Kevin Drake started his musical career with Thirty Seconds to Mars and he did tour with them in 2001-2002. Then he quits the band to compose and write his own music. After a very dark period, he is back, strong and very talented. A resurrection?
You are well known for being a former member of Thirty Seconds to Mars, but we don’t know you that well. When and how did you start playing music?
I started playing piano around 5. I also tried the flute before guitar. At 10 I got my first guitar and my mom signed me up for lessons. I took lessons weekly for about 7 years.
You play synths, guitar, bass and drums… which one did you learn first?
After piano it was guitar… then my neighbor across the street started drums so I learned from him. I got my own drum kit when I was 13 or so and have also been playing drums ever since. I only really play chords on Synth or simple melodies and I am not a master of technology when it comes to synths. I just look for a sound I like on a synth and go from there.
You were very young when you became a member of Thirty Seconds to Mars. How did you meet the band?
My friend John had a friend named Ransom. Ransom worked at Guitar Center and told John about the open call Thirty Seconds to Mars were having looking for a bass player. He didn’t want to do it so he told me about it and I showed up. I played Buddha For Mary on bass along with a few other 100 people who showed up after having 2 minutes to learn it. When I was done they asked if I was a bass player or guitar player. I told them mainly guitar and jammed Buddha For Mary on guitar with them. They took me as an additional guitarist and a month later Matt [Wachter] filled the bass slot.
How many years did you tour with them?
I only toured with them for about a year.
Why did you quit the band?
Well for starters I did QUIT the band and wasn’t fired as Jared [Leto] would like to have some believe. I quit because it was hard to work with Jared and Shannon… I didn’t really get along with Shannon and Jared was very controlling. I thought when I joined the band I would learn his songs and then be able to participate more when it came to writing new material. When I found out that Jared wanted to keep writing 99% of the songs and parts I decided that it wasn’t for me anymore. I quit in the middle of the tour in Atlanta but they convinced me to stay… I had a plane ticket and everything and refused to get back on the bus but they persuaded me to stay.
When that tour ended we were supposed to have 1 month off but a week later he [Jared Leto] called saying we were going out on tour again right away and I needed to get my things ready. I was drinking some beers at Ransom’s sisters house -I had become friends with Ransom and still am to this day- and I told her that I was going to quit Thirty Seconds to Mars. So I picked up my phone and called our manager, at the time John Witherspoon and told him I quit. He said ‘Are you sure mate?’ (He was from England) and I told him yes. A few hours later Shannon called saying to be at his house to practice and I told him ‘You didn’t hear? I quit’ he was pissed and hung up on me.
I found out later that John Witherspoon quit the next day or so as well. Then Solon [Bixler] quit a few months later. They had to retool the album artwork when I quit and instead of taking new photos they just airbrushed me out. So on the pic on the self-titled album I am the ghost in the space in between them.
The night I quit the band I went onto the bands website and told the Echelon [name of Thirty Seconds to Mars’s fans] that I had quit and wished the band nothing but success. My post was only up for about an hour before Jared removed it and blocked me from the site. I can’t say for sure if Jared was the one who started a rumor that I was fired for beating up a female fan but whether he started the rumor or not he never denied it to people when he knew I quit, so that was pretty cruel on his part because some people to this day still believe that awful rumor. And if I really wanted to clear my name all I would have to do would have anyone ask John Witherspoon, Solon or Matt and they would tell you I quit.
Who did you work with during all these years?
I wrote a lot of songs for myself and worked with my friend Kris Jung on a band called BlackCast and was in a band called Dillusion with Jason Evigan who is now the singer of The After Midnight Project. But mainly I just drank and partied a lot during the years between 2002 when I quit and 2006 when I got arrested for DUI [Driving Under the Influence].
You write songs too, for Kev Bayliss, Melissa Mishelle and Polaroïd Kiss. What inspires you when you write?
I don’t know where the inspiration comes from… it just seems to come natural to me. If I want to write a sad song I focus on something sad and the music comes to me… focus on happy and I have a happy song.
Can you please tell me more about your collaboration with Polaroïd Kiss?
Polaroid Kiss is composed of Brandun Reed and Ian Pickering -check Wikipedia for more info of all the people involved- I had been following the progress of the group on Facebook and I made a random comment on one of the songs Brandun posted saying ‘I wish I had played on that track’ He said ‘Maybe you can still’. So I started messaging him and next thing you know we were collaborating on some songs.
You’re a multi-instrumentalist, do you think you’ll release your own album one day?
I might. I put so much random stuff up on Soundcloud or Youtube that I have about 6 or 7 albums worth of original material. But if I were to pick my favorite ones and go into the studio it would either be an instrumental album since I don’t sing well or I would have to have guest singers. I guess if people wanted to hear it I would do it… but for now I am happy just doing my original solo songs for myself and whomever happens to listen on Soundcloud or Youtube.
I’ve seen that you’re a painter too. What is your style and which painters do you like?
I know nothing about art and haven’t painted in a few years. Most of my paintings were done in a drunken blackout and a lot of the ones I have posted on Facebook were done by my ex girlfriend Lauren. So my style is no style. I have done 2 or 3 that I am proud of but the rest are no better than a grade school kid fingerpainting! (laughs)
What are your passions apart from music?
I don’t have many passions apart from music. As shallow as it sounds I would like to just make a decent amount of money from my music so I can send my daughter to college and make sure she is taken care officially.
What is your dream in life?
My dream in life is to just be happy and make my daughter, family and friends proud.
In order to know you better, I would like you to answer the Proust Questionnaire. It’s a questionnaire that was traditionally proposed by Bernard Pivot, who hosted a very well known TV show here in France called ‘Apostrophe‘, and then, a few years later, by James Lipton, in his TV show ‘Inside the Actor’s Studio‘. These questions were traditionally asked to their guests at the very end of their shows:
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
A woman who is sexy and smart
What turns you off?
Fake people and liars
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
What is your favorites curse word?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Something in an unknown language with an unknown sound that resonates through your entire being, of all that once was and all that will ever be, that explains everything and makes you feel pure peace and love… all within one unknown word.