2015 has been a ridiculous year for West Virginia-based band Rozwell Kid. It seems to be just one tour after another for these guys as they progress into different reincarnations of punk and cool. The next year includes a tour with the amazing Andrew Jackson Jihad and the writing of a new album, so it only looks up for Rozwell Kid.
Their newest album Too Shabby is killer and a must listen as you end 2015.
At Austin's Fun Fun Fun Fest, I sat down with Jordan Hudkins and left an even more devoted fan than before.
What were you like in high school?
In high school I was a good student; I was dilligent. I was in the marching band and played the tuba because my dad was the director. I would have probably been in it either way though. I was a theater nerd, too.
Do you think you were cool?
I thought I was cool, but probably wasn't that cool.
Did you play in any high school bands?
I came from a very small town in the middle of nowhere-West-Virginia.
That's so interesting. West Virginia is beautiful.
Wow, I'm glad you actually know it's a state.
I have a friend who is playing soccer West Virginia University and we give her so much shit about not doing meth. Not much of a music scene though?
Well, yeah. Small town, so it was non-existant.
Did you know the rest of the bandmates growing up though?
No, I did not actually. Adam, our other guitar player, was the first one I met. We met at a camp for honor students, during the summer between our junior and senior years of high school. And then I met the other members in college at Shepard University in West Virginia.
But you did know him in high school, so were y'all friends or just honor student acquaintances?
He was from a high school a few hours away, so we didn't hang out. But we bonded that summer and kept in touch on Instant Messenger and stuff like that. And then we found out we were going to the same college.
That is so 90s teenager of you.
I know! We were so excited to hear about it over IM, like "hell yeah, let's start a band."
Were you playing any music just by yourself?
I was playing in my room, just guitar to play along to records. There was no real outlet, no high school bands. There wasn't much going on.
What did you listen to in high school?
In high school, I was so about like Fat Wreck Records and M. Taft. The Punk-o-Rama series was my shit because they were five bucks a piece, and you could listen to so many cool bands. So I would listen to the Punk-o-Rama stuff all the time, and I was really annoying to all of my friends about listening to anything that wasn't extremely fast, almost at a breakneck speed. But then Weezer became one of my favorite bands. I remember, when I was a freshman in high school, that one of my friends tried to get me to listen to the "Sweater Song" and I was like "this is too slow."
This is not even real punk!
Hell yeah! I kept thinking: "This doesn't feed my teenage aggression! I can't drive my Saturn fast to this!"
I think that's going to be the title for this piece: "I Can't Drive My Saturn Fast to This: a conversation with Rozwell Kid." Such a good depiction of being a high school punk kid, being so misunderstood but with married parents who love and support me.
I put the same Rancid thirteen times on one CD! This is all I need! And eventually, I got really into Weezer, which helped me really grow up in my taste. Not that there's anything wrong with that. More expanded my taste.
What about dating in high school?
I actually had never had a girlfriend until that same summer that I met Adam. I met a girl there.
This is like a "one summer, at band camp" type of story.
It really is!
I feel like this is when it all changed for you.
That summer totally changed my life. I learned about Esperanto, that language that they use in that William Shatner movie Incubus. Or Suck-ubus? I can't remember. Actually, my friends learned about it. I just heard about them talk about it TK.
It kills me that Esperanto is one of the things you remember best about that Summer. That's a good comment to make to the article though, how you can have this one weird summer when you're young and it can change your life.
Absolutely. I met another one of my best friends there, and we play in bands together. A lot of people I kept in touch with from that Summer, so it was formative. But, I met that girl. She lived in the town that was about an hour and a half drive. We have this bridge in West Virginia called the New River World bridge, and I forget it's exact claim to fame. It's something like the longest single arch suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere. I think China built a bigger bridge, but still.
Just say you still hold that claim. West Virginia needs that win.
Exactly. But it was a half way point, so we would meet there on weekends, and I guess we were dating just because we hung out. She would come visit me and I would visit her. We did that for about a year. She came to my prom, and I went to hers. I had a goatee at her prom; it was my first goatee.
Did you wear like a vest or something? I feel like all white boys at prom have to wear a god damn vest or something.
