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Interview: Kyle Lucas of Vonnegutt (Austin City Limits 2010)

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If you were wondering, hip-hop/rock group Vonnegutt are named after the late author of such classics as Slaughterhouse-Five and Cat’s Cradle.

“He’s my favorite author,” Kyle Lucas, lead lyricist of Vonnegutt, said when I caught up with him during Austin City Limits. Naming the band after the author was a move that drew negative responses several years ago when Kurt Vonnegut passed away.

“It was just a cool name and way of honoring him, but people blew it out of proportion,” Lucas said as he reflected on the event. “But, Vonnegut’s daughter reached out to us and gave us her support.”

It’s saying a lot when a band as young as Vonnegutt is already drumming up that much talk and controversy. The band, which initially formed three years ago, consists of lyricist Kyle Lucas, singer and guitarist Neil Garrard, Patrick Postlewalt on bass, and Taylor White on drums.

Founding band members Lucas and Garrard were already musicians in their own right before they formed Vonnegutt. Lucas, who had started rapping and writing songs in the third grade, and began recording at 15, was building his reputation as a solo artist, releasing mixtapes and performing. Through an ad, he caught the attention of Gerrard, who, at the time, had already worked with big names such as Kelly Rowland and Pastor Troy.

“Vonnegutt comes together because we want to have fun and make the catchiest songs,” Lucas said as he talked about the group’s eclectic tastes and pursuits.

When the members of Vonnegutt come together, they generate a high energy fusion of rock and hip-hop that is at once catchy and highly danceable. However, the content of their songs come from real-life, and sometimes dark, experiences. Lucas wrote the single “Ex Girlfriends Are Stupid” during a time when he was going through a difficult break up with a girlfriend of five years.

“I had been with this girl for five years and I thought that I was gonna marry her.” Lucas said. “I remember not being able to eat and driving around in my car aimlessly. I already had all these rhymes I had written about the situation and I was finally like, let’s put this in a song.”

Indeed, if you stop dancing long enough to listen to the lyrics, you can hear the heartbreak that flows just beneath the sunny guitar riffs and driving hip-hop beats. Perhaps it was the depth and substance of Vonnegutt’s music that caught the attention of Big Boi, one half of the legendary Atlanta group Outkast, who signed the group to his Purple Ribbon Entertainment record label back in 2008.

Lucas spoke about what it was like to work and record with a star he had looked up to in his younger years. “There was really no Hip-Hop in Atlanta before Outkast. If you ask any of my friends who I grew up with, they can recite every Outkast song word for word. Outkast is the only reason why I rap.”

Now, it is hard for Lucas to believe that the same person he looked up to as a kid gives him calls, collaborates with him, and admires his music. “It still blows my mind when I think about it,” Lucas said. Getting signed to Purple Ribbon Entertainment has led to a whirlwind of opportunities and appearances for Vonnegutt. They were recently featured on Big Boi’s latest solo effort Sir Lucious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty, they have toured with Chiddy Bang and 2AM Club; and have also made appearances at SXSW, Lollapalooza, and the Letterman show alongside Big Boi.

Vonnegutt have even greater plans for their future. “Relentless touring is our goal. It’s all about the fans. We want to build a core of fans that like us for us.”
Lucas also expressed interest in working with label mate and rising star Janelle Monae.

“I call Janelle my aunt. Because I don’t always see her that often, but when I do, she always asks me about my life, like how I’m doing and gives me good advice,” Lucas said. “I would love to work with her. If she reads this. tell her I said holla at me.”

Amidst the interviews and shows, Vonnegutt also plans to release a new mix tape on the internet and, eventually, a full length album. “We’re still working that,” Lucas said about the prospect of a full length album.

Even though the release date of Vonnegutt’s debut album isn’t set yet, there place in the music industry very well may be. They continue to gain fan base with their brand of honest and fun hip-hop and rock; and, with star power like Big Boi backing them, they are bound to shoot to the top.

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