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Local Listens: Kid Architect

Welcome to Local Listens, where we profile some of our favorite Washington musicians. This week, we shine the spotlight on Kid Architect.

Kid Architect is still a relatively new band—it formed in Fairfax in 2008. Though the guys are taking baby steps to release a full-length album, they’ve wasted no time recording and releasing an EP, PhilosoRaptor, to introduce Kid Architect into the Washington music scene. The band’s experimental rock sound is influenced heavily by Incubus (vocals) and Coldplay (the piano-infused songs), while bits of other inspirations from its own members are sprinkled throughout.

Mike Douaire (lead guitar), Thomas Bridgwood (piano, vocals, acoustic guitar), Clint Petty (bass), and Tommy Alter (drums and percussion) combined their musical talents after experiences with other local bands. Their four-song EP includes “Mata Hari,” a piano-driven tune about the exotic dancer and World War I spy. This track and three others can be streamed on Kid Architect’s MySpace page, where fans can also order the CD.

On Sunday, Kid Architect will headline the CD-release party for PhilosoRaptor at Jammin' Java in Vienna. Tickets are $8, and the show begins at 1:30 PM.

Read our interview to learn which member played the cello, when new music will be in the works, and their thoughts on the local scene.Name: Kid Architect

Mike Douaire: 23.
Thomas Bridgwood: 22.
Clint Petty: 23.
Tommy Alter: 23.
Hometown: Fairfax.
First song that made you want to play music:
Mike: “Probably ‘Eat the Rich’ or ‘Love in an Elevator’ by Aerosmith. I had those cassettes and couldn’t ever stop listening to them. I also used to love rocking out to Bush when I was younger.”

Thomas: “ ‘The Way It Is’ by Bruce Hornsby and the Range. It’s the first song I ever remember hearing, actually. My dad had that cassette, and once I found it I played it over and over. It’s warped now.”
Clint: “The first song that made me realize the true beauty and passion of music was when I was learning how to play Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight Sonata’ on the piano. I tend to like epic musical works like that one and try to incorporate that style into our music, although Kid Architect’s music is much more high-energy than ‘Moonlight Sonata.’ ”

Tommy: “It would have to be Paul Simon’s album Graceland.”
First instrument:
Mike: “Saxophone.  I thought Kenny G was cool at the time. Boy, do things change when you grow up.”

Thomas: “Piano. Thanks, Dad.”
Clint: “Piano. Thanks, Mom.”

Tommy: “Cello in fourth grade. I sure as hell wasn’t going to play violin.”
Local spot to seek inspiration or write music:
Mike: “I do my best initial writing alone on rainy days on a screened-in porch.”

Thomas: “Honestly, most ideas and lyrics come to me while driving.”
Clint: “Call it cheesy or cliché, but one of my favorite places to seek inspiration is on my rooftop or some place away from everyday life. The farther up above the streets, the better. Sundeck on a beach house is ideal for me”

Tommy: “It’s hard to write beats anywhere other than on the drum set. However, I’m pretty much always tapping on stuff or making noises of some kind.”

Best local venue:
Mike: “Tough decision—I really don’t like playing favorites. I really like the sound in the State Theatre and Jammin Java. The 9:30 Club is great for the national acts. I miss Nation—I saw a few good shows there as well. Sonar in Baltimore is a cool little venue, but that’s only because I got to meet Dredg afterwards.”

Thomas: “The 9:30 Club. The groups they get in there are usually in line with my taste.”
Clint: “I saw one of my favorite bands, Sparta, play at the Black Cat, and it was one of the most memorable and intimate performances I’ve ever seen. Jim Ward was literally making contact with me while playing ‘Light Burns Clear.’ Amazing.”

Tommy: “My favorite place we’ve played thus far is Fat Tuesdays, for sure. Great people, they actually paid us, and good sound.”

Best bar to hear music:
Mike: “Close to home, you can’t beat Fat Tuesday’s or Jammin Java.”

Thomas: “I can’t claim to be much of a veteran when it comes to local bar music.”
Clint: “I’ve seen some really good bands like Future and Murphy’s Kids at venues like Fat Tuesday’s and Jammin Java. Those venues always seem to be able to have good sound and normally have decent crowds.

Tommy: “Again, around the area I have to go with Fat Tuesday’s, however Jammin Java is a close second.”
Favorite local band other than yours:
Mike: “If Baltimore is considered local, than the Deaf Scene has a really cool sound. Also, the band Future is freakin’ phenomenal live. So much energy, it’s really a blast watching them perform.”

Thomas: “I’m also gonna cheat here and say Baltimore is local. In which case Animal Collective is my answer.”
Clint: “I’ll stay in the state and go with Murphy’s Kids from Richmond. They’re a kick-ass, high-energy ska/reggae band with a killer horn section. They always put on a great show. I believe they’re on an East Coast tour promoting their new album.”

Tommy: “I’ll give it up to Headless Mantis. We’ve played with them a few times, and they have the most unique sound.”
Best thing about Washington’s music scene:
Mike: “The people around the area are very genuine. Not just our close friends but other people that don’t know us that can come talk with us after a performance. People are just very cool around the area, no matter which part of Washington you go to.”

Thomas: “The diversity. I’m a fan of almost all types of music, and having such a great variety in close proximity is great.”
Clint: “From what I’ve experienced, bars are pretty open to letting new bands play if they’re decent enough for people to enjoy. Without that openness to new bands, no local music would exist, and I think that it’s crucial that local venues continue to support new bands and give them a shot.”
Worst thing about Washington’s music scene:
Mike: “Not enough venues! We like options!”
Thomas: “It sleeps alone tonight?”
Clint: “I agree with Mike: Let’s get some new venues out here.”

Craziest tour or show memory:
Mike: “We drove all the way up to play this show at the Trash Bar in Brooklyn last week. We were hoping that our friends as well as a band we were playing with that night would promote the show a little bit. They’re from Brooklyn, so it seemed a normal thing to do, right? Well, we got all the way up there and were put dead last on the bill. It was a Thursday night at midnight. No one was there except for the few friends we brought up, the sound guy, and the bartender. I ended up rocking out so hard that I broke two strings that set, including my low E. I was pretty upset, but hey, at least no one saw me screw that one up. So what do you do after a show like that? You drink till the sun comes up, get three hours of sleep, and do it all over again.”

Thomas: “I’m gonna echo Mike here.”
Clint: “I played in a local band at James Madison University called Electric Baby. We were asked to play the Greening of Ghent festival in Norfolk, and we were supposed to open for the Rhondels. These guys gave us a quarter of the stage to play, and we barely fit while the rest of their equipment was sitting there unused. We locked the keys inside the van and got pretty pissed at the Rhondels and at the situation in general, so we did the only thing left to do at that point: The entire band started crab-walking right in front of the stage. Not sure how we came to that decision. But very weird nonetheless.”

Tommy: “Agree with Mike on this one. Pretty ridiculous.”
Finish this sentence: “When not making music, you can find me . . .”
Mike: “ . . . at the bar throwing around good drinks with good friends.”

Thomas: “ . . . playing basketball.”
Clint: “ . . . playing Frisbee golf, playing the stock market, hanging out in DC, or working in Arlington.”

Tommy: “ . . . playing disc golf or darts at the bar.”
Rolling Stones or the Beatles?
Mike: “Beatles, hands down. The Stones have some cool songs (I have ‘Paint It Black’ in my head now just thinking about it—damn this question), but I can really get down with some Beatles.”

Thomas: “Beatles.”
Clint: “Beatles, hands down—most versatile and prolific songwriters ever.”

Tommy: “Beatles, no question.”
Digital download or hard copy?
Mike: “I’m a purist, and frankly I think CD quality is poorer than it should be, but please don’t ever charge me for compressed audio files.”

Thomas: “Hard copy, for sure.”
Clint: “I’d like to be a purist, but it’s much more of a hassle to buy an actual hard-copy CD. I now prefer digital distribution and have bought all of my recent purchases through iTunes. It’s convenient, and I believe independent distribution through iTunes or similar products is the future of the music business. Speaking of iTunes, look for our four-song EP, PhilosoRaptor, to be available on iTunes in a month or two, pending approval from Apple.”

Tommy: “Hard copy—I’m a big fan of album artwork. You don’t get that with a download.”
Rolling Stone or Spin?
Mike: “Rolling Stone.”

Thomas: “Rolling Stone.”
Clint: “Rolling Stone—I don’t even think I’ve ever picked up a Spin before.”

