By Kaeleigh Morrison | Editor In Chief | September 8, 2012
Known for their spicy concoction of pop, punk, and rock, Hey You! has set the west coast’s music scene ablaze since forming in 2009. The group was awarded RAW Artist’s “Musician of The Year” and won the “2010 Project Rock Warrior” held at The Hard Rock Hotel in Las Vegas. I sat down with band members Brett Decarlo (bass), Derek John (guitar), Kyle Tkatch (vocals), and Matt Thompson (drums) this evening to talk history, inspiration, and the experience they’ve all gotten along the way.
Give me a brief history of the band.
Brett: Ooh. A brief history of the band. I’d say we’ve been together what? Four years?
Brett: Three years? We named the band after a dead dog.
I was thinking Pink Floyd.
Brett: A lot of people think of Pink Floyd. But no, unfortunately it’s a dog. But it was a dead one. It was a happy, dead dog.
Kyle: Well, we started three years ago. Brett and I started writing together and we found Derek ‘cause we all talk music. We decided that we were a good match, so we linked up. And we weren’t Hey You! at the time. We found Matt off of Craigslist and once we got him, then it was complete and it’s always been the same band members.
Brett: Yeah, we were White Rabbit.
Kyle: But then there was a band called White Rabbits that came out, so,..
Brett: It was kind of conflicting. We’ve been playing shows ever since.
Matt: Anywhere we can, but we like The Strip a lot. Viper Room, House of Blues.
What was it like getting the band together?
Brett: It was an adventure getting all of us, like, finding the right match. You know, to get Kyle and Derek together was the easy thing. That was a lot easier. We all taught kids. To find the right drummer, that was the hard part. We went through months of finding the right drummer. We went through a lot of trying out drummers.
Kyle: Yeah, it’s a lot. It’s like an hour per audition.
Brett: There was a guy who had a pink drum set and drove down from Arizona. Weird people. People from Venice, who are automatically weird, but then took a bus for four hours and then were kind of rude after taking a bus for four hours. *laughs* But Matt just walked in there and laughed his way through.
Matt: What else could I do?
Brett: The first time, we all really liked Matt, and the second time he came in, I don’t even think he played a full song. I remember turning around and going “Congratulations, you’re in the band.” And then Kyle says to me, “Well, don’t you want to talk about it?” And I said, “No, we’re good.” And Matt’s been in the band ever since.
What obstacles have you overcome both individually and as a band to get to where you are today?
Kyle: It’s a lot of work. It’s a lot more work than you think, though, I think, when you’re young you’re like, “Yeahh! I wanna be in a band. I like singing. Or, I like playing this instrument.” It’s a looot of work and especially these days you have to do it all on your own. Especially to get to a certain level. You give up a lot on one end and you get a lot on another, so, that’s one obstacle that I’ve had to conquer for sure.
Derek: It’s a lot of tirelessly plugging away and playing for nobody just to get a few people to be into you.
Brett: There’s even the obstacle of getting everybody together is a hard one. Like, getting four people in the same spot together-
Kyle: And on the same page.
Matt: ALL THE TIME.
Brett: That can be a big obstacle. Like, songs. Making sure that we grow, and everything. That’s a big obstacle.
What’s in Hey You!’s future? Tours? Releases?
Derek: Both of those. We’re in the middle of recording five songs.
Brett: With who?
Derek: With Mike Clink.
Brett: And who has he done?
Derek: Um, according to him, “you name it.”
Derek: Guns ‘n’ Roses, Aerosmith, pretty much everybody.
Brett: Metallica, but kind of, yeah, everybody.
Kyle: Yeah, we’re recording, we just got a song played on Mark and Brian’s radio station, and we’re gunna have it up on iTunes. It’s called “Sweet Revenge,” it’s on our website right now, but we’re gunna have it on iTunes, hopefully in the next few weeks. And then our album, hopefully in the next few months, and tours, and,..
Have you released the album name yet?
Kyle: Not yet.
Brett: You know, we’ve had so many ideas. Even when I was driving over here with Derek I thought of something. We hope we name it funny. Or at least, I hope we name it really funny. It’ll remind you of Spinal Tap.
