My Kid Brother are a five-piece Indie Pop band from Leesburg, Virginia. They are made up of vocalist, synths, & pianist Piano Whitman, vocalist, guitarist & bassist Christian Neonakis, guitarist & backing vocalist Dylan Savopoulos, bassist & guitarist Richard Smith, and drummer Sam Athanas. After releasing their debut record, Baltimore Street Rat in 2017, the band signed to Fearless Records and released their debut self-titled EP on September 3rd of 2020. A little over two years later, on October 7th of 2022, My Kid Brother followed up with a brand new, full-length album titled, Happy.Mad.Weird.Sad.
We caught up with Piano to find out more insight about My Kid Brother and their songs on the new album!
Piano’s first inspirations growing up were Joan Jett and David Bowie. The first Joan Jett song Piano learned and performed was ‘I Hate Myself For Loving You‘ on the guitar at her second-grade talent show, “I did it just on power chords, and then at the end I went “owwww!'” My Mom did my makeup and did this cool haircut. I had this awesome-rad makeup, and this cool singed belt and everything, and did the whole look. And then right after that I buzzed my hair because I wanted to look like Annie Lennox. And of course, in elementary school, that didn’t do me any favors for the bullying, but in my head, I was like, “I’M A ROCKSTAR!”, Piano said while laughing.
Piano would also listen David Bowie as a kid because her Mom Loved him. There was a time Kid Brother played a Halloween set and dedicated it to David Bowie because Piano and Christian are super fans. This was before they added the “My” to the Kid Brother band name. “When we were picking who we were going to be for Halloween and Christian mentioned David Bowie, I was like, ‘ok, I’m in! Ok, let’s do it!‘ and for that Halloween set, we did a David Bowie cover set. We did all of his songs, and I also played the Saxaphone, and the guys all dressed up as me. I had blonde hair at the time, and I wear a lot of black and stuff, so they wore black dresses and blonde wigs, and it was hilarious.”
When My Kid Brother first signed to Fearless Records, it was a few years after their first LP titled Baltimore Street Rat released, which was taken offline. The band has released reinvented versions of the songs from that album on both their EP and Happy.Mad.Weird.Sad. They also plan on bringing back more reimagined songs on their future albums. Piano recalled a show they played right when Baltimore Street Rat went offline, where they had an option to have a backdrop behind them, and Dylan made up a funny text apologizing about the disappearance of Baltimore Street Rat. “People were riding to the show and they couldn’t listen to it because it had been deleted. People were freaking out, texting us ‘where’s Baltimore Street Rat?!’ And it was a period of time before the new EP went online and when Baltimore Street Rat was deleted, so people were like, ‘what happened?!” So, he made this funny background on the screen behind us. Also, there’s some memes, I remember we Google imaged ourselves just to see what would pop up, and we were scrolling and there was like this funny meme of like, ‘what happened to Baltimore Street Rat?!’ We couldn’t believe people were talking about it to that extent. It was pretty funny. But we’re bringing the songs back! There are so many songs on that record that we want to bring back.”
Piano relived the memory of when they released their first single, Native Tongue off of their debut EP for Fearless Records, “we were all staying up over midnight watching our phones, we had this group chat and we were like ‘ok, it’s going to go live’ and then Native Tongue went up, and it was like this animated photo of a tongue, I think it was actually my mouth, and the view count just kept going up, we were like, ‘oh my God, it’s actually happening, people are commenting, it’s badass!” We had this interview, this press thing, and it was on Spotify and the numbers were growing, and we were all just shaking.”
After releasing the Native Tongue single, they saw that being signed to a major label like Fearless Records was growing their fanbase throughout the World. “It’s been really cool. And also, we met some cool people making that record too. We’ve made a lot of friendships along the way. The EP, it’s weird that we released it after that Music video came out, then the pandemic hit, so that was crazy…Everyone talks about the pandemic, right? You can only imagine what that did to us. But the views didn’t stop, the fans didn’t stop, the Music kept coming, and different interview opportunities happened that wouldn’t have happened before. So yeah, I’m very grateful, the whole band is, but speaking from my experience, I’m very grateful for Fearless and the opportunities that they’ve given us. I’ll never forget that first upload of like, ‘oh my gosh, it’s actually happening!’ It’s a very cool experience.”
