Kill the Reflection frontman Morgan Routt took time out after the band’s recent shows at the HiLo Club, Blue Note Lounge and the city of Guthrie’s Zombie Bolt 5K to answer some questions. [Sidenote: Thanks to the Morgan Routt for putting me on the guest list and clearing photo permissions with the other performers at the HiLo show.] Here are his answers, plus pictures from KTR’s mid-October show at the HiLo, where they headlined following Psychic Milk and Kali Ra.
Mercury Photo BureauWhat was your 1st instrument, and why did you start playing it?
Morgan RouttThe first instrument I ever played was the keyboard/piano, mainly just fooling around with the recording feature. I got my first guitar when I was 15, and it has been a labor of love ever since […]. She never talks back and she is always there for me.
MPBWhat’s your earliest memory of music?
MorganMy earliest memory of music [was] when I used to roll around with my mom in her Nova as a kid [and] she would sing to me. Anything from Stevie Nicks, Annie Lennox and especially the Beatles. My first concert ever was The Monkees and Weird Al Yankovic. First tapes I ever got for Christmas were The Monkees, Elvis and Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall (I loved that damn tape).
MPBHow did you meet [drummer] Christopher Stevens and [bassist] Mark Martinez? What are their musical backgrounds, pre-KTR?
MorganI met Chris when I was young, around 17, through some mutual friends [who] I was couch-sitting for. He seemed outrageous enough for me to hold on to, and I am glad I did; he is an amazing soul and 1 of the best drummers I have ever known. We could tell you some crazy stories!
I met Mark though Chris and his friends, early 2011, and we seemed to have […] the same situations [affect] us at the same times, and had that link immediately, so he understood the music at that point very well, and wanted to be a part of it. He picked up the bass and all 3 of us were practicing upwards of 4 – 5 times a week for the better part of the year, and decided to take it to the stage.
Mark was a band manager and road dog for the band Otis and was more part of the booking and business aspect of that band; we are glad to have him on this side of the fence now because we are writing some new fantastic things as a 3-piece.
MPBIs this your 1st band?
MorganI was in a garage band as a kid called Anavrin (I’ll let you figure that one out). [Sidenote: Try spelling it backward.] I was a […] one-man [Trent] Reznor [in] the early days, learning to mix and use samples, real DIY. I came up with the concept of KTR in 1999, and it was more electronic/industrial that later adapted trip-hop, and has become the 3-man machine that it is now. Dirty-yet-loving “Post-Punk”?
MPBTell me about the documentary being shot by Patrick George. Any bits you hope wind up on the cutting room floor?
MorganThe documentary […] is very much in its sperm stage; we are still waiting on the Barry White to chime in before we say much more. Although our main focus will be behind-the-scenes with KTR, our encounters with nice and evil people.
I want it to be like a virtual tour, trying to make it in the OKC scene, with all its beautiful amenities and problems. It will tell our story as a video biography but it will also tell the story of how the 3 of us are maturing together as artists. What to watch out for and how others have reached out their hands to help, etc. … We will have lots of live performances at our favorite spots on the DVD.
MPBWhen can we expect to see the music video [that you shot with Jonathan Shahan] — or are you still working on that?
MorganThe music video […] is still a go, but as of now we have no date on that. We will be working with many new glorious video people and should have a few videos for you in 2013.
MPBWhat’s the origin of the band name?
MorganWhen I was 19, I came up with the name Kill the Reflection; I was young and very upset with the world at this time […]. I guess I kinda blamed myself for everything, and it seemed to me I was becoming just as much of a f*ck-up as my father had been for me. I did not want to be a reflection of his mistakes; I wanted to come full circle and correct the past […] by creating a better future. […] Every time I [looked] in a mirror I [saw] him looking back, and it made me very angry. Despite all that I was inside, I am not that man, and I just wanted to kill the reflection.
It is also a term used in photography, to paint something dark to cut out the reflection (to dull it down). I also read somewhere that Countess Elizabeth Báthory [de Ecsed] had all of her mirrors removed from her castle because she was tired of seeing her own aging reflection.
I liked all these ideas, and wanted to keep the name a bit cryptic [like] the metaphors I use in song writing, so that anyone can apply their own situations and make them fit. That is where the term
music for broken people comes from. It is all medicine and anger management. It is whatever you want it to be.
MPBYour press material describes you as alternative/post-punk/rock, all pretty broad categories. Who are your influences?
[Answer includes a lengthy list; click below to see — ed.]
- Kill the Reflection's Influences
MPBHow has your music changed since the band’s formation?
MorganThe music has changed a lot since ’99 and has changed a bit more since the 3-piece conversion. This is […] expected; we all have different styles and projects in mind. I can write and record an electronic song just as well as I can a rock song. We multitask. The more we [grow] together, the more influence each of us [has] on the sound. The new EP is gonna reflect this, and we could not be happier.
MPBDoes each band member offer songs for consideration, or is that primarily 1 member’s job? Who writes the lyrics? Are the songs mostly finished before presentation to the band, or are they significantly refined in rehearsals?
MorganWe share everything, down to our last beer. The first album contained some older revamped songs that I had written when I was 19 – 20, so they were upwards of 12 years old. We just made them new again; they were too good to let go of.
When we write new songs together, most of it is […] on the fly. One of us will just get into a mood, in between songs at practice, and start [a] chord, and we all just come in blindly […]; we get either turds or diamonds […]. Other times, Mark may have a bass-line idea that he has been working on, or Chris a drum pattern, or I a guitar riff, and we build on it from there.
I write most of the lyrics, but Chris is a wonder-poet in his own right, and has contributed greatly to the lyrics, as well. [In] the newer music you may hear me sing an entire song of Chris’s lyrics, and Mark might be singing on there as well. You never know.
The purpose of the 3-piece is to not be one sided with KTR, as it had been in the past. We all have a voice and work together in KTR; we are a family.
MPBIf you couldn’t make music, what would you do instead?
MorganIf Chris didn’t do music, he would […] be a professional skateboarder-wine taster-poet. Mark might be a business mogul [or] in public relations (he is good with people). I would be the owner of […] various restaurants and specialty shops that cater to the bizarre; that is, if I couldn’t be a movie director-wine connoisseur.
MPBTime for “Redeem a Song.” Name a song, possibly a successful 1, that doesn’t command respect — that you might hesitate to admit liking — and tell me why you think it’s a good song.
MorganHello, It’s Me by Todd Rundgren. I chose this song because I always play it at the jukebox when I’m “in the zone,” and it takes me to a place that feels very comfortable. It is a beautiful song and I feel I [must have] played it on repeat in a past life; maybe it’s an 8-track suicide song from my past.
I am never afraid to admit I like songs; hell, I had the maxi-single to Jordy [Lemoine]’s It’s Tough to Be a Baby when I was a kid.
MPBThanks for taking time to answer my questions!
MorganThank you, Chris, for everything you do! We appreciate every inch of your being and fiber!