Kaleb: In some sense, yeah! Like I said, it seems like such an obviously fun idea! But it took a lot of sparsely-attended weeknight shows before we started to get other people to reliably join in, especially once our friends at the beginning started to burn out on it. We almost closed it down after about three years, about the time we had our first child. We went almost a year with no shows when Waterloo Records asked us to do a Christmas party. Over the next six months, a couple different venues asked us to do shows that didn’t turn out so well before Nomad Bar opened up in our neighborhood and invited us to try them out, and we’ve been doing First Saturdays there for almost nine years now.
What comes next for Karaoke Underground, any new songs you are eager to add to the list?
Kaleb: We’re doing a very exciting show that I can’t talk about yet in March, it’s part of the record release festivities for a much-loved band and I’m hoping to add almost 40 new songs by them. I really want to set up another Girls Rock Austin benefit this year, we did one in 2015 as a Sleater-Kinney afterparty where we signed people up in advance to sing all of Dig Me Out in order, and it was probably the best Austin show we’ve ever done. There are always a ton of songs I want to add, but with family, a job and two bands (I also play instrumental surf-punk in The Spoils), it’s not always easy to find the time.
And finally, any recommendations for someone looking to start a successful new venture centered around music like you have?
Kaleb: Make sure you’re doing it because you love the music and not because you want to have a successful venture! Hannah and I are definitely pleased with the success KU has had, but it’s not paying the bills and it’s quite a bit of work to keep it going. The greatest thing about it is seeing how excited people are to share their favorite songs, and letting this powerful music inspire and connect people.
Interview by Lia Gurin.
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