By Luke Voogt
Geelong funk-rockers The Kite Machine had as many Spotify listeners “in Chicago as Melbourne at one point”, according to Lara frontman Levi Anderson.
“I don’t quite know how it happened,” the 29-year-old songwriter, guitarist and lead vocalist said.
“One of our main goals is to go to America where we have quite a few Spotify listeners, most of them, in fact.”
About 80 per cent of the band’s 2 million Spotify streams, including about 850,000 apiece for their top two tracks so far, Sinister Sound and Charlotte, originate in the US, according to Anderson.
“The thing we’re most happy about is the 20,000 [monthly Spotify listeners] – that’s 20,000 people in the world who keep coming back for The Kite Machine,” he said.
The band began when Anderson met Belmont drummer Kane Sherriff several years ago.
“Originally, I poached Kane from another band – I saw him playing and thought he was pretty good,” he said.
“I just got in touch with him and asked if he had any spare time to jam.”
They later recruited Geelong West bass guitarist Liam Brennan and, in 2019, the then three-piece outfit released a debut self-titled 10-track album.
Anderson, the band’s principal songwriter, has a unique back-to-front method of penning tracks.
“All of my songs have been written musically first – I can’t help it,” he said.”
“I’ve usually got a vague idea of what the song’s about. When I’m writing the music I’ll sing a lot of gibberish just to see how the melodies sound.
“I like to put the whole thing together and then write the lyrics over the top.”
When he and The Kite Machine began writing music for their second album, they recruited rock organist Cam Jerabek to take their music to the next level.
“It’s always been a huge part of our identity – the power trio thing,” Anderson explained.
“But there were a lot of things we wanted to write and sounds we wanted to capture that were just impossible with three band members.
“We love the sound of the rock organ and Cam’s an amazing player, so every time he adds something to what we’re playing, we just love it.”
They had planned to head to the US, but then COVID-19 hit.
Luckily, they got by on other jobs, mostly in music, and put together two new singles dropping today: 5656 and Instant Pretty.
Anderson described the nearly 16 minutes of genre-bending riffs, slick grooves and guitar acrobatics, mixed in their Barrabool Hills studio, as their best work yet.
“We wanted to write some songs that would push the envelope of our skills, because if you’re not doing that, there’s no point really,” he said.
“These were the first two that really hit home and felt like they were becoming something special.
“Rather than wait for a full-length album, we thought we’d get them out there.”
The first track, 5656, follows the vein of darker prog rock bands like Karnivool or Tool, but with a more upbeat vibe, while Instant Pretty is reminiscent of Tame Impala’s Elephant.
“I just love writing in the major keys and Mumford and Sons and Eagles style melodies,” Anderson said.
“There’s just something epic about having guitars playing these big major chords.”
While visiting their oddly large US following is off limits for now, they are set to embark on an interstate tour stopping at Barwon Club on August 7.
“Our hometown show is always our favourite to play,” Anderson said.