New York Rocks with AwShockKiss

by Gamal Hennessy

New York has been connected to the rock scene from the beginning of that musical genre. Acts ranging from Hendrix to the Ramones made their home here and bands from all over the world flocked to the city to play in places like CBGB and Don Hills. While rock isn’t as influential in popular music as it once was, there are still talented bands playing on the Lower East Side, in Williamsburg and the Village every night. New York Nights caught up with the lead singer for one such band on the eve of their next big show…

Vital Statistics
Name: Kiri Jewell
Group Affiliation: AwShockKiss
Hometown: Niles, MI
Latest Project: Check out their live promo video here
Next New York Performance: Saturday, Jan. 15th 10:30pm at The Mercury Lounge

NYN: What were you doing musically before ASK?

ASK: Before AwShockKiss Stefanie [Bassett] and I were in a few different musical groups together as supporting band members. Stef on guitar/keys/vocals and myself as a backup singer. We've always had an incredible musical connection; she's trained musically, went to AMDA for musical theater and has a degree in music education from Otterbein College, and I have no idea what I'm doing but I can rock the fuck out, so it works well. Dan (drums), Charlie (bass), and Paul (guitar) are all trained as well. Charlie has an electric bass performance degree from Berklee, Dan a jazz studies degree from SUNY Purchase, and Paul from SUNY Fredonia for guitar and sound recording. Dan and Paul were even in a band together in college.

NYN: Your site says the band grew out of the friendships between you and the band members. What aspect of your life and your friendship made you decide to put it to music, especially rock music?

ASK: I've always listened to rock, even as a kid when my friends were silly over boy bands, I was in love with Sebastian Bach and Axl Rose. Fast forward to the music we're making now, I think that living in NYC is a big part of the rock influence...for me at least. You have to be tough both mentally and physically to live here, and there's an ever-present intensity that's easy to draw inspiration from. The rawness of NYC is infectious and bleeds into everything we do, music included. On the other hand, Stefanie and I are both closeted Garth Brooks junkies, so I can't say that we wouldn't be in a country band if we lived in the south.

NYN: I’ve been to a few of your shows and your clearly have a loyal following. How does that impact the music that you are writing now?

ASK: Funny you should ask, we just finished a song last night that totally rocks and we purposefully wrote a bridge that (we hope!) everyone will sing along too. At our last Mercury show, we could hear people in the crowd's one of the best feelings ever.

NYN: The band seems to be based on the connection and friendship that you guys already have. Where do you guys hang out when you aren’t performing? Who do you like to go and listen to in the local rock scene?

ASK: When we're not performing we spend a lot of time at Stefanie's house with a few bottles of wine, she's a great cook and has a beautiful place overlooking the city. Most of our songs began with all of us jamming in her living room. Of course we love the local live music scene as well and have a lot of friends in bands that we support. Some of our favorites are: Belikos, Hurrah! A Bolt of Light!, NLX, and The Hotcakes. You can find us at Rockwood Music Hall, Mercury Lounge, The Bitter End, and Arlene's on any given weekend.

NYN: You’ve played with and opened for quite a few bands. Is there anyone out there that you are looking forward to working with in 2011?

ASK: I just asked Stefanie what who she wanted to work with in 2011 and of course she immediately said, "Paramore!" She's totally obsessed with Hayley. In all seriousness though, we've had a fun time lately collaborating with other bands...most recently Stef, Dan, Charlie and I have performed with Mieka Pauley, an artist that I've been a fan of for years. In 2011, we'd like to open for more and more nationally touring acts.

NYN: What else does ASK have planned for 2011?

ASK: So much! The most important of which, is writing and recording. At the end of the day, the music comes first and we want to make all of our songs accessible to fans who aren't able to catch a show. We're recording a second EP of existing songs in February, and are writing new stuff for a full album in the Fall. We're also working on music video treatments, which will be a first for us, and we're super excited! Stay tuned...