Sessions: Kellii Scott of Failure

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  • June 14, 2014

Before the epic show at the Glass House, I had the chance to sit down with the amazing Kellii Scott to chat about the tour, the past and what the future holds for Failure.

30 Miles East: You have arrived at the last few shows of the Tree of Stars tour, what has the tour been like as a whole thus far?

Kellii Scott:  Its been pretty crazy. The response has been pretty overwhelming. Just when you thought you’ve played your best show, you arrive at another city and it just gets even better.

30ME: Any cities in particular that have become your favorite while on tour?

KS: Nashville was pretty awesome. Two nights in Toronto were pretty awesome, then Brooklyn was of course amazing and the Irving Plaza-but then there was North Carolina…you know? As soon as I mention one show, I think of another. Its all been amazing.

30ME: Now, the Glass House is a very intimate and off the beaten path venue. Was there any deliberate thought into playing here in Pomona as opposed to just wrapping up the tour right in the of heart LA?

KS: Yeah, we deliberately chose everything. We’ve actually played here before.  On our last tour way back when, we actually played with Lush. Greg (Edwards) has played here quite a few times as well. We’re from LA but a lot of our fans are actually concentrated in this area and in San Diego, so we wanted to make sure to hit all of the bigger and nicer venues through these areas so everyone wasn’t forced to come to one venue like they did with El Rey.

30ME: For musicians to appreciate this venue really says something about it.

KS: Yeah, definitely. This is a very cool venue, and I think the only people who don’t play here aren’t aware that it exists.

30ME: The main kick off to the Tree of Stars tour began at Cinquanta at the Greek. That was a show set up unlike any other.

KS: Technically yeah, it was the beginning of it…well, actually, now that I think about it,  I don’t necessarily see that as the beginning of our tour because our set was so different. We had a set of rehearsals for our tour and we had a different set of rehearsals for Cinquanta.

30ME: Bands had interchangeable sets the entire evening. What was it like playing that show?

KS: It was completely weird and different. I would actually love to do that more, oddly. That would be a cool kind of tour to do.

30ME: I was at Cinquanta and I’ve never experienced anything like that.

KS: Right?! It was insane! It was completely different! It was one huge three-hour show!

30ME: But for a drummer, how was it with your kit being pulled in and out like that all night?

KS: It was kind of fun and it was kind of weird, I mean it was a slightly bumpy ride, too sitting there, especially when you really have to pay attention to what you’re doing. It was weird.

30ME: Now, as fans, we’ve been reveling in the return of Failure. Many are overwhelmed with emotion just by the sheer impact Failure has had on their lives. How does that resonate with you being that Failure had such a huge impact, even though you were broken up for many years?

KS: I totally get it in one sense, because, I don’t think  there was a moment for any of us while we were broken up that we wanted to be broken up. There was definitely something missing all of those years. It was quite often, in other projects or just strolling around Hollywood, where people would come up to us throughout the years and say “Oh my god, Failure had an influence on me” and such, so we knew the reverence. But, I don’t think we even began to anticipate how much it meant to so many people until we got out on this tour. I mean, there were people crying and filled with emotion everywhere we went. Everyone has a story about how our music went through their lives and intertwined it in the same way we do. I don’t think you really can understand those feelings wholly.

30ME: Its an ever-changing kind of feeling.

KS: Yeah, its pretty large.

30ME: What do you feel when you hear people like Maynard James Keenan from Tool or Hayley Williams from Paramore saying,  “Hey, Failure is my favorite band”. What does that feel like?

KS: Its pretty flattering. Humbling, really. I don’t know many people that set out on the road of playing music to become that kind of person to other people. Its a slightly weird feeling. I don’t think anyone who is comfortable with themselves and has a fairly decent self-image wouldn’t feel slightly weird with someone being so gracious and saying things that are so huge in meaning. I certainly don’t take it lightly, but I don’t try and take it in too much and that’s how I try and stay right as a person.

30ME: Fantastic Planet kind of has this underground masterpiece sentiment attached to it…

KS: We’re not underground anymore, that’s for sure!

30ME: You’re right, I mean the internet and social media has just changed the game, and fortunately, younger kids are also becoming aware of Failure!

KS: Right?! Its becoming one of those crazy sci-fi movies where some plot becomes known and everything becomes self aware. I think as a person, and as a band, we are the most self-aware of all of this, and once you send this all out into the world you wonder how it will all play out. We have such a high bar set and high standards as individuals and as a band with everything we do. We’re super critical, maybe, sometimes a little too serious. It makes sense,  given our work ethic and the standards by which hold ourselves. Putting it all out there now like that.  Its a big thing.

30ME: Right, and that would tie into the new recordings. There is such an emotional attachment to Fantastic Planet and Magnified.

KS: Just you hold on (smiles). The new recordings are going to be  crazy. New stuff is going to be really good. We’ve been playing a little of it here and there while on tour. We put out the new recording “Come Crashing”. Yes, 2015 is going to hold a lot of surprises.

