Smile Politely

Kilroy, et al. Plays WEFT Sessions Tonight

Kilroy, et al., the alter ego of U of I student Ed Rice, will take the stage at 10 p.m. tonight on WEFT Sessions. Rice is just getting started with public performances, but his recorded work has a freak-folky quality reminiscent of Neutral Milk Hotel’s acoustic work, as well as mid-period Wilco. As always, you can hear WEFT Sessions on WEFT-90.1 FM and online at Continue reading for our interview with Rice.

Smile Politely: Will you be solo in the studio or with a backing band?

Ed Rice: I will be solo, playing acoustic guitar and singing. I have been playing with a keyboard/synthesizer player that also plays some clarinet, and, at times, a drummer. However, neither goes to [the University of] Illinois, so it is hard to get anything together during the school year. I am currently looking for additional musicians from the C-U area to play, well … particularly drums, synthesizer and additional instruments like clarinet, flute, horns, etc.

SP: Have you played for a radio show before?

ER: I have yet to play a radio show. In fact, I have only played two shows so far, besides many open mics. I do not know what to expect. I am pessimistic by nature, so I anticipate sounding like an idiot at least a few times. I am excited nonetheless.

SP: How does the songwriting process work for you?

ER: I usually take some idea musically and make either a chord progression or a melody and go from there. For example, I’ve been playing around with ways to switch keys back and forth smoothly in order to create different sounding melodies. Sometimes I write the lyrics first. Generally, I focus more on the lyrics than the music, but not in all situations.

SP: How would you describe your sound for someone who’s never heard your music before?

ER: Well, my set on WEFT will be acoustic, which is not entirely representative of where I want to go musically. I have some fast songs, some slow songs … some sound folky, some sort of sound like Elliott Smith, some have aspects like early Conor Oberst of Bright Eyes. In the long term, I want to incorporate synthesizer as a main focus along with acoustic guitar and vocals.

SP: Was there a moment when you realized that you wanted to be a musician?

ER: I would not really consider myself a musician. But, it has been a recent experience for me. I sort of realized that there is not that much time left before this story that I am writing as my life has an ending of a job that I do not want with a hobby that I love. Ideally, I would rather take the hobby that I love and make it something that I can do for at least awhile. I am not stoked about being 40 and looking back and saying, “I wish I would have pursued music more than I did.”

I am looking to travel a bit after school is out and play random places wherever I go. Just to take a break from suburbia and campus for awhile. Might be two weeks, might be two months … will depend on whether I like it and how much money I have left.

SP: What’s a singer or band that you’ve been compared to that you don’t think is representative at all, and why not?

ER: One of the nice things about just getting started is that no one has compared me to anything besides passing comments. So, basically not yet. The only comparisons I have heard so far are Elliott Smith or Conor Oberst, which are probably not inaccurate since they are both large influences. However, neither would be too accurate.

SP: What is the greatest album of all time? Why?

ER: In my opinion, In The Aeroplane Over The Sea by Neutral Milk Hotel. I listened to that every day at least once for almost a year and never grew tired of it. Every time I listen I have to hear Jeff Mangum get up and leave the room after “Two Headed Boy Pt. 2.” There is something about that album that is simply so real and true … songs like “In The Aeroplane Over The Sea” or “Holland, 1945” just make me happy to be alive. They are so simple, but so honest and real. I could talk about Neutral Milk for hours, so I will stop now. I am also largely influenced by Elliott Smith, early Bright Eyes and Bob Dylan.

SP: What was your favorite band when you were in junior high?

ER: I was all about Blink 182 and Green Day. I also liked Nirvana around that time. Thanks to those bands for spiking my interest in playing guitar.

SP: Are you a full-time musician or do you have a side gig?

ER: I am a college student at Illinois at the moment. I also work at the Busey-Evans dining hall for pocket change. Over the summers, I work on a local farm in Oswego, Illinois. I have made about $10 so far from gigs … a large tip from a friend’s dad.

SP: What do you like to do in your spare time?

ER: I like to write, play bad cover songs, and listen to music. But, besides music, I like watching The Colbert Report, House, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Seinfeld. … I am a big Chicago Cubs fan as well. Sometimes I work on throwing knives in my basement with my roommates … but I do not have a future in that unfortunately.

SP: Anything else to add?

ER: You can download my music for free at My album is mam060-Kilroy, et al. — Chasing A Ghost, but check out the other artists as well. They are great. This album was finished last summer, so it is not brand new. I am currently working on about 12 tracks that I will hopefully finish by the end of January.

You can also check out my music on MySpace at If you like my music, add me as a friend and I will let you know when I am playing and when new music is available. Better yet, if you play an instrument, I am looking for new musicians, so let me know!

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