In the time it takes him to explain what he'll miss about his band, guitarist Griffin Kay has driven home from work, opened the door, said hi to his new wife, and cracked open a beer. When he gets down to the more emotional details, it sounds a little bit like he could use one. On Monday, Kay and his wife, Nicole Dial-Kay, are moving to Boulder for her doctoral education and ending what has been a seven-year reign for the aggressively friendly So Many Dynamos guitarist. Less ominous but more pressing is the band's last show with him in its lineup, one that will find the four guys playing more songs, including newer songs and working with more special guests than usual at Cicero's tomorrow. Drummer Clayton Kunstel explains what the band -- and St. Louis -- is losing with Kay's departure:
"I will miss Griffin's exuberant nature towards the little things in life. When G gets inspired, his entire body reacts with an infamously wild nervousness that conducts enough energy to light a smile on anyone's face. It's this infectious persona that often reminds myself of the brighter joys life has given us, and for that I am thankful, Griffin Kay!"
We talked to Kay about his best and earliest memories within the group (Chris Walla, underage shows), his legacy (modest) and how So Many Dynamos plans to adapt to his absence (pretty much the same way).
Kelsey Whipple: What is behind your decision to exit the band?
Griffin Kay: Oddly enough, while we were on tour in Europe last spring, I got very homesick and decided to propose to my girlfriend who is now my wife, Nicole Dial-Kay. We got married last month on June 11, and it was wonderful. About two months before we got married, she got into a PhD program at the university of Colorado at Boulder, and we're moving so she can go to school there. She got accepted into a number of PhD programs, unfortunately none of which were in St. Louis. The one in Boulder was the best and gave her the most money. She got the acceptance letter in the mail, and we immediately knew I'd have to talk to the band soon. It's really difficult because the guys in So Many Dynamos have been my friends for the last seven years. They're being really supportive, and they have been supportive our entire relationship.
At our wedding, they performed "I Will" by the Beatles off the white album. They did a great job and gave me all sorts of warm fuzzies. We had a small wedding and then a large reception a few weeks later. All the guys and the members of a side band named Thorax did a super guitarmonied version of "Here Comes the Bride" as our entrance music. Our wedding was full of music, as it should be.
What role has the St Louis music scene played in your life?
I moved to Edwardsville to go to SIUE when I was eighteen. Since going there, all of my time has been spent on music. Telling you how the music scene has affected me would be telling you my entire life story, honestly. It's like asking how important music is to me. It's insane. Almost everyone I know is in a band, and music is the driving force of my social life.
Do you plan to continue playing music in Boulder?
We'll see about that. The guys in So Many Dynamos were my friends before they were my bandmates, and that has really contributed to our longevity. If I meet people with similar interests in another great situation, maybe, but right now I'm not planning on it. My most immediate musical plan is to buy a cassette track recorder and just noodle around in our apartment.
What is your earliest memory of the band?
When So Many Dynamos started, I wasn't an original member. I was a friend and did merch for them on their first two tours. I do remember their first show Jan. 2, 2003, at Sally's. Nathan, who now plays guitar in our band and has for two years, that was his first date with this girl Annie whom he just got engaged to. Oddly enough, we were discussing how clear our memory is now of that night recently, and we realized we were all underage and it was an all ages show, so we had no alcohol. It had snowed the day before, and it was beautiful outside. What has been the highlight of your time in So Many Dynamos?
The top of the list, undoubtedly, is playing two shows with Death Cab for Cutie, quickly followed by getting to work with Chris Walla. Those are the two highlights of the band and my life. It's one thing to meet your heroes. It's another thing to get to work with them and find out they're one of the coolest people you've imagined. Some people meet their heroes and are put off by their egos. It was the opposite to quite an amazing extent, and it was great to get to know him.
What does the band have planned for your final show with it?
We have to keep some of it under wraps still, but we're playing some songs we haven't played in a long time. We have a lot of special guests, and we're playing a lot of new stuff as well. We've been practicing every day this week to make sure it's perfect, and we're playing more songs than we've ever played in one night. We normally play eight to ten songs, and we're playing fifteen. My family is going to be there, and the guys have called in some favors to get special guests.
Two years ago when Nathan joined our band, we started working on new material. It has taken a while because we kind of had to readjust how we functioned as a band, but the last six months have been incredibly productive. The songwriting process has been much more collaborative, making it more engaging for everyone involved. When I told my bandmates I was moving, I said, "Until I move, I'd like to fulfill all my duties in this band. I still want to make more music and perform one last show." And that's happening Saturday.
What will you miss most about the band?
Honestly, I'm trying really hard not to think of it. I don't want to consider how much I'm going to miss the shows and the band and playing our music and the city. I've got a lot of denial going on because I think if I didn't I'd be crying like a little schoolboy. Being a band has been what I've done for the past seven years. It will be a pretty abrupt shift in how I relate to people, how I socialize, how I make friends. This is definitely a dad pants joke, but if I had to say what I will miss most about the band, it will be my hearing. We use to play really loud.
Does the band plan to replace you with a new member?
There are no plans yet for me to be replaced. We're halfway done writing a new record, and the writing process will continue until that record is done. Then the guys will go from there. There's nobody in town who relates personality-wise and would make that perfect fit in the band right now, but I'm sure they will find someone.
How would you like to be remembered for your role inside the band?
It's really hard not to answer that without sounding like an egotistical douche bag. I just want to be remembered as someone who was in a good band, someone who when he got together with three other guys produced good quality music and was part of something greater than myself.
How are you thinking about the move as the date gets closer?
I just got home and cracked a beer, so I'm having a good sit. Sunday we get a moving truck, and we move out Monday morning. I've been thinking a lot about our last show. I'm definitely not dreading it, but I'm dreading afterwards because I don't want the situation to hit me. Ever. If there's one thing I'm dreading, it's packing all of our belongings and driving fourteen hours away from here. Have you ever driven through Kansas?