Matt: It’s not going to be called “Really Funny.”
Brett: We actually thought of “Smell The Glove.”
Derek: Yeah, we thought of that.
Brett: Not Spinal Tap, but us.
You’re playing a new song tonight. How does it differ from your older material?
Kyle: It’s very different. I think it’ll stick out just a little bit. “Damn, our moms are really going to like this song,” was the first thing Derek and I said.
Brett: It’s not our most rockin’ song.
Kyle: No, but it’s a really good song. I think a lot of people are gunna like it. It’s more on the pop side, a little more mellow.
Are there any interesting stories behind your songs?
Brett: Oh. Well, there’s always interesting stories behind songs, I mean, without stories, we wouldn’t have anything to write about, you know?
Kyle: Douche bags, broken hearts, crazy, fucked up times.
Do you have any particular message for your audience?
Matt: Have fun.
Kyle: Yeah, have fun, be strong, like, kick ass.
Derek: Fuck it. Drink a lot.
Brett: Have fun, working hard.
If each of you could describe your personal, musical style in one word, what would it be?
If you could open for any artist/band, who would it be?
Brett: Something I think that would help us out a lot, just because their fan base might be around the same fan base as ours, would be a band like The Offspring would be really cool to open up for. They’re a high-energy band. They’re actually really funny. Seems like something our style.
Kyle: Foo Fighters.
Who are your idols and why?
Kyle: Singer-wise, Pat Benatar, Madonna, I loved Heart, I love Gwen Stefani, Katy Perry, like from her current stuff. Um, I like everyone at this point.
Brett: I guess mine would be David Bowie, a lot of punk stuff. I love punk rock, I love the David Bowie stuff. I like a mixture of it. Nine Inch Nails. You know, rock ‘n’ roll, Aerosmith, that kind of stuff, so that’s where I’d stand.
Matt: I like rock, I like pop, I like stuff with a groove, I looove The Beatles, Michael Jackson.
Kyle: Yeaahh. Miiike-uhl!
Derek: Uhm for me? Number one-
Brett: The Mars Volta.
Derek: Yeah. My number one by far none would be The Mars Volta. Then Pink Floyd, Muse, Led Zeppelin, those are my tops right there.
What is your best experience as a musician?
Brett: You know, the best experience, or the best opportunity, is to perform with Mike Clink. That’s been the best experience so far. Because it’s been very unique.
Matt: It’s been real.
Brett: Yeah, it’s been very real. It’s been a very unique experience that we will never forget.
What was your most embarrassing experience?
Derek: *laughs hysterically*
Brett: Kyle threw up on stage.
Kyle: No I didn’t. Um, wardrobe malfunctions, sometimes.
Matt: Yeah, Kyle’s breasts come out.
Derek: A Janet-Jackson-type malfunction.
Matt: We’re all constantly trying to cause Kyle wardrobe malfunctions. It’s kind of a fun game. We love it, she loves it.
Brett: We’re all trying to get to her. It’s a love-hate relationship.
Matt: Yeah, most of the hating is on her.
Brett: And a lot of love on our part. *laughs*
Kyle: You can cut them off at any time.
Do you have any advice for upcoming musicians?
Brett: Don’t stop. Try as hard as you can.
Matt: Uh, play bass.
*Kyle and Brett laugh*
Brett: God damn you. Uhh, eat cheap!
Kyle: Yeah. Work hard. Don’t think that this is easy.
Brett: You will get rejected a million times, but the one time that you don’t is worth it all.
Who are you outside Hey You! ?
Kyle: No one. *laughs* No, I’m kidding.
Brett: A super-nice recording person? I like going outside and doing stuff like that. It’s who I am. I love my dog, Penny. Penny, if you’re listening, I love you.
Derek: Uhh, I work with kids a lot, so, I like kids and I like to be a nice guy. Something about that has a Michael Jackson vibe to it, though.
What did you listen to on your iPod today?
Brett: Oh, I could tell you that. Mine’s Beastie Boys, right now. I did a little Hollywood Undead, then to The Black Keys, and then to The Sex Pistols.
