Sir Aubray Francois Castannelli Kay, or Sir Kay if you're feeling lazy, moonlights as one of Boise's two bike taxi drivers, a job that lets him earn just enough to sleep in the rest of the week.
The sinewy and serious 23-year-old, a self-described "veteran" of the local bike taxi scene, is evasive about his own dark past.
During the day, he's busy writing songs for his band Jument, which begins touring this fall. BW sat down next to a jittery Kay, who explained why bike taxiing is his perfect job, his music plans and the rock and roll lifestyle he left behind.
Why are you named Sir?
There's a song called "To Sir With Love," and apparently my mom thought it'd be a good idea to name me after that song. That's about as much as I know about my name. All the last names and all that ... I don't know the history of it.
Have you lived here all your life?
Yeah. Well, I moved away to Salt Lake for two years to do music stuff. And it got outta hand so I came home.
How did it get out of hand?
Just a lot of crazy stuff. There's a dark side to everywhere, but Salt Lake's is terrible. It's crazy. It's really rock and roll. All the bands there are kind of crazy. Not like here. They're all connected down there, kind of like gangs. They actually have a thing called the Broship, and they've all got their tattoos and stuff.
Were you in it?
Technically, but I never got the tattoo. I don't have any tattoos.
That's not very rock 'n' roll.
No, it's not.
Why'd you leave Salt Lake?
I don't know. It was just time to come home. Boise will always be my home. No matter where I go, I'll always come back.
You're in a band now?
Yeah. Jument. It means "beast of burden" in, I think, French. It also means "mare," like a horse or workload animal. I'm not doing anything else, that's for sure, so it's my beast of burden, I guess. It made sense to me.
What kind of music do you play?
I like to call it really heavy pop music. If you took Jimmy Eat World and put it with Meshuggah, something like that. Most people would just call it metal.
What's your goal as a musician?
I have no illusions about music, about being famous or anything like that. I kind of want to make an impact in the underground, like Botch, Converge, Coalesce. The bands that never make it to MTV, but they're the ones that change something for future bands.
How do you make a living?
I do bike taxi in the summertime primarily because it's probably the best job I've ever had. I only have to do it on weekends, and I don't have to actually go into work if I don't want to. If I needed to go on tour, I could leave without any questions.
What do you charge for a ride?
We work strictly on tips. There's no flat rate. You just get in the cab, and I'll give you a ride, and then you give me what you think it's worth.
Why do you do it like that?
People know how to tip. They know what a ride is worth. It's putting the power into people's hands, so to speak.
Isn't that reverse psychology?
I think that if you're clever and show them a good time, they'll give you what it's worth. Time is money, in no other job more than bike taxiing. It's a novelty ride. It's not like anybody actually needs to take a bike taxi over a real taxi. If your girlfriend's got high heels and you're a little drunk and you don't want to walk, that's where I come in.
Has a customer ever ripped you off?
Only one time out of the two years that I've done this. It was actually three weeks ago. There was another time when I thought I was going to get ripped off. He says to me, "I'm just going to go run upstairs." I thought this guy looked shady, so I'd just go upstairs for a second. Well, turned out that they were involved in some pretty heavy stuff, and needless to say I got outta there pretty quick. Don't go into hotels, and don't ride up any hills.
Why'd you get into bike taxiing?
It was a friend of a friend. I don't know. That's all I can say. I plan on doing it for a long time, every year that I can, 'til I decide to move away.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
I lead a pretty low-key life. Free time is more important than time spent working. Since I'm doing the bike taxi, it's allowing me to write the full-length [record] every day. In five years, I'll be 27, with a couple of different full-lengths under my belt hopefully. I actually plan on converting a school bus to grease. Gas, with the way things are going, is only going to get worse. Bands that don't take things seriously are basically going to get erased.
Do you have a message you're trying to get across in your music?
I'm really interested in the future of music, as ridiculous as that sounds. I really want to do the next step for underground. That's my personal goal, to make some sort of change within the next five, 10 years, whether nationally or worldwide. Underground spans the world. It's actually a very prominent culture. I'm sorry; I forgot what the question was.
If you had a message.
No, not unless our singer has one. I haven't really read his lyrics, but I'm sure he's talking about something. But as far as politics or anything like that, none of us really care.
I've never done an interview before.
Why don't you wear a helmet?
Because you'd have to be a moron to crash a bike taxi. It's like a big tricycle.
But someone could hit you with a car.
Very true. To be honest, I'd feel a little bit goofy. It's a little bit vanity.