The Colors of Kite to the Moon
Kite to the Moon drummer and vocalist Andrew Hanmer paints the picture of a typical styling session for the three-piece, pop-punk glamour group.
“Timi poses, Jay makes faces and I put on makeup,” Hanmer says.
When they are not in the mirror perfecting their vintage-gone-wild looks, Hanmer, Timi Conley, and Jay Rodgers combine wacky off-the-wall styles with power-punk glitter sounds to form Kite to the Moon, an Athens-based band that debuted at the Athens Human Rights Festival in 2007.
Hanmer remembers their unofficial debut as a wildly theatrical group in 2006 at The Caledonia Lounge.
“First one I remember distinctively was a Halloween show,” Hanmer says. “I told my family we were dressing up as Debutante Zombies.”
Decked out in fake blood, dresses and heels the band made their first statement as a theatrical performance with no boundaries.
“When we first started playing together we knew we had something,” says Conley. “From the beginning there was a sense of magic, and it continues to deepen and get tighter; it’s an ESP thing that develops over time, and that happens with good musicians.”
After changing their name from the original title, Aqualung, Kite to the Moon developed their sound as a unique musical act in Athens. Kite to the Moon is the product of an impressive triumph over an unlikely mixing of diverging backgrounds, former bands and musical perspectives – something that could only happen in this funky music hotbed of a town.
“I came to Athens specifically because I heard it was an amazing town for music,” says Conley, who originally hails from Boston. “I also ran out of money here.”
Rodgers, an Athens native, who calls himself a “ska, reggae guy,” has fond memories of watching Conley’s first Athens band before their musical careers intertwined.
“I was a huge fan of Timi’s band The Fuzzy Sprouts; I was just a kid, but I grew up with it.”
Hanmer, on the other hand, came down from Dallas, Texas, and names his influences to be “more Lionel Richie, Celine Dion and Def Leppard.”
The creative collision of the three musicians may have been by chance, but was certainly no mistake. The final product was a nerd-sexy power-punk glam group that is reminiscent of artists like Ween, Weezer and Beck.
“It just happened to be Beck-ish. I’ve always written lyrics that are somewhat abstract,” Conley says.
Kite to the Moon has a style all their own in both the music and fashion worlds.
“There was a change in how we looked at ourselves, when we changed our name to Kite to the Moon,” says Conley. “The Halloween show made us want to change our name to fit where we were headed – which is a party; Kite to the Moon is a big party.”
Echoing their eccentrically enthusiastic duds may be challenging, says Conley, guitarist and vocalist for the band.
“People should know it’s possible if you’re willing to spend many hours in front of the mirror,” Conley laughs.
If you are lucky enough to run into the guys as they are coloring the streets of Athens you may find Rodgers in dark, designer jeans, a yellow Troubled Hubble concert T-shirt and a dark, suede fedora.
“I’m a broke-ass, but I have to have my designer jeans. I used to be a Rockin’ Republic guy, then went to Diesel, and now I’m trying this new designer,” Rodgers says. Besides his designer jeans, Rodgers calls himself a “hat-man.”
“I often put my hat on before my clothes,” he says.
Timi may be dawning red polyester vintage slacks, an embroidered vintage button-down over a “Where the Wild Things Are” T-shirt and a red fedora with a striking feather.
“We go to the clearance rack to get the things people will never consider wearing, and that’s what we wear,” Conley says.
Hanmer may be spotted in an effortless vintage tan, collared shirt with girl’s “good-butt” jeans, a “big and gluttonous” belt buckle and designer eyeglass rims.
“We both wear girl’s jeans,” says Conley, “it makes the butt look good.”
“But not indie, tapered-leg skinny girl’s jeans,” Hanmer says, “just good-butt jeans.”
The guys, like many other thrifty fashonistas, like to shop at The Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Potter’s House Thrift Store and Goodwill.
“I take my clothes to donate them and Timi picks them out and says: ‘Hey, cool. look at this shirt,’” Hanmer says.
So what is Kite to the Moon’s concert attire, or in other words, party wear?
“[For shows,] we’ve worn sombreros, tuxedos; we’ve been cowboys, LA rockers; we’ve worn clothes over superhero costumes, suits and ties,” Hanmer says.
The red, yellow and blue superhero costumes proudly displaying “K,” “2” and “M” came from the “Tigerz” music video where the trio saves the day from the “evil, yet adorable Fuzzies.” The band then rocked the superhero gear for a few shows following the video shoot.
“Even if we’re just wearing T-shirts and jeans, it’s a theme in some way,” Hanmer says. Conley admits he can only remember one show that the band only wore T-shirts and jeans.
“There’s almost like, this Athens uniform, and it just doesn’t seem like our style,” Conley says.
Rogers says the amount of planning for their costumes really depends; sometimes they come up with ideas weeks in advance, other times it’s within two days of their performance. Last minute get-ups can be easily pulled from Conley’s own closet.
“I’ve got a closet full of all sorts of wild things; it’s like Timi’s Technicolor closet,” Conley says. “For Ziggy Stardust, I do four costume changes for that show. But then again I don’t play guitar for that show.”
Either way, the band can depend on the Tiger Girls to amplify the production of their live shows.
“Whatever we do is supplemented and complimented by the Tiger Girls,” says Conley.
The Tiger Girls, famous for their tiger-print leotard costumes, are local trapeze artists that have bonded with the band over their passion and ambition for big performances. Their name and notorious tiger bodysuits were inspired by Kite to the Moon’s single “Tigerz” from their debut album “Pounce,” released September 2010.
The trio, Lily Woodruff, Lauren Puls and Carrie Kretzer, collaborates with Kite to the Moon, interpreting their songs into aerial art that they perform live at the concerts on stage (or wherever they can rig a trapeze).
“They’ve dressed up as shiny, silver unicorns, Pink Panthers and Hooters girls,” says Conley. The Tiger girls wore the Hooters girls outfits on show in honor of the Kite to the Moon song “Redneck Girls with Poofy Hair.”
Even with his self-proclaimed “bone-head party attitude,” Rodgers still assures new listeners of Kite to the Moon that it is about the music, too.
“We want the audience to have a really good time, but sometimes you have to go back to the music,” Rodgers says. “We have to prove it’s not all theatrics, it’s good songs too.”
Kite to the Moon promises big things to come as the band will be concentrating on spreading “Pounce” to the masses.
“We are kind of at a beginning right now,” says Conley, “and we’ve emerged like the ‘swamp thing.’”