Ha, no vest, just a goatee. I remember one of her friends said, "Jordan, I like the scruff."
That is so very "we're eighteen and drinking our parents gin right now" and better than you. Seems applicable to us all.
How sheltered were you in high school?
Like I said, there wasn't a lot to do. I would come home after school and go to theater practice. They were really involved in community theater, so I helped out a lot with that. I guess while other kids were learning to skate, which I wasn't very good at, I was getting ready for a production of Godspell or you know, helping them run lines for One Who Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. They were cool though. They let me drive to a girl I met over the Summer when I was seventeen. They're really liberal and supportive and love the arts. They were a good influence and didn't oppress me.
What are you working on right now?
Right now? My second cup of espresso. Little hyper. But, we're getting ready to go on a tour with Andrew Jackson Jihad in New Orleans. Then we're going to Minneapolis and touring with the Ghetto Kids for a few weeks. Then we get home right before the holidays and we're going to make a new record.
What headspace do you think you're in for this new record?
I don't really know. I feel like this year had been pretty non stop since our record came out. None of expected to be here now, at all.
Because y'all really have just gained a lot of traction this year with your tour with Andrew Jackson Jihad and such. Did you go to South by Southwest?
Yeah, we did. It was awesome.
The band The World is Beautiful and I am No Longer Afraid to Die picked us up and put out our record on their label. They picked us up to work on the tour and we just thought "why not?" We really just thought that we didn't know when we would get another chance to do this and take this band around the country, just to say we did it. And since that tour, another offer for a tour came in and then another. And we just grabbed the ball and ran.
Just a strange and baffling progression of events.
It's been a really busy year, and I feel like I haven't reflected on it that much. Honestly, when we get home from tour, we just kind of don't talk to each other for a few days.
I mean, it's close quarters. What are you traveling in?
We're traveling in like a conversion, beach trip with grandparents type of van. No turn around seats, but it has track lighting. It sounds very impressive, but it's more a reliable piece of shit.
How is it just hanging out with the same people all of the time?
It's awesome. I love the dudes. We get along really well and have a lot of fun. Everybody has the right attitude, and we've all been doing it for a pretty long time. We're really close. And I feel like as individuals, we were all pretty ready to be thrown into this situation. We've dealt with it pretty well.
But to an extent, it seems like you're always going into it blind. There's no class on how to be a famous musician.
Right, exactly. But it's awesome.
On that note, do you enjoy making music in the studio or performing and going on tour more? Is there a preference?
This already sounds pretentious to me, but two of my favorite feelings in the world are when you finish writing a song and do a demo, then get to listen back to it and feel like it's good. Just creation, the act of creating something. Another is performing for somebody. But I like both parts equally. Touring is really fun for a lot of different reasons, but writing is a lot of fun for different reasons. They're both fulfilling for different reasons. I guess we've been touring so much that I'm excited to get back into writing and make some new music. And then I'm sure when I've listened to that new album five hundred times, I'll be ready to head back out and listen to that.
Sounds like it's a good balance though. Who are you listening to right now?
I recently was listening to the new Alex G record Beach Music when I was home. I like the vibe because it reminds me of the first Shins records which is one of my favorites of all time. I really dig on the vibe. So when the new album came out, we had a month off at home so I was just taking walks and listening to it, which was cool. I went through a deep Pavement phase in the last couple of months and listened to Bright in the Corner a bunch.
What do you listen to in the van?
Adam drives a lot because he's a pro and good at parallel parking. We all just hang out with the surfer, beach motel green color carpet that is really shitty and faded now. It has a VCR in it and came with a copy of The Lion King Two: Simba's Pride.
Have you watched it?
I have actually never watched it. We brought Independence Day and Orange County and Halloween, so we watch those.
Are you doing anything fun while you're in Austin?
Yesterday, we were here at the festival. We just checked out NOFX, Jane's Addiction and Wu Tang Clan with a little bit of Grimes. It was really fun.
Have you seen anybody else that you really like?
We saw Off! last night at the Old Red Seven, which is always amazing. We saw them at Riotfest TK in Denver, but it was cool to see them in a tiny venue this time.
Austin is a cool town. We love being here.