What’s your favorite Black Keys album?
Brett: You know, I don’t know what album, but “Gold On The Ceiling” is probably my favorite.
Kyle and Derek: The one on the radio!
Brett: The one on the radio. I’m a big radio whore. “Gold On The Ceiling” is huge for me. I love that song. But The Beastie Boys have been killing it for me. The new record, there’s one punk rock song in there that is just great, there are a couple other great ones on there.
Matt: I’ve been listening to the new Matchbox 20 album, so,…
Kyle: I work with kids, so I’m always listening to Top 20’s, trying to learn songs for them.
Brett: “Call Me, Maybe.”
Kyle: Yeah. I know “Call Me, Maybe” very well, maybe too well, right now. I’m trying to learn some Halloween songs, so going back to old school music.
Derek: I’m listening to,…
Brett: The Mars Volta.
Derek: I’m always listening to The Mars Volta, Brett. No matter what, I’m always listening to The Mars Volta. What I’m actually listening to in my car is a CD of our own music to learn these background vocals so that I can start screaming onstage and really nailing it.
What did you grow up listening to?
Brett: Classic rock for me. I was not allowed to listen to rap.
Kyle: I got a little bit of everything, I think. A lot of pop, a lot of radio. Country, because my dad loved country, and oldies.
Brett: Your dad loved Elvis.
Kyle: Yeah, a lot of Elvis, for sure.
Derek: Floyd, Zeppelin, The Doors, and Guns ‘n’ Roses. Those were my top four growing up.
Matt: Yeah, classic rock. We’re big on classic rock over here.
What inspired you to start playing music?
Kyle: For me, it was a calling, as stupid as that sounds, but that’s all I did in my room when I was little was sit there and sing. So that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to sing.
Brett: I wanted to be better than my dad and just like do stuff with music. You can just feel it inside of you. It’s one of those deals.
Matt: I remember seeing Mary Poppins when I was three and there was a one-man-band in there or something. I picked up this Mickey Mouse drum set that my parents bought me and I was trying to play it like a one-man-band and I dropped it and broke it.
Derek: I started playing piano because I got in trouble in third grade for not paying attention in music class. The teacher said, “you need to teach this kid to focus so that he can learn the piano.” That turned into five years of piano, and I said, “I’m done with that.” My dad said, “Well, you don’t have to play piano. Do you want to play guitar?” I said “yeah, let me try that.”
Kyle: You slept with your music teacher after that.
Derek: Well we have a couple illegitimate kids, but I’m not going to get into that, we don’t have time.
Where do you guys want to go after Hey You! ? Is there anything that you want to do musically that doesn’t involve this band?
Derek: Are you trying to tear us apart? What is this?
Brett: I would see me as a record label kind of person. I’d want to start up a label or join a label and then maybe start a major and create an empire. That would be the life. Or, fishing. Fishing and sailing would be really nice, as well.
Kyle: I’m into the business side, as well, so I like developing and finding other artists. Maybe, like, you know, working on some other type of music? I dunno. I haven’t really thought about it too much. This has all my focus right now.
Matt: Yeah, this is it.
Derek: Uhh, I would make more music. I’d make crazy music, probably. Like, more experimental, progressive, rock, funky music.
Brett: I’ve got to pee so bad.
Derek: I’ve got to pee really bad, too. Can you keep that on the record?
Yeah, I’ll keep that on record.
Hey You! went on later that evening to play a killer show. Kyle has a stage presence that is out of this world, whether strutting back and forth with her mic, or laying on her back, kicking her high-heeled feet in the air, she owns the stage. Derek’s guitar playing is mesmerizing. Watching him slide his pick up and down the strings in such an experimental way is really very fascinating. Although chained to the back of the stage by his drum kit, Matt grabs the audience’s attention far more than most drummers. His playing is expressive and energetic and fun to watch. Brett looks ridiculous holding his massive bass, but he somehow does it with ease, carrying each rhythm fluidly. And for the record, Brett is 5’10. (Yes, it’s a very big bass.)