The first time they ever met and played music together, members of the New Jersey-based foursome The Karma Killers decided to form a band fueled by the raw passion of punk rock, edgy experimentalism of post-punk, and melodic moodiness of new wave. “We just had this instant bond, on a musical and artistic level, and completely saw eye-to-eye in terms of what we wanted to create,” says vocalist/guitarist Micky James, whose bandmates include bassist/vocalist Mango, guitarist/vocalist Billy Stevens, and drummer Josh Grigsby. “Within a day we’d named the band and started working on songs together, and everything naturally evolved from there,” adds Mango. “There was an immediate chemistry that just pushed out all these ideas right off the bat.”
Throughout their debut EP Strange Therapy, The Karma Killers reveal a razor-sharp sense of songcraft and flair for riff-heavy melody. A deadly catchy anthem, lead single “Coming of Age” brilliantly flaunts Micky’s classically new-wave baritone vocals, while hard-hitting but deeply pop-minded tracks like “Tightrope” blend skittering riffs and frenetic tempos. On “Domino,” The Karma Killers masterfully merge a pogo-ready rhythm with fuzzed-out vocals and lyrics capturing both desperation and desire. With its chant-along chorus and gut-punching beat, the slow-burning “My Killer Queen” takes a storytelling-like lyrical approach that’s powerfully intense in its emotional impact. And on the gloriously snarling “Go Go,” The Karma Killers pay homage to their rock & roll lineage by piecing together a collage of legendary pop lyrics, spitting out lines like “It was a cruel summer, one way or another/I miss my Sharona, crimson and clover.”
The band’s primary songwriters, Micky and Mango each started making music as kids growing up in New Jersey. After forming the band while still in high school in July 2012, the two began building off their hard-edged but highly melodic sensibility as the group threw themselves into a frantic schedule of playing and writing, eventually landing a deal with Dirty Canvas/Island Records in late 2014. “Every day got us closer to something more innovative than anything we’d done before,” Mango recalls. Through that nonstop innovation, The Karma Killers ended up pushing into directions they’d never anticipated, such as the hip-hop-inspired use of groove that intensifies the infectious nature of each track on Strange Therapy.
Now at work on their full-length debut, The Karma Killers are also gearing up to play the entire 2015 Warped Tour. And in their live performance as well as on record, the band keeps focused on one of their most central missions: restoring a reckless spirit to modern-day rock & roll. “Part of the reason we started The Karma Killers is to try to lead other people to the rock & roll and punk and pop music that we love and that means so much to us,” says Micky. “The idea of people listening to our music and getting in line with our vision, and then taking all that to the next level is one of the most exciting and humbling things about being in this band.”