“We’re like a metal band if it was 1927,” says singer, songwriter, guitarist and washboard player Megan Jean about Megan Jean And The KFB, a duo project with her husband, banjo player and bassist Byrne Klay.
Their latest CD, The Devil Herself, is a moody, infectious record about power struggles and the victories of “glorious weirdos” over the expectations of society.
Megan Jean says the album “represents naming oneself to take the power away from something. If you’ve been told you’re no good your whole life and you just say, ‘You’re right, I’m no good,’ then all of a sudden it doesn’t have any power over you anymore.”
Megan Jean and the KFB are relentless road warriors, playing 200 nights a year – nearly 1,100 shows in the past six years in at least 500 different venues. They’ve gone through four cars since February 2011, when they said goodbye to a fixed address and hello to life on the road.
They tackle tough issues, from suicide in the LGBT youth community (“Skeletons”) to mental illness (“Martians”). “We’re trying to make people feel something,” says Megan Jean. “We write songs that have meaning.”
They make listeners dance, too. Megan Jean says “people can expect to see something they haven’t seen before and to hear something they haven’t heard before. And they can expect us to give it our all.”
In the early days of Megan Jean And The KFB, Megan Jean played guitar and sang and Byrne played bass. Their music evolved with constant touring. About five months into their first tour, Byrne found a banjo in a house they were staying in and taught himself to play. Soon after, a friend gave Megan Jean a washboard.
“She instantly knew what she wanted to do with that instrument and it was unique,” Byrne said. “We wrote a song or two with the washboard and banjo, and now that’s taken over like a virus. Megan Jean and I came up in New York, and no matter what, even though we’re New York expats now, there’s a piece of that in us. We think of our music as a Broadway show of sorts, but without the story. You just get the songs. Like Stephen Sondheim or Richard Rogers. On a budget.”
The band is working on new material constantly. The Devil Herself came out early in 2013 and they’re already looking ahead to their next album, which they hope to release in the fall of 2014.
“It’ll be 10 new songs,” said Megan Jean. “We’re writing them on the road. We don’t believe that a song is done until you’ve played it about 200 times. We’re in the process of writing it now, and when we release it it’ll sound totally different than what it sounds like now.”
Byrne said people often comment on how he and Megan Jean are following their dream. “There’s no dream at this point,” he said. “We’re just following our reality. We’re in it, we made a commitment to each other to do this. For whatever reason, the two of us just have this need to make this music, to send out a message of our view on the world, for what it’s worth. We’re fortunate that people respond to it.”