Tommy: “Rolling Stone.”
Club show or festival?
Mike: “To play or to just go to? Of course, I love going to festivals—they’re an awesome way to hear a lot of good music over a few days. As far as preference on playing one or the other, I can’t say I’ve ever done a festival. So as of now, club show it is. Until we make our way down to Florida Music Festival and SXSW.”

Thomas: “Festivals are tiring, and I really like the intimacy of a club.”
Clint: “It’s always been my dream to play a big festival show. The Chili Peppers DVD, Live at Slane Castle, is probably the most influential concert footage I’ve ever seen and continues to motivate me to reach the point in my musical career where I can draw 80,000 fans to an ancient castle in Ireland. I couldn’t really dream of anything bigger for me than that.”

Tommy: “I love both. So I’m no help here.”
What musicians, bands, or performers influence your music?
Mike: “My dad showed me Pink Floyd fairly early on in my life, so David Gilmour has always been an icon in my mind. Getting toward more modern music, Incubus has been up there since I first heard S.C.I.E.N.C.E. as well as bands like Radiohead and Muse. Dredg is another one that totally changed my perspective on guitar, so kudos to them. Aside from the rock genre, I try to fill my brain with the goodness of jazz and funk: Coltrane, Miles Davis, and Thelonius Monk are all people I adore. I say this to everyone, but Cannonball Adderly’s solo on ‘Flamenco Sketches’ off Kind of Blue is more emotion than I can handle.”

Thomas: “This is a big question. I’m a huge movie-score nerd and have always loved Thomas Newman, James Horner, Bernard Hermann, and Yoko Kanno. As for bands, Coldplay was the group that opened my eyes to piano ballads and falsetto, but other major influences include Radiohead, Antony and the Johnsons, Brand New, the Police, the Moody Blues, and the Mars Volta.”
Clint: “It all started with U2 and more standard pop music. That morphed into pop-punk bands like New Found Glory and Blink 182. Then finally I started realizing the power and energy of rock music and heavier music, so I started getting into bands like 311, Rage Against the Machine, and Deftones. Finally, I was introduced to my three newest favorite bands and biggest current influences: Sparta, Muse, and Radiohead, whose music always inspires me to dig deeper and pursue music to a fuller extent.”

Tommy: “My biggest influence as a drummer is probably Carter Beauford. Even though I’m not a huge fan of Dave Matthews Band, I think Carter has the best drum style I’ve ever heard. It’s never too much but always very prominent.”
What’s the first song you use to introduce new people to your music?
Mike: “Probably ‘Now You’re Alive’ or ‘Mata Hari.’ ”
Clint: “ ‘Now You’re Alive’ and ‘Stained Glass Sea.’ ”
Are you recording, and when can we expect an album?
Mike: “We’re in the process of writing new material. We’ve had to put the writing process off for the past month or so from playing shows. The issue is that now we’ve got so many unfinished song ideas—which ones do we finish up first? If I had to put a date on a full-length album, I’d say it’d probably be finished and released next spring or summer.  We really want to get our debut album right, and that’s gonna take a lot of time and money and of course the best selection of songs possible.”
What’s your favorite music scene from a movie?
Mike: “I really, really love the ending scene of Garden State when Frou Frou kicks in at the airport. I like to think of myself as manly, but I can’t help myself during that scene, and I don’t know why. Also anything that John Williams, Danny Elfman, or Howard Shore has done.”

Thomas: “At the end of The Fountain, when ‘Death Is the Road to Awe’ is playing. It’s possibly Clint Mansell’s finest work.”
Clint: “The Boondock Saints fight scene when they fall in through the air vents at the hotel and take out all the Russian mobsters. There’s this really awesome techno song called ‘Terminal Velocity’ that comes on, and the two McManus brothers are spinning around in slow motion, taking out all these helpless mob bosses. So badass.”

Tommy: “Radiohead’s ‘Everything in Its Right Place’ in the beginning of Vanilla Sky.”
What would be your dream lineup for a show?
Mike: “Circa Survive, who would open for Dredg, who would open for Muse, who would open for Radiohead, who would open for Pink Floyd.”

Thomas: “Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective, Radiohead.”
Clint: “In order of appearance: Sparta, Muse, Radiohead, Kid Architect. Likely? I doubt it.”

Tommy: “Dredg, Mars Volta, Muse.”