Savannah sludge band Kylesa: Lend us your ears

Kylesa, from L-R: Phillip Cope, Carl McGinley, and Laura Pleasants
Kylesa, from L-R: Phillip Cope, Carl McGinley, and Laura Pleasants handout

OK, so they’re a little intense. That’s the way Kylesa likes it. The Savannah, Georgia, band specializes in so-called sludge — a blend of heavy metal, punk and Southern rock, taken down to a slower tempo.

The trio (named after the Buddhist term, kilesa mara, meaning a delusional state) will be in Miami to wake up the midweek Wednesday night at Churchill’s Pub to blast out some tracks from their seventh album, Exhausting Fire. In its review, Spin magazine said, “[I]t sounds like Kylesa have finally found themselves after years of experimentation,” calling the record “an exhilarating celebration of that clarity.” The lead single, Lost and Confused, isn’t for the faint of heart or hearing, featuring two drum parts.

We spoke to co-founder, singer/guitarist Phillip Cope, before the trip:

What inspires your music?

A lot of things, but I guess the main influence would be just living life and dealing with the struggles that come along with it. Each of our albums has a theme. For Exhausting Fire it was ‘rebuilding.’ Musically we were inspired by lots of different styles and tried to use them for different vibes to fit with the subject matter.

Do you have any specific role models?

I think at this point we have respect for any musicians out there trying hard and doing their own thing. We all like lots of different kinds of genres and individually draw influence from different areas. Early on, one band we looked to was [D.C. indie group] Fugazi. We were really into how they used dual guitars and vocals.

How do you feel about the importance put on social media for artists?

It’s like anything else, there are pros and cons. We try to focus on the pros, one of which is that it definitely makes it easier than ever to communicate with people into your music.

How has your hometown influenced your art?

Savannah has a great little artist hub and is a relatively open-minded city. Because it’s small, lots of different kinds of musicians hang out and support each other. Getting exposed to lots of different styles and having cool older musicians show me things and give me advice was a huge inspiration. I think that vibe has carried on to this day from early on.

On tour, what do you listen to? Any favorite albums for the road?

These days everyone just puts on headphones and does their own thing. I rarely listen to music in our van rides. After spending multiple hours a day listening to loud music at shows I cherish the silence!

What is a typical day on tour like for you?

Honestly at this point in our touring career, it’s mainly work. When we are headlining we get to the shows early and spend hours setting up and sound-checking. There usually isn’t much time to do anything else, but every once in awhile we will get to do something cool.

What is your dream project or collaboration?

I would love to work with either Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour or Wayne Coyne of [Oklahoma rockers] The Flaming Lips. They are two personal heroes of mine.

What advice keeps you going?

Stick to your guns and play what you want; the hard times will mostly be worth it.