Now veterans of Popblerd’s annual “I Read AP’s 100 Bands You Need To Know In 2012 So You Don’t Have To.” post, Kid Is Qual’s Lead bassist and resident Talk Boxer Jonathan Sullivan was gracious enough to sit down with us and talk all things Qual. Here’s what he had to say:


1. Going from Jack’s Mannequin to this is quite a stretch stylistically. Was electronic music something you were always interested in?
 To answer your question, not really. I wanted to do an analog electronic band. I mean, I feel like if a song is good, it translate however it is presented. I will say that being in JM showed me that you have to have the ladies into your music. And I play bass, and ladies like to dance, so… it was kind of a no brainer. I got into this electro R&B kick when I was in JM and would always bust out the tight jams on the bus, with a dance party always ensuing! I also did some talk boxing with JM live on “Suicide Blonde” as well, and would drop some “lead bass” live  on “You Can Breathe Now”. I would always mess around with lead stuff at soundcheck. When we were playing Tokyo for the first time, Andrew pointed over at me and was like, “solo, my son”. Haha. So that’s how that started. It just became a thing for a while. Good times all around.

2. How did Kid Is Qual form (and come up with the name)?

 As you know, coming up with a band name sucks. Like most of band names suck really badly. When you are on the road all the time, all you do is sit around and make up dumb shit and goof off. The word “Qual” kinda stuck out to me, and eventually I was like, the Kid is Qual. “Qual” as in, quality.

3. The instrumentation for Kid Is Qual is decidedly very unique (2 bassists and a drummer), what made you decide to go that route as a band?

 Well I was making these kinda weird guitar-like sounds on my bass at the time, so i felt like we didn’t need a guitarist. Every band has a guitarist. But how many bands have two basses? Besides, most people still think we have guitar and keyboards in the band. They are shocked when they see us live.

4. How difficult is it to recreate the sound of Kid Is Qual on stage?

 Not hard hard at all. All the sounds we used in the studio we use live as well. The only limitation is when I use my talk box I can’t play any lead bass because my sound is going through the tube. So it kind of makes us do more with less.

5. Speaking of live shows, are there any tours planned?

 I am working on that. It is hard being DIY and booking/managing everything yourself, but I try to do my best. I was hoping we could get on the Warped Tour this year, but that didn’t work out. As of now we are planning on booking a short tour with TV Tramps (Claude Coleman from Ween) in July and just booking more shows ourself. We did get asked to play three sold out shows with Ween in Denver for NYE, though. It was awesome. I can’t tell you how cool it is to have one of my favorite bands like KIQ! Those dudes are crazy, and we are definitely brothers from another mother.

6. What is your favorite venue to play? Do you prefer clubs versus large venues? Would you be content playing in someone’s basement with five people there?

 My favorite venue in the USA is the 9:30 club in DC. With JM, i got to play all the spots…clubs, theaters, sheds, to arenas. KIQ doesn’t have to be the biggest band in the world for me to be happy, but i definitely prefer venues that have adequate sound systems to handle our big bass sound. I mean, we would play basements but we don’t want to stay there. I’m a pro, my son! HAHA. I like sound checks and itineraries.

7. To me, I can hear influences ranging from Devo to The Faint. What bands influence the music of Kid Is Qual?

Wow. Those are two great bands, and I have played with both of them. That’s really nice of  you to say that. The bands/artists that really influenced me the most to start KIQ were DFA 1979, Zapp and Roger Troutman, the Gap Band, Ernie Isley, Vernon Reid, Trans Am, and Stinking Lizaveta. But of course bands like The Faint, Devo, Sade, Sleigh Bells, The Fucking Champs, Metric, Lamb of God, Fun., Crystal Castles, and QOTSA are bands that influence our band as well.

8. Speaking of influences and other bands, what do comparisons mean for you as a relative up and coming artist? Do you feel they help or hurt the band? As a band, do you find it flattering to be compared to an artist you like or journalistic laziness (And yes, I am aware that I have compared you to other bands)?

 I guess it depends on what band you are being compared to. I will take comparisons to The Faint and Devo all day. That is definitely very flattering. Comparisons are good for the fans, as it allows them to find your music easier.

9. You’re about to release another EP (Ladies Choice), do you prefer this way of releasing small bits of music at a time as opposed to putting out a full-length album?

 Yeah, for a DIY band, we don’t have the recourses to promote a full LP. These days, all your really need is one song to hit for people to find out about you. Hopefully that song will be “Conflict Girl” for us. We do want to put a full length out, though.

10. As an artist who uses social media to get the good word out and with the internet making music easily accessible in terms of getting new stuff out to fans more quickly, do you feel that there isn’t a need for labels/producing CD’s since many bands (Not just indie artists but bands like NIN/Radiohead) are already doing it themselves?

 It depends. Bands like NIN and Radiohead have already been through the machine and have had all the money and publicity behind them. So it is a different thing for them than it is for a band like us that is starting off right now. It is definitely no-man’s land out here. Everything is up in the air. I will say though, while social media is a great tool to promote yourself, I find it sad that now all music is reduced to how many “likes” you have on FB and how many “followers” you have on Twitter. You can’t put music in the box like that! That doesn’t necessarily add up to record/ticket sales. Being in JM showed me that you have to build a true fan base, and online peoples don’t always come out and buy your stuff. A real fan will always be a fan, they WANT to support you.

11. You covered the David Guetta/Akon collaboration (“Sexy Chick”) some time ago. Are there any more covers planned?

In fact, yes. We are working on a few right now. One being a tune by The Audition called “Honest Mistake”  and another classic by Bobby Cauldwell called “Won’t Do For Love”. I’m excited to work with guest vocalist like Danny Stevens and Elliott Yamin (both of whom are great friends). We have more in the works as well, including a cover of “Save Me” by my friends Crash Boom Bang, and Motley Crue’s “Too Fast For Love”, whom Bobby Raw from JM is gonna guest on.

12. “Conflict Girl” is definitely more intelligible in terms of the vocal approach, would you ever put the talk box down completely?

I would have to say no (haha). But I am into trying new things and expanding our sound. When I sing live I can play my bass as well, as opposed to the talk box. So we have definitely been exploring  some new sounds and approaches to KIQ.

13. What does the future hold for Kid Is Qual?

 We are gonna keep putting our jams, playing shows, and working hard behind the scenes. I have seen how it is done and I believe in our music. Our goal is to add some people to our team and get on some dope tours. Regardless, we will continue to grind. Music has been my life for 25 years, and i’m not about to stop now.


You can check out the Damn Son EP over here and find out more on Kid IS Qual over on their Facebook page. Ladies Choice will be out imminently. Watch this space for our review.

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