L.A. band on the verge of a big year


A few weeks into their Buy the Milk Tour in support of their newest release Let's Get Associated, L.A.-based garage rock band Killola is looking to "meet old friends and make new ones," singer Lisa Rieffel said in a raspy voice. She quickly added that her vocal chords are doing just fine. "I just woke up from a nap in the van," she reassured.

The blonde front-woman said the tour has exceeded expectations every night.

"It's been really fantastic. We sold out in L.A. and New York. We're really happy."

The band has been playing smaller venues, which is exactly what they like.

"I guess it goes back to our punk rock roots. It's just you and the people and you get to do what you do and make memories," she said. "It's way more intimate and it's at a level you don't get to see normally."

Killola's music is reminiscent of late-'70s and early-'80s punk-rock like The Sparks and Blondie with their use of solid drums, catchy melodies, riffs and plenty of attitude. But they make it their own with an eccentric addition of modern wave pop melodies, synthesizers and Reiffel's layered Gwen Stefani-meets-Pat Benatar-esque vocals.

And the Killola fans are a breed of their own.

"The fans are out of their minds," Rieffel said. "We're some of the biggest oddballs you can find, but our fans are crazy. They are super passionate. I love that so much."

Passionate enough to make a lifetime commitment to the band by getting Killola lyrics, Killola logos and even full images of Lisa Rieffel tattooed on their bodies. And in return, if you show up at a Killola concert anywhere with a Killola tattoo, you'll get in for free.

"If you're going to make that commitment of getting a Killola tattoo, we're going to play for you for free, forever," Rieffel said.

It is Killola's DIY attitude and commitment to fans that has gained them a widespread global fan base.

Over the last seven years, they have self-released and produced three records, established a heavy Internet presence and thanked fans by releasing their second album I Am The Messer, for free. It has been downloaded more than 100,000 times.

Rieffel said that on Let's Get Associated, they went back to their rock roots and added "some dancier stuff to move your butt to."

What's most interesting about the new album is Killola's partnership with Aderra Inc., a company that provides digital distribution of live concert recordings in fast and innovative ways, like releasing Killola's new album on USB sticks and dogtags.

"Our technology is centered on getting content to fans as fast as possible," said Ed Donnelly, president of Aderra. "Killola is a unique partner for us because they are very creative and so dedicated to their fans."

Aderra makes it possible for fans to get Let's Get Associated on a unique Killola USB stick. Or, for $40, they can get a wearable USB dogtag. The jewelry not only holds the new record, but also the entire Killola backlog. Additionally, it doubles as a gateway to download live recordings from the current tour as well as on-the-road footage.

"The feedback has been phenomenal," Donnelly said. "It's a really cool way to connect with the band. It has dashboard multimedia so it has so much functionality to it--much more than a CD which gets ripped and put on an iPod," he said.

But ultimately, it's the live shows that are the band's strong side.

"There are a bunch of fans out there who haven't seen us yet--that trips us out," Rieffel said.

In addition to touring and a new album, Killola can soon be seen on the big screen. Rieffel leads the cast of an upcoming feature-length rock musical Girltrash: All Night Long, which is based on the wildly popular Showtime Web-series Girltrash! by L-Word producer Angela Robinson.

Rieffel also revealed that there will be a Killola graphic novel coming out.

"It's going to be a huge year for us," she said.

Co-headlining with Killola on this tour is the Minneapolis-based, all-girl indie pop rock band Sick of Sarah.

On their way from Michigan to Chicago, the Minneapolis girls said the Buy the Milk tour is their longest yet. Formed in 2005, Sick of Sarah also expresses pop-rock sensibilities with upbeat pop-rock anthems and heartbreak ballads. The band also wrote three new songs that it will showcase on the tour before hitting the studio in May.

"We're just really concentrating on touring before we hit the studio. We want to make sure we get back to where we appeared before," lead vocalist Abisha Uhl said.

With both Sick of Sarah, known for their sense of humor, and Killola, the self-proclaimed oddballs, the crowd is in for a fun night.

"They can expect a lot of goofiness. There's a lot of laughing on stage," said Sick of Sarah guitarist Jessie Farmer.