12 QUESTIONS WITH JOHN KAY

Can you give us a brief history of your playing career?
I started playing drums just before the age of 2, and formed my first band at age 8. At age 13, I received my first guitar as a Christmas gift from my parents. Played in, formed, produced, and engineered numerous Detroit-based bands over the following two decades before finally ending up with The Koffin Kats in early 2014. In 2008, I quit my day job, moved to Arizona, and earned a degree in audio engineering from The Conservatory of Recording Arts & Sciences. Since returning to Detroit in 2009, I have made my living as a freelance producer/mixer/engineer.

What inspired you to start playing guitar?
I wanted to be able to write songs for my band; simple as that. I had no idea guitar would eventually be the instrument I would perform while touring.

What was your first electric guitar?
An all-white Gibson Epiphone Stratocaster. Real basic, three-pickup model. I still have it, and will someday restore it.

What are your top 5 favorite records?
Supergrass – Entire discography (can’t pick just one!)
Elton John – Songs From the West Coast
Antonio Vivaldi – Greatest Hits (The Four Seasons, Bassoon Concertos)
Lagwagon – Let’s Talk About Feelings
Helmet – Meantime

What was the proudest moment and/or performance of your playing career?
It actually takes place in the future, when I finally get to perform on Saturday Night Live.

How did you hear about Reverend?
I mixed FOH for Unknown Hinson in July 2010 and was blown away by his tone. I checked out his guitar and noticed it was his Reverend signature model.

What Reverend guitar(s) are you using?
My main axe, “Angel”, is the pewter Reeves Gabrels Spacehawk. My second, “McFly”, is the blue sparkle Sensei RT. My backup, “The Old Man”, is the three-tone burst Warhawk RT.

What do you like about your Reverend guitar?
First of all, they all play smooth as butter. I love the fact that the Spacehawk is chambered yet still has the arm contour, and the killswitch has become integral to me. They hold tune excellently, even when traveling in the trailer and going from venue to venue. Once they’ve acclimated to the room, they’re money.

What amps and pedals do you currently use?
I’m using the Fenix 100W model from Revolution Amplification, and a Line 6 POD XT Live floor unit.

Do you have any unusual hobbies, skills, or pastimes you’d like to share with us?
I am a HUGE sports enthusiast (Go Detroit Red Wings and New England Patriots!), avid reader (mostly non-fiction and [auto]biographies), and I know a few card tricks.

Do you have any advice for up and coming players?
Practice the fundamentals of your instrument and internalize them, achieve a basic understanding of music theory so you can communicate based on notes/chords in addition to frets/tablature, and never stop trying to become a better person; create the best possible life for yourself and those you love.

Please tell us about any of your current projects, tours, cds, etc. we should know about:
The Koffin Kats will be touring the U.S. and Canada beginning in mid-April and ending in early June at Ink ‘n’ Iron Festival in Long Beach, CA. We tour Europe from mid-June to mid-August, then a full U.S. tour from mid-September to mid-December. We plan on recording a bunch of new material in January 2015. I also have a full-length solo album waiting to be mastered, which I am planning to release sometime in the spring/summer of 2015.