The Bunnies Interview with Jim Shelley of Book of Kills by Brad Rose
Brad: When did you first start making music?
Jim: My parents bought me a Sears electric guitar and this little amp that had a weird tremolo effect on it...wish I still had the amp...I learned a few chords and started writing these bad love songs about girls I didn't even know. Fortunately, I forgot all of those songs.
Brad: Where'd you get the name Book of Kills? I love the name!
Jim: I was reading a book by Marshall McLuhan and he used the name as a play on words for the Anglo-Saxon Book of Kells...I thought the name sounded decent and stole it. McLuhan's dead so I don't guess he minds.
Brad: How did Book of Kills first start?
Jim: Ummm...well I recorded my first Book of Kills song in 1988 after I got a Yamaha four track...it was "The Night John Lennon Died." I was really into Live Skull at the time so it's kind of my pop take on the Live Skull sound. Later I just decided I would use the BOK name for whatever I put out on cassette. Occasionally I'd start a band and use the name...but Book of Kills is me.
Brad: What was the first song you ever recorded?
Jim: I don't recall to be honest. It might have been the Kinks' "Dedicated Follower Of Fashion". I'm sure whatever it was it was bad. I don't like to remember beyond my Book of Kills days.
Brad: What is your favorite song you've ever recorded?
Jim: That's really tough...my favorites of my songs change day to day...I'd have to say "Abandoned" from DON'T STOP THE SCREAM just because it was hard to put together but at the same time really fun. And I like the lyrics. They're simple but say a lot. It's also my favorite song to play live.
Brad: What is the current situation of Book of Kills?
Jim: Right now I'm playing with two guys I've played with on and off before...Brian Temples on bass and vocals and Dusty Bugg on drums and vocals. Our guitarist is a new guy named George Finch. Anyway, we've played a couple of shows at a place in Harrisonburg (VA) called the Little Grill. It's tiny! But it's so cool to play in. Our first show over a 100 people showed up! We played really sloppy but people were jumping off tables and etc but it was great. The second show we played much more tight and there were a lot of people again. It was a really great experience. I love playing live now! I can't wait to do it again. We're trying to set up some gigs around the area...also looking into a couple of shows in NYC, believe it or not.
Brad: Who has influenced/inspired you to make the music you are making?
Jim: So many bands have inspired me. I'd say the most important ones are the Beatles, Sex Pistols, Husker Du, and the Pixies.
Brad: Did the death of Kurt Cobain have any effect on you?
Jim: Yeah. The new album I'm doing is sort of centered in one way or another on Kurt Cobain. I loved Nirvana. In fact, soon after Kurt died, I called up Dusty and Brian and started the new band. I can't really describe how bad his death made me feel. I remember I got really drunk the night I heard he'd died and wrote a bunch of suicidal letters to all my friends. I never sent any of them out fortunately.
Brad: Do you ever think Book of Kills could become a full time job?
Jim: I dream about it all the time. It takes a lot of people pulling for you to make it as a band. I want to try. I'm not sure Dusty and Brian and George are as into it as I am. I would love to have my music be my full time job.
Brad: What other things do you do besides the band?
Jim: I like to paint. But I only seem to be able to get one painting out of me a year. I paint really big paintings. It takes a lot out of me to just do one. I make my living as a teacher. I teach high school English. It's very weird. I'd rather be a full time musician. For some reason it seems to intimidate people when you tell them you're a teacher.
Brad: Is AIN'T RECORDS just BOK stuff or do you have other band's tapes?
Jim: It's mainly BOK, but I've also released a great tape by a band called 'The Hits' which is actually a guy named Bill Bird. Also one by a band called Ballihoux, and one by a male/female duo called the 'Cynics.'
Brad: Any BOK vinyl?
Jim: No. But we're scraping the money together to put out a split single with a band called ZooBoy. It should be hot if we ever actually get it together and put the fucking thing out.
Brad: If you could tour with any band which one would it be?
Jim: Well...it would've been Nirvana until recently. Probably Sugar right now. I love Bob Mould. He's a master. So Bob...you know...if you need a good warm-up band.
Brad: Have you ever been set on fire?
Jim: Yes. Twice.
Brad: Have you ever played anywhere outside the VA/DC area?
Jim: No. But I sure would like to. We have some friends in NYC so that might be the logical place to play in the near future. Also Richmond. We know a few people there.
Brad: Want to play in OK?
Jim: I'd love to play in Oklahoma! I was in OK once. There were a lot of cowboys. It was also fucking hot! Like in the 100s everyday, day after day. We went to the Cowboy Hall of Fame. I liked it. I think I remember that Trigger is in there...stuffed, of course. I wonder if they'll put Roy Rogers in there too after he dies? They could have him sitting on Trigger and eating a roast beef sandwich.