The Kicks are racing to the top of the United States.
"We're just south of Louisville, but we've got a gig in Chicago and then on to Minneapolis," says Jordan Phillips, vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Kicks. "We're trying to get up north before the weather gets too (lousy). We've been stuck in the snow many times. So we're trying to get there before the snow hits too much."
The band recently released its third album "Tonight Changes Everything." It's an enthusiastic throwback to the powerpop that began with the British Invasion.
"I think we all know more about the Beatles than we'd care to admit," says Phillips. "That's sort of the blueprint."
The Kicks formed in 2008 while the members were attending Belmont College.
"I think we all moved to Nashville for the same reasons. We all kind of figured we wanted to be in a rock 'n' roll band and our parents were like, 'Oh, that's great. Play music? That's fantastic, but maybe you should go to college, too!' So for me, I could go play in a rock 'n' roll band and college was an excuse to do it."
Phillips and guitarist Adam Stark were roommates during their freshman year. Both loved the Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Aerosmith and other classic rock artists.
"That's what we grew up on," says Phillips. "I grew up on the Beatles, the Eagles and the Doobie Brothers. I started writing songs because of Paul McCartney. We like a lot of newer music, too, but that's what connected us."
The band felt no shame in playing lots and lots of shows covering hits.
"It was a question of, 'How are we gonna make money? We gotta have gas!' I think playing those cover shows for hours and hours that helped us. The 10,000-hour rule has been a focal point of our band."
The 10,000-hour rule actually goes back to the Beatles, too. It comes from writer Malcolm Gladwell's assertion that it takes 10,000 hours of working at something to become successful — citing the number of hours the Beatles played as unknowns in Hamburg, Germany, as his primary example.
Of course, things are different now than they were in the 1960s. In a way, the music business has reverted to what it was like in the 1950s when artists were making next to nothing on record sales and surived by touring. In other ways, though, The Kicks are finding success in a more modern way.
The group's song "Good Morning" was picked up in an advertising campaign for Lowe's, and other songs have been used in the TV shows "The Vampire Diaries" and "Pretty Little Liars."
And the band has some memories that are clearly all their own — like the time they played at a club they'd never been to in Chicago.
"At the time I had a bunch of family that lived up in Chicago," says Phillips. "It ended up being this old burlesque, weird fetish bar. My mother was actually visiting my family up there, so mother is at this show. At one point I remember seeing my mother at the back of the bar and over her shoulder on this big LED screen was like this whips and chains stuff! That was one of those moments where I spent a lot of time convincing my mother 'Oh, your son is going to be fine!'"
One of the band's goals is to tour less in the winter.
"We've toured in January and it's horrible. We spent two weeks in a van and never saw the sun and got trapped in blizzards in places we didn't even know it snowed in! Little Rock, Arkansas? We didn't know it snowed in Little Rock. Well, it definitely does."
With: The Black Cadillacs, Sequoyah
When: 10 p.m. today
Where: Barley's Taproom, 200 E. Jackson Ave.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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