The first track on the new Beware Of Darkness album, Are You Real? is all about rebirth, and for Kyle Nicolaides, it isn’t simply in a symbolic sense. As he puts it, the difference between the band’s 2013 release, Orthodox and Are You Real? is life and death. This time, Beware Of Darkness are back and more confident than ever. Full of twelve tracks that the band wrote with the intention of it being the best rock record in the past ten years, Are You Real? is a must-listen.
Nicolaides discusses the struggles and successes behind the new album, his personal growth, and the future of Beware Of Darkness below.
Be sure to catch Beware Of Darkness at WKQX Piqniq 6/18 in Chicago & The Gathering on 6/17 in Louisville
Interview by Dom Vigil
2016 is already looking like quite a year for Beware Of Darkness with the release of your new album Are You Real? this summer. Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Hi. It’s got 12 songs. There’s enough profanity on it to excite to make you feel dangerous while not offending your mother. In all, it’s just a super sexy and swaggy rock album.
Were there any goals that you wanted to accomplish or sounds you wanted to experiment on the new album?
Yes. Personally, in terms of making the record, I wanted it to be the best experience that everyone who was involved had ever had in their lives working on an album.
In terms of goals for the album, we wanted to make the best rock record of the past ten years. We wanted to push the rock genre forward, and make something truly new and original. We wanted to make an LP that was all in one lane, genre wise, that has a unique sonic landscape, like Elephant or Electric Warrior. We wanted to find new guitar tones that have an originality and identity to it, so that when someone hears it, they’d know it’s Beware of Darkness.
How do you feel you’ve grown with the writing and recording of Are You Real?
Honestly, in who I am as a person, I think the difference is life and death. The opening song of Are You Real? is focused on rebirth. It’s a statement saying, “Hey the person I used to be, that’s not me anymore. I’ve overcome who I am and the struggles that used to crumble me.” It’ says, we have seasons in our lives, and that dark season I had, is done. It’s over.
For me, I see the difference in writing and recording the two albums. Personally and emotionally speaking, making Orthodox was the worst experience of my life. I was so depressed, and anxious, and fearful of everything. I had no idea of God. I was just a hurt, miserable wreck, who didn’t know how to lead or communicate, and coped by shutting people out and letting fear rule my life.
On Are You Real?, it’s the totally opposite – making it was the best experience of my life. I think there’s a focus on songwriting and craft on Are You Real? That was absent on Orthodox. On Orthodox when I was writing those songs, I had no idea that people would actually hear them. With Are You Real?, when we were writing them, we envisioned playing these songs in front of 40,000 people. That was the guideline. On Are You Real? I trusted the creative process. I trusted in something bigger, and I actually liked the people we worked with.
I’m 25, and last year was the first year that I actually felt like a person. Like I said, I think we’re talking polar opposites.
What was the most difficult part about working on the album? The most rewarding?
Honestly, there was only one day that I was stressed out when we making the album. We were in London mixing, and only slotted to be there for 5 days. On day 4, Braden and I walked to a Tesco to make breakfast for dinner and since we’d got to London I realized we’d pretty much spent our time day drinking, getting hammered by jetlag and going on cute bro dates just being tourists and getting lost in ubers.
I casually asked him how many songs we have left to mix, and he said we had around 11. I did the math, and panic hit when I realized we had one day to mix 11 songs. I thought “Oh fuck, we’re never going to do that, this whole trip was a total waste, I blew it.” It ended up fine, because we wound up extending my trip 4 more days and finished and nailed everything.
Besides that, not to sound like a zen hippie, but the whole process was relatively smooth. When you adopt the attitude of putting full and total trust in the creative process, all the things that don’t matter just fall aside. Stuff would go wrong, amps would break, my voice would blow out, but I always tried to make a conscious decision to trust that it happened for a reason, and because of it, it always lead us to uncharted territory and higher plane of creativity that was really spontaneous and wonderful.
It was the most fun work we’ve ever done.
The most rewarding part of making the album was the relationships I got out of it. Jim Kaufman, co-producer / engineer is my best friend and like a brother to me now. I love him. Catherine is the best. I treasure the relationships we have with both of them. Sleeping at Jim’s house in his laundry room while Catherine and all the crew stayed there too while we cut guitars and overdubs, was the happiest time of my life. I’ll always look back at recording Are You Real? and think of it as probably the happiest I’ve ever been creating and making a record, and point blank some of the best moments of my life personally.
You recently released the first single “Dope” – can you talk a little about the track? What is the story behind it?
I wrote it w/ this killer hip hop producer named Trinity. It was the first song we wrote together, and we thought, “hey, wouldn’t it be rad if we had a song that when played in a club, all the hipster Silver Lake kids loved it, and all the hip hop dude were totally into it?” Something beyond genres, and universal, that could transcend the stuffy labels that people put on everything.
Are there any other tracks on Are You Real? that you’re particularly excited for listeners to hear?
Honestly, I am just so thankful that we got to make this record, and, I’m just so excited to release it. I love the whole thing, and can’t wait for people to hear it. It’s so sexy and swaggy, and vibey. “Muthafucka” the opening track has some of the raddest guitar tones I’ve ever heard. I’d gone a month without hearing it and it actually shocked me how fresh they are. “Are You Real?” The title track just feels really exciting and new. Like something you’ve never heard before.
On top of the album release, do you have any other big plans for 2016? Could we expect some shows and tour dates soon?
Yes. We’d like to tour the world.
What would you like listeners to be able to take away from your music or live performances?
With our lyrics we ask, can a lyric and song change the way that someone thinks about the world?
Live show, our goal is to give the audience the best show of their life, and give them a great experience. They pay for a ticket and take time out of their life to come see us, and we just want to give them the best night possible.