Rozwell Kid is one of those bands that is impossible to ignore onstage. Between the wildly catchy hooks and larger-than-life riffs, the music bursts with passion and joy, even when the lyrics offer contemplative self-deprecation, heavy nostalgia or anxious meltdowns. It’s blunt, it’s full of pop-culture references, and it sounds unbearably fun — the kind of music you want to crowd-surf to while also air-guitaring.
And if that sound isn’t enough to reel you in, the classic-rock stage antics and outrageous spirit of RK will certainly keep your eyes glued to the stage.
“It probably comes from consuming a lot of AC/DC, Queen, The Darkness,” vocalist and guitarist Jordan Hudkins says of the stage energy. “Our ridiculous stage antics are done with heart. We try to go with the flow, see where the fickle hand of art, the fickle finger of inspiration, the fickle compass of creativity points us.”
When City Paper catches up with Hudkins, he and the rest of the band are driving through Wyoming admiring the wide-open sky and prairies spreading out before the mountain ranges on the horizon. It’s the band’s first headlining tour on the West Coast, and Hudkins expresses the band’s excitement.
“We’re excited to play new songs live after touring for several years on the last record,” says Hudkins. “The crowds have been so awesome, and we’re loving watching Vundabar and Great Grandpa tear it up every night.”
On Precious Art’s opening track, “Wendy’s Trash Can,” Hudkins declares, “I’m a lightning bolt of cosmic self-expression / I’m listening to ‘Band on The Run’ and that’s it.” This is the only band that can include a person shouting, “Shred for me!” before a guitar solo without being insufferable; instead, it evokes giddy joy.
Rozwell Kid gets into all sorts of shenanigans. For example, in a scheme with SideOneDummy’s director of marketing Jamie Coletta, the band sent Potato Parcels (a service that will send your message on a potato) pitching Precious Art to reviewers like The A.V. Club.
“I checked my mail one day, and there was this bag with a potato in it,” says Hudkins. “On it was a note from Jamie saying how proud she was of the record. It was a really sweet message. But then the gears started turning. What if we pitched the album to all sorts of publications using these potatoes?”
Hudkins and his bandmates all have a sharp wit and sense of humor that winds its way through the band’s sound. During our conversation, Hudkins references Outback Steakhouse’s 2013 “No Rules, Just Right” campaign before confessing that guitarist Adam Meisterhans once ordered just a take-out Bloomin’ Onion from Outback.
“That was one of our lowest points,” laughs Hudkins. “A Bloomin’ Onion is like five days’ worth of eating. Maybe I’m exaggerating.”
But just to double-check, Hudkins pauses as someone else in the van searches for the nutrition facts online, clarifying that Outback’s onion is 800 calories and has 58 grams of fat, 22 of which are saturated.
Later on, Hudkins very casually mentions that he applied to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, and when he came for his interview, in 2003, the school rejected him because his portfolio was “too scatter-brained.” As he waited in the lobby, he watched the space shuttle Columbia explode on the news.
“I guess it was a pretty dark moment,” chuckles Hudkins.
When CP asks what the band’s been listening to in the van, Hudkins immediately responds that the band is currently listening to some “Red Hot Chili Peps,” specifically Blood Sugar Sex Magik.
“We spin some Chili Peps at least twice a tour,” says Hudkins. “Sean [the drummer] is up there in the van just air-slapping the bass. If you’re not air-slapping the bass to some Chili Peps, what the heck are you doing, you know?”
It seems so cliché to say, but Rozwell Kid is real. And it’s the realness in the lyrics and the members’ goofy personalities that endear the group to fans and make those admirers comfortable sharing with Rozwell Kid. As a result, it’s not uncommon for folks to make Rozwell Kid-inspired art and share it online or bring it as a gift at shows.
“I just can’t believe that people take the time to make art inspired by our art,” Hudkins says. “I’m always blown away.”
Sometimes, however, the band’s goofiness makes people skeptical of the information the band distributes on its social media. For example, Glassjaw once opened for Rozwell Kid at a show in Long Island. It wasn’t promoted ahead of time, but Glassjaw wanted to play a warm-up gig before leaving for the Wrecking Ball festival in Atlanta.
“I posted a picture on the internet of Glassjaw playing, and nobody thought I was serious,” laughs Hudkins. “But they really did play before us!”
For fans of the band who follow RK’s social media, it should come as no surprise that the band loves Sheetz and is happy this tour will visit the Sheetz territory of Pittsburgh. However, Hudkins does not support the Sheetz vs. Wawa war that rages between Western and Eastern Pennsylvanians.
“I want to go on record and say that I am not a fan of the aggression online about Sheetz and Wawa. It’s not a competition, so there are no winners, and only losers in that game,” says Rudkins. “Both are fine establishments doing what they do well. Everyone needs to stop being confrontational, and take a step back and remember that we’ve only got a small amount of time on this blue marble.
“Do we really want to spend it fighting over gas-station food?”