Man, what can you say about Kai? When I listen to this mother fucker's songwriting I execute movements that would make Michael Jackson white with envy. That's the best thing about Kai's songs, they "move" you. These days, you don't hear about hard rocking musicians that also play with bombastic amounts of feeling. It only exists in the underground world, where it's dark, littered with emotion and sharp riffs just fall from the ceiling like death nails. The keyword throughout this article will be "Rocks." When you think of Kai Blackwood & The Tokyo Death Squad, you think, "This rocks" or "This son of a bitch rocks." If you're not aware thus far, the new album is "...Damned If You Don't." How do you count the ways that this album rocks? Refer to the song "French Quarter Chere." ...One...two...one-two-three-FOUR. It rocks for at least four reasons; because there are high energy tracks, mellow tracks, and neutral tracks. I'm not the first person to allege this and I won't be the last! What's the fourth reason, you ask? Isolation.

Kai did an acoustic show back in October (e-mail me for a CD copy), and man it was outstanding! The songs sounded warm and full of feeling by the way he sang them. The set was chalked full of artsy covers and soulful renditions. The show was at Java Nation in Connecticut, where Kai currently resides (He resides in CT, not at Java Nation. Dorks.)

When I recently asked Kai who his main influences were, he stated a variety of groundbreaking musicians including: The Misfits, Alice In Chains, Metallica, Elvis, The Police, The White Stripes, The Beatles, and Kiss. Said Kai, "Because no matter how cheesy people may think they are, they influenced an unfathomable number of musicians along the way. And even now, they're fun to listen to." He's a huge Rockabilly fan, and you can tell! It's part of his sound and it's exciting to know we finally have an artist who is willing to inject something new and original into the music industry! Plus, he's a great person and a super nice guy! "But yeah, I'm an Elvis freak, any of his Rockabilly stuff just kills. The Police and Sting have such amazing melodies, and the guy's voice fucking rules. So distinctive and always ringing with emotion and truth," says Kai.

An artist's vibe and sound shouldn't be determined solely by his influences, though. Kai clearly has his own outlook on things and music. Some of his songs are based on fictional characters, as he explained in a recent interview with Dan Dufour, of Space Junkies Magazine. He authored a screenplay called "Riding With Medusa," in turn giving birth to the song "Pink Neon" among others. Otherwise, it's indisputable that his lyrics transpire from raw, real life experiences. It's easy to jot down words that rhyme, but it's an art to shape them out of your own perspective and then pour your soul into them both in studio and on stage. Any bona fide fan will tell you that experiencing Kai's live show is a must! It's electric, snappy, high energy, raw, hard hitting, exciting, hairy, and once again, moving. But that's after some thought and reflection. When you leave, all you say is, "Fuck yeah! That band ROCKS."

Kai Blackwood is a musician that clearly has no boundaries. His album has a song for every occasion, he has years of experience under his belt, plenty of room for creative expansion and a loyal fan base who's anxiously awaiting his next move. As you render your nightly communion, say a prayer for the mainstream music industry, for they know not what they are missing out on! God bless them, and may they soon find their way to the nation of Tokyo. Take a swing over to www.kaiblackwood.com, where you can listen to sound clips, view the video for "Hello Tomorrow," view a bio, and much more! You can also order his CD "...Damned If You Don't" as well as merchandise (shirts, stickers, etc.).

 

REVIEWS:

"Kai Blackwood's songs are a razor-sharp hybrid of rock, alt metal and goth sealed with a pop undercoating. Based on the east coast, Blackwood started playing drums at age 9, taught himself guitar and bass by his early teens and played for several years in a metal band, Violent Industry. After playing solo for a few years, Blackwood signed with Attack Records in 2000. He later teamed with bassist Tim White and drummer Dale Harrison of The Headstones for the album "Favorite Son," teaching his new collaborators eleven songs in two days and recording the album two weeks later. Blackwood describes the result as "a crash course in musical passion and intensity." The album is slated for release in 2002. A US tour will follow. Blackwood is currently working on an independent film, "Riding with Medusa," as actor, director, screenwriter and composer." ~ Review courtesy of Cherry Lane (http://www.cherrylane.com/clpub/html/body_artistbio.cfm?wid=102362)

"Wow. A Rock 'N Roll record where I don't have to use the word "Emo." Nice. It's a dozen tracks of rockin' stuff that at times has a bit of that classic Zodiac Mindwarp vibe to it. Structure wise it's all written really well; catchy but not "pop metal," melodic but not castrated. The opener, "Fear Doesn't Live Here," busts out of the gate with some vigor. It slows down on a few tunes (the bluesy "Traces" and "Hello Tomorrow") for a change of pace that really doesn't hurt the overall record. "Any Girl" is a bit tamer. Track six, "Pink Neon," kicks you in the guts and is one to drive fast and blindfolded to ... and it's got handclaps, which is always good. The swing-jazz beat on "Rocket" works because it has some rock 'n roll dirt smeared on it, like the rest of the CD. Tight band, solid mix - a Marlboro's and Zippo's on the Hollywood Strip sounding disc. Pretty damn pro." Review courtesy of Craig Gilbert, New Haven Advocate (http://www.newhavenadvocate.com/gbase/Music/content.html?oid=oid:88228)

LYRICS:

"Johnnie Switchblade"
Music & Lyrics © Kai Blackwood & The Tokyo Death Squad

Somewhere in the valley
Deep in southern Cali.
Johnnie Switchblade is closing in
On a third-rate motel, half a block from hell
And just a stone's throw from the trouble he's in

Undercover - with an eye on the one
who would give him away
Fear ran strong - just as things went wrong

Wakened by the phone
He picks up the receiver
and gets nothing but a dial tone
Knocked off his feet by the spray of bullet heat
But this old boy's still got some heat of his own

Undercover - with an eye on the one
who would give him away
Fear ran strong - just as things went wrong

and there's nothing that a bullet won't fix

"Where Were You"
Music & Lyrics © Kai Blackwood & The Tokyo Death Squad

I pull a chair into the corner, light a smoke
And simply take in the view
Exactly where I know you from I couldn't say
The darkness swallows everything but you

My heart pumping to the beat of inhibition
That your silhouette instills
My tongue is swollen with the thirst for conversation
But it's better to be silent than to ruin this thrill

Where were you
Before life wore me down to the bone
Where were you
Before I stepped into the shadows and chose
to walk alone

Blue smoke works the room like spirit fingers
They could never touch your light
All the pretenders circle in, so confident
As I surrender to the vision at a dizzying height
I'm staring down at yet another empty bottle
What have I turned into?
My eyes close and there I go
And the darkness swallows everything but you

Where were you
Before life wore me down to the bone
Where were you
Before I stepped into the shadows and chose
to walk alone

and it feels alright
when I can get through
and it feels alright

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