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Kaleido ready to rise with Unbreakable

Christina Chriss has been making a impact on the Detroit music scene for awhile now and along with the rest of the members of her band Kaleido, is poised for a run to the top on the national scene.

Christina Chriss on stage at Kaleido's release party at the Majestic Theater 3-29-14
Tracy Heck

Last week, the band released their second EP, Unbreakable, and celebrated with a successful release party at the Majestic Theater in Detroit.

Kaleido is a five-piece band fronted by Chriss and featuring Joey Fava on drums, Cody Morales on bass and Ronnie Rosolino and Jamie Burnham on guitar.

Since their debut in 2011, the band has opened for several big artists from Kid Rock to The Offspring, performed at a number of Detroit Tigers, Pistons and Red Wings games and have played on the Vans Warped Tour, Rockstar Energy Uproar Festival and the CMJ Music Marathon.

In 2013 they were named the "Best Band In Detroit" by Real Detroit Weekly and were the 89x ‘People’s Choice’ champs for 11 consecutive nights beating out big name artists like Muse, Blink 182 and Jack White.

With Kaleido's loyal fan base, the "KaleidoFam", behind them and a killer fusion of hard-driven rock and melodic pop, the band is ready to break out in a big way.

At the center of all of it is Chriss, whose stage presence and versatile voice allows her to connect with her audience on a higher level.

Last week, Chriss spoke about the release of Unbreakable and where she sees the band heading from here.

Q: I've gotta say that the Unbreakable release party the other night seemed to really go well. You guys drew a great crowd at the Majestic. How do you think it went?

Christina: Yeah, it was awesome. We were thrilled with how it went. I would say it was better than what we expected. It went off great and a lot of cool people were there. It was a lot of fun.

Q: What does the Unbreakable EP mean to you as a band?

Christina: Well this one is important to us because I think that it really shows how far we've come. Someone online put, "Kaleido is all grown up!" and I had to laugh when I saw that because it is kind of true. Our first EP was just mostly Joey and I and we were really just getting the band off the ground and we wanted to have some material to start pushing out there and just pick up some fans. With this record everyone was in the studio together working on it and it got to feature everyone in the band. It was our first real collaborative effort and we're really thrilled with how it turned out. I think it's a big step for us. It's going to say a lot to our fans and it really shows the maturity of the group in the writing process. I just hope everyone enjoys it as much as we do.

Q: I remember seeing you way back when you were still with the Christina Chriss Band and I do think you can see how much more comfortable you are on stage now. What changes in yourself have you seen since that time?

Christina: Oh, I've come a very long way! I've completely dedicated a hundred percent of my life to my music and Kaleido and everything. The Christina Chriss Band was one of my steps in my journey to making Kaleido and getting to where I am today. It's a cool process and it's just my whole life. It's all I do.

Q: I'm sure your ease on stage comes with a lot of touring too.

Christina: Yeah, it comes with playing a lot of shows to a lot of different crowds at a lot of different venues and just getting super comfortable with it. I kind of feel like I've come into my own with Kaleido. I just think it was a great fit.

Q: You draw quite a diverse crowd. What do you think it is about this band that appeals to so many different types of people?

Christina: I think it's the blend of styles that we bring. Everyone in the band has such different musical backgrounds and I feel like that really does come across in the music. On this record there's really something for everybody. There's some heavier rock tracks and there's some super poppy tracks and there's like a funky track. It's kind of like our music is as diverse as our fans and I don't think you see that a lot these days with bands. I mean where there's such a diverse sound across the record but it still sounds like the same band, you know? It's funny you know because we do have like the little girls who have like pink hair and are dressed up like little rock stars and then we have older people who come out as well that probably went to rock concerts back in the day and they like it too. It kind of effortlessly happened like that. We just really have such a cool, diverse group of fans and I couldn't be happier with it and I just feel like it's going to keep growing as it gets out to more people. We really welcome that.

Q: You guys have a great relationship with the fans as well as you get out there and spend time with all of them at the shows. Unfortunately, you don't see a lot of local bands have that ability to get out there nationally and you guys are starting to do that. What do you think has made that difference for you?

Christina: Well we're just starting to really branch out. We did a couple of tours this past summer and we went and did a East Coast tour and we did some Uproar Festival dates and some Warped Tour dates and we did a Midwest Tour. We're working on another little run right now for May and we've gone to the West Coast too for a couple of one-offs but I feel like it's just a slow process. We're just starting to get into those other markets and that's really what we're working on. I feel like we still have a ways to go as far as getting out and touring in different areas. That's definitely one of my number one goals. I think just touring now that we have the record out is really important. Also now that the release show is behind us because we were really concentrating on making that as awesome as we wanted it to be.

Q: You've gotten the chance to open for some big names including opening in Vegas for Kid Rock recently. What's the best piece of advice you've gotten from other artists?

Christina: Let's see, I guess the best advice I think was just try to write the best songs that you can. There's so many pieces to the puzzle of being a successful band. You have to have every piece; you can't have just one. There's like the image, the live show and then the songs are so important. It's really getting the best songs that you can and just continually trying to write the best songs that you can that will really touch people lives and stand the test of time. I would say that's the best advice that I've gotten and I mean that's our goal.

Q: Well you have "Walk Away" out on the radio now. Do you know what you are going to release next?

Christina: I don't know. I think that we're going to leave that up to our KaleidoFam. Now that the records out we are going to really start just trying to pay attention to what everyone likes the best and just go forward with that. Our fans are so important to us and I feel