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Molly Riehle

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Molly Riehle (molly.riehle@gmail.com)

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  • Registered On :2023-06-27 20:04:18
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British sensation Rina Sawayama put on a stunning show at the Observatory on October 3rd, 2023, combining her eclectic pop-rock-R&B sound with dramatic theatricality. The sold-out crowd was mesmerized from start to finish, culminating in an all-out dance party to her hit LGBT+ anthem, “This Hell.” Rina’s latest album, “Hold the Girl,” is out now. Coverage/photos by KX intern Molly Riehle (@riehlephotos). Thank you to LiveNation and The Observatory for making this collaboration possible.

The Backfires are a British/American indie rock band based in New York City. In between their recent shows at the Moroccan Lounge in LA and The Loft in San Diego, the band (Alex Gomez, lead vocals; Harry Ruprecht, lead guitar; Matt Walter, bass; with Frankie, guest drummer) graciously stopped by the KXFM studio for a chat with our intern, Molly, about their music, their transatlantic origins, and their first ever West Coast tour.  


Molly: Thank you for coming to Laguna Beach! Super cool that I caught you en route. This is the first time that you guys have played in California? How’s it been? 


Alex:  It’s been really incredible to be honest. It’s crazy to think about the fact that we’ve been a band for a few years, but not really, because Matt and I grew up together and we played in bands in high school, and then I was over in England for my first year in college and met Harry and Max [drummer Max Wanduragala] over there. It was almost like a studio project in the sense that we were only together for a couple months or weeks at a time, and we’d record something and that would be that. Then, at the beginning of 2022, everyone moved in together in New York and we were like, ok we’re gonna go for this and see what happens. Almost two years ago now. To think about us playing tiny rooms in New York, to then playing bigger rooms in New York, to now playing around the United States and people coming and knowing the words to our songs is… insane. It almost doesn’t make any sense and is the most surreal experience. There were people last night who knew the words to every song – and gave Harry a friendship bracelet!    


Molly: Awwwww! 


Harry: It says “Preoccupied” on it, which is crazy.


Alex: We just feel so grateful for everybody that supports us and is helping us along this journey and really excited about everything. 


Molly: So you played the Moroccan Lounge, classic LA spot, really good show –


Alex: Thank you!


Molly: How would you say the LA crowd compares with New York?


Harry: It was good! Might’ve been more lively. As I was singing, I couldn’t really tell because I was too in the zone, but I would say that it’s a bit friendlier. 


Matt: I couldn’t see past the first three rows of people, unless the back lights were on. But the front three rows were having a great time!  I would say it was comparable.


Alex: Yeah, I felt really good to see people singing the songs, and I felt like at times during the show I was trying to sing the songs with them and that was really fun. Sometimes in New York, people are kinda playing it cool, but I feel like last night people were just having a great time. It was awesome.


Molly: If you were asked to describe your music in three words, what would they be? 


Matt: Rock and Roll


Harry: That’s good, yeah. I would say, The Best Ever 




Harry: The Best of the Best


Alex: That’s four – no, that’s five!  


[even more laughter]


Molly:  At the show last night, I think “Blindsided” brought out the biggest crowd reaction. That’s been your biggest song – are you ever surprised by which songs become the most popular? Or when you made it were you like, this one’s going to do well?   


Alex: That song was written towards the end of Covid. I’d gone over to see Harry and Max in England, right when the borders opened. So we hadn’t seen each other for like a year and a half, and that song happened. Then Matt and I went over and we recorded it in London a couple months later. But I remember when writing it, I had such a feeling that it was a good song, and when we recorded it, I felt like it was a good song. It was one of the first times that I was really proud – not that I wasn’t proud of things before, but I felt like ok, this is progressing. I remember being really excited about that song. 


Harry: We also took an approach to it that was different from what we’d done before. We tried keeping it quite simple, like with our songwriting, which was something we had kind of forgotten about. And but we are kind of going back to that again with the stuff that we’re putting out – where everything is simple. 


