Josh Landau is an unstoppable force. The frontman and guitarist of The Shrine debuted his new band, Kill a Punk for Rock & Roll, just a couple weeks ago, and the momentum he’s pulling will make your head spin.
Alongside Landau in his band of misfits is Jordan Jones on guitar, Don “Nuge” Nguyen on bass, Wilder Zoby on drums, and Ben Brown on keys. Nuge’s involvement in heavy shredding band Arctic definitely feeds into Landau’s propensity for all things metal, and Jones’ incredible knowledge of rock ‘n’ roll – the fool deejays all over LA – makes the round out that much more cohesive. Plus, they’re friends, and it seems to naturally work out. And, as Josh told me, “Rock and roll is easy.” As it should be.
As far as the name goes? “I didn’t wanna step up as the Fucking Josh Landau Quintet Experience or whatever, so I figured this might stand out.” Yup, stands out Josh. Read my interview with him below, and keep your eyes and ears on this band. —Maya Eslami
WHAT YOUH: Kill a Punk for Rock & Roll. Tell me about the band name? And does it have anything to do with the shirt you’re wearing?
JOSH LANDAU: I got this shirt at a show The Shrine played in Bologna, Italy, 4 years ago. A dude had a bootleg stand in the front selling Germs and Crass and Bad Brains shirts, and he had one of these. I remembered seeing that photo from the 70’s from a Black Sabbath concert of people holding it up. I’ve been wearing it for the last few years and it always gets weird interesting remarks. I didn’t wanna step up as The Fucking Josh Landau Quintet Experience or whatever, so I figured this might stand out. And it is, it’s working, everyone has something to say about it.
What are some responses you’re getting?
Actually people are kinda confused but everyone wants one of the shirts. I’m getting letters from all kinds of random people, and we’re not even selling the shirts. But people are just like “Oh I heard about your new band so you hate me? Who do you think you are? You wanna kill me? What have you got against punk?” I didn’t expect any of it. People love to take everything literally and get upset nowadays. There’s also a lot of good rearranging my friend Luke was going off on. “Lick a cunt for rock and roll” might be the best one.
How did you guys all start playing together?
I had jammed with Nuge a few times playing heavy stuff, what you would expect us to play, and then I made these demos of some kinda different shit. Right about when we went to NYC for this guitar battle Shred For Your Life. I didn’t know if anyone would dig it or if he would, but he did and said he was down to do something different, do these different songs. We were driving around listening to Roky Erickson’s heartbreak tunes and shit like that. It just kinda all clicked. It should be easy, and it is. Wilder on drums came in after he got his black belt in Tecate, he’s holding it down. Jordan is pretty much been my drinking buddy the last year and a half or whatever since he moved back to LA. He showed me how to play “Idiot Wind” in open tuning because I bullshit everything and learn it stripped down punk style standard tuning. Jordan’s a pop genius, he just steps right in easy singing the harmonies and little Keith Richards guitar bits that make everything sick. It’s pretty loose and natural. These songs are about the feel and the groove more than the notes.
I heard Ben joined the group last. How important was that for you, to have keys?
Yea I wanted to open up the sound, have some Stooges single note piano or some out there synth stuff. I went down to Chinatown where Ben lives and jammed in his living room, just the two of us, and it worked. It was easy. Rock and Roll is easy.
What was the inspiration behind your sound?
The world seems to be falling apart and I had to get these songs out before it all collapses.
How many songs do you guys have down right now?
We’re playing 5 right now. I have about 25 demo’d. We’re working on covering Dust’s “Pull Away” and also GnR’s “Used to Love Her” as a medley with “Dead Flowers” by The Stones, since they’re the same chords basically. When Nuge heard the demos I made, he instantly was like, we should cover “Used to Love Her”, it fits the vibe.
Is the band playing on any of the recorded stuff?
Na, those are just my demos, getting the idea out of my head. Trying to prove to myself that this can work. That it feels right to be having these fucked ideas.
What will this mean for The Shrine?
The Shrine have been practicing for hours and hours and we got a whole new album. This shit frees me up to let The Shrine be even more heavy. The best shit we’ve ever written is about to come.
Obviously Kill A Punk is more rock ‘n’ roll than the Shrine, and your voice is gentler, not as screamy. Was that a stretch for you? How comfortable were you singing in that style?
It’s easier and more natural actually. I don’t try as hard with these songs or have to be as loud. They come up in a minutes notice and I make sure I catch ’em. It’s easy, like singing Dylan or Stones covers songs on acoustic guitar. You can lay around loose and sloppy and just dig into it.
You guys remind me a lot of Thin Lizzy. How much do you love Phil Lynott?
He was absolutely one of the greatest boxers of this generation. Without all of his female research and reports I don’t know where I would be as a child.
What’s next for Kill a Punk?
We’re doing an Orange County show Dec. 6th at The Constellation Room. After that we’re flying to London for a gig and doing a European tour.
Tell me about being on Rodney Bingenheimer’s show on KROQ?
So turns out Rodney actually didn’t play the tunes because he was worried about the name. I sent his girl Kansas the tunes and he was all stoked saying he dug em and was gonna play 3 of em on his show last Sunday. But then I got a message the day of saying he loved the songs but he wouldn’t say the name on KROQ because he didn’t want anyone to get hurt, he wants me to change the name….
Are you gonna change the name?
I’d change the name right now for a pack of cigarettes and a kiss, and I don’t smoke.
Kill a Punk for Rock & Roll play tonight (Dec. 6th) at the Constellation Room in Santa Ana with Tracy Bryant and Guantanamo Baywatch. Show starts at 8pm. All ages.