Reckling | Interview | New EP, ‘Human Nature’
Reckling is an LA-based garage/punk rock four-piece led by vocalist/songwriter Kelsey Reckling, plus a number of LA rock alum, including drummer Max Keuhn (FIDLAR), guitarist Erik Jimenez (Together Pangea), and bassist Joey Mullen (Paramore/HalfNoise).
Influenced by a long-time obsession with punk, DIY, grunge, blues, and rock, and with the LA scene as a backdrop, Reckling hit the ground running with self-produced debut album, featuring nine hooky tracks full of unapologetic punk-rock licks that elicit the repeat-treatment. This gave Reckling the confidence she needed to kick her stage-fright to the curb. She formed a high energy band featuring LA alum rockers Max Kuehn (FIDLAR) on drums, Joey Mullen (Paramore/HalfNoise) on bass, and Erik Jimenez (Together Pangea) on guitar. With a raw output that is nothing short of chaotic good, the live shows took on a lifeforce of their own. In just a few short years the band was playing alongside Vivian Girls, T.S.O.L., Bleached and more notable acts.
Kelsey continues to write songs that sway between the diaristic and abstraction, the raucous and melodic… all felt on her latest four-track EP Human Nature. Without a doubt, Reckling’s music is here to disrupt the narrative.
Do you recall a special moment in your teen years when you knew you wanted to become a musician?
Kelsey Reckling: I can’t really recall any exact moment…I just connected with music and sort of knew on a subconscious level that it was something I wanted to do. And eventually it was something I needed to do…an outlet.
Tell us about your teenage room, what kind of records would we find there?
Oh mannnn, so I remember collecting records at 15 but I didn’t even have a record player until I was like 17 maybe. My friend was a volunteer for this nonprofit radio station in Houston called KPFT and I remember she brought me a stack of records which started my collection…but of records I would never actually want… like every Who album and stuff like that, haha. But I was obsessed with tangible things, so I would take whatever I could get my hands on. I mostly had CDs as a teenager from the early 2000s, but I was also really into cassettes. And I would make mixtapes for people, and people would make me mixtapes (that I still have today). I remember the first mixtape I ever got when I was 14…I burned that thing OUT. It was on a transparent purple tape and it had Bad Brains, Fugazi, X, Common Rider, Hole, and a bunch of other bands.
You’re originally from Houston, right?
Can you elaborate on the formation of your band?
So I’ve been writing and playing music since I started playing guitar at 13. Bedroom recordings and stuff I never really showed anyone. I moved to LA in 2013, and was still writing songs, recording them in my bedroom. But I was also surrounded by so many musicians and just watching people do the thing every day. I had a friend who I sent a couple songs to, and she was like, come over and let’s record these. So I’m really grateful for her because she kinda lifted me up in a way where I wasn’t confident enough to ever turn the songs into anything other than bedroom recordings. So we recorded a version of a song from Reckling’s first release called ‘Wanted’ and I remember it got played on the radio here in LA and I was like “woah, okay.” When I got sober in 2016, that was a big turning point. I got all these songs together, recorded them with some friends, and that became the 2018 release…which still has a bedroom recording sound to it, because I wanted that first release to really stay true to how I had been writing songs all those years. We didn’t even play a live show until the end of 2019, a year and half after the first release came out. It was just a slow snowball effect. Once we started playing live, the band took on a new life, and here we are.
How did you get in touch with Max Kuehn, Joey Mullen, and Erik Jimenez?
So, I met Erik before I even moved to LA. He plays drums in my husband’s band. He’s an incredible drummer, but he’s also a really good guitar player. He wanted to play guitar in a band, so I asked him to play guitar for me, and it’s been us two from the start of Reckling playing live shows. And because everyone else is in other bands, it kinda became a “whoever is available to play” thing. Max is also someone I met right when I moved to LA through his other band. He was actually who recorded and played drums on that early version of ‘Wanted’ I mentioned before. He’s got a really sweet setup at his place, so I’ll just send him demos and be like, “can we record drums on this at your place?” And he’s always down. Max is the best. And Joey was someone I met more recently. He moved to LA from Nashville at the end of 2019, and he was roommates with my friend Jen. And we just hit it off immediately. In the middle of the pandemic, he was like “I really want to play bass in a band” because he’s primarily a drummer. So I was like, “okay…learn how to play bass and you can play in Reckling.” So he learned how to play bass for the first time to play in this band. Which is so cool. He’s my ride-or-die!
We are all excited about the upcoming EP ‘Human Nature’. Tell us what was the story behind it and how did the studio session look like?
Our friend Danny Noguieras has this incredible studio near where we all live called Balboa Recording Studio. We just picked a day during the pandemic to record the EP, and we did it all in a day. It was super fun and easy because we were all locked in and on the same page. I guess that’s what’s up when you work with friends. He also mixed it. The EP though, I really wanted it to reflect more of how we sound live. If you compare our 2018 release to this, I think it shows how we’ve grown as a band and how I’ve grown as a performer. Like I said, that 2018 release I wanted to remain true to how I had been writing and recording songs all my life. But I knew with this one, I wanted it to be live and bigger sounding.
What are some future plans now that the EP is almost released?
We’ll be playing some more shows through the fall, and gearing up to record a part two to this EP. Stay tuned!!!