Before Happy.Mad.Weird.Sad was released, the band was in the studio trying to think of a name for it. Their guitar player, Dylan, felt like they needed to call the album the emotions they felt while going through the songs. Dylan also created the album Artwork, which features a whimsical fairy-tale looking monster on the cover, “We were all absolutely amazed by it. Dylan is super talented with all the Art that he creates, and we all trusted him. It’s very Magical. It’s very whimsical and everything. I Love the stars in there, there are so many fine details. We actually got to see the CDs for the first time on the tour we just went on and it was so cool getting to open it and see the inserts that Dylan made, yeah it’s pretty cool.”
The album opens with the song, Never Break Your Heart, which is a Love song Christian wrote for his girlfriend. Piano is the one who came up with the order of the tracklist and Loves opening with that song because she feels it shows more of a sensitive, softer side to My Kid Brother, as opposed to the other singles that were released that show more of the Groovier and Rock-Alternative side to the band, “I Love that needle drops and that’s the first thing you hear is this welcoming, warm, Loving ballad. And then you get sucked into everything else. I thought it was this cute thing of, “we’re never going to hurt you, please! Welcome into our world!””
Over the Summer, My Kid Brother released a Music video for their eighth track on the album called, Spilt Salt. At the beginning of the video, it shows some of the real comments that were made. So, My Kid Brother decided to poke fun at all of the comments and create a Heavy Metal style logo and video that looks like something you’d witness from Casket Robbery, complete with voodoo dolls, blood, and a Dexter-like kill room with all of the plastic hanging down from the walls. “It’s pretty comical the stuff people say because they took the time to write it, like somebody had the thought of ‘I’m going to open my phone and put it in the comment section and write this thing!’ But yeah, they’re all real comments, we just picked a few that were funny. But there were so many in there. There’s also a lot of really nice ones that balance it out. That’s also very kind. And every time we upload a new video, I’m waitin’ for it!”
The video, which was directed by Blackwolf Imaging, used gallons and gallons of fake blood for the scenes, and the special effects makeup was done by Caliann Sophia Feimer, “I forgot how many gallons of blood she made, it was an absurd amount and we used all of it. There was this scene where she filled up this tub of blood, and he’s standing there, and she just pours it on him and the blood was made out of corn syrup or something you could eat that tasted like sugar and it was very thick, and it just poured all over him, but it went into his nose, and he couldn’t breathe. And we were all just staring at him. You could see in the behind the scenes he’s like trying to breathe, but he’s on camera, and it’s one of the most hilarious things I’ve seen.” It was also funny for Piano to watch Dylan train Christian with of the Metal-style stage moves. You can check out the behind-the-scenes action of the Music video here!
My Kid Brother may be quite a 180 degree turn from Heavy Metal, however, they all consistently listen to and Love Metal and Rock. As teenagers they were obsessed, and still are, with the harder bands. The band had many ideas for the film crew, who specialize in making these kinds of videos, “hence why the video is so freakin’ insane, and so the whole time we were just geeking out. Definitely one of the best Music video experiences I’ve ever had in my Life, I don’t think anything is going to top that experience.”
A few months later, My Kid Brother released a video for their song, High Society, which is the happiest sounding retaliation anthem you may ever hear for the pent up “high society” and money-driven ways of the world. The band had fun with the Music video, which was done with their friend Brandon The Buddha, directed by Patrick Mason, and produced by Nico & Sarah Giampietro. The video starts with the band driving up to their friend’s estate, which is more like a shack/barn, and soon gives the eerie twist that human remains were found on the property, and the Music video is the only evidence of the incident. The band is performing in the large barn house, and suddenly stop when they realize somebody is watching them. They walk outside to discover that it’s a tribe of people wearing plague doctor masks, holding sharp weapons in their hands, who soon begin chasing the band throughout the property trying to kill them.
“That video was a lot of fun, I think ever since the Spilt Salt video, we’ve been like, ‘ok, how do we get blood in like every single one of our videos’. But yeah, the High Society video was a lot of fun. I got to do some stunt moves and stuff which I had never done before, so that was really cool. And we got to do a live performance thing and did some acting, which we Love, we Love to do that. Christian really Loves acting, he really wants to get into acting, so that was a really cool experience to have some lines and stuff in the video. We never done like a start-stop type of video, which we were kind of nervous about, but we were like, you know what, this is our vision…If people don’t like it, they can listen to the song on Spotify. It worked out, people really liked the video.”
