Monday, May 27, 2024

A Chat with Kobanova About Their Past, Future and Latest Release For Better or Worse

Joining together at the University of Georgia in 2019, and combining their musical abilities of classical piano, blues guitar and a talented singer-songwriter, Kobanova was created. An exceptional fusion of diverse musical styles and talents that has captivated audiences and led them to a sold-out release show for their latest Ep For Better or Worse.

We got to speak to the band about their past and future. 

Hello Kobanova Band! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to chat with you. 

Please introduce yourselves and your position in the band as a musician and as an entrepreneur.

Hi guys! We’re Kobanova. Jimmy Riemer is the lead singer and rhythm guitarist.  Wes Bacastow is lead guitarist and sings supporting vocals. Chris Dickson is the pianist/keyboardist.  Jimmy and Wes are the primary songwriters and lyricists. Chris often plays foundational musical composition for us to build off. The three of us also run the operational aspects of the business from booking, music distribution and marketing.  

Ripken Walker began playing drums with Kobanova back in late 2022 and blessed us with his talents on the new EP, For Better or Worse. Sam McIntire, the newest addition to the group, joined us earlier this year and layed down the bass guitar tracks on the EP.  Not only are these guys an amazing rhythm section, they both have incredible knowledge of music recording and sound technology.  They have become an integral part of Kobanova’s team for configuring our live sound on stage and for making production decisions on new records. 

What inspired you all to start playing together?

The three of us (Jimmy, Wes, and Chris) met together while in college at the University of Georgia where we saw the success of several bands in Athens, Georgia crushing it  playing cover sets at bars and local parties. We were all independent artists & performers before getting to college, and so we saw an opportunity to put our talents together and have some fun playing music.   

How would you describe Kobanova’s music style?

The Kobanova sound dances around a variety of styles but the consistent theme is an element of southern rock infused with either blues, indie rock, alternative, or alt-country. While the soundscapes change completely from song to song, our writing style almost always features some kind of storytelling or narrative paired with a powerful instrumental piece to add emotion and context.  We also just like to jam out so the instrumental parts add to our live show. 

We are already into our second quarter of 2023, how has it been treating you all so far? What are some goals that the band has set for this year? What are you already excited about with these goals? Where do you see Kobanova at the end of 2023? 

Wow, time is flying by.  We’ve been so busy it’s crazy to believe that we’re already well into the month of May.  We’ve played a show every week since our single The Hunt came out on April 7th, 2023.  It’s been our most consistent run of performances since we were back in school in 2019. Our new EP is pushing past 11,000 streams on Spotify which is a huge milestone for us. One of our goals this year is to grow our catalog past 100,000 streams on Spotify. We’re feeling very good about our progress at the moment and have plans for more releases this year to keep the growth accelerating. You should expect to see several new Kobanova singles this summer and an album sometime in Q4 2023. The big picture for us this year is to grow our catalog of music and strengthen our regional fan base here in Georgia.  We’ll also be doing our best to grow our online presence with good social media activation. 

What have been some of the band’s most successful shows?

How do you think your experiences together have impacted the way you write music? And who are the writers of the band?

One of your favorite shows we have played occurred in spring 2020 where Chris, Wes, and Jimmy along with some of the earlier members of Kobanova headlined a show at the historic 40 Watt Club in Athens Ga. It was the debut of our second single Transgressions, and we were able to share the stage with some of our closest friends in the Athens music scene. Recently, we hosted an EP release show at Smith’s Olde Bar in Atlanta. This was our first-ticketed show after taking some time off, and we were blown away to sell it out four weeks in advance. 

Our experience of relentlessly gigging in Athens made us grow fond of songs that just hit as good live as they do on the final record. This preference has deeply influenced our writing philosophy, and we are constantly thinking about how our songs will translate to a live setting. Giving our listeners a memorable live experience will always be one of the most important aspects of our music. Chris, Jimmyand Wes were co-writers on the new EP, For Better or Worse. Moving forward, we expect the writing process to become a collective effort shared by the whole band. 

What challenges have you faced as a band and how did you overcome them?

