NICKI KIN (VAINS OF JENNA) INTERVIEW:
April 9, 2010
Last month transplanted Swedish rockers Vains Of Jenna announced that vocalist Lizzy DeVine was leaving the band, thus throwing their future into turmoil. Not ones to sit idle, 10 days later they had already found their new singer, American Jesse Forte. It was an extremely quick turn-around, and already the new line-up have re-recorded one of singles from their latest album The Art Of Telling Lies. Guitarist Nicki Kin decided to sit down with Sleaze Roxx and discuss the early plans for the band and their new frontman, revealing that they are currently re-recording more songs with Jesse before heading out on tour… and hoping that no one tries to kill them this time!
Sleaze Roxx: You just announced Jesse Forte as your new vocalist. How excited are you to have him in the band?
Nicki Kin: I’m very very excited. Just when we thought everything was about to break down we all thought of Jesse. We had seen him play with his band before when they opened up for us. He’s a great front man and a great singer. So we were like, ‘lets get Jesse in here’, tried it out and it just felt right the minute that we started playing — the chemistry and everything.
Sleaze Roxx: What band was he in before?
Nicki Kin: He was in a band called Cast Of Kings. A Hollywood band, so he was around Hollywood.
Sleaze Roxx: That is how you found him, when he opened for you?
Nicki Kin: Yeah probably a year ago or something like that, at the Cat Club, and I’ve seen him a few times after that too. We knew he was a great singer and a great front man. We are stoked and very excited to have him in the band and family.
Sleaze Roxx: When you were looking for a new singer where you specifically looking for an American to replace Lizzy DeVine?
Nicki Kin: It didn’t really matter where he came. But we’re here now you know, Jesse was the first person we thought of. We had to have him and luckily he wasn’t really doing anything with his band right now. They were having a break so he was available and he wanted to do it and it worked out great.
Sleaze Roxx: Is he also going to work in his other band at the same time or is he strictly Vains Of Jenna now?
Nicki Kin: Well we are going to have a lot to do. We are going to be out touring a lot and recording a lot so it will take a lot of time. But I don’t really know what is going on with his other band to be honest. I’m not sure what’s going on there.
Sleaze Roxx: It only took 10 days to find Lizzy’s replacement. It makes some people wonder if there was talk of adding Jesse while Lizzy was still a member of the band.
Nicki Kin: No, no not at all. When Lizzy said that he wanted to quit it was a shock to all of us. In one way we kind of saw it coming because you could tell that he hasn’t been having fun the last year or so. It was something that in the back of our minds we saw that this was going to happen sooner or later, that Lizzy is going to say he doesn’t want to do it. When he said that we just worked hard, worked fast and knew that we wanted to keep playing. We didn’t want to cancel the shows that we have booked in Europe, so we were like we need to do this, and we all just thought of Jesse. He was the only one we had seen around Hollywood that was a great front man and a great singer.
Sleaze Roxx: It was a case of the right place at the right time for him and you wasn’t it?
Nicki Kin: Yeah it worked out fine.
Sleaze Roxx: Has Lizzy ever said why he decided to leave the band?
Nicki Kin: Because he didn’t like doing it anymore. It takes a lot of time. We are out touring most of the time and you are gone for two months and then you record, that takes a lot of time. If you’re going to do this you have to be willing to give your life to it pretty much because it takes a lot of time. He didn’t feel like doing it. He has his girlfriend and his life back here in LA that he enjoys. He chose to do something else and that’s all good. That’s cool with us, but that’s how it is right now. We just have to keep on moving.
Sleaze Roxx: It sounds like he might leave the music business for a little while then?
Nicki Kin: Actually I have no idea what he is planning to do. But we’ll see. We are just concentrating on Vains Of Jenna and he’s not in Vains Of Jenna anymore, and that is what I’m focusing on.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve already re-recorded Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead with Jesse. Do you plan on recording anymore of the old songs with him?
Nicki Kin: Oh yeah. We are actually in the studio right now recording and re-cutting vocals for Better Off Alone from the new album and there is going to be a few before we head back to Europe. We are going to tour for a little while there and hopefully then we are going to start, well not hopefully, we are going to write some new stuff. We already started actually, record some new stuff and get it out there.
Sleaze Roxx: You’ve already started writing with Jesse then?
Nicki Kin: Not really. We’ve tried a little bit, tried a few things in the rehearsal room. Just some ideas I have that he put some vocals on, but for the most part I’m just writing songs myself lately. We’ll see, Jesse is going to start to write too and see where it goes.
Sleaze Roxx: How has the fan response been to your new vocalist so far? It’s hard to replace a singer isn’t it?
Nicki Kin: Yeah. Lizzy was a big part of the band of course. He was the voice and some people think it’s a good thing and some people think it’s a bad thing. That is how it is with everything I guess. I try to not think about it too much because I just want to keep on playing music, have fun, and make music that I love. I don’t want to look back and say what would have happened if Lizzy had of stayed and all that shit. Now we are just looking forward and we are going to hopefully be able to make music for a long time and go on a tour and hang out with cool people all around that world. That is what we want to do. For the fans that don’t like it, that is what it is. If they don’t like it then go listen to something else. We’re just making the music that we love and I think Jesse is an awesome singer, I’m very happy to have him in the band and that is all that matters.
Sleaze Roxx: You can’t make everyone happy when you change a band member, especially a singer.
Nicki Kin: Exactly, and we’re not planning to make everyone happy, we are just doing what we do.
Sleaze Roxx: Originally being from Sweden what do you think of all the rock bands coming out of that country these days?
Nicki Kin: There is some good rock ‘n’ roll in Sweden. Crucified Barbara are a good band… Hellacopters, Backyard Babies of course. Maybe there is some new stuff I haven’t heard about yet because I haven’t been there for a while. So there might be some cool underground stuff that is just coming up that I haven’t heard about yet. Sweden has always had a pretty good music scene I think .
Sleaze Roxx: How do you think the Swedish scene compares to the American one right now?
Nicki Kin: I don’t really know. I guess it is a lot harder in Sweden to go somewhere at all because it’s a smaller country and there aren’t a lot of people who live there. You do what you want to do and you might have a hard time going anywhere. That is Sweden, it has a lot of good rock ‘n’ roll but no one ever really gets to see it big. As far as pop music I’m not really sure what is going on in Sweden and not really sure what is going on here either actually (laughs). So I don’t really know. It’s good, I think Sweden has a good scene. There are a lot of good bands from here, so it’s all good.
Sleaze Roxx: You guys are lucky because you got to come over to America to try and make your career. How did that happen?
Nicki Kin: We said from the start that we wanted to go to the States because we knew that there was a lot of better chance to go somewhere and go out of tour and play every night and meet some cool people. So we went to Hollywood in the summer of 2005 the first time and played at The Whiskey. We met our manager, he wanted to manage us, recorded a few songs and came back a year after and then we pretty much stayed here and toured all over and recorded a great album, The Art of Telling Lies. Everything is going good.
Sleaze Roxx: I think The Art of Telling Lies is a lot better than your debut myself.
Nicki Kin: Oh yeah! The first album was recorded in a week in a little cabin in Sweden. We weren’t really serious, we were drunk for the whole week and recorded a few songs. Then we met Bam Margera a year after and he wanted to sign us and wanted us to put out that CD… that was pretty much just a demo for us. But he wanted to put it out so we were like, ‘fuck yeah! Let’s do it’, so that is how that album came about. With The Art Of Telling Lies we spent a lot more time on it and it sounds way better. It’s going to sound great now with Jesse on the vocals. It already sounds really good.
Sleaze Roxx: How would you say the audiences differ from Sweden to America when you play live?
Nicki Kin: It’s not really different actually. Wherever you go it’s pretty much… people always go, ‘oh rock ‘n’ roll fans are rock ‘n’ roll fans’, whether you are in Sweden or here or wherever you are. We’ve been around Europe and been around here. We haven’t really gone anywhere else so I’m looking forward to going to South America, Japan, Australia and all that and see how the crowds are over there.
Sleaze Roxx: Do you have any shows lined up for places like that?
Nicki Kin: Nothing that is 100% so far but hopefully we are going to work on it and hopefully we will be there soon.
Sleaze Roxx: What are some of your best road stories?
Nicki Kin: Everything is pretty much a big blur. Something different is happening all the time. Everything is just a big party for two months. There was this crazy girl that tried to kill us by ramming into the side of our van on the freeway. We were driving 65mph and she hit her car into the side of our van and tried to push us off the freeway. We were going from Phoenix to LA.
Sleaze Roxx: Did she not like the band (laughs)?
Nicki Kin: I don’t know what her problem was, but she was following us. We met her at a gas station and then she started following us. She was following our van for 30 minutes then all of a sudden she did that and we freaked out. This was when we toured with Dirty Penny and we were in Dirty Penny’s van… all of us, like 12 guys. We were freaking out and pulled over by the side and she pulled over and started backing towards our van and was going to hit it that way and it was fucking insane. That was the last crazy thing that happened. That was the last tour we did and that was the last day of the tour.
Sleaze Roxx: That was an interesting way to end the tour wasn’t it?
Nicki Kin: That was in the middle of nowhere. There were no cars and no cops or anything. We had to wait out there for three hours for the cops to come and it was just a big mess. But she got away. That was crazy but a funny road story to think about now.
Sleaze Roxx: How did that tour with Dirty Penny go?
Nicki Kin: They are great. They are good guys and it was a lot of fun. We went pretty much all over the country and just had a good time.
Sleaze Roxx: Is it hard for newer bands like Vains Of Jenna to get people to come out to the shows?
Nicki Kin: In some places, but it depends where you go. Some places, if you play small cities in Wisconsin, it’s not that easy to get people out there. That is why we are touring, to keep on building the name and the next time we go there maybe we will have a few more. But then when we play places like New York City it was packed. It was one of the greatest shows we’ve ever done. So it depends where we go in the country, but it’s always a good time anyway. I like to play music, be it for 12 people or 500 people.