Kirkos contains some of the most creative and talented musicians to come from the Magic City but the St. Louis-based experimental rock band has yet to play a show in Birmingham - until Friday, January 13th, at The Nick that is! The psychedelic, emotion-laden musical journey is led by four band members: AJ Halcrow (Guitar, vocals), Jacob Brooks (keys, organ, synthesizers, etc.), Jordan Allen (bass, vocals), and Miles Jaffe (drums). They are currently on their first Southern tour, which will see them coming to Bham after playing at the famed Gasa Gasa venue in New Orleans. They will be joined by Free Candy from Huntsville for a fantastic improvisational concert experience.
Jacob and Jordan both went to Oak Mountain High School in the Birmingham area. Other famed Magic City musicians including Waxahatchee, VCTRE, and Little Raine Band (who the two musicians enjoyed sneaking into shows to see when underaged) attended the school ahead of them. Music was a passion for both students, but it would take individual moves to Colorado for Kirkos to finally form. Jordan and Jacob ended up living together in 2019 and “at that time we came up with the idea to start a music project. We realized we had a lot of overlap as far as musical interests.”
The group formed right as the pandemic was starting, so Jordan and Jacob buckled down in their townhouse and began putting demos together on their 1990s TASCAM portastudio. They sent some of the sounds they were working on to their friend Miles, who Jacob has worked with in the past. Miles loved the sound but there was only one problem with him joining the band - the drummer lived in St. Louis. The group fully believed in the direction their music was moving, however, and the two Colorado members decided to make the move to Missouri in June of 2021.
The band still needed a full-time guitarist and put a post out on a local Facebook group to try and bring in the perfect member. The desire became reality when AJ Halcrow - who was known for his time in The Echo Bass Quartet and already became friends with Jordan through a Phish show years back - reached out about joining. The band was finally complete and began practices as a full group in October.
Things have been running smoothly ever since. The songwriting process sees a spark from one mind turn into a full-fledged masterpiece with the help of the group. “We all have our individual artistic voices. Every now and then, one member will bring a concept or song that they’ve been working on individually to practice and say ‘Hey, here’s a skeleton of what I have’ - whether that is a vocal melody, some lyrics, or maybe a chord progression. They’ll lay it out and we will kind of work on it from there,” the Kirkos members share, “As a band, we help to paint the picture out fully.” Some tracks, such as the soon-to-be-released “Escape” are formed fully in the studio during improvised moments that become shared creative outbursts.
“Polished Heads” for example was originally written by Jordan as a poem, but he started to view the words more as a song as time went on. He first brought the lyrics to Jacob who helped him find the central sound, then brought it to practice where AJ immediately had the perfect tone figured out. “I think the music process for us is pretty intuitive. It just seems to come together once we start jamming on something,” Allen explains.
The other single currently on streaming platforms, “Easy”, was written by AJ (who is also the usual lead singer) - with many of the themes in the writing coinciding with Jordan’s writing on “Polished Heads” although the songs were written in different spaces. “We wrote these separately, without the idea of them going together,” the band recalls, “But once we heard the lyrical content of both of them, they were speaking to the same kind of things. Not trying to be too philosophical or anything but just pointing out frustration with the current climate we live in.”
As much as they’ve enjoyed creating in a studio, the band places the most enjoys creating for (and with) those that attend their concerts. “It’s really kind of an energy thing. As much as it is a collaboration between the bandmates, it’s also a collaboration with the energy of who’s there in the audience,” the bandmates muse.
St. Louis has a great DIY venue scene, and the band feels fortunate to have found a supportive following already. Part of the success is found in the band’s determination to put the highs and lows of life into the experience. As Jacob explains it, “We highlight that all of those emotions exist at once in the overall chaos we live in. Those feelings come and go, but are also always there.”
The Kirkos bandmates are also placing a focus on “full-circle moments” like recently playing AJ’s hometown of Ashtabula, Ohio during their Midwest tour run and playing their first show in Birmingham this week. It will be Miles and AJ’s first time in the South and the two former residents are excited to show them Magic City staples like Milo’s and Full Moon along with venues they used to frequent like Saturn, WorkPlay, Zydeco, and of course The Nick.
The concert is also a chance for Jordan and Jacob to play in front of family and friends who haven’t seen a show since the band took form, and say their thanks to a city that helped shape them. “I think it’s molded everything about my character as a whole,” Jordan shares, “I think Birmingham as a city is a resilient place, the people that live in it are resilient. Alabama as a whole is that way.”
The reunion is going to be a meaningful but ecstatic musical experience. We can’t wait to take it all in.