John Kay & Who’s To Say will premiere a new music video Friday night that spotlights the nation’s lack of gun control.
The progressive pop group will debut the video for “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth),” an anti-gun violence anthem for youth and schools, at 9:15 p.m. Friday during their one-year anniversary show at El Club, 4114 Vernor Highway, in Detroit.
“We’ve made a music video surrounding this song because we think it’s important to shed light on it,” said John Kay, the group’s lead vocalist and guitarist, in an interview the band released March 8 through their YouTube channel. “This is our opportunity to tell this type of story in a way that hopefully is impactful and makes people think.”
Kay thought twice about gun violence in schools after hearing about the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., last year that killed 17 students. That tragic event quickly inspired Kay to write and release “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth),” an emotionally-charged track that calls for stronger gun control laws.
“It impacted me more than any other school shooting or mass shooting news that I’ve seen. It could be because of the resolve of the kids who survived,” Kay said. “I was touched by it and just really angered. I sat down with the guitar and started plucking the first notes of the song and just started singing the first things that came to mind, and the song poured out of me in five minutes.”
For the “Maybe (Armed to the Teeth)” video, Kay turned the creative reins over to videographers Joseph S. Quick and Bradford Clark and bandmate Tamara Marla Laflin (synthesizer, vocals, percussion) to develop the overall concept, which features several talented southeast Michigan teens as cast members.
“Tamara storyboarded the whole thing, and she was the artistic director for it while Joe and Brad were the camera operators and directors of photography,” Kay said. “It’s our first foray into a music video, and there’s a lot of learning involved with it. Joe and Tamara have learned how to work together and have a better idea of how they want to do the next music video.”
The teens featured in the video will attend Friday’s John Kay and Who’s To Say show to celebrate its premiere as well as the band’s one-year anniversary. Last year, Kay teamed up with Steve Lupinksi (bass, vocals), Brandon McNall (lead guitar), Jason Rauschenberger (rhythm guitar, percussion, vocals), Angelo Coppola (drums, vocals) and Laflin to form the band.
Together, Kay and his bandmates have been building a strong live music presence in Detroit and throughout the Midwest after performing their first sold-out show at PJ’s Lager House last March. They’ve also performed at Mulligan’s Pub in Grand Rapids, Howard’s Club H in Bowling Green, Ohio, The Elbo Room in Chicago and The Parliament Room at Otus Supply in Ferndale.
“It’s been a very interesting year for me being the leader of the team and seeing the team grow and develop,” said Kay, who’s influenced by Prince, David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Queens of the Stone Age. “Just watching everyone work toward the common goal is a pretty doggone good feeling.”
As the band’s frontman, Kay takes an unconventional approach to leading John Kay & Who’s To Say. He’s identified seven core values known as SMARTER – sacrifice, measurable growth, accountability, a reputation for excellence, time, energy and respect – for the group and teamed up with bandmates who share these values.
Kay also launched the band’s official club, Bullfighters, last year through a subscription-based content service called Patreon. For $5 a month, fans receive the band’s music in a digital format, updates and happenings, merchandise discounts, free U.S. shipping and two concert tickets per year to local shows. They also have access to new song demos and are encouraged to provide feedback directly to the band.
Local Bullfighters will be attending Friday’s night show, which also will feature songs from Kay’s 2016 album, “Dealing with People,” as well as the band’s latest singles, “We Know We’re Gonna Die” and “Maxin’ Out.” Detroit psychedelic blues rockers Nina & The Buffalo Riders and Motor City funk-psych-jazz fusion quartet Funksmanship will open the show.
After Friday’s show, the band will develop a new video for another single and return to the studio to write and record new material. As a follow-up to “Dealing with People,” Kay said the band is focused on releasing a series of new singles and recording more video content for their YouTube channel.
“We’ve got a good group of people on this team, and they know where my loyalties lie,” Kay said. “They know that I’m working hard and doing my best to set the tone for what we need.”
Friday, March 15
El Club, 4114 Vernor Highway in Detroit
Doors: 7 p.m.
Show: 7:30 p.m.
Video premiere: 9:15 p.m.