Hard-rock band Kill the Precedent will perform tonight at Concerts in the Park at the Cesar Chavez Plaza.

Kill the Precedent's catchy sonic onslaught takes stage at Concerts in the Park

Published: Friday, Jul. 19, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 5TICKET
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 12:32 pm

The Concerts in the Park stage is just big enough for the mayhem the seven-member group Kill the Precedent plans to cause tonight.

It's certainly bigger than what the Sacramento punk-electro-industrial band has gotten used to playing in nightclubs.

"Someone is always smashing me with their guitar or my guitar," Kill the Precedent's Jesse Mitchell said of gigs at clubs like the Blue Lamp. Quarters get even closer when KTP dons costumes and includes props (this evening's Cesar Chavez Plaza show is zombie-themed).

But more people equals more power in hard rock. Kill the Precedent's catchy sonic onslaught comes courtesy of three guitars, a bass, thunderous live drums played over preprogrammed drum tracks and two lead vocalists sing-screaming in tandem.

Singers Sean Smith and Jason "Twig" VonWussow barrel across the stage while pouring their gritty all into their microphones.

"It's amazing that we don't collide," Smith said.

They avoid stepping on each other's vocals by carefully coordinating parts. Smith and VonWussow call and respond but also pair up on verses and individual notes, layering the aggressiveness and distinguishing KTP from hard-rock contemporaries.

"A lot of times you see metal bands with two singers, but one guy is screaming and the other guy sings real pretty," guitarist Mitchell said last week while gathered with his band mates at KTP's Sacramento rehearsal space.

Singing together "gives us more room to explore vocal ideas," VonWussow said.

The same goes for lyrics, on which Smith and VonWussow collaborate. They take an in-your-face approach to religion, authority figures and people who get on their nerves.

Such lyrics "just come naturally to me," VonWussow said. "People piss me off, and it is just easier to write those kind of lyrics. It makes it easier for me to sleep at night."

Offstage, VonWussow is personable, and Smith downright genial. Much winking accompanies the 7-year-old band's hardcore stance, as evidenced in this infectious refrain from "Free Reign (Everybody's Dead)," off the band's forthcoming (and first full-length) album, "Dialogues With the Dead": "Hey, hey, hey, everybody's dead, everybody's dead – hooray!"

If there were a Kill the Precedent high school, "Free Reign" would be the school's sports anthem and the ballad "We've Never Lied," with its tinkly guitar and bellowed tributes to a love put through the wringer, would be its black-corsaged prom theme.

"Dead" will be released Aug. 27 on San Francisco's Minus Head label. Kill the Precedent put out an EP a few years ago, but completing a full album takes time for a seven-member band.

Everybody has a day job, so just coordinating schedules can be challenge. Once they get in a room together, each member helps compose songs.

"There's a lot of arranging," said Jeff Amaguer, who plays guitar and lays down preprogrammed drum tracks and other electronic elements. Amaguer will offer an initial track that then will be augmented, stripped down and augmented again, until everyone signs off. Three months is record speed for a KTP song's completion.

"Most bands will write a song at a practice," Mitchell said. "Our process is way more drawn out and complicated. … But it seems to work in the end."

Mitchell provides evocative images for slide shows that accompany most KTP shows (the free park show will be sans video and toned down in general, but an Aug. 24 CD-release show at Ace of Spades will offer the full KTP experience).

Kill the Precedent shows often carry elaborate themes, in keeping with the showmanship of industrial forerunners such as Ministry and Skinny Puppy.

Hanging in the band's rehearsal space are fake-blood-spattered aprons from a show in which the musicians dressed as old-time butchers. Another gig took fans to the friendly-ish skies.

"There were two hot stewardesses dancing on stage, and we announced 'Welcome to Kill the Precedent Airlines,' " bass player Jon Korn said. Band members handed out little bags of peanuts.

The visual element helped get the band signed to Minus Head in May.

"I like to look for bands that not only have a unique sound but also have a great live presence," Minus Head's Brad Hardie said. "I really like how (KTP) wears different costumes and the crowd really gets into it."

The video images Mitchell chooses – of old cartoons or the scary twins from the "The Shining" – are synced, on a DVD, to a backing electronic drum-and-sample track over which the band plays live. They never rewind or fast-forward the DVD, so accuracy is key.

"Once we hit 'play,' it's a runaway train," drummer Jon Pepper said.

It would be easier, KTP's members acknowledged, to have a person devoted to controlling the electronic elements onstage. But that would mean eight people.

"There aren't enough drink tickets for that," VonWussow said, referring to a perk band members receive from venue owners. "And we're not a ska band."


When: 5-9 p.m. tonight. Kill the Precedent will be the third band to take the Concerts in the Park stage, just before headliner FallRise.

Where: Cesar Chavez Plaza, 10th and J streets, Sacramento

Cost: Free


Call The Bee's Carla Meyer, (916) 321-1118. Follow her on Twitter @carlameyersb.

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