Disco Days is one of the happiest sounding tracks on the album, and also one of Piano’s favorite songs to perform live, “I Love performing Disco Days. In fact, I don’t remember who was talking to us about this, but not making fun of me, but teasing me about there’s this part in the song where the lyric is like, ‘you can spin around’ and every time, I spin around on stage, because I think it’s funny, and I like it, and it’s fun! It’s like this little moment that I like… I Love that song. It’s just so groovy. And I just want a disco ball in every venue that we play! That song is awesome!”
While My Kid Brother was in the recording studio with their producer Eric Palmquist, he had them stand up, walk around, and danced until they found the perfect tempo for the song, “I think it’s 120, standard tempo, but yeah, we were like, ‘this is definitely the groove!”” she said happily as she danced in her chair.
Piano’s solo song is the sixth track on the album, and it’s titled, Shoulders. The song is about being in a dwindling relationship, and the feeling of being left on the sidelines. Piano Loves playing that song live, “It’s an awesome feeling. When we were in the studio and going through all the demos that we had, and Eric, our producer, really liked that song and I was like, “oh man, cool, we’re actually going to do this song in particular.” I was kind of nervous about, but excited because it was a very personal song for me, but Eric helped me get through every emotion of that through the chorus, because the chorus wasn’t finalized yet, so he helped me with that. I feel really great about that song.”
Many people come up and tell Piano about how they’ve been through that type of relationship too, “it’s crazy because it makes me feel so good because it’s like, wow this thing that I wrote, people can actually relate to…It was just something I had made in my basement because I vomited it out, like I needed to say it, like get it out of my system, and now performing it live..
The first time they performed the song at the Tally Ho venue in Leesburg, Virginia, and Piano was nervous about it, as the song had just come out a few days before as a single. When they got to the chorus, everyone in the crowd started singing the song, “It blew my mind, I almost started crying ’cause I was like, “whaaat?! How does everybody know this song already?! It just came out!!” Yeah, it’s been a really cool thing to have that, and we went from a little demo from when the guys got it and like they literally transformed the song. When we play it live, it hits so hard… It’s like beating through your chest. It’s a really cool experience.”
The tenth track on the album is titled, Gasoline, and is one of Christian’s solo songs. It is one of Piano’s favorite songs he’s ever written. Gasoline is lyrically a very heavy and deep song that goes through the emotions and feelings of depression, and being in that dark state of mind, while Christian is vulnerably singing over an acoustic guitar with lighthearted, symphonic, yet melancholic keys of symphonic nature. Piano had trouble tracking the song in the studio because every time Christian would play it, she would turn away on the couch behind the control desk, “I would just turn away and I’d be sobbing, I’d be crying because I was like, hearing my friend say these words that are so deep and very sad, singing about this experience that he went through, and it’s just like…Jeez, it hurts to hear my friend say these things. But it matters because it’s very personal, and it matters that he gets it out and that he shares it with the world. It was a lot to track that song, but I Love that song.”
“And then we made a Music video for it, that was his direction of how he wanted it to be and portrayed. And kind of like this visual representation of depression and such. We were the band members outside for the representation of putting on this show, being like ‘am I not enough?’ type of thing. I remember I played that song, the demo, for my parents because I Love sharing what we’re working on with my parents, and my Mom started crying, and my Dad was like, ‘oh wow, this is very heavy’ and I was like, ‘yes, yes I know!’ I was crying, we were all just like in this room crying together listening to his voice. It hits people very hard, and I think that’s really important that a song on that subject matter is talked about so straight forward and put into the world. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them, people want people to help and friends to help them, but honestly sometimes you just need to listen.”
If you are in a dark state of mind and need to talk to someone, especially if you feel like you’re bothering your friends or family, or feel as if they won’t understand, call 988. Someone is always there 24-7 to listen. Sometimes it can be the best thing mentally to tell a total stranger how you’re feeling without any form of judgement on the other side.
1. Never Break Your Heart
2. Make You Believe
3. Disco Days
4. Paper Houses
7. Come Back Down
8. Spilt Salt
9. High Society
You can purchase Happy.Mad.Weird.Sad. directly through the band’s official Bandcamp page here!
You can also catch My Kid Brother live at the Tally Ho Theatre in Leesburg, Virginia on Friday, December 23rd with Pretty Bitter and Merci! Tickets start at $15 for GA and $35 for VIP seating. Show starts at 20:00 [8PM]! You can purchase tickets here!