The Kickback may be psyched to play this year’s Freakfest, but even they admitted they have no idea what the night will hold.
It’s not the Chicago-based band’s first time in Madison, and it’s also not their first festival. But it’s safe to say that lead singer Billy Yost and his band have quite the adventure waiting for them during Madison’s infamous Halloween festivities.
“We were told we would probably get carried away in a mob of some sort,” Yost said. “So I imagine we’ll be sticking around at least for the night. As long as our manager has bail money, I guess we’ll be okay.”
After an intense bout on the road, or what Yost dubbed as “the wilderness,” the indie rock band is reveling in their free time leading up to their Freakfest performance. Since the release of their debut LP in September 2015, Sorry All Over the Place, The Kickback has been gaining gradual success and recognition, having recently played their 100th show of the year.
Originally from South Dakota, Yost took to the Windy City in search of band mates. After consulting Craigslist and connecting with other musicians and bands, Yost said The Kickback is a solid quartet with his vocals, Jonny Ifergan on guitar, Daniel Leu on bass and Ryan Farnham on drums.
Yost drew inspiration for the band’s name while taking a criminal justice course during the Enron scandal. When he learned about the kickbacks, or bribes, involved with the corporation — he decided the word also aptly functioned as a band name.
The Kickback’s eclectic mix of influences — such as Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, Randy Newman, The Strokes’ Julian Casablancas and even Michael Keaton — is only one of several factors setting them apart from other bands in the indie rock scene. Their sound reflects their wide range of inspiration, which is what Yost described as “rock n’ roll dance music for really sad people.”
“If you want to straight up party, we might not be your band,” Yost said. “If you want some primal scream therapy, and also a reason to dance when you’re having conflicted feelings about your parents’ marriage, we’re definitely the band for you.”
Preparing to begin their second record, The Kickback has no intention of slowing down before they become full-blown rock stars — an achievement that seems all too feasible in the near future, given the praise for their live performances and one-of-a-kind rock n’ roll sound.
But Yost and his band mates are confident they’ll provide an exclusive, unparalleled space for Freakfest goers, an audience that Yost embraced as seeming to possess a “renegade reputation.”
“I think we’re able to press a lot of emotional buttons kind of all at one time,” Yost said. “It’s a fun show, but it also can get a little awkward and a little unhinged. I hope we can be a cool space for people to be while the madness is happening maybe at some other stages.”