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The Kingdom Flying Club:
Under the Radar

story by tim mcmahan



Lazy-i: March 17, 2004

Kingdom Flying Club
w/Civella, A Cult For Riley
March 19
1322 S Saddle Creek Rd.

Jarrett Crader, bass/guitar/vocalist of Columbia, Missouri's The Kingdom Flying Club, takes comparisons of his band to '90s indie icons Weezer in stride.

"A lot of bands get compared to Weezer," he said, moments after band practice at his Columbia home. "But it's always to their 'Blue Album' (the debut). I don't mind getting compared to Pinkerton-era Weezer. It's one of my favorite albums."

But whether it's blue, green or pink, it's not Weezer's sound that KFC emulates as much as their slackified swagger, as evidenced by the last time they came through town -- a bitter cold January gig at O'Leaver's. Throughout the set, KFC seemed to emote a just-rolled-out-of-bed slumped-shouldered indie pop style that's pure I Don't Give A Shit. Crader's thin, pasty partner in crime, keyboardist/vocalist Matt O'Neill, looked like he was about to pass out at any moment, while Crader looked like he stepped right off the quad at Everyplace University.




The set was sloppy at times, not exactly tight, but their approach almost seemed intentional. Musically, they came off as a modern-day cross between Weezer and Ned's Atomic Dustbin or any other band you can remember that played that sort of pop-fueled, guitar-crunch alt style circa 1993. Despite their liaise faire attitude, they won over the crowd, closing with a cover of AC/DC's "T-N-T" that was respectfully messy and fist-in-the-air fun.

If there's one thing obvious about KFC, it's their lack of pretension. "If someone sees us becoming pretentious I want them to smack us in the mouth," Crader said. "We don't go up there and strut our stuff. Sure, we do timed jumps, but it looks dumb, not cool."

The band, whose unfortunate acronym more often gets them confused with fellow Columbia band Kung Fu Cowboys than fast food favorite Kentucky Fried Chicken, traces its origins back to Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri, where Crader first met O'Neill.

"We were two of maybe 15 incoming freshmen who decided not to do the fraternity thing," Crader said. "Instead, we started smoking a lot of weed and drinking vodka."

They quickly put together a band called The Lesch-Nyhan Syndrome, named after the rare genetic disorder whose victims have been known to eat themselves. But that band didn't last long and after the breakup, Crader and O'Neill quickly fell out of touch -- for five years -- until they serendipitously bumped into each other again at a Stephen Malkmus concert in Columbia.

Soon after they put together an early version of The Kingdom Flying Club before settling on the current line-up last March that includes drummer Steve Davis and lead guitarist Nate Kesterson. With a studio in Crader and O'Neill's house, and all the time in the world, the band recorded the 13-song opus Non-Fiction, a true-to-life telling of their personal relationships gone array.








"If someone sees us becoming pretentious I want them to smack us in the mouth."








"Each band does its own recording and manufacturing of discs. There are no contracts."




With song titles like "Artists Are Boring," "Now We Watch the Luge (and Drink)" and "We're Nothing New," the band created a nerdy, indie-pop masterpiece that's self-deprecating, honest and at times, sort of touching when it isn't rocking.

The CD has enjoyed heavy rotation on their hometown station, KCOU, while breaking into the CMJ top-100. Not bad for a record released on what's essentially a multi-band collective.

"Emergency Umbrella Records is a co-op," Crader said of the label whose roster includes The Doxies, Billy Schuh and the Foundry, and Trebuchet. "Each band does its own recording and manufacturing of discs. There are no contracts. We've got a website ( and pull our money for advertising in Pitchfork and Magnet. It's mostly a support system."

It's also about sharing information about an indie rock world that didn't come with a set of directions. "There's no one guiding force in terms of doing indie," Crader said. "The Indie Bible is $50 and the Musicians Atlas is $25. In another year or so I'm gonna make my own frickin' web site for free that'll tell you simple things, like the difference between CDs and CDRs and how some radio stations won't play the latter."

But the guide will have to wait until KFC hops into their Ford Aviator this summer for a first-ever national tour. In preparation, they're recording a new EP to be produced by Barry Hibdon, formerly of Grass Records band Ditch Witch.

"We've finally reached a point in our lives where we have the ability to do this," Crader said. "We don't have to dream of being signed because we did it on our own."

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Published in The Omaha Reader March 17, 2004. Copyright 2004 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.