Having met as teenagers touring the late-‘90s North American post-punk scene, guitarist/vocalist Sean Madigan Hoen and drummer Dan Jaquint established an ongoing musical collaboration that for years remained a mostly-private endeavor relegated to cassette-only releases. After living together in Brooklyn, the duo found themselves returning to their home state of Michigan in 2018 where they reconnected with Detroit’s music scene and formed KIND BEAST.
Taking its name from the writing of Carl Jung, KIND BEAST is at once a distillation of several decades of electric guitar music and a lyrical exploration of shadow themes and deep-psyche explorations. Described by NPR affiliate WDET as “perfect for late-night freedom cruising on the outskirts of town,” the music is sophisticated and nocturnal, metabolizing ‘70s arena rock and Krautrock as readily as the post-Fugazi cannon on which its members were raised. What commences is a vast blending of rock swagger infused with a distinctly-Detroit eeriness, set to Hoen’s (a widely-published author) imagistic lyrics.
Joining Hoen and Jaquint are bassist Sean Bondareff (known for a fifteen-year stint with Mitch Ryder and The Detroit Wheels) and guitarist Martin Rodgers, fifteen years younger than the other members and who has made a name for himself as one of Detroit’s most talented guitarists. KIND BEAST pays little homage to Hoen and Jaquint’s teenage bands (Thoughts of Ionesco and Small Brown Bike, respectively) and finds itself most often compared to mature constituents of the rock/pop pantheon such as Arctic Monkeys, Spoon, and Queens of the Stone Age while discerning listeners pinpoint a deeper influence of the great indie labels of yore (Touch and Go; Dischord).
“I love Fugazi and I love The Cure; I love Can and I love Zeppelin; I love James Brown as much as I love Gang of Four and when I sing, my headspace is more Depeche Mode than Drive like Jehu, so I don’t know what to make of it…” says Hoen. “I don’t really do nostalgia. But certain sensibilities are baked into my hands and voice from having loved Black Flag and Leonard Cohen in equal measure for most of my life. But it’s also the writing of Denis Johnson. Or Sam Shepard… literary atmospherics are every bit as much an influence as far as the vibe I want in music.”
Their latest single, “Highway Madness,” is an homage to Hoen’s ongoing obsession with all-night drives and the open road, which he and Jaquint first indulged in their life of van tours in the pre-cellphone age.
“I don’t really vacation; I drive long distances and roll the dice on lodging. It’s kind of an obsession. I’ve crossed the country countless times with no real purpose other than seeking the weird and shaking loose from whatever feels provincial. ‘Highway Madness’ is about those quasi-transcendental states familiar to anyone who’s been driving for nights on end. With or without hallucinogenics, you start to confront aspects of the Self once you’ve been going long enough. It’s for anyone who craves the long drive… losing yourself in order to reach a moment of internal disintegration. For some reason, when I’m sleep deprived, I always see wolves standing in the center of the road… I’ve nearly crashed trying to avoid these phantoms.”
After a series of headlining shows in Detroit, KIND BEAST has opened for a versatile array of national indie and post-punk acts. 2023 will see the release of their second album Dirty Realism and an East Coast tour.Tracklist: