This is the second of three band member profiles. First, I covered Trav. Next up is the man behind the bass, Kevin McGrath.
Kevin and I met each other over ten years ago when our bands started sharing neighboring practice spaces. At the time, I was in Muy Cansado, and Kevin was in the Diamond Mines. Almost immediately, the members of both bands became great friends. Within a year, we were playing shows together so regularly that there was a stretch when it was almost impossible to see one of our bands without seeing the other.
Kevin played bass and sang for the Diamond Mines, much like he does now for Pale Monsters, but he also plays guitar and writes some pretty great songs. Back in 2008, he released his own songs under the name Merganser, a name taken from a bird. Birds are important, because Kevin is an avid birder and expert in all things birds.
Over the years, Kevin and I became great friends. He is one of those people you always want to be around, just an excellent human being. However, he maintains a sharp, no-nonsense edge to him. Translation - Kevin doesn’t take any shit.
In 2015, I asked Kev if he’d be interested in a project I was cooking up. His response was that he’d help us get it going, but probably wouldn’t stick around long. Then we started playing.
I knew beforehand that Kevin was a great bass player with great taste in music and was a whole lot of fun. However, once were playing together, I found that he had tremendous natural instincts and an uncanny ability to make those around him better. Whereas Travis comes into rehearsals with all of his parts mapped out, Kevin is almost always in the moment, reacting to what is happening right now. He will change his approach as a result of what is happening around him and play off things he hears.
That’s one of the things that makes him so extraordinary in the studio. Like everyone in the band, he is great at getting his takes down. What makes Kevin different is that he can listen, and I mean really listen, to what’s going on and hear what is working and what is not. The st
udio gets tiring, and it is rare to see someone with such an excellent ability to stay in the moment and hear what is happening.
During the recording of Are You Feeling Alive?, Kevin was invaluable during my vocal takes. He would listen and help me figure out where I needed to be. He often coached me up based on what he was hearing pushing me in the right direction every time. I have never worked with another musician, who has helped my performance as much as Kevin has.
And whether it’s introducing us to the intoxicating sounds of Jazz Loon (which I am listening to right now) or teaching us about the Butterfield Diet, Kevin is also notoriously good at lightening the mood and making sure everyone has fun.
I am happy to report Kevin’s still here.