’s playing in their first band ever, so getting to experience those things that I used to experience that I don’t really get to anymore.

Kristyn: Like every little thing is exciting, and he had to teach me, like, “What do I do with the mic stand?” Literally everything!

Jared: Her first tour ever was my, like, 200th show, and her first sold out show was my…dozenth sold out show, but not with this band. So experiencing that through her eyes was just really neat.

Atlas: Yeah of course, it’s like you get to do it all twice.

Jared: Yeah! It’s great. I highly recommend it.

Atlas: How did you two meet in the first place?

Kristyn: A venue!

Jared: It was kind of like where we’re at here, just a little bigger. I was playing in a band that Kristyn was working with doing PR at the time. We started talking after the show, and she said she liked the show, so I asked her to go to coffee with me under the guise of, like, doing PR for my band but secretly because I wanted to take her out to coffee. From there we just hit it off, like sat at the coffee shop and hung out every night since.

Kristyn: Yeah, long story short, he was moved in in two months, and we were married in a year. And that was seven years ago.

Jared: It wasn’t one of those things that we knew immediately that we were going to be together forever, but it didn’t take very long. And then we knew after two months–

Kristyn: From August 4th to October 1st

Jared: –that we’re going to be together forever.

Kristyn: But nobody’s counting. [Both laugh.] Those were the days that changed my life.

Jared: It still feels like it went really fast, almost at seven years together. But I always say that our story is not the status quo, like I always hear people say, “I wish I had a story like that with my partner.” And I’m like, I think we’re the freaks. We haven’t spent a night apart since we started dating. So I think it’s normal to want some time alone, and want some time with the guys or the girls, but we enjoy each other’s company so much. I’m sure to the outside world it’s a little sickening, but that’s what works for us. You find what works for you and your partner, and we’ve enjoyed it. Now, seven years in, I couldn’t imagine spending a night away.    

Kristyn: There’s absolutely nothing on earth that isn’t better with Jared there.

Jared: We play in a band now, like in a van, so we put ourselves in a situation where we can’t spend a night apart even if we tried.

Atlas: I mean, Matt and Kim are the exact same way.

Jared: Yeah! They’ve been together for a really long time. We want to tour with them.

Kristyn: We went on a date to see them play a show early on!

Atlas: In regards to your music, did you [Kristyn] just adopt what Jared was doing, or did you try to start from scratch?

Kristyn: I think that the two of us very clearly bring our own thing. You bring this guitar front person–

Jared: West Coast punk power chord kind of thing and Kristyn definitely brings these 60s beachy California vibes and harmonies, like the Mamas & the Papas, the Beach Boys, that kind of thing. I bring, like, the angsty, anxiety-driven guitar rock, and she brings the smoke weed and drive down the highway type of thing.

Kristyn: Sometimes we call it “punk and polished.” He’s this punk guy, and I’m there to bring these sweet harmonies.

Jared: I think it balances itself out. Especially nowadays, it seems like life isn’t really black and white for anyone living in this country or the world. I think it’s fun to be able to present on stage both this sweet element and this manic element too.

Kristyn: It’s sweet punk!

Jared: I think people can relate to that because nobody is in one box anymore. Everybody has lots of different pieces to them and stories i their lives and what they want to experience, and I think we bring that. We can go from a dark, moody, loud rock song to something really sweet and melodic, and I think that’s what translates live. But it all translates to loud and fast and fun.

Atlas: Any specific bands you like to cite as influences?

Kristyn: We love the band Alvvways from Toronto. I think that’s probably both of our favorite band.

Jared: We also like bands that we try to emulate, that we draw inspiration from as a band. Like The Vaccines, Arctic Monkeys, B-52’s, a lot of that Athens, Georgia sound. Cage the Elephant is another band we really dig, in their career and their trajectory and their sound that they’ve maintained. Any band that’s still doing rock & roll in a big way.

Kristyn: Especially in such a pop and EDM scene.

Jared: That’s why we were so flattered when Peking Duk asked us to go on the road with them. They wanted a rock band that would be loud and fun and get the crowd hyped and not take up much of the stage because they have a big stage setup. I thought it was cool that a band like that who’s very pop, almost EDM–those two guys are DJs, mostly–would ask a rock band to perform. That speaks volumes to what people listen to nowadays with Spotify and stuff. I always say that when I was growing up, if I had enough money to buy a record, I would buy a record that sounded like all the other records I already had.

Kristyn: You didn’t take a risk.

Jared: Yeah, because records and CDs back then cost, like, $25 brand new. So you’d think, “I’m just going to buy this CD that’s the style I like.” I like punk, so I would buy the punk CDs. But now, someone will be like, “Check out this hip hop song, or this pop song, or this EDM track, this country song,” and it’s so easy. So I think having us touring with them [leads to] hopefully down the road playing with other different genres. I think that speaks volumes because people are going to have a good time with a whole different sort of live playlist.

Atlas: How’d they find you guys?

Kristyn: Our managers found each other. We don’t really know beyond that. We were told that their manager reached out to ours.

Jared: We were also told by Reuben [Styles, of Peking Duk] that they picked five American bands to open for them, and we were the first ones to say yes. We hear these crazy stories too, like somebody who saw us at a show just a few nights ago and was like, “I heard you on this Nashville sound compilation album.” We did that three or four years ago! That was like our first single ever! We thought that got buried, but it brought someone out to a show. So you never know how people find your stuff.

Atlas: Nothing ever dies on the Internet.

Kristyn: It’s good and bad. I’m just glad that the Internet didn’t start when I was a small child because I was really little, but I had a few years there where I could live a life that wasn’t being recorded.

Atlas: Do you guys have a master plan?

Jared: For our career, we’re on tour until mid July and then we go into the studio to work on our next record and hopefully knock that out by the end of summer, but we’re really not putting any timeline on it. We’re letting it happen organically and seeing where it goes next. But definitely a new record and a lot of touring. I think we’re going to be busy through the rest of the year and hopefully into next year. This is what we want to do with our lives.

Kristyn: Lots of festival circuits, too.

Jared: We’ll have done about a dozen big festivals this year and we’re looking at another 10 to 12 next year, so we’re trying to build that, and then going overseas and breaking out there.

Kristyn: Hopefully we’ll have a new single out by the fall.

Jared: We gauge success by when we get to the point when we can come home and not feel like we have to be on the road to pay our bills, and I think it’s getting more and more like that. For us it’s not about being rich or famous, but about being able to keep at it and being in love. There’s no better time than now to do what you want to do, what you’re passionate about.

Kristyn: Society right now is really supportive of that. It’s hard to do no matter what, but it’s a little easier when society seems to get it.

Jared: Actually Jim Carrey said this one time: “You can fail at what you hate, so you might as well do what you love.”  We have plans to put out new music, keep touring, and everything, but I think that’s at the end of the day what our big plan is: to keep doing what we love because we can fail at either one, so we might as well do what we’re passionate about.

Kristyn: Together.

Jared: Together. Oh, and we’re planning on moving to the Netherlands in, like, five years. That’s the hope.

Kristyn: It’s because he played a show with Neon Trees–do you know that band?–and we found out during that show that the girl [drummer Elaine Bradley] is based in Germany. She just lives in Germany with her husband and three babies and just flies out for tour and then goes back home to Germany. So we were like, “The possibilities are endless!” We picked the Netherlands because we could take our horse.

Atlas: You have a horse?

Jared: We have 11 pets. [Interviewer’s note: The horse is beautiful. I saw photos.] His name is Lincoln. He stays in a stall in Franklin, Tennessee, which is about 30-40 minutes outside of where we live in downtown Nashville.

Kristyn: He has lots of fancy care while we’re on the road.

Jared: We’re looking to move to a big farmhouse an hour outside of the city on, like, 12 acres and move all our pets out there.

Atlas: Speaking of Nashville, are you writing your next album there or are you going somewhere else to work on it?

Jared: This next record, we’re really excited about, because it’s the first album that we’ve seriously co-written together. In the past, our structure was a little bit different. I would write the songs, and she would come in and peer review them and look over them and say, “Let’s see where we can fit both of us.” But this next record we’re actually writing together from the ground up, and I’ve not been this excited about a new project in a long time. Also I think it’s some of the best music that I’ve ever made. And I think it’s because we’re actually brainstorming together and I think it’s going to be really genuine and authentic.

Atlas: You should definitely go to the Netherlands to write it.

Jared: Come see us over there! We’ll open for some black metal band out there or something.

Kristyn: We do have fans in the Netherlands, though. It’s one of our top countries. It’s like, “Hey, Netherlands!”

Atlas: How do you think you’ve grown individually and together since you started this band?

Kristyn: I no longer have a comfort zone, which you don’t know you want to get rid of until you’re forced to get rid of it. And then you realize what a gift you’ve been given to force yourself out of yours. I think about that a lot, just the things I find myself doing. If you would have told me three years ago or four years ago that I would be doing this, I would have been so nervous.

Jared: We were just talking about this today actually, I’m learning to let things be awkward and weird for the sake of art and things happening naturally. I have a tendency to want to control things because we built this band from the ground up, so it feels like we have a really tight grip on the reigns of our destiny. Because of that, it’s really scary to ever waver and let go of those reigns sometimes. But we’ve put ourselves in a position where we’ve got a great management team, and we’ve got a label, and we’ve got an agent, and we’ve got a really great team of people that believe in us. We kind of have to let them do their job. Also in the writing process,not trying to get into my own head too much about if people are going to like this song or not but if it feels right to just roll with it. And even if it doesn’t feel right, just let it be weird. If it feels weird, let it be weird for a minute. It doesn’t always have to feel kosher and normal. It can be abnormal and strange. I think those are the [best] moments whether in the studio and on the road and in front of a crowd of people not having a schtick or a thing that you’re going to go on stage and say, just winging it. I might not have anything to say. I might not know what the fuck I’m doing up there.

Kristyn: There are some shows that I don’t say a word–obviously I sing. I don’t talk much at all, and there are other shows that we’re talking throughout the show and have all these inside jokes with people by the end of the show.

Jared: People want authenticity, and I think that creates that. In the writing process and in the performing process, I think letting things happen naturally does that.

Atlas: What else should your fans know?

Kristyn: We pretty much told you all the good stuff.

Jared: We have a lot of pets. If you have any animals, send us pictures. We love people’s pets. And we don’t take for granted anyone who buys a ticket or listens to us.

*repeat repeat is following Peking Duk on tour across the United States this year. Their album, ‘Floral Canyon,’ is out now. Pet photos and compliments can be sent via social media @repeatx2.


Taylor Gilliam

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