Kyle Nicolaides is a thinking man's rocker. The frontman and songwriter for L.A. band Beware of Darkness — who sound like a literary Led Zeppelin — grew up in Santa Barbara, where his father owns a small Greek restaurant.
In addition to playing music from a young age, Nicolaides read a lot, he spouts off names of authors in conversation like most bands talk about musicians. His music doesn't come from a place of slapdash or pseudo-artistry, he has genuine commitment to thinking deeply about the work that he creates. His band's first EP Howl, released last month on Bright Antenna, is filled with commentary is social issues; in one song he laments over pedophile priests. Over coffee at Stories bookstore in Echo Park, he shared five of his favorite works of literature and film.
“This is one of my favorite books of poetry. It was assigned reading for a poetry class I took at USC, and is probably the most I ever got out of that school. Every poem is brilliant; I love her diction and subject matter. Life, death, sex, ghosts, all these ghostly elements into emotional and spiritually human poems. They are a lot of the same elements that go into my work — I deal with death a lot in my songs. I think about it a lot, but I'm not afraid of it.
In Amy's poems she blurs three planes of existence into one, and it's incredible, and original. I got the chance to meet her for coffee in January and I was so nervous that I started stumbling over words, got incredibly self conscious and went completely braindead.
David Foster Wallace
Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
I'm not sure really sure how to even talk about this one. If you don't know who he is, buy this book. This was the first book of his I read. My favorite story is “The Depressed Person.” It captures depression perfectly. For me, DFW is an exercise in perception — reading books like these help you wake up to how things really are, and become aware of life on earth. He's got this ability to step back and see the human race from an alien/outsider perspective, and make all the things we think are important completely absurd.For me, he's above everyone else.
The Coen Brothers
O Brother, Where Art Thou?
This is the only movie I've watched more than once, and could watch every night. The music is my favorite part, and my favorite song is “Hard Time Killing Floor Blues.” I'm completely fascinated by that era in American history, and absolutely love the music, that mix of early blues, gospel, and roots. There's something romantic and pure about it.
The Philosophy of Andy Warhol
I learned detachment from this book. Detachment from life, from humans, from society, from caring, from emotions. This book hit me hard and wrecked me for a while, but I climbed out of it. It's funny because it's the only book I've lent out to a friend and never got back. Maybe for good reason…
Our first EP and single “Howl” is named after this book of poems. This is spiritual and religious text, in voice, in diction, in subject matter. It's an attempt at honesty, real clear cutting honesty. His voice is so sincere. I've got an audio reading of Ginsberg reciting “Transcription of Organ Music” and it sounds like a priest delivering a homily.
Beware of Darkness plays May 6th at The Troubadour