“Do what you do so well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” – Walt Disney
The term “Musical Prodigy” is the quintessential way to describe 14 year old lead guitarist Nik Kai. Kai first started playing the guitar when he was only eight years old and because of his photographic memory and natural talent, he is fastly becoming the next superstar guitarist to watch out for on the heavy metal music scene and we are happy to have been able to speak with him for a while about his new band called No Words and the upcoming projects that are going along with it.
So how did he start playing? “At the beginning I was self taught, then after a while I took lessons and learned from different musicians. It wasn’t so much an inspiration from someone else, it was more about the instrument itself and wanting to play.” Almost instantly, Kai was offered sponsorships from companies like Gibson, Epiphone and has accrued others like Marshall and Coffin Cases. Known also as Coffin Kid, Kai is fastly progressing into a realm that some can only dream of. Currently, Kai is in talks of designing his own guitar line with one of his sponsors. Getting into the various bands that Kai has played with, his resume is quite impressive. “I was mainly in three different bands, they just had many different members. The first band was called Kemical Kill which was inspired by a tattoo and so that’s how I came up with the name for that band. Then we ended up playing a Motorhead show and just replaced members over time and that’s basically how it started.” Most recently, Kai is the founder of the metal band No Words where he is the lead guitarist and is joined by Chris Garcia (rhythm guitar), Shane Zimm (Keyboards), Drew Moses (drums) Tony Savelio (Lead Vocals) and Izzy Maxx (bass). Fresh off of playing the Wacken Festival in Germany, Kai tells us “we had a 30 minute set and then a 45 minute set and we had pretty good timeslots. We ended up playing next to Suicide Silence on the last day of the festival. It was a fun experience for me and the band. Germany was awesome and during the second show, our singer lost his voice but we pushed through it and he was screaming through it and it was really cool.
With the ongoing popularity of reality shows, Kai and the band have signed on to do his own show that will follow him, the band and their career. “We’re in the middle of the process of getting the footage and it will be a day to day show documenting what we do and touring, rehearsing and showing people the struggle from the start, rather than from the point where a band has already made it. We want to be able to give people the insight to the progress and development of things as they happen good and bad. It just sort of happened and we’ve been talking to producers ever since.” Not surprisingly, Kai and No Words is also in negotiations with a label and that should be finalized soon. When it comes to musical influences, Synyster Gates from Avenged Sevenfold is on the top of his list. Dimebag Darrell and Randy Rhodes are also extremely influential to him and he doesn’t have a favorite per se as they all have different styles which contribute to Kai’s personal taste of style personally and in the way he plays. Always striving to improve, like all guitar greats, Kai is constantly finding new techniques to add to his style. Jazz guitar seems to be one of the biggest influences with many metal guitarists and Kai is no different. “A lot of metal guitars use a jazz guitar approach in their solos, it seems to be the most creative way.” Kai lives the dream life being homeschooled and touring the world playing music, even at a young age, he has never been truly nervous or overwhelmed by it all. In actuality, he claims that the bigger the crowd, the easier it seems to be. “You kind of tune into the energy of the crowd” Kai says. Kai produces, engineers, writes in addition to playing guitar. He would love to collaborate with Avenged Sevenfold and Dave Grohl. When he goes to write a song, he listens to a bunch of different bands and their newest songs until he masters the formula. He does all the production from his home. In 2011, he was the winner of Best Metal Guitarist for the LA Music Awards and in 2012, he was nominated for a Metal Hammer Golden God Award in the Metal as F*ck category along with Anthrax, Hell and Saboton. Kai is looking to eventually have his own studio where he can produce and engineer songs for bands and do all aspects of music. He is also interested in electronic music and doing that as well. As we were interviewing Kai, the lead singer of his current band No Words got in on the call and we were able to ask him a few questions.
Savelio (lead vocals) stopped by during the interview and joined in the conversation and explained to us about how it was pure luck to be able to become the lead singer of the project. “Things are moving fast and we are doing a lot already playing Wacken and we’re about to do the Motorhead Cruise. I appreciate what I do and what they do and I love where we are going with it. Before No Words, I was just doing my thing at different bars and doing acoustic style but then I met these guys and am able to take it all over the world.” Claiming they met at a chocolate milk bar, Sabaleo tells us that he was introduced to the band by a friend who said he could help them with their sound and it’s been a fun ride since. As far as vocals, Sabaleo says he is inspired by all sorts of music. “I come from a Samoan household and listened to reggae, just really soulful music. I listened to all sorts of artists like Justin Timberlake and Sublime.” Jokingly, we agreed that a lot of rock artists have admitted to having a liking to ‘N Sync over the Backstreet Boys and Sabaleo says it’s because their band is in sync musically.” Sabaleo is also self taught and praises the video game Rock Band as one of the tools he used to learn from. “I really like working with Nik, he is great” Sabaleo proclaims. “He shreds on his solos and it is just awesome to work with him.” When it comes to the songwriting process, Sabaleo says “it’s so easy to write with these guys. Nik just starts playing something and I freestyle and it just comes together. Nik is like a wizard of Oz so to speak–it really is easy and there’s a lot of musical chemistry.” Asking to make mention of drummer Drew Moses’s birthday who was also present for the call, we were able to speak with him and wish him a happy birthday. Moses tells us he has been playing drums for about eight years and has taken different elements from different drummers that he have listened to all his life. “Nik helps a lot when it comes to writing the drum riffs on our songs, he is very creative in that way” he says.
After coming off the high energy of the Wacken Festival recently, Kai goes into detail and tells us how while he enjoys playing everywhere they go, he loves the passion of the European fans. “When we finished the show, we were backstage taking photos and apparently, the crowd was cheering for us to do an encore and we didn’t even realize it. Something we are just getting used to and it was really cool.” As far as bands they would like to do shows with in the future, Kai tells us they would love to do more festivals and it would be a dream come true to play with headlining bands like Avenged Sevenfold, Linkin Park and Of Mice and Men. Kai says they have about 20 songs to release but for now they are planning to release an EP and will have a record release party in September before they do the Motorboat tour. Once they finalize things with the record company, they will go ahead and release a full length album at that time and start touring non-stop hopefully. They have a show scheduled at the Hard Rock in Las Vegas and from there, they are looking to play more shows. When I asked if there was final words from the band, they jokingly said “we have no words.” But they did end with their excitement about all of the upcoming projects they have in the works and how appreciative they are to work with each other.
One thing is apparent and that is Nik Kai and No Words have a lot to look forward to. From the upcoming Motorboat Cruise with Motorhead at the end of September to their record release and other ventures, high expectations are not far fetched. In speaking with Kai and a few of his bandmates, they had a seemingly comedic and tight brotherhood bond which only transcends upon their music and their on stage energy. We wish them the best of luck as they make their way to rock stardom. Kai is proof that age is but a number and if you have the heart, the focus, the drive…you can achieve great things in not only music but anything you want to do.