Manchester duo Kill For Company celebrated the launch of their 2nd EP Alternative To Living with a home-town show at Manchester’s Deaf Institute. There’s a lot of hype around these guys at the moment and tonight is my first opportunity to find out what the fuss is all about, so I joined the capacity crowd eagerly awaiting the arrival of the band to the stage in the wonderful upstairs Music Hall of the Deaf Institute, a place full of character and charm, it has to be one of the best small gig venues in Manchester. The sell-out crowd was made all the more impressive by the fact local hero’s James were playing their own home-town gig across town at the cavernous MEN arena.
With the lights turned down and the anticipation cranked up Mark O’Donoughue, already shirtless with long hair flowing, took his place behind the drums and Michael Banfield strapped on his customised bass come lead guitar hybrid and launched into Push with its post-punk bass line easing in and steadily building before a killer guitar riff comes and takes the song into a raw garage rock direction. Seeing the duo live for the first time I’m immediately hit by the drumming which really stands out, each beat sounding loud and heavy being delivered with a definite intent and driving the whole thing along, as Michael pointed out mid-gig “this is Mark, he’s a drummer” he certainly is!
As you would expect the set featured tracks from the recently released EP, and it’s these songs that I am most familiar with. Decide and Black & White quickly follow each other, two tracks that on the EP are quite mellow and intricate but have more energy when played live whilst still maintaining their core structure. I was of course aware of the unusual setup Kill For Company employ, with the customised guitar, so I was intrigued to hear how this would work live. It’s fair to say I was blown away by the sounds created on this Frankenstein guitar, if you weren’t looking at the stage you’d be convinced there was a bass player along side the guitar and the noises being emitted were at times like nothing I’ve heard before from a guitar. Hats of to Michael for how he has modified the guitar and for being able to play it in such a mesmerising way.
By the time the unmistakable bass lick of Alternative To Living began the crowd were completely sold and the energy seemed to feed into the duo, who were clearly reveling in the atmosphere, so much so that Michael climbed onto his amp for the solo. A solo that sounds more like a distorted church organ being played than a guitar! The pace was picked up from here, closing track from the EP Not Enough followed with the softly whispered vocal intro before a spiky post-punkesc bass line or is it a guitar riff (I’m not really sure but it sounds good!) slams in and takes you on a heavy raw blues ride. It was the penultimate track of the night, Money Now, a track from the band’s first EP that stood out for me, having not heard it before, a great groove to the bass line with a grungy edge to it and an incredibly catchy chorus.
Kill For Company are definitely one of the most exciting bands on the Manchester scene at the moment, with their own brand of spiky, raw, garage rock blues and just the right amount of post-punk rhythm that brings a Manchester coolness to the whole thing. You really need to catch these guys live to fully appreciate their sound and witness first hand the wall of noise created by the duo.