GOOD KID is a five-member Toronto-based band that released their first single “Nomu” in October. The song has been successful and reached over 13,000 views on YouTube within only two days. They have set the bar high for themselves with this track, and have left fans begging for new music. The band members are: Nick Frosst (Vocals), Michael Kozakov (Bass/Vocals), Jacob Tsafatinos (Guitar), David Wood (Guitar/Vocals), and Jon Kereliuk (Drums).
RATSmagazine: What are some of GOOD KID’s influences?
Nick: Stan Rogers
Jacob: The Strokes
Jon: Two Door Cinema Club
Jacob: Definitely the biggest three would be The Strokes, Block Party, and Two Door Cinema Club.
Michael: You’re crazy. We didn’t even want to see Block Party live because the singer can’t sing.
Jacob: Musically though, we’re striving for that; indie punk is the way I see it.
RM: Describe the music making process. Do each of you write separately or do you write together?
Nick: Normally somebody brings in somewhat of an idea, and then we just workshop that and iterate for a really long time.
David: Michael has an interesting way of doing it, because he does a lot of stuff on GarageBand, and he’ll just put an entire song together. Sometimes it sounds so corny and cheesy but it works because we get the idea of what Michael’s trying to create, and that’s how it worked with a song we’re actually writing called "6Bit.” It was all written on GarageBand, which is very structured out so it’s easier for us to work on.
Michael: Usually the idea that I have to begin with, I just keep writing and not even think about the band and write whatever comes to mind and send it over. From that we’ll pick out things and parts that we like and build songs around that. We had a song that we used to play called “Turpin,” which I remember humming the melody and showing it to the guys. It was originally a slow folk song, and it turned into a completely different heavier chant song. We wrote it many, many times but the idea is that there are little parts of something that you write that might work for a pop song.
Jacob: Usually in the songs that work best for us, someone comes in with an idea that’s driven by their influence, and then everyone gives their input and turns it into what it is.
David: One of my favourite writing partners is Ricky Gervais and Steve Merchant, because when they were working on The Office they has this rule that if one of them didn’t like something, they scratched it out no matter what, even if the other person loved it, and I feel like this band reflects that because if all of us like it except for one member of the band, we try to shop around that and say look, if one person really doesn’t like a part of the song and thinks it doesn’t fit, we don’t play it; we try to fix it and make it better. Sometimes we can’t do that and it leads to a bit of bickering, but for the most part we try to make sure every member of the band at least likes the songs we play.
Michael: So really we take our sweet time writing the songs. We make sure everyone is happy with what we came out with.
Jacob: I don’t know if I agree with this. Look at Thom York; doesn’t he hate their most famous song, Creep? When that song came out he didn’t like it. I think sometimes someone can be wrong, and it’s okay for one member to not like something. We just want to get to a point where no one hates something.
Jon: Yeah that’s a good way of putting it.
David: The good thing is that we’re all pretty open-minded.
RM: Is it difficult for you to agree on what direction the band is going or are you all in agreement with what kind of music you want to make?
Nick: The direction is forward, we all agree. [Band laughs]
David: Nick really has this passion for folk music, and a lot of that really comes out in lyrics, whereas Michael and Jacob especially have this forward momentum toward indie or experimental rock kind of stuff. That definitely comes out with Jacob’s influence with J-Pop and cool math bands that change structure. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t work; that’s kind of our struggle to try to make both of those directions work together.
Jacob: I think what you’ll end up seeing from this band is a lot of poppy instrumental songs and even vocally, with not your typical pop lyrics like “oh girl, love you so much, you the best babe,” I don’t know.
Jon: Jacob, never write a pop song. [Band laughs]
Jacob: Instead it’s going be like, I don’t know what’s an example?
David: Nick writes songs about feelings.
Jacob: Nick writes philosophical existential lyrics.
Michael: I think “Nomu” was an interesting example lyrically because I think if somebody heard “Nomu” for the first time, most people would probably think it was a girl-guy thing, but it has nothing to do with it. We don’t even mention any girls in the song, and it’s weird that it works.
RM: What genre would you consider your band to be?
Jon: Indie rock.
Nick: We’re like indie pop, rock, punk. [But] I feel like this is a question we shouldn’t answer. People in a band do not get to decide what genre they’re in or what their music sounds like.
Jacob: I would say indie pop punk.
Jon: To be honest I would say I have no idea. I have no idea and I don’t know if I should have an idea.
Nick: We’re not hip hop. [Band laughs]
Michael: Indie-rock indie-pop is usually how we advertise. Just because the song structure is pop, and the instrumental structure is more of a traditional indie-rock.
RM: When did you write “Nomu” and what was the inspiration behind it?
Jacob: It’s a long story. I started writing on the guitar for that song three years ago in another band I used to play in with David. I worked on that with Dave and our other drummer Collin for a while, and that band was falling apart so I didn’t want to use that song for the band because I knew we were going to break up soon, so I saved it. Then I sent it to Michael.
