Mustard had the pleasure of speaking with Phoenix’s DIY Punk duo, Common Kid Flower! Together we discussed their name, their influences, their newest album “Now, We Ride” and so much more!
1. Mustard is grateful to have Common Kid Flower join them. How is everyone?
Josh: We’re great and super thrilled to be interviewed by Mustard! As pretty health conscious people, what could be a better first time interview than with you, Mustard.
Chloé: It’s an honor to be interviewed by you, especially since mustard is my favorite condiment, the more horseradish the better.
2. Mustard loves the image and idea of your name. What flower do you believe a common kid would gravitate towards?
Chloé: Thanks for actually understanding what our name means! Often people are confused and aren’t sure if they heard correctly the first time. It really has to do with our origin story. When we met, Josh simply asked me what my favorite flower was and my answer was “a tulip, you know just a common, kid flower.” When you see little kids drawing flowers, they often draw a simple three pointed tulip, that’s what I always drew.
Josh: I just loved that response so much that it always stuck with me, and kind of set in motion the idea of the band and the tulip logo that we use. Having the name Common Kid Flower is a way to capture the innocence of youth, you know, times when you had less worries, when you were only concerned about having fun and playing. It also allows me to write about many different topics and play different styles. That’s why we say our focus is to make rock & roll fun.
3. Common Kid Flower formed in 2014. Could you share the story of your formation?
Josh: Sure! To start, I’ve been in a few different bands over the years, From The Top, a ska-punk band in Sarasota Florida, The Hardly Used, a melodic pop punk band here in Phoenix, and The Great Unconformity, a hardcore acoustic folk punk duo, also in Phoenix. But in 2014 I found myself in limbo, I met Chloé while she was briefly visiting Phoenix on her way to Mexico. We hit it off right away and actually performed an original song I wrote, “We’ll Never Fade Away”, together at a party that same week, which then appeared on our first album “Riled Up”. But, then Chloe moved on to Mexico.
Chloé: And while I was Mexico we shared our music interests with each other, Josh sent me a mixtape of some of his favorite songs and actually titled it Common Kid Flower. Now that I think about it, that might have been the first album. Then Josh came down to visit me with his friend the legendary Joel, we definitely spent a lot of time playing music together. But then I went back to Oregon where I’m from and we were long distance until I moved to Phoenix. That’s where we officially started working on our demo, “Make Some Noise”. My musical background is violin, piano, guitar, ukulele, vocals. I really tried a lot of everything, I just loved music. Josh encouraged me to learn to try bass as well and I never knew I would I love it so much. Ironically, when I was in school I wanted to play the standup bass but my mom said it would be too hard to lug around, and I also have always loved bass heavy music and now being a bassist I totally understand why. Who knew I was such a funk junky.
Josh: We’ve written a few songs about our origin actually, check out “Red Horizon”, “Why Worry?!” and “On My Feet”.
4. Who (or what) influences Common Kid Flower?
Josh: Well I was raised on 70’s rock and singer-songwriter stuff, and then in my teens I got really into the whole 90’s southern California skate punk scene, Fat Wreck Chords stuff, which I think is my strongest influence. And then working-class punk, NYHC, and metal. Funnily, when I was a little kid I used to ride my bike to the library and would regularly check out two tapes, The Specials first album and “More Noise And Other Disturbances” by The Mighty Mighty BossTones. So ska is strong with this one. I listened to those all the time. Truth be told though, Billy Joel is my hands down favorite artist.
Chloé: Honestly, I’ve always struggled with identifying with a specific genre, I guess I just liked what liked without realizing what it was or why. I’m into a pretty big variety. You could say, Emo-punk, post-hardcore, 80’s new wave, 70’s rock and funk, and heavy metal are some of the top styles I listen to. Some of my favorite bands over the years have been The Amity Affliction, Crown the Empire, Cage the Elephant, Marina, Thin Lizzy, Bread, Manowar, Chromeo. I think our band’s sound is an interesting mix of all of our diverse styles.
5. What is Common Kid Flower’s songwriting process?
Josh: All of our songs are heavily based on life experiences, friends, family, love, loss, and the crappy movies and TV we love to watch. I do most of the writing. Our songs start with me getting some lyric ideas in my head. I mostly stick to working out all the lyrics first before sitting down with a guitar and sketching out the basic chords and progressions.
Chloé: At that point we sit down together and I help work out the kinks, fine tune the lyrics, we talk about how the song should be laid out and formatted and of course add some funky stuff with my bass parts. Josh tends to write in a very free form way, but I’m more classically trained so I think more in terms of structure.
Josh: Yeah, I get very clear visions of songs, like lyrics and melodies, but I don’t always know how to make it work. I always have so many ideas swirling around in my head for lots of songs and future albums, you should see the notes in my phone. I really appreciate what Chloé brings to the songwriting team and I feel like Chloe’s structure and musical sense is shining more on “Now, We Ride”. Some songs though I’m still pretty dead set on sounding chaotic.
6. In 2020 you released your EP “Shout-Out for the Shut Ins.” Mustard is curious about what a shut-in is. What was the inspiration behind this EP?
Josh: In early 2020, we were actually in the middle of recording the “Everything’s Alright” EP, but, that was when the COVID pandemic got into full-swing and there were lockdowns put into place. We were told to stay inside as much as possible and lots of places were closing up and of course shelves were emptying on necessities. It seemed obvious to us to jump on the opportunity to write about what was going on, in our own special way. Also, we purposely decided to just strictly do an acoustic EP in order to get it out as quickly as possible and also to be considerate of our neighbors who we assumed were also “shut-ins” at the time.
Chloé: The title song is really a direct telling of what our time was like during the pandemic ‘quarantining’. I always like the line “now no more handshakes, 3-6 feet, that’s an order, it makes us feel good, socially pretty normal”. Honestly the pandemic gave us an excuse for how introverted and awkward Josh and I really are normally. Also there’s a brief mention of Josh’s broken toe, which he actually broke right when the lockdown started.
Josh: The album cover is a satirical view of the precautions given to avoid shaking hands and to wash your hands thoroughly, we took it all very seriously, but you know, it’s a punk album. Another fun fact, in the song “Shout-Out for the Shut-Ins” there was originally a bridge that was a rip-off of “King of New York” from Disney’s Newsies movie/musical. Our impressions of Christian Bale’s impression of a New York accent wasn’t cutting it, so we left it out.
7. “We have an empire of nothing and corner the market on complaining.” Could you elaborate more on this lyric from your single “Living Rooms?”
Josh: Yes! I love that you pulled this lyric, it’s one of my favorites.
Chloé: Same! “Living Rooms” was really a one-off song that Josh had written and we loved it and just wanted to get it out there and not wait for an album. We went to the 30th Anniversary Ska Parade show when it came to Phoenix and really got inspired. To me the song’s about not making life too complicated and just having fun in the simple, silly things with a good friend.
Josh: I agree, people put a lot into making a big name for themselves and thinking that it’s a bad thing to just accept how frustrating a lot of things actually are. So that line is us saying we’re good at not investing a lot into anything and we’re cool with that, haha!
8. You were Riled Up in 2019 and now you ride on your latest album “Now, We Ride” which has some Wild West influence to it. Are these two albums connected? What was the process like putting this album together? Where are we riding too?
Chloé: That’s interesting that you put those titles together like that, I never thought of it but they do make sense together! “Now, We Ride” was an album that wasn’t supposed to be made. We originally had a different album lined up to follow “Riled Up”, which is still in the works and shall remain secret.
Josh: I guess that’s starting to become a classic CKF pattern, to be totally invested in the next album and then put the breaks on it and work on something entirely different and release that instead.
Chloé: That’s true, Josh is always writing so much so we try to work on what we are most excited about at the time, even if that means putting a pause on something. “Now, We Ride” was originally part of a side project band of ours named Dry River Project with our friend, Joel. That band is more folk country, but Joel actually started a family and moved away. So I suppose that’s on hold too, haha. “Big Nose Kate” was the first song we had written for it and it was still sitting in our minds. It’s the song that started the whole album.
Josh: We loved that song so much, and I didn’t want to just throw it on a punk album with songs about apartment life, bills to pay, riding bikes, etc.
So, since we couldn’t justify shelving it indefinitely, or worse, scrapping it, we agreed to go full concept with it and work on an Old West storytelling album. Some of the tracks are true life stories, like “The Pleasant Valley Cattlemen”, “Keep Your Chin Down”, and of course “Big Nose Kate”. Other tracks are influenced by movies, and songs about our life. I like people to figure out for themselves what I might be referencing, but “Withered Old Poney” is based on characters from Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle, which I was reading at the time of writing the album.
Chloé: I also think transitioning an album that was originally supposed to be more folk country into our normal ska, punk rock sound was an interesting challenge for us and we feel it created something really unique. As to where we’re riding to.. we’ve got a lot of things in the works but we are currently taking inspiration from our thrashcat/trashcat Slick.
Josh: So far he hates anything we do that’s not just fast and aggressive, so we must please him. He likes DRI and Municipal Waste, so I don’t know what that means for our future. I don’t think we’re going to go full crossover just for him, but maybe an EP.
9. “Hold Yer Horses” is a human idiom and a song on your album. Do humans actually hold horses? What is something Common Kid Flower likes to wait for?
Josh: Boy, howdy, do they! Whenever you think you’ve got your course set, someone always puts a hitch in your giddy-up. In my own experience, you can’t let that stop you from finding another way and ultimately surviving. You can have everything taken from you, but you can’t just sit and rot.
Chloé: In an Old West sense, horses could be your livelihood, everything you have. The line “you gotta do what you gotta do when the rangers hold yer horses” means that when someone takes away what is most important to you, you have to find a way to continue moving forward.
10. Where can readers listen to your music?
Chloé: Firstly, we do this because we really love it, we aren’t in it to make any money, if we were we’d be failing pretty badly! We only want people to listen and like what they hear. Unfortunately, on most download and streaming sites there’s usually a price to pay, but we always offer everything we make for free on Bandcamp to download. So we love it when we see people using that! And I have no secondly..
Josh: Thirdly, it’s not that we don’t need money, and that it doesn’t cost us to do what we do, it definitely does. However, we like Bandcamp because we can set it for free all the time or at least donation based. Our music is also on iTunes and Amazon. And it’s streaming everywhere it can be streamed, like Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon music, Deezer, I don’t know, Tidal, you can add our songs to your TikTok, it seems the list grows with each release. Like Chloé said, we aren’t in it for the money. We aren’t in it to win it. When I discover some band that only had one release from years ago, and it’s solid, I get so excited about it and think it’s the best thing ever. That’s all we hope for with what we offer.