‘Perpetual.’ It’s the first word that comes to mind when I think of LKFFCT. ‘Brothers’ immediately follows. To me they are the quintessential sound of New Jersey. Taylor ham, egg and cheese on a perfect bagel. Bold. Soulful. Satisfying. Keep your yelp reviews and skip the appetizer. Simply put, this is real music made by real dudes. Started as a solo project by Max Rauch (guitar and vocals,) the lineup quickly expanded to include Keith Williams (guitar and vocals,) Brian Legental (bass) and Ryan Baredes (drums.) Thus far, their impressive discography includes 4 full length albums and 2 eps. Each of these releases is unique in its own right, covering themes like growing up, the Garden State and a changing larger world. Their drive to consistently put out top-shelf rock and roll is only matched by their appetite for gigs. Pretty much every NJ club, basement, bar and DIY space has been blessed by their presence. And by blessed, I mean shook. Volume, power and unpredictability sans setlist. This is a band that is rooted in making the perfect sound for the moment. Agreeing to talk about their past, present and future over a couple beers, LKFFCT Invited me to their Clifton practice space. Riding the horror-movie elevator up to their windowless practice “bunker,” I knew I was in for a treat.
Let’s start at the very beginning. How did LKFFCT begin?
Max: I guess I started it in 2011 when our previous band Washington Square Park was ending. Keith was pretty much there from the beginning. He worked down the street and we ended up writing together every day. It was like clockwork. And it was liberating. We never had to book studio time. We could just do it all ourselves.
Keith: Yeah, at first it was just lo-fi laptop microphone songs. Then Max got an Mbox and he started going deep into recording. A slew of bedroom tracks came together over the next year, resulting in our self-titled debut album.
Max: Keith would have a part for a song and I’d make a beat for it. Stuff like that. We did that first album as a duo. Eventually, after trying to do the electronic stuff live, we just said ‘fuck it’ and decided to be in a band again. Ryan was the first person who came to mind. He’s my brother-in-law and I played with him previously in Tourmaline. Brian came on board with our old band in 2008. We met him on Myspace haha. He messaged us saying our “on-stage banter needed work” but our charisma was “magnetic.”
Brian: I saw them open for Ted Leo at the Meatlocker. Their banter was very Blink 182-esque.
Did you have an initial idea for the band?
Max: I think our goal in the beginning was to do something different. More experimental and out-of-the-box.
Keith: More synth. We wanted to cover more ground sonically since it was just the 2 of us.
Max: I think we both felt pigeonholed with the sound of our previous bands. We wanted to free-fall a little. You can hear it on the first album. Once we got Brian and Ryan, we returned to a more ‘rock’ format. It was kind of full circle, but with a new sense of freedom.
6-7 years later, how’s LKFFCT doing?
Max: I think we’re in a really good place. We’ve really discovered a rhythm, where everything just feels natural. It’s so hard to grow with someone, whether it’s a relationship or in music. It’s kind of a miracle to be in a band where we’re always growing together.
Keith: We’ve been playing for 5 years and we’re not sick of each other. It’s kind of like Voltron. We all come together. We’re a good marriage. There’s never been crazy goals like ‘if we’re not there a year, then fuck it.’
Max: We’re not worried with how it feels as a business. We don’t care about some imaginary next level. Today it’s like “what kind of music do WE want to make next?”
Brian: Whatever we want
Keith: I think we all found a good balance in our personal lives to the point where this band feels essential. With all the craziness of everyday life, it’s great to find time to meet 1 or 2 times a week. Gives me something to lean on.
“…goal is to be an old man and look back on this crazy discography and see the story of who we are.”
Max: My main goal is to be an old man and look back on this crazy discography and see the story of who we are. The world’s changed a lot since we started. The stuff we made back then gives you this view into our past lives.
What are some of your everyday inspirations? What puts gas in your tank?
Ryan: Each other. Every one of us is open to all types of music and we’re always developing each other as artists. And crucially… we can check each other’s ideas without getting offended.
Max: It’s a very open creative process.
Keith: We have short attention spans. The music needs to feel fresh and reflect where we’re at in the world. “This is us right now.” For the past 3-4 years we’ve played without setlist. The last time we used one was before Brian joined.
Brian: We were gigging. I got pissed and tore it up.
Keith: “This is bullshit!” Ha ha we just look at each other and decide which song to play next on the spot.
What’s your writing process like?
Max: It’s kind of automatic. It always feel like each song reaches a natural conclusion. All our ideas get thrown at the wall and we keep whatever sticks. It’s a process. Sometimes it comes down to the last possible second. For Sleeves (off 2017’s Dawn Chorus,) we tried it like 10 different ways and then it just clicked. That song became one of my favorites on the album.
Keith: There’s probably a good album and a half of material we just never finished. Often loose ideas get absorbed into other songs.
Max: I think the hardest we’ve ever worked was 2016’s Flower Investment Pawn. It was pretty much twice a week for 6-8 months. We initially had enough for a double album, but we focused on narrowing it down to what felt like a tight and cohesive collection.
But right now, things are definitely different. We’re working on our next record at a mellow pace.
“We’re working on our next record at a mellow pace.”
Max: Yeah. I like it!
How’s this new record shaping up?
Max: There’s definitely energy, but I think were moving in a mellower and more nuanced direction. There’s not as many big choruses.
Ryan: It’s definitely more melodic
Brian: I feel like our records are loosely inspired by different decades. This one feels like late 50’s, early 60’s music.
Max: The last EP we put out (2018’s Cayenne) is the closest you’re going to get to hair metal.
Brian: I do like Poison. ‘Talk Dirty To Me’ is a great song. ‘Unskinny Bop” is pretty good too.
Keith: I think we kind of hinted at some of this record’s themes with the song Hatchling (Dawn Chorus’s opening track.) It’s hopeful, expressing a desire to communicate. It’s like “I want to hear what you have to say.” I personally don’t want to just dismiss views I don’t agree with. I want to have a conversation where at the end of it we both feel like we’ve learned something. To me, that song is saying “the only way we’re going to get through these challenging times is if we figure out a way to communicate and make positive changes.” We can’t just assume everyone’s wrong. We have to listen. We are definitely expanding on these ideas for the next record.
Right now, we’re thinking of calling it ‘We All Hold It Up Together.’ Max lives near this underpass and it has a mural with that written across it. The painting has all these hands holding up a town. When he came to practice and told us about it, it really resonated. If everyone’s stuck on this plane, we can’t curse the pilot.
Max: The world’s changing really fast. Whether it’s politics, the internet or AI, we need to do things differently.
How do you feel about New Jersey?
Max: I love it. You’re sandwiched in between so many cool cities. Philly, Boston, New York, Baltimore…
Brian: I’m sick of New Jersey, but I definitely take it for granted.
“I think for the most part we all like NJ…I feel like I’d miss it if I left.”
Keith: It works ha ha. “Welcome to Atlantic City… fuck you.” Its kind of terrible, but you still kind of love it.
Ryan: I think for the most part we all like NJ. With all the complaints I have, I feel like I’d miss it if I left. It’s so diverse. There’s really something for everyone.
What sorts of foods do you associate with your releases?
- Self Titled Album: (Max’s mom) Karen Eisenberg’s matzo ball soup. We ate it a lot during that time. We even had it once while tripping on mushrooms. It was a sit-down family meal. Very awkward. And then Keith randomly announced “we’re on shrooms!”
- Genuine Bonds EP: Dinosaur chicken nuggets and Rugrats mac and cheese
- American Sarcasm: Tacos
- The Flower Investment Pawn: A hearty rigatoni bolognese
- Dawn Chorus: Something healthier. A veggie and cheese omelette
- Cayenne EP: Mango habanero wings
What’s the deal with RadioShack?
Max: They fucked us over ha ha. I remember randomly tweeting “the new Radiohead sucks, I prefer RadioShack. And then RadioShack’s corporate twitter liked it. I screenshotted it and posted it to Facebook and RadioShack commented “BFFs for life!” I also got a DM from them asking for an address to send some RadioShack swag. I was like “awesome, we’ll wear it when we play!” I remember thinking “we finally got our big fucking break ha ha.” Getting sponsored by a failing company. It felt fitting.
“So anyway, the DMs went on for like a month. They kept saying “we didn’t forget you!” And it just kind of fizzled out. It was pretty funny.”
Keith: Max messages them every couple months like “hey RadioShack what’s going on?”
Max: They still respond to me ha ha. The last message was from January 8th, 2018. I said “oof, it stinks that this fell through.” No response. I guess RadioShack isn’t a company of it’s word.
Brian: Lying ass motherfuckers
What company would you love to sponsor you?
Fender. *Ahem* We would love some free guitars. And Master Pizza
Dream gig? any location, any bill
We’re playing White Eagle Hall in Jersey City as part of the North Jersey Indie Rock Festival. It’s got a great line-up and we’re really excited for it.
CHF is a proud media sponsor of the 3rd Annual North Jersey Indie Rock Festival. Catch LKFFCT and a plethora of other incredible bands October 6th @ White Eagle Hall in Jersey City!