Moving Mountains Between Two States

Photo of Kid, You'll Move Mountains courtesy of the band

Photo of Kid, You'll Move Mountains courtesy of the band

Words by Erin Wolf

When a musician relocates to another city and picks up another band, do they turn a blind eye to their former hometown and former bands? No way, says, Jim Hanke, currently of Illinois’ Kid, You’ll Move Mountains and formerly of Milwaukee’s El Oso. Hanke’s current band is conducting two CD releases, in two separate cities for their new album Loomings, visiting their northern neighbors this Saturday for an official brewtown christening. The Milwaukee native claims that this city is nothing that he’d soon forget, and plans to keep a strong lifeline running with conscious connections and the kindness of friends and acquaintances.

“Wives’ Tale”, Kid, You’ll Move Mountains

Kid, You’ll Move Mountains is an honorary Milwaukee band — how does it feel to have a CD release for Loomings in your technical hometown (in IL) and one in your old hometown. Why do you make a conscious effort to make Milwaukee seem just as much of a home?

I am lucky to have the friends that I have back home in Milwaukee, but I never would’ve expected any interest in having an out-of-state band like us do a CD release party-type thing there. Eric (Uecke, owner of Cactus Club) asked me if we’d like to do one there and we were absolutely flattered. We just came off headlining our own CD release at the Metro in Chicago in January, which was one of the craziest experiences in my life. I feel we’ve had such good fortune with the album so far, and it’s only been out a month, that I have no clue what could be next. As far as Milwaukee goes, I just love coming back, even for a night. Playing in a band is a good excuse to visit your hometown and see your friends. My girlfriend and I have made a point to show our friends from Illinois, and even England, around because it’s such a great city. I am so proud to call Milwaukee my true home.

Loomings is completely original in its pop leanings, but builds on the groups’ past projects: Troubled Hubble, El Oso, Inspector Owl…what is it like collaborating when your past pop-efforts are still fresh in your listeners’ minds?

I guess to us, it would be surprising to hear that our previous bands are still fresh to listeners. That’s really cool, but I guess we look on our respective, previous projects as old news. We look to those days fondly, for sure, and maybe people who listened to those bands would hopefully find something to like, or something similar in the KYMM songs, but I think we’re constantly trying to find things we always wanted to do but couldn’t, for whatever reason. Andrew (Lanthrum, bass) always wanted to mess around more with weird sounds or loops, so he does a lot of that here and he didn’t exercise that kind of ability in Troubled Hubble. Corey (Wills, guitar) wanted to focus on playing guitar in this band, and not sing like he does in Inspector Owl, so I think we all have things that this band helps us get out, that may have been dormant before; we’re also willing to admit when an idea isn’t working. I’d say we’re very hard on ourselves and we’ll self-edit as much as we can before having a final product, be it the album or a specific song or even just ten seconds of something.

What’s the hardest aspect of writing pop songs right now?

I think just finding something that we can play again and again and still find excitement in it, is the hardest thing. A lot of the reviews that have come back so far on the CD, mention that the songs are memorable or catchy but have just enough odd stuff thrown in to keep things interesting, is the biggest compliment I can think of. We’re not a band that wants to be weird or challenging for the sake of purposely making songs that are hard to digest. I think we make what we’d like to listen to. That’s why there are so many bands, I think: there’s just as many music fans as there are folks playing muisc, whether for an audience of strangers or just themselves and their friends, because someone has to make music they want to hear, even if it’s themselves.

Loomings’ lyrics are really intelligent and well-read. Is it difficult to be well-read and a lyricist?

I don’t know if I’m well-read, necessarily, but my mom would sure be proud to hear you say that! I just have never been too big on easy rhymes or really commonplace rhythms of words. I listen to a lot of stuff, certainly, like the Motown classics, but I’m more fascinated by language and how we use it, whether that’s slang or old sayings that got passed down or whatever. I know it sounds weird, but I’m probably influenced lyrically by rappers rather than other indie rock bands that a band like us may get compared to. Great MC’s are really on another plateau because I think their whole make-up has to balance a really vibrant use of language along with pop-culture or historical references and long runs on betrayal, violence or even romance. I think the latest album by P.O.S., called Never Better, is one of the best rap albums I’ve heard in my life. His delivery is just on fire and the music has some of the hardest beats in hip hop. He’s a guy I really admire lyrically and musically, even though our music has nothing in common. No disrespect to Lil’ Wayne, but P.O.S. should be bigger than everyone.

Tell me about your stint as one of the top five finalists for that Filter Magazine contest…

Because we haven’t gotten out of the Midwest enough playing shows as of yet, we’re always looking for ways to be heard elsewhere, so things like the contest Filter had are a prime chance to do that. Basically, Filter was looking for an unknown band to feature in an upcoming issue that they would be giving away down at South by Southwest this year. We entered just for the chance to get the people at Filter to hear us, and out of the hundreds or thousands of bands that entered, we got picked as one of the final five. It was pretty ridiculous, because all the other bands were from major markets like Seattle, New York City, Los Angeles and Miami, and here we are, not even from Chicago. We were listed as being from ‘rural Illinois’ which kind of makes sense: I felt we were comically representing the Midwest, for sure. Filter did a little bio on us and readers and each bands’ fans could vote online for who they wanted to get this feature and although we didn’t win, it was nice to be picked by people whose opinion is in such high esteem.

How’d you hook up with Slap Hands, and what’s the unique stamp on this particular show?

I think we started communicating in the fall of last year, wanting to work on something together. Even though I don’t live in Milwaukee anymore, I was hearing from friends that they were awesome guys who had that unique spirit of promoting shows and getting the word out for the thrill of it and asking nothing in return, and to top it off, their shows were really going over well. So, we played a show they set up at Y-Not III and it was so fun that we wanted to get their help again with this show at Cactus, coming up. Overall, I think there’s an urgency for shows, with places like Frank’s Power Plant and the Borg Ward and Y-Not III all really stepping up [recently]. I think it’s exciting and vital to Milwaukee. So, I really like working with Zach and Nick from Slap Hands because they have that work ethic that I used to see at venues like Shorewood Legion Hall or shows that Josh Modell used to set up via Milk Magazine — that thankless, tireless work to put on a great show and get people to know about either great Milwaukee bands or touring bands that people aren’t familiar with , or anything they find interesting. To have them want to work with us is extremely kind.

Kid, You’ll Move Mountains shares Loomings with Milwaukee on Saturday, February 21st at the Cactus Club (2496 S. Wentworth). Also playing: the Elusive Parallelograms, Disguised as Birds and The Chairs. 10 p.m. 21+

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