Matt:   It’s also that we recorded the EP, and we had never done that before. When we recorded “Song 55,” we were still separated. Alex and I did stuff in New York and then Harry and Max did stuff in England. Then when we recorded “Blindsided” and “Reflections on My TV,” I felt like we had a lot more experience and more so knew what we were doing, though obviously still learning.


Harry: And we just started working with a new producer, Ayad. Shoutout Ayad. He’s been teaching us some new tricks and helping us with finishing up a record now.


Molly: That song-writing process is so fascinating to me, since it’s not something I’ve ever been able to do. What is that process like for you guys? Do melodies and lyrics hit you out of nowhere, or are you more intentional – like sit down and write it?  


Alex: I find that with song-writing, for me personally, it’s very feelings-based. Sometimes it’s like chasing a feeling that I’m going through or any one of us is going through. For me, in growing up and listening to music, it was always about how it made me feel. When writing a song, it’s very much like, am I satisfying that? And sometimes it doesn’t get satisfied until months later, until rewriting and rewriting and rewriting. I think that ultimately, for better or worse, we can be perfectionists, and even as we’re recording it, questioning is that the best thing for it. 


Harry: Sometimes there are the songs that exist to be written and when you sit down to write them it’s almost like fishing in a way. I don’t necessarily sit down with the intention to write a song, it sometimes just happens. Some of our best songs have been written in 5 minutes. Like, at 3 a.m.


Alex: Sometimes there are also lyrics or ideas that are just sifting around for a while. For a new song that we’ve been working on for the record called “This Is Not an Exit,” I remember there was a sign at the Mercury Lounge, which is where we had our first proper New York show – a sign on the wall behind the the stage that said This Is Not an Exit. And it obviously just means that you can’t leave through that door, but for us, having gone there many times and seen other bands there, it always stuck out to me as a line. And the song came from me trying to figure out how to turn that into an idea. Things like that sometimes happen. But that isn’t always an easy process. You have to refine, refine, and refine. 


Harry: You put it in one song that you had written, but you wanted more from it. So you just took the line and wrote a completely different song. Which I actually remember being a bit of an argument? And then I started playing a guitar line for it, and we just wrote it from there. But yeah, we spent a long time on that one. 


Alex: Yeah, that song took ages.


Matt: I think I was away for a week and half, and that’s all you guys did.


Molly:  At the show last night, you covered a Killers song, and I think I can hear a kind of Killers type energy in your latest single “Joyride” – what other muses or influences do you guys have?  


Harry: Yeah, Arctic Monkeys, Catfish and the Bottlemen, Oasis, but don’t know how deep that transcends throughout the band. And of course some Fontaines D.C. love


Matt: Yeah, and Stone Roses, especially with the drums and bass. And the backing vocals, in Fontaines and by extension the Stone Roses, that has really been doing it for me lately. I don’t know that it has influenced any of our songs, but when we play live, I try to channel that energy. 


Alex:  There’s a certain sound that a lot of British/Irish bands seem to have been curating over decades now, and for whatever reason, I think we’ve just been drawn to that. Harry is from the UK, and Max is from the UK, but Matt and I have also been drawn to those kinds of bands and trying to figure out that sort of sound. I feel like I’ve been way more influenced by bands from there than from the United States. You have a band like the Killers that’s kind of trying to sound like a UK band, and it’s funny how that happens.   


Molly: You’re touring without Max, your drummer, who you’ve called “the cleverest Backfire” –


All: [laughing] That’s probably true.


Molly: And you’ve found an excellent replacement for now, but how has touring been without your cleverest member? Have you been like, getting lost, forgetting lyrics, anything?


Harry: Not really, it’s been pretty good! Obviously we want Max to be able to play with us again as soon as possible again but Frankie has been killing it and we’re very grateful to him for coming in and saving us.


Alex: Yes, yes.


Molly: Shoutout Frankie!


Frankie: Thanks!


Molly: And you’re coming back next month, with Phoneboy, will Max be back for that? 


Alex: Max will be back. 


Molly:  That’s exciting, a reunion.


Alex: Exactly, it’ll be great.


Molly:  Besides your San Diego show in a couple hours, and your tour next month, what’s next for you guys? 


Alex: Also doing a show with Quarters of Change in New York.


Harry:  And then we’re trying to release a record, and then touring again. Lots of shows!


Alex: Yes, shows, as many shows as possible. That’s kind of the whole thing – we just want to play live. By the end of this year, I think we’ll have played 40 shows this year. So put the record out and play as many cities as we can. 


Harry: And we’re gonna go to the UK again, and to Europe as well.    


Molly:  Big things! I’ll be watching and listening.


Harry: Thanks! Thanks very much for having us.


Molly:  Thank you for being here!


The Backfires will return to Orange County later this month! Catch them with Phoneboy at The Parish at House of Blues, Anaheim, on November 25, 2023.     




Interview and photos by KXFM intern Molly Riehle. Interview edited minimally for clarity. 

On Friday, June 23, the Constellation Room at the Observatory OC gave the stage to an extraordinary display of musical talent by the psychedelic rock band Post Animal. The band’s performance exuded incomparable energy, effortlessly balancing a serene calmness with fervent chaos that left the audience captivated.


Post Animal showed off the absolute mastery of their genre, each of their songs tapping into a different aspect of this unique form of rock. “When I Get Home” used a medley of rising synths and crashing cymbals along with the intermittent guitar to create an extremely chill and otherworldly vibe that entirely overpowered anything else going on in the room. “Aging Forest”, on the other hand, was composed mostly of brash guitar and booming drums, exemplifying the diversity of their music and creating a much more upbeat atmosphere.


The band’s ability to command the crowd was striking, made clear by the synchronized bobbing heads and swaying shoulders that swept through the venue. The skillful utilization of lighting and color played an unforgettable role in their performance, with contrasting hues emanating from both the front and back of the stage, effectively highlighting the band’s presence amidst the music.


Post Animal’s seamless fusion of mellow and chaotic elements not only demonstrated their unparalleled talent but also highlighted their commitment to pushing the boundaries of their craft. Their performance at the Constellation Room was nothing short of mesmerizing, transporting the audience to an alternate dimension where the power of music reigns supreme.




Words by Gavin O’Neill & Photos by Molly Riehle

New music you really need to hear came to the Observatory in Santa Ana this month via Annie DiRusso’s “God, I Love This Tour” show. 

First, headlining in the Constellation Room was Nashville-based indie rocker DiRusso. Her appealing sound — both guitar-driven and melodic, combined with brutally honest lyrics from a distinctly female perspective — has drawn comparisons to 90’s icon Liz Phair. Listening to “Nauseous” and “Frisco Forever” from DiRusso’s new (and first) EP, “God, I Hate This Place,” you hear echoes of that influence. But while Liz Phair exuded a wry, cool girl detachment, Annie’s songs are often tinged with critical self-doubt. She reserves her most lacerating words for herself. From the heartbreaking “Body,” she sings:

He loves my face, but not my body

Should I lose weight, just so he’ll want me 

(Though thankfully she answers this question with defiance: “not really one for trying to be who you want me to be.”)

And from “Nine Months”:

And every time I think of you

I hate I didn’t run away

Cause I never thought, I never thought

I’d be thе girl who stayed

Added to this vulnerability, DiRusso’s touring set quite literally invites you in, as it’s decorated as her own colorful bedroom. But despite the recurrent themes of unrequited and otherwise disappointing love, DiRusso’s show is FUN. It’s a raucous slumber party with her high-energy band and devoted fans singing along to every word of her lovely vocals. 


And Annie DiRusso wasn’t the only indie Nashville artist bound to hook you into their music that night. Opener Hannah Cole brought her own compelling set to the Constellation Room. She took the stage as a voice message from her grandmother played, setting the tone for the personal storytelling to come. The singer-songwriter immediately grabbed the attention of the crowd with the opening strums of her latest release, “Big Bite,” and her angelic voice kept everyone captivated throughout. Personally, I went into the show unfamiliar with Cole, but I’ve been streaming her songs non-stop since, especially the addictive “Guard Dog” and “Nuisance.” Cole also played a couple of unreleased songs, promising a new EP in July that we should all look forward to. 


Words & Photos by Molly Riehle