All this week, Behind the Setlist is previewing Volume, a music festival in Spokane, Washington that features 100 artists in 10 different venues across two days. Our Spokane team will be on the ground May 31 and June 1. Until then? We are listening to as many artists as we can, previewing those who turn our ears. 

Pro Tip: Check out the official Volume Spotify playlist for a taste of every band.

Killer Whale @ River City Brewing on June 1

There’s something soulful about raising the dead. That’s the gist, it seems, with Killer Whale. The soul/psychedelic/R&B outfit from San Francisco provide a transcendent, laid-back journey through the time and genre, revisiting the tones and textures of the ’70s with a modern indie twist (of lime). This music was made to relax with. It’s fitting they’ll be playing River City Brewing at Spokane. So come crack open a beer, or a coconut, and let the music take you for a ride.

Behind the Setlist recently chatted with band member Thomas Johnson over email. This conversation has been lightly edited for length and clarity.

Where are you from and how did the group come together?
I’m from Baton Rouge, LA. I started the band in Austin, TX with a buddy, Kevin Collins on bass. Then I moved back to New Orleans and started playing some shows there with some of my musician friends. After a few months, I took a job out in San Francisco with the National Park Service on the Trail Crew. I stopped playing shows for a little while, but I was still recording demos in my room. Some SF musicians based in the Richmond District saw me doing a solo show one evening and Shawn Wyman (who plays bass currently) jokingly told me he was going to put me in every band he knew… A couple of months later, I was in all his bands and Shawn, Nathaniel Bilbrey (drummer whom I met through trail crew) started playing my tunes out as a trio. Folks seemed to dig it and we’ve been doin’ alright ever since.

Any insight into where “Coconut Lover” came from? Really cool vibe to it. Sounds like something from a different era.
I was making some new demos in my SF apartment, and it was really dreary and cold out. I was missing hot weather and picturing my girlfriend somewhere in Mexico luring me out of a bungalow with some tasty coconut drink. Basically a Baja daydream turned into a song. Thanks for the compliment!

How does a band this laid back get anything done?
Luckily, we have a good manager, and I don’t have to email that much anymore. 😉

What’s your favorite song to play live right now? 
We have a new tune, “Stay Lookin,” that will be out on our new record that I’ve been enjoying. The band has really embraced it, and we seem to really dig into the tune live. It’s always fun playing new tunes.

What goes into the making of a great setlist?
Asking your band for their input… wink wink.

Have you played Spokane before or will this be a first time?
I have never even been to Spokane!

If a Spokanite stumbles across Killer Whale at Volume, what kind of show will they see? 
I think we have a nice ability to play a live set that can make anyone feel sexy. And just downright good. They might see us digging into our sound and feeling the rhythm and hopefully that in turn makes them open up, close their eyes and move their hips a lil bit.

Any other musical plans for the rest of the year?
Got a big show at The Independent in SF in July, and then some Pacific Northwest touring in August and some southern California touring in September. We are working on a southern late fall tour as well.  We just finished recording a new album in New Orleans at Downman Sounds with Scott Sibley, and we’re really looking forward to putting that out either this year or early next year.

Catch Killer Whale at River City Brewing at 8pm on June 1. Find Killer Whale on Spotify. Volume tickets on sale now. Read all of our Volume coverage.