Kicking Off

11 July 2012 | 7:02 am | Tyler McLoughlan

With new EP Ineffective Lullabies to spruik down the East Coast this month, Travis Hair of The Incredible Kicks tells Tyler McLoughlan about the Brisbane trio’s path to pop-shaped progressive rock.

To understand the distinctive musical style of The Incredible Kicks, vocalist and guitarist Travis Hair suggests looking no further than their debut EP release from last year.

“The title track off Fairytales is a song that I feel shows the sound of our band really well – a sweet guitar riff, big call-and-response vocals and a massive instrumental section… It's got cartoon artwork; it's sort of jokey 'cause even though our music is sort of serious… it has this playful aspect to show we don't take ourselves extremely seriously,” he says with a chuckle before moving on to their new EP Ineffective Lullabies.

“It's an epic journey, a little more vintage sounding, but very rock, elements of Queen and I like to think a bit of The Darkness and Muse in there… It's an intense 20-minute listen. I give the listener a lot of credit that they'll get it. I have to trust them that they'll appreciate it, but I hope it's not misplaced,” he says with slight concern.

It's no surprise to hear such masters of rock theatrics on Hair's list of influences, especially upon discovering his career path to date.

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“I don't want to drop the bomb here – this could be detrimental to our reputation!” he says with a laugh, before revealing his background with tribute bands. “The main one was actually a Queen tribute band, so I was Brian May for about five years… A lot of the tribute bands I've played in big theatres, some all around the world, so it was a lot of fun.”

Even with their progressive rock elements explained, it takes a tight unit to pull off a sound as ambitious as The Incredible Kicks.

“It's a style thing, it's not really forced at all. Me and the guy who plays drums in the band have been playing together since before I could even play guitar and sing; I used to play bass guitar and drums for 15 years. So we've grown up together, listened to all our favourite bands together, went through Metallica, Nirvana, Iron Maiden all that sort of stuff, so we've played a million songs, been in a million cover bands and tribute shows, and so after all this time we're just really good at our instruments. We just tend to write music that – I understand it sounds complex a little and it sounds like it goes everywhere… But it's not really very difficult and it's just fun for us,” Hair says, carrying on to describe the place for pop in their style.

“The complexity of the music, or the assumed complexity of the music, a lot of people can derive that as pretentious and wanky and hard for being hard's sake, but I just don't feel that at all… it's sort of like pop music in the way that it does have a lot of melody and form to latch onto, but it's sort of on steroids – so more progressive than that.”

And to add one further element to an already impressive mix of style, musical imagination and flair, the trio are an all-singing live force.

“We're selling ourselves as a band with sweet harmonies, so everyone has to sing,” he says of the prerequisite to The Incredible Kicks membership. “Brian Wilson is one of my gods. One of our attempted strong suits is to have bulk vocal harmonies and of course [The Beach Boys are] the best at it… I've seen a lot of bands and I just know how impressive it is to see a band with everyone singing. Not really just impressive but the sonic experience I find is more enjoyable and there's more happening.”