Shane and Jesse, two fun loving brothers who have a tendency to wax eloquent about everything and nothing. A truly interesting band who somehow manage to make enough of a living off their music to not need real jobs, KEN Mode will blow your mind.
Interview by Matt Bacon
From January 2015 Vandala Magazine
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How have you guys been?
Shane: We’ve been good! We just adjusted to the time zones for North America because we were just in Europe.
Jesse: I guess I’m adjusted but not to my regular schedule for North America. I woke up at nine today! I don’t wake up at nine!
Shane: That’s a normal adult schedule! We’re good, we’re just readjusting to being in North America. That was a long short answer!
How did the European tour go?
Shane: It was a lot of fun. We were out with Hark in continental Europe and the last week we were in the UK. The shows went really well, they went surprisingly well.
Jesse: We had kind of a rough tour in 2013, and the dates on this one were significantly better which is good because we have a bunch of festivals coming up next year! We’re doing Roadburn in April, Temples in May and a couple more that are being talked about.
One of the things that KEN Mode is kind of well known for is that you’re both accountants and metal is how you make your living. Does the bassist still have a job?
Jesse: Our new bassist Scott, he works a job at an independent theater in Saskatoon. He mostly does that because he can pull it off in between tours and would like the extra money. Also, Shane and I are the main people for the administrative stuff. He loves his job and he’s stoked that he’s able to make it work. It’s weird because in Europe we had sporadic wi-fi access so he would get 800 emails at once and you would hear him freaking out because he had an issue at work that he only just found out about.
Shane: I feel for anybody whose working a regular job while being in a touring band because it’s tough.
How do you finagle that? What are your living conditions when not on the road?
Jesse: Very very minimal. I haven’t really had my own place in three years.
Shane: Live cheap, take advantage of friends. “Do you care about me? Then maybe I could sleep on your couch for free”
Jesse: It’s a weird sacrifice to make because we’re on the road so much it really doesn’t make sense to have your own living quarters. While we live this way we will continue ridiculously minimalist, no vehicles, no real place of our own. It’s weird and kind of hard to wrap your head around as an adult. Us being in our thirties. We’re trying to make this a go.
Shane: I’m not bummed about it, it’s just kind of an economic reality. I read an article on line where Iggy Pop talked about how you can’t make a living playing music anymore. In this day and age you’ve got to make pretty significant sacrifices. Especially with our educational background, we can do other stuff. It’s a well thought out choice. If you’re bummed out that you don’t have a nice car or place to live, then go back and work a desk job, but that’s not nearly as cool as doing this type of shit. We’re down in Texas on our birthdays and hanging out and watching bands. There’s pros and cons to everything. I’m not saying this is the greatest and that type of life sucks, there’s pros and cons to everything. There’s moments where I’ve been on tour and you had a long drive and you played a show that wasn’t the greatest and you’re going “Oh f*ck, I would kill to be behind a desk f*cking sitting back right now” I’ve definitely come to acknowledge that the grass is always greener on the other side. You’ve just got to step back, take a look at the situation and do what makes sense.
I want you to finish this sentence for me “I’ve never told this story before and probably shouldn’t but…”
Jesse: On the last tour we had a half hour discussion about the difference between cookies, biscuits, pies and cakes and their various taxation in Britain with the Hark guys.
Shane: That’s the type of shit that Gunnar from Season of Mist said is boring and to stop talking about.
Jesse: He said “No one will ever cover you if you talk about stuff like this”
What do you love so much about music?
Shane: Music is awesome. It has the power to take you back to a time and a place in your life in a second. That’s the thing that consistently brings me back to thinking that this is a great life to lead. I’ve had it where you put on a record that will instantly bring you back to being fourteen years old. That’s art in general.
Jesse: On the way down I was doing a bit of a time capsule thing with myself. We recently for this next record demoed all the material on a four track recorder that I got in high school. We haven’t used that thing much at all as KEN Mode. We started using it in our first demos in 1999 and 2000 then we thought it was broken so we haven’t used it in fourteen years. So we demoed this entire record over and over on this four track. Hearing myself, fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen years later… I have demos that I did in high school where I played every instrument. So much has changed yet so little has also changed. My speaking voice is the same. A lot of this new record is very much a return to the roots of the music that Shane and I got in too when we were teenagers. It’s Jesse: interesting hearing the similarities between the stuff we’re writing now and the stuff we were writing back then. We’re all still the same dudes but we’ve just lived half a lifetime.
Shane: You’re drumming was better then. The only reason why I’m playing drums is because I told him I liked playing drums more. When we were starting the band he was the better drummer. I’m finding my position in the band. He slowly stopped playing drums because he focused on bass and guitar.
Jesse: Originally I was just a bassist I started doing vocals out of necessity.
Shane: We’re really good at getting longwinded for no reason.
Jesse: Listen to us. Go see us on tour. Go see any of your favorite bands on tour. Especially in this day and age, the smaller bands need you coming out and supporting them more than ever because no one wants to pay for that shit and they’re doing their best work now, don’t miss out. Don’t wait until twenty years from now and say “I wish I had seen them when they were twenty five and full of piss and vinegar” This is the time you want to see them.
Shane: Bands are a time and a place, everything is a time and a place. The Black Flag reunion… it’s not the same thing. If you really like a record go see the band on tour right now.
KEN Mode Online
Check their latest album ‘Entrench’ at: