By Shannon Butler
You have probably heard Awolnations song “Sail”. It is everywhere. Starting as a song that was organically grown station-to-station, the requests from listeners poured in, and it is now featured in everything from popular television shows to advertisements. Earlier this year “Sail” went platinum in the U.S and double platinum in Canada. The people have spoken and they love Awolnations’ distinctive approach to creating music. Each song on their debut album Megalithic Symphony sounds completely different from the last allowing the listener to have a soundtrack for every moment of their lives. The band spent most of 2011 touring to promote Megalithic Symphony and 2012 is poised to be an even bigger year, with performances lined up all around the world, starting with California’s flagship music festival Coachella. Orlando native Kenny Carkeet, Awolnations keyboardist, rhythm guitarist, and occasional backing vocalist, took a break from the bands demanding tour schedule to catch up with Atlas Jams.
Atlas Jams: You graduated from Full Sail and then worked as a paralegal in Orlando; it seems like you made the jump from suit wearing business man to travelling-the-world musician almost instantly upon moving to Los Angeles. What do you think was the most important thing you did to make it possible to live your dream?
Kenny: I think having the courage to pack up and move far away from home, but to a place where I could be immersed in music was key. I know too many people who went to school for music or production, and then just waited around for ‘something’ to land at their feet, which it never did.
Atlas Jams: Most of 2011 was spent touring to promote Megalithic Symphony, what has been your most memorable performance to date?
Kenny: Funny, this interview is happening right after our most memorable performance. Last weekend was our first time playing the Coachella festival in Indio, CA. Not only did we play for somewhere around 50,000 people, but we also had Macy Gray come out and perform “Sail” with us. On top of that, we just recently travelled to South Africa and played shows in Johannesburg and Cape Town. That experience is definitely something we will always have with us.
Atlas Jams: Was your performance with Macy Gray planned because she covered your song “sail”?
Kenny: Yes, Macy is cool as a fan. Her cover of “Sail” blew all of our minds, and we were all so happy to hear she was willing to perform with us.
Atlas Jams: I have to ask you more about Coachella! What would you say was your most unexpected experience?
Kenny: There is a Polish hardcore band from back in the 90’s called Refused. They broke up 14 years ago, but got back together and played their reunion show at Coachella. They were a band that I never that I would ever get the chance to see live….not only did I get to see them live, but I made it all the way up to the barricade. Life changing experience.
Kenny: My bed. My TV. My local restaurants. The Beach. Just…home : )
Atlas Jams: With sold out shows all over the nation the band is keeping you very busy. Are you working on any projects aside from AWOL?
Kenny: All of us are always on the grind with our projects outside of AWOL. Personally, I have been working with an up-and-coming rapper named Zeale out of Austin TX. His recent performance at 2012 SXSW proved him to be future star. I also have a side project band with my drummer from AWOL, Hayden Scott, and my guitar player from my Orlando punk rock band, Justin Sisley. That project is a way for us to get back to our roots and make hardcore/punk rock music. We play under the name, Submerged Birds.
Atlas Jams: Where were you when you found out that AWOLNATION’s first single “sail” had gone platinum?
Kenny: Oddly enough, I was at home. I received the news via a phone call from our MGMT. Needless to say, we were all blown away.
Atlas Jams: I love the puppet version of you in the “Not Your Fault” video. Is there a reason why you seem so uninterested when your band mates are getting attacked by a monster?
Kenny: Haha….well let’s just say I am a patient of California’s Medical Marijuana law….and when the characters first came back apparently I wasn’t ‘high’ enough for it to really be me.
Atlas Jams: Finally, what are you most excited for in 2012?
Kenny: We have a lot of big things coming up in 2012. Our first “real” European tour kicks off may 20th with something like 3 weeks of dates all around Europe. But this band has been growing so quickly that none of us really every know what to expect. Just the other day we were told we are going to India in December. Things like that happen every day….and that is the fun part…
Here’s AwolNation at playing “Sail” at Coachella 2012: