Kaonashi play a truly personalized form of heavy, alternative metalcore on their newest release Why Did You Do It?, out now via Get This Right Records and a precursor to a longer album they’ll be recording soon. The band feel down in the trenches, outlining the core of the modern heavy music landscape as expressed by artists who will never be heard on the mainstream radio but have fans flocking to their side and clinging to the line all the same.
Kaonashi’s new seven track release chronicles the story of Jamie, a fictional high school student who although the product of the band’s imagination, formed from pieces drawn from their own lives. The story their album tells weaves through various shades of heartache — abuse, the loss of a meaningful relationship, and suicide.
It’s not just easy listening.
Drummer Ryan Paolilli explains: “Me and Peter [Rono, the band’s vocalist] came up with the story probably a year and a half, maybe a little more ago. We were just talking about the topic of people’s ignorance to depression and suicidal thoughts — how people can condemn someone or outcast them, and as soon as something happens, then oh, everyone’s that person’s friend — but they’re gone. Nothing ever gets changed. No one’s actually looking at it, and no one sees the moments of what builds up to that. It’s always just 0 to 100 and that’s it. So, we were trying to paint a picture of that so people can get a better grasp of how this goes. I hope it doesn’t get lost in translation.”
“Me and Peter come from totally different backgrounds — I’m from Massachusetts and he’s from Philadelphia,” the drummer continues. “We started relating to each other and decided to describe what it was like for us — as kind of a juxtaposition of where we are now as people versus where we were then as kids.”
The story features elements likely familiar to far too many of Kaonashi’s fans. Via the band’s work the heartache becomes less of a virus and more of a rallying cry.
The band’s efforts to translate Jamie’s story through music take them down some jagged musical roads incorporating rugged experimentation and some smoother, melodic elements interwoven right into the overall mix.
“We kind of just wrote how we always did — we just wrote what we wanted and what we thought sounded good and then Peter came in and at the studio really put the colors to the story,” Paolilli says.
On the smoother end of the musical spectrum, Kaonashi even managed a vocal feature from The Contortionist’s Michael Lessard. A friend of the band had originally approached them about having someone they knew film studio updates for the Why Did You Do It? recording process, and that “someone” ended up being Lessard, who Kaonashi’s got the utmost respect for as a musician. He features on the track “M.O.R.G.A.N.” and helps kick off some of the band’s more blatantly melodic undertakings.
Lessard’s main project is one of a number of bands inspiring Kaonashi to take their own art in new directions. Paolilli says, for instance, that the band is impressed by Coheed and Cambria’s dedication to tying their music together with a story — and on the musical side, artists from The Fall of Troy to The Dillinger Escape Plan have informed the direction Kaonashi take their craft.
“We were trying to make this — I guess for lack of a better word — more accessible,” Paolilli explains. “That was kind of always Kaonashi’s thing – writing progressive-like music that’s easy for a normal listener to grasp, but then like the fifth time they listen to it they’re like — oh wait whoa that’s crazy I didn’t really realize what’s going on there.”
Considering they’re a band tackling an already energetic musical blend and a hefty, intimately emotional thematic journey on their newest undertaking, connection to their real life fans remains important for Kaonashi. They’re not in this alone — and with the release of their newest material, they’ve gotten welcome confirmation of their direction.
“It’s been almost overwhelming,” Paolilli explains of the response to their newest work. “We’ve all been so nervous for this to release wondering — is it even going to do anything? Is anyone going to care? And it’s just been astounding. We’ve always had a pretty loyal fan base. Peter and I — and everyone else in the band — will try and talk to people that are there. We’ll always end up spending — I don’t know, at least an hour and a half or two hours after the show is over talking to people. It’s more than just ‘buy my record.’ We’re trying to create a culture and a community about it, so it’s been great. It’s been overwhelming.”
Check out the band below on Spotify