Kid Freud psychoanalyzes garage-pop and cereal
By: Taylor Long
Photo: Kelsey Hall
With the exception of the occasional car passing by, Sharondale Drive is entirely too quiet—but it would be unlike Kid Freud to keep this peace. The band’s indie-rock anthems echo from the Green Hills home-turned rehearsal space.
Putting the Tuesday evening jam session on pause, we sit around a flimsy metal table in the front lawn, frantically waving our arms every so often in attempts to trigger the motion-sensing outdoor lights. I try to pick Kid Freud’s brain, but it’s a task even Sigmund would be daunted by.
The trio is the coalition of Alex Tomkins crooning lead vocals, Daniel Closser performing on drums, and Kürt Krafft playing bass.
Closser and Tomkins both attended Vanderbilt University, where they began playing music in their makeshift recording studio: Closser’s cinderblock dorm complete with a microphone taped to an umbrella. They briefly called themselves The It Kids, but Closser’s psychology major influenced the transition to Kid Freud.
Tomkins insists that the more interesting and less true origin story involves him skydiving into a volcano where he saw the words “Kid Freud” engraved on the inside of the mountain.
Regardless of whether the band came together via volcano or Vanderbilt, the three are readily quick-witted, effortlessly charming, and one-third British.
“Yes, I do talk funny,” Tomkins notes, after his accent has been addressed. “I—“
“Got kicked by a horse,” Closser quickly interrupts, taking the explanatory burden off Tomkins. The boys regularly cut each other off, and it’s endlessly entertaining.
“We call ourselves ‘garage-pop,’ because we have scrappy elements, but we also got lots of melodies and warm textures, and pop sensibilities in the song writing,” says Tomkins.
“I feel like the word ‘angular’ gets thrown around a lot,” Closser chimes in.
“Alex loves that word,” says Krafft. “His nickname is Christina Angulara.”
“All right, how far will we go with this?” Closser asks, laughing between drags from his cigarette.
Tomkins holds back a smile and peers at Closser through the smoke. “I’m from Angland, so.”
After basking in quick praise for his joke, he explains that the band enjoys sudden musical cut-offs, “sharp angles” in terms of transitioning.
Abruptness is certainly one of the defining characteristics of Kid Freud’s sound, as well as their live shows. When the band competed in Music City Big Break at Mercy Lounge on Sept. 30, the performance was marked by exaggeratedly curt strums on guitar and bass, and during their song “American Boy,” they abused the stillness after the chorus to exchange glances and wait for Tomkins’s OK, a sly eyebrow raise, before simultaneously slamming down on their instruments to introduce the third verse.
“We don’t drown our stuff out in reverb, and we don’t use a lot of effects,” Closser says about this pause. “We try to write our parts deliberately so that it fills the space, and in doing so, we end up writing some pretty dynamic parts throughout a song.”
The band also writes remarkably charismatic and clever lyrics to layer their alt-rock rhythms. The self-deprecating “American Boy” details the opinions of a lazy and entitled young man, ironically paralleling much of Tomkins’s lifestyle. Longtime fans have heard the notable hit enough to know when to insert cheers and hollers between lines of the chorus. Crowds always feed off the band’s high-energy performances, swaying along or head banging when appropriate.
“There can be that awkward 10-foot gap between the audience and the band, but when we play there’s no gap at all,” says Krafft.
After reminiscing on their shows, the band decides upon a new pre-show tradition: eating a bowl of cereal together before stepping on stage.
“What kind of cereal?” Closser asks the group.
“Good question, Cinnamon Toast Crunch?” Krafft suggests with a pause, waiting for the others’ approval.
“Freud-sted Flakes?” Closser retorts.
“Last words from Kid Freud: It was a good ride — shame it had to end with this interview,” Tomkins jokes.