I met Kevin 5 or 6 years ago. He was in a band called The Messenger and I was friends with his drummer Zack. They were in need of some cheap demos at the time and I was in need of some clients with a name for themselves. So I agreed to record the pre-production for their sophomore release for next to nothing. When he showed up at my studio for the first time he gave off a… not so humble vibe. So right off the bat, we did not get along one bit. He was the guy in the band that wrote all the music and recorded all the parts. He had to be in control of everything and it drove me insane. At the time I was a young producer and engineer who thought he knew everything there was to know about producing a record, so when Kevin came along and basically said “thanks for opening the door, I’ll take it from here” it did not go over well.
Long story short - we never finished the pre-production and they ended up recording somewhere else. The sad part was that the songs were actually sounding pretty good being that they were just demos essentially. Kevin and I naturally did not keep in touch, but over the next couple of years he and a few mutual friends of ours developed what would become This Wild Life. Since I didn’t much care for Kevin, I didn’t really follow the band much other than what I heard through the grape vine. I know this story is kind of a downer so far - I promise it gets better. I’m starting to realize actually that a lot of my closest friendships started off with bitter hatred. Fascinating….
I don’t remember exactly what brought Kevin and I to a reconciliation point. But I’m sure it had something to do with video or photo. The earliest I remember having a civil interaction with him was when we filmed their cover of California. Which I remember being really awkward for me.
Shortly after that Kevin asked me to show him some basics on video editing because they were about to head out to Florida to record Clouded and they wanted to film some stuff while they were there. So I met him at a Starbucks to give him some quick tips and pointers and chat over a cup o’ joe. A liaison I thought would last no more than an hour.
We ended up sitting at that Starbucks until they closed and long after, sharing music, and talking music business and his plans for This Wild Life. I remember him being pretty unsure of the future of the band and kind of putting all of his eggs in Clouded’s basket. They had already been turned down by a handful of labels and their booking agent and management were not really working out. But his advice to me in my career’s journey, and secrets of the trade that he shared with me that day are still things I lean on today. To me, he was just another dude in a local band, just like me. With high hopes and brilliant strategies.
Since then, Kevin and I have been very close. He went off to record Clouded and they got their offer from Epitaph and off they went. I’m not sure what it was that humbled him up. Or what humbled me up. But he was not the same person that day that I knew years before.
He was there for me in some of my darkest times during the following year or so. He had gone through similar things, and had a lot of valuable advice to lend. And surprisingly, never lost interest in our friendship.
I thought with Kevin’s new found success he would leave me in the dust, like so many of my other friends had done in the past. But he didn’t. We remain very close still to this day. Every time he is home from tour he takes the time to grab lunch with me and shoot the shit. He continues to be a genuine friend.
Being in local music for so long, I’ve grown accustomed to making friends in the infant stages of their career. I do everything I can to help them along the way. And then they get their big break and all of the sudden they don’t need me around anymore. I’ve lost quite a few friends this way. And I thought for sure Kevin would be no different. But I was wrong, thankfully.
There is something to be said for someone who can stick by the people that were there when he was nothing. Stay loyal to his roots and the people that will be there if he falls back down to the bottom again.
The things I have learned from Kevin and the times that we have had together will be held dear to me for years to come. I am proud of his accomplishments and his humility. And I am of course proud to call him a dear, dear friend. See you at the top buddy.