When one thinks about rock music in America’s Deep South, one imagines moody guitar riffs, blues harmonica and gritty lyrics. A recently formed band from Mississippi didn’t break the mold, however; it was never in that mold and its unique take on rock music – if, indeed, it could even be classed as rock – never sounded like this.
Armed with a repertoire of original songs that are at once feel-good, reflective, philosophical and upbeat, indie band Kaboom recently won the Hard Rock’s 2013 International Rising Contest for the US and placed third in the World.
Fronted by accomplished songwriter and vocalist Dustin Khalil, Kaboom’s music, as described in their online press kit, “is a blend of organic and electronic instrumentation, fusing the spirit of disco, Americana and indie pop.” They haven’t been around long but have already attracted a loyal following for their original sound and energetic live performances. An additional twist to Kaboom’s overall presentation is the “steam punk” look. “Steam punk” is a kind of retro high-tech genre that has been reflected in a number of movies, such as Dune and Flash Gordon. It is, basically, a fusion of the Victorian age of steam and science-fiction technology – Sherlock Holmes meets Captain Kirk.
Along with Khalil, the band is made up of guitarist Steven Mills, bassist Ben Kaufman and drummer Scot Andersen. Khalil and Mills are longtime friends and have collaborated in three previous bands. All four members are highly talented and their music, underscored by electronic beats and Khalil’s rich vocals, is precisely performed; they can be described as “amateur” only in the sense that they do not perform full-time for a living…yet. However; this is no amateur sound. When Kaboom performs, they make it look easy and evidently relish their showmanship, but the music and vocals are produced in that exact and flawless manner that one would normally only expect from professional musicians in a recording studio. Certainly, the music one would expect to hear in the bars of Mississippi never sounded like this.
The band’s passion fully matches its style and delivery, too: Khalil, who believes that Kaboom’s current line-up is the best he has worked with, told local station WLOX “It’s pretty much what I live for…those are the best moments of my life.” Bassist Kaufman shares his enthusiasm. “The energy we pull off of each other is the most I’ve ever felt playing with people,” he said, during the same interview, which they did shortly after their success in the Hard Rock competition.
The variety of music to be heard on the Gulf Coast is wide, but – in Mississippi – there’s nothing else that sounds like Kaboom. This is a band with a serious future. They have truly created their own mold.
Graham J Noble