30ME: That is incredibly exciting to hear. In that same vein, in relation to writing, how would you compare the writing process from back in the 90’s to now?

KS: Surprisingly at this point its very similar. For Fantastic Planet, there was a lot of comfort in it when it was kind of like a band just jammng. But Magnified was Ken and Greg just meticulously getting everything together and demo-ing stuff. Fantastic Planet was kind of a hybrid of that. Some of us jamming and then making long tapes and recordings and taking bits and pieces of that to build songs. Add moving into a house together and living and breathing writing and recording and really not going outside until it was done. So far, the idea is to do more of the same of that with the new album. To have it very well rounded. The first new songs, Ken and Greg in their relationship got together and were about done with three songs and working on two more when Ken called me and said “Hey, this is going on”. At first we didn’t necessarily intend on doing all of this, we just thought we’d release some music. Two weeks later we did some recordings, so that part was kind of like Magnified. Since we’ve been on the road we’ve been writing and recording, which is something we’ve never done before. Its been pretty cool. Because we don’t have an opener, we’re basically a mobile studio. We’ve been talking about making arrangements to somehow figure out how to get a house and put the three of us inside of it for a while. We’ll go off and visit our families and such for a couple of weeks and then just try and recreate that part from Fantastic Planet, because that just really worked well.

30ME: For you personally, what went on in the years between the band break up and now? You were part of some interesting projects, correct?

KS: I was in a bunch of different stuff. There was Blinker the Star for a number of years. Then there was Veruca Salt for a few more years. Then there was a band called Year Long Disaster which was really cool. There were some people I played with as kind of the “hired gun” so to speak. I played with some kid named Hyro da Hero and one of the guys from the Mars Volta which was really cool. There was a 5 year period where I didn’t do anything other than record records. I was Linda Perry’s in-house drummer. We recorded for many well known artists at Linda’s.  I stayed really busy, thankfully. Those 16 years taught me the most about life and drumming.

30ME: For Kellii Scott fan trivia purposes, can you name some drummers that have influenced you?

KS: Well, my first drummer that I got into, and a lot of these were because of my older brother, was when he gave me a copy of “Highway to Hell”, you know, Phil Rudd. It basically taught me how to play the drums.  Then he gave me a copy of Rush’s “All the World’s A Stage” which taught me all of the amazing things you can do with drums. Then there were other drummers he turned me onto like John Bonham. I mean, at first I didn’t take John Bonham too seriously because l I started getting into my own stuff like Motley Crue and Iron Maiden, but he would later become probably the most influential on my playing drums. Then guys like Keith Moon, Mitch Mitchell. I like the crazy guys. The crazier the better.

30ME: Are there any new bands/projects that are on your radar at the moment?

KS: Failure (with big a smile). Once we started doing this I turned my radar off.

30ME: Right on. Its just to keep that focus, right? To just hone in on what you’re doing now.

KS: Yeah, definitely. Some of it is kind of like re-learning everything over again, you know? I want to make sure its right. So, yeah its Failure. 2014

(All images are sole property of 30 Miles East)



  • Chris says:

    What a great interview! Over the years, Failure’s music has persisted as a prime example of how to be creative without alienating listeners. I feel that Fantastic Planet has something for just about any kind of listener, and if you have eclectic tastes, it’s a magnum opus from start to finish. Now I just have to forget it entirely to give the band license to inspire on the next record (this is a very difficult proposition… ask any of my friends).

  • kimo says:

    Wow, what a great interview. As I was reading it, I felt like I was hearing the interview unveil in my mind with you, Erica and Kellii… This was an awesome read!

  • Crystal says:

    Perfect interview. I felt like I was watching it unfold it as I read through. Usually, interviews bore the crap out of me but this was great. The only thing I missed was the mention of the Brooklyn show. I think it was due to my excitement for you. Thanks for sharing your moment with us! Now for the next one!

  • D.J. says:

    I’ve never seen such a… joyous drummer. Watching him during the performance, he often had a huge smile on his face, would shout during particularly intense fills, and full-open-mouthed “WOOOOOOOOOOOs” during a few. And after the show in San Diego, he was so friendly speaking with the fans, and hamming it up in everyone’s picture. It was so great to see him and the other guys having fun (pretty sure I saw Greg crack a smile once or twice) up there and afterwards.

    • Thanks for stopping by, D.J.! Yes, Kellii is an awesome guy! They all looked really comfortable on stage and were just very in tune with their set. Once again, Failure leaves a permanent stamp in my mind! Unforgettable stuff!

  • Martin Barken says:

    Failure are my Musical Heroes. The Beatles of Alternative Rock. IT was a dream come true and an honor to meet them before the San Diego show and then watching them perform was quite the experience. It was the best night of my life and an evening I will never forget. Thank you Failure. Also the fans I met that night and on Facebook have been a real treat to get to know.

    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Martin! I whole heartedly agree! Failure really is like The Beatles of our time! Just so innovative! I also met some amazing people along the way, including Kellii. I’m soooooo unbelievably thrilled that they are back. It’s been so emotional for all of us fans to experience this! I love it!

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