For the past two years, PK, an unsigned five-piece rock band from Templeton, California, has been successfully bucking the traditional touring model employed by up-and-coming bands.
Rather than playing shows in a different city each night (and spending countless hours arguing over lunch stops in the tour van), PK’s plan is to hole up in a city for a few days, and to play multiple shows at several venues -- a quasi-residency.
“We really like to hunker down and concentrate on one specific town,” says Travis Hawley, PK’s 25-year-old lead singer. “We like to immerse ourselves in these small towns.”
Part of the strategy includes playing lunchtime sets at colleges and high schools during the week, and then hitting a large venue in the same city on the weekends.
“By playing schools, we get to personally meet a lot of kids and turn them onto our music,” explains Hawley. “We’re slowly building audiences so the next time we come through town, we already have a strong fan base.”
The plan seems to be working so far. It allowed PK to earn enough money and buzz to self-produce and release their debut album, “Into The Roaring,” in 2010, and the upcoming “The Lost Boys Sessions,” an EP to be released on May 29.
Hawley began playing with guitarists Nick Fotinakes and Matt Depauw and bassist Mikel van Kranenburg in high school, where Fotinakes's father was the school principal. That’s when they started their first band together.
Hawley can’t remember their first band name, but he can remember one of their first gigs. “It was at a bowling alley,” he recalls. “And I jumped off an amp, hit my head on the roof and knocked myself out.”
“We all briefly went different ways after high school -- a few of us went to college,” he continues. “I studied in Italy for a year, but I decided I didn’t want to live a normal life. I wanted to be a rock star.”
Although PK -- drummer Rico Rodriguez rounds out the group -- currently plays lunchtime gigs, the band's anthemic power-pop seems destined for stadiums. Songs like “Seawolves,” from the upcoming “Lost Boys Sessions,” show Hawley sassily singing about the joyful uncertainty of being at that moment in one’s life when it’s time to give up on youthful rebellion and become an adult -- or, as Hawley sings, “we find ourselves between the lions and their dens.”
As on many PK songs, the lyrics are introspective and emotional, but the music is always lively and upbeat"
“We’re not a folky, wimpy band,” says Hawley, “so we hate the term ‘indie.’ Those bands are too mid-tempo, which makes them really boring to watch. But our shows aren’t like that. We don’t make punk music, but we all have punk roots, so we love scrappy music, and aggressive live shows with lots of energy.”
“We’ll always be proud of starting as a grassroots band, but we want to be huge,” confesses Hawley when asked about PK’s future. “We could probably sign with a small label today, but we don’t want to do that. We’ve realized that we don’t really need to sign with anyone. At least for now, we can do everything ourselves, and we enjoy the independence.”
Elliott Sharp wants you to follow him on Twitter @elliottsharp.
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