Kick's eyeliner, hard-rock riffs find an amplified home in Minnesota


Kick David Rubene

Like a scene out of a movie, Jake Kemble and Kyle Kennedy of the band Kick packed their bags and left their hometown of Panora, Iowa, three years ago. Their aim? To make it as musicians in the big city. 

“I didn’t really know what I was doing,” Kemble, 22, shares recently from a St. Paul café. “I was being a punk, doing this ‘screw this town’ thing where I had to get out of there. It was an impulsive decision to move here, but I’m glad I did.”

The two bandmates settled into the Twin Cities and discovered new friends, but they also found a lot of humility. Kick's third EP, Tonight, set for release Saturday at 7th St. Entry, details the pains associated with uprooting oneself. 

“It still is weird," Kemble says of relocation. "I grew up in a very slow-paced environment, but I’ve adapted. It’s also lonely as hell. We’ve made a lot of good friends, but to be honest, it was weird jumping ship. I was young with my chest all puffed and ready to destroy. The most humbling thing was coming here and seeing some of the other bands in the Cities. At 19, we quickly realized we weren’t the hottest shit around.”

Instead of drawing from a Twin Cities scene that's steeped in indie rock, Kemble tapped into the music of his youth -- bands like Van Halen and AC/DC. Mix that hard-rock formula with emotional situations -- girlfriends, friends, work -- and richly melodic songs, and you've got the gist of Kick.

Tonight features slick rock 'n' roll, yet manages to maintain a rough-around-the-edges grittiness. It's an assertive EP, one that grabs the listener until they're obliged to take notice. When writing it, Kemble got into classical music, leaning heavy on melodies and layers. He also incorporated bits and pieces of writing he created as a teen.

Kemble brought the rough demos to Kennedy and bassist Jake Hall to strip down and reassemble. The three worked with Timmy Kosel of F5 SoundHouse in northeast Minneapolis this spring to capture the group's live energy. Sure enough, Tonight showcases the raw sound of a band banging away in the garage, with added glam appeal. 

Kemble is constantly writing, so Tonight is transitional by default, a time capsule of young adulthood. The one constant is Kemble's determination. Whether stocking shelves during his day job at Trade Joe's or holding an audience captive, he lives his life with passion.

“When I was 16, I was in a cover band. I knew music is what I wanted to do, that’s why I bypassed college,” he says. “Even as a kid in high school when I started Kick, I had crazy hair, wore eyeliner, and had crazy pants. I knew. I don’t know if it’s brain chemicals that make you who you are, but I knew it. I really believe in fate, and I’ve known there was nothing else.”

With: Vaudeville, Eagle Trace, Lavender
When: 7:30 p.m. Sat., Aug. 13
Where: 7th St. Entry
Tickets: $8; more info here