Jon: It was originally Jacob, Nick, and Michael.
Jacob: Michael put his influence in it, and some vocal ideas. But at that point it was all instrumentals.
RM: So you write songs without an intent in mind of what it’s about?
Jacob: Personally, I don’t listen to lyrics. I listen to vocals as melodies. I just hear the notes and don’t pay attention to lyrics much. I know other people in the band do, that’s why I’m not in charge of writing what the song is about. I do think about moods and stuff. For “Nomu,” the first two tracks were called Two Door-Strokes, because I wanted to write a song with the same vibe as Two Door Cinema Club and The Strokes. It ended up being a lot more poppy than it originally was, but I wanted it to be really catchy but also be a little bit more aggressive; kind of get the aggressiveness from The Strokes, and the really catchy leads from Two Door Cinema Club. We have this one song we’re in the process of recording, and that song is about a girl. I didn’t even write the lyrics to that song, Nick did, but it’s for a girl that I used to see.
Nick: But the thing is it’s not about his girl at all.
Jacob: But when I was writing the instrumentals for that song, I was thinking about her. But anyway, for “Nomu” for me, I just wanted a simple fun dance-y song instrumentally; it wasn’t supposed to be anything serious. Nick you talk about the lyrics. To be honest I don’t even know the lyrics. [Band laughs]
Nick: The cool thing about writing lyrics for the band is that it doesn’t even matter what you think the song is about. I just get to come in there and steam roll all you and put in any direction I want. [Band laughs]
Michael: The only thing I care about for lyrics is how vowels transition, and it’s bouncy and feels like the right words to say. I don’t care what they mean.
Nick: He’s got synaesthesia about certain vowels. But “Nomu” is supposed to be about two people having a conversation and they’re totally talking past each other. At the time we were writing it I was thinking a lot about it, it was like both sides totally don’t understand what’s going on so they keep repeating the same things, without actually communicating in any real way. The image for it is just supposed to be two people sitting down at a table trying to work it through, and not meeting in the middle at all.
RM: What does “Nomu” mean?
Nick: “Nomu” is a Japanese word for drink. I studied Japanese for a bit, I used to speak it and now I speak it much worse, but at the time we were writing it there was this Japanese rapper that has a song, the refrain from it being “Nomu,” that has vaguely similar cords to our song, so we just called it “Nomu,” and I thought it meant eat at the time, but then we realized it didn’t mean eat, it meant drink. So we kept the name because we have this song about lexical ambiguity and not understanding what someone is saying, and we have a name that we didn’t know the meaning to.
Jacob: Pretty much what happened is we had instrumentals for the song, and when we would play it Nick would sing “Nomu, Nomu, Nomu, good time”. [Band laughs]
RM: Is the new music you’ve been working on similar to “Nomu” or do you think we’ll hear a different side to GOOD KID?
Nick: When we were trying to decide what songs to record next, we wanted our next recordings to be connected to “Nomu” in some way. As we’re starting out now, we want to get a cohesive sound.
Jacob: One of our songs that we’re working on in the studio is a really slow sappy love song. It’s still in the same vibe as GOOD KID, but that song’s not the same up-beat catchy song, so you’ll definitely hear a different side.
David: I think it’s tied to “Nomu” almost in lyrics, in the sense that we’re trying to avoid pop clichés, but within a sappy love song.
Jacob: I think it’s also related to “Nomu” because I had a similar idea to that guitar-wise. Really I just want to be The Strokes, and what I admire in their first two albums is the simplicity in their song writing, and I’ve been trying to work with that. With Madeleine, it’s almost the exact same cords, really simple song and structure the whole way through, like for “Nomu.”
RM: Are you planning on touring soon?
Nick: Well, we all have jobs. That’s not true; three of us have jobs, two of us are in school. We want to play a bunch of shows; it would be cool to play in some cities that aren’t Toronto, like some other cities in Ontario.
Jon: And New York.
Nick: Yeah or some place around there. I don’t think we’ll be doing a big GOODKID world tour anytime soon. [Band laughs]
Michael: I think at the moment the goal is to set up more of a fan base before we start thinking about touring. We are booking shows in the next few months to support the new songs we’ll be releasing, and we’ll probably end up touring in Ontario in smaller university cities. My dream was to really be a recording band that plays shows to showcase our sound; not a touring band. But we’re not there yet, we still have to figure it out.
RM: What can we expect in the future?
Nick: We’ve recorded some new songs, you can expect to hear those soon.
Michael: There’s several songs we’re working on right now, there’s definitely one coming out in February.
Nick: We’re going to be doing some shows, and we got a website.
Jacob: Yeah we made the website!
Jon: It’s goodkidofficial.com
Nick: You can expect good times from GOODKID
Jacob: Hopefully we’re going to get a music video up for one of our songs. Look out for all the stuff that real bands do. [Band laughs]. Songs, shows, and good times.
David: At the end of the day we just want to play shows and have fun.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
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