Do you take any creative approaches to producing new music or performing live shows?

We have faced our fair share of challenges as a band. After our inception in 2018 we worked to play as many shows as possible and established a strong presence in the Athens music scene. We were recording our second single in Spring 2020, and we were about to begin touring for the spring party season at colleges around the southeast… but the whole Covid happened. Like all musicians experience, our planned shows were effectively canceled for the next year, and several original members of the band moved on to pursue different ventures.  We continued to operate with a revolving door in the rhythm section until we finally found Sam and Ripken this past winter. 

What has been the most rewarding experience since forming the band?

Growing up, how important was music in your life? Can you recall the moment when you decided that you wanted to be in this industry? Was it an easy or difficult choice to make?

There is a special feeling you get when you hear a song that you connect with for the first time. It has been immensely rewarding to be able to give that feeling to our friends, family, and growing fanbase. All of us have been playing music as early as we were able to start holding instruments. For the three of us founders, it definitely clicked while we were in college that performing was going to be a major focus for the rest of our lives. – It’s not exactly a one-time choice to pursue a music career. It’s an ongoing series of daily choices to continue bringing music to the world. 

Was there ever a time when you thought about doing something else? If you weren’t a musician today, what else could you see yourself doing? Would you be as fulfilled in life? (You can answer individually or as a band)

At the moment, we all pursue different passions and means of living outside of music. We’ve found that excelling in other areas of life provides us energy, money, and skills to make us more successful as a band. Those of us that have graduated from college are working in various industries including consulting, investment management, and sales. Ripken is studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology pursuing a Masters in Music Technology. We are constantly bouncing between our various responsibilities but managing the chaos is fulfilling in its own right.

What has been the biggest surprise so far about making music in your career and forming a band?  Do you find “meeting of the minds” easy or difficult?

One counterintuitive lesson that we’ve learned is that simplicity reigns king when making a song. While writing our new EP, an important focus was for us to make an impactful set of songs that we could perform and replicate as a true 5-piece band.  Meeting of the minds is a skill that’s developed over the last four years. Everyone in the band is a lot more persuasive in advocating for their ideas than when we first started. But ultimately, the group collectively has learned to be more objective and to elevate the best ideas.

Let’s talk about your latest single “The Hunt”. What was the inspiration for this song? What was it like putting it together? Did anything surprise you about the overall process?

The inspiration was to make a relatable song that prioritized our vision for simplicity. Aside from the pre-chorus, The Hunt is nothing but a steady swaying back and forth between the 1 and 2 chords. Lyrically, The Hunt is a conversation between two people who realize they no longer see eye-to-eye about their future together. 

Who are some of your favorite artists or rather, what musicians have continued to inspire the band’s music? Who would you all absolutely love to work with in the future? 

There’s a long list of artists who inspire our music.  From the southern rock side of things, The Vegabonds and The Dirty Guv’nahs are putting out great music. Jason Isbell is a strong influence on our songwriting style.  Alternative rock and folk-rock groups are also prominent inspirations for us including Houndmouth, Mt Joy, Cage the Elephant, and The Revivalists.  We’d be ecstatic to work with or open for any of these artists.

How do you feel about social media? What do you think social media has done for your career so far? 

We have a love hate relationship with social media.  You can’t deny that it is a game changer for music discovery and an essential avenue to find fans and stay connected with them. However, it is easy to feel chained to social media and easy to get too focused on making content instead of making art. We’re still trying to figure out that balance. Social media has been critical for expanding our reach and developing our brand.

At the end of the day, what do you hope people take away from Kobanova’s music? 

The answer to this question is constantly changing and evolving, but our consistent goal is to make quality, relatable songs that can help others make sense of their own life experiences.  We hope our listeners find our music refreshing yet familiar.

Where can people see you perform next? Do you plan on touring this year?

We’ll be making our first appearances in Alabama, South Carolina, and Tennessee. So be sure to find us on Instagram @kobanova_official or our website – to see when we are coming to a city near you!   

You can listen and follow Kobanova here:

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