INTERVIEW: FITNESS chats Alt Nation tour, how the band to come to be and the next few months!
Alt Nation radio has been a huge part of new bands getting the exposure they deserve in this new class of music and it’s only supplemented by the two tours a year they put on with the most recent installment being the one headlined by Big Data and supported by newcomers Fitness and Castlecomer. Fitness while being relatively new is the brainchild of two long time music veterans, Kenny Carkeet (ex-Awolnation) and Max Collins (vocalist of Eve 6), and from talking to the duo, it’s only clear this will be the main focus for the band for the near future. In talking to the guys, it’s clear how much heart they’ve put into this project. As well as the admiration they have for each other be it Max praising Kenny being a multi-instrumentalist for the band to Kenny talking about how Max really brought something magical to the track he was working at the time, ‘Get Dead’.
Find our chat below and with two EP’s pretty rapidly released, it’s sure there’s only much more to come from this band and we’ll be sure to be there for it!
You only started this tour on the 14th, this Altnation tour as Fitness with Castlecomer and Big Data. How have these shows been? I know the debut record is still so new, it only came out in June and Fitness has only been a band for about a year and a half, two years. How have these shows been, have you mostly been playing the new record? Are you playing some songs that haven’t been heard yet? How have you been approaching these sets?
Max: They’ve been really fun. We feel fortunate to be on this run. We love Big Data, I loved them before we met them and I just love them more now. Which is nice when you’re sharing a bus. And the shows have been really fun. It’s a cohesive enough blend of styling. It’s been a good turn out, reactive audience so it feels like we’re on the path.
Kenny: What he said!
Then both of you have so much experience in doing music, obviously both music veterans. How did this project come together? When did maybe this friendship come together, how long was Fitness in the works?
Kenny: Fitness kind of started as a therapeutic musical exercise for me in the midst of making record after record. I felt the need to start making random music and what not. And Max and I had met a few years before with our respective bands playing festivals and what not together. And he and I became buddies and started writing music together. So I was making all these records then I took some time for myself and I made the track called ‘Get Dead’ and while I was doing it, he was in there and ended up singing on it. And we were like what is this? This is kind of interesting. We had no ambition, no plans of putting anything out. It was just let’s make something for ourselves really. And that’s kind of how it started and we just ended up falling in love with what we were creating and what we were doing. We didn’t want to stop and it’s, it’s been good.
Max: Yeah, Kenny played me the track for ‘Get Dead’ and I was honestly blown away by it. And that doesn’t happen that much when, you’re like, old like me when you’ve heard a lot of stuff and have recorded a lot of stuff. But there’s just something so wide eyed, fun and dangerous about it. He said he heard like a chant vocal thing happening somewhere in the song and he floated the idea of calling it Fitness. And I was like ‘Well what if we chanted F-I-T and E-S-S but not that S-S’ and it was in that moment for me when Fitness was born. We had collaborated before but on stuff like he said for other people where there were more stringent guidelines. So this was a shedding of all of that stuff and just doing what we want to do and wound up (the two smile at each other) this.
I like it! This is kind of your escape, where there weren’t rules.
Kenny: Exactly. This was cathartic. Fully indulgent and fun and if people like it, that would be nice but that’s not why we’re doing it.
Max: Exactly. We plan on having the most fun we’ve ever done.
That’s great! Then maybe when it comes to these sets, the debut album it’s still so new, is it something where you’re playing most of it? You’re the opening slot. How have you been planning these sets?
Kenny: Yeah! We’re kind of playing some of our favorites from the first EP, ‘Agriculture’, and a lot of stuff from the new record. There’s a handful of songs from there. The set’s kind of come together by favorite songs to play, not really by who are we playing for tonight, what area of the country are we in or how are we feeling? It’s just what are our favorite songs, what’s the best order that they can flow in?
Max: And there are some songs that have just worked better live. That feel good kind of immediately.
Kenny: There’s some songs that we love from our record that just hasn’t translated well or correctly yet to a live setting.
Max: We also have a strange line up. Kenny’s playing six or nine instruments, I’m just singing and Ben is playing drums. So it takes some negotiation on Kenny’s part to figure out what he’s going to play when. What songs are more conducive to pulling off live.
Kenny: A lot of times when bands make records, they won’t go to the point where they can’t play it live. Where when we make our records, we just want to make whatever the record calls for or what the song wants. Sometimes we’re just out of hands to accomplish what we want when we bring it to a live setting. Eventually maybe if we end up having some other members down the line, we’ll be able to bring some songs out.
But if it’s only three of you.
Kenny: Exactly, there’s only so much we can do.
Max: Some limitations.
Kenny: And we love each other so much we don’t want to bring anybody else in.
Then you kind of mentioned earlier how you had ‘Get Dead’ and then you heard Max singing it but the tracks for “Karate”, were they songs that you all wrote together? Do you all bring your own ideas, do you each lead songs? I know you had already been writing some of these songs. Did Max like put his flair on it when he started coming into the project?
Kenny: Yeah! In general terms, a lot of the time I’ll go into the studio by myself, smoke a joint and just play guitar. See what feels good and I’ll make some stuff. Then I’ll text Max being like ‘I’m so excited, I don’t know what this is but I like it’ and I’ll send him the song and then he comes in and starts humming ideas, knocks out some lyrics and melodies. Then Ben will come in and play drums and we’ll take all of that and wrap it around what Max says. So it’s a weird in stages but very cohesive collaborative method.
Max: Yeah if there is a formula, its that it starts with a Kenny track in various stages of completion but often pretty complete. Sometimes if there’s something that I’m writing melodically that feels like it should pull the song this way, we’ll sort of make alterations. Which is cool for me because I come from writing on an acoustic guitar, bringing it to the band and doing it sort of the old fashioned way. But I like having kind of the limitation of this is the chord bed, let’s come up with something that feels great over this as opposed to having infinite choices. And Kenny has a way of structuring chords in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily on my own that sort of make me create new pathways in my mind to come up with stuff. These are songs that I wouldn’t write on my own, that I couldn’t write on my own.
Kenny: Wouldn’t or couldn’t? (Everyone laughs)
Just very different mindsets when it comes how you guys have been writing your own songs.
Then just from talking to Alan (Big Data) as well, I know you’re only about a quarter through this run with him and Castlecomer. The album is still so new, obviously I’m sure you all have your own projects that you still work on and still do, what are the goals or focuses for Fitness once you finish this run?
Max: We have another tour that we’re not allowed to announce yet but yeah I think we have sort of a blue collar ethic about it. We enjoy it too much to not do it so our goal is to get it to a place where we can continue to have it be our primary focus and also be able to make a living on it. So we’re working toward that but we don’t have any like crazy brass ring ideas. It’s more let’s build this as a little business where we can go out and tour and have people come and be happy with that.