Kicking Daisies fans sprout in downtown Fairfield
Downtown Fairfield was abuzz Tuesday night. Fans were chatting and cradling CDs on the sidewalk outside Pinkberry on the Post Road as the object of all that anticipation -- even, adoration -- headed toward the crowd.
It was Kicking Daisies, the home-grown teen rock group fresh from opening for TV star/singer Victoria Justice in Los Angeles. Back home, the group had a busy schedule ahead with radio station appearances and a big show Friday. But the Kicking Daisies musicians like to stay connected with fans, especially the local ones who have supported them from the beginning and had kept an eye on their steady rise in the music world since they debuted in January 2009 a half-block away at the Fairfield Theatre Co.
One trio of fans in line at the CD signing table outside the Pinkberry shop on Post Road included 13-year-olds Jillian Rogers, Elizabeth Brunt and Melissa Shea, each clutching Kicking Daisies latest CD release, "Keeping Secrets." They each had a favorite in the quartet.
"I love Carly (Kalafus, 15, the bassist and a lead vocalist)," said Rogers. "She has bright red hair and doesn't care how she dresses or what people think. She didn't really want to play bass at first, but learned in an hour. She's inspiring because she's so driven."
Brunt's preference is Carly's 18-year-old sister Caitlin, the drummer and a vocalist. "I'm also a female drummer," said Brunt. "When people find that out, they say I'm insane. I tell them there's a lot of amazing female drummers out there. Caitlin is my inspiration and my favorite drummer ever."
Shea singled out 15-year-old Ben Spremulli, the lead guitarist and keyboardist as her favorite KD member. "We're kind of alike," she said. "We like the same music. He's really funny and nice."
Rogers recalled meeting Carly, as well as Duran Visek, 16, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist, at the Connecticut Post Mall in Milford on her birthday, no less. "They wished me a happy birthday," she said. "I was really excited, and that was the first time I ever went up and said hi to anyone. I usually don't talk to people. I'd seen them at only one concert before and didn't get to say hi. In the store, they seemed more approachable."
Kicking Daisies fans are not restricted to teens.
Fairfielder Karen DeWitt, 48, was just as excited as her 11-year-old daughter, Lauren, to meet the band. "I like their sound, very upbeat," she said. "I don't have XM radio, so I listen to a lot of CDs. I grabbed their disc at Las Vetas for $5, I figured how can I go wrong? Well, I absolutely love it. It's great for musical talent, especially local, to make it out there, and they're genuinely nice kids. Clean music, great to drive to."
KD's tour manager and Chef's Table owner Rich Herzfeld stood to the side and looked on as the band, which he had led over from his Post Road business, sat down at the signing table to greet fans. He provided an update on the group's current status.
"Back on Aug. 20th, they appeared as the musical guests on an episode of the Disney show, `So Random,' kind of a kids' `Saturday Night Live,' " he said. "It gets replayed three or four times a week, in constant rotation. That has established them as a national act, and has them breaching international waters."
Herzfeld also noted the recent move to L.A. of the band's manager Brian Murphy, who had been a long-time Fairfield resident, with a home near Roger Sherman Elementary School. "That will help with KD's access to the world of TV and movies."
After a series of area appearance leading up to the weekend, Herzfeld said, "They're going to be doing appearances at radio stations nationwide, supporting the release of their new single `Breathing,' which officially released Aug. 29."
For now, he added, "they're getting some cool opportunities opening for bands they love, like the Ready Set, Downtown Fiction and the Summer Set."
Does the rigorous schedule conflict with schooling? "Carly is in regular school at Milford's Jonathan Law High School and has a pretty flexible schedule," said Herzfeld. "Caitlin has graduated. And Ben and Duran are both home schooled. So there's a lot of flexibility."
As critical for fans as KD's touring schedule was knowing their favorite Pinkberry frozen-yogurt concoctions. Carly: "I start with the Original and add strawberries, weird chocolate stuff, brownie bites and tons of honey." Ben: "Peanut butter, toasted almonds, mixed nuts, chocolate peanut butter crunch." Duran: "Original with strawberries, kiwi, banana, chocolate crunch balls and toasted almonds." Caitlin: "Peanut butter, strawberries, brownie bites, yogurt chips, Captain Krunch, the 50-cent extra crunch and a bunch of honey."
Enjoying his fro-yo treat and bandmates' company later at a table inside the shop, Visek said, "Life is good, though being in a band is a constant struggle. If you're not on your A-game 100 percent of the time, you're gonna get spit out. You can't risk a band performance and take a step down. But this is what I live for and thrive on."
He added that he's studying for his G.E.D., but traveling can be tiresome. "Things I get stressed about are early gigs, and getting warmed up in time."
The front man also commented on the bane of being a vocalist. "When you're a singer and have a gig, you can't drink soda, iced tea, orange juice, chocolate, milk or smoothies. Really only water."
One of the best things about his experience so far, Visek said, has been meeting some of his music heroes. "I recently met two main inspirations: Max Bemis from Say Anything --I listen to all his music -- and Andrew McMahon, from Jack's Mannequin. He's especially inspiring in that he survived cancer and wrote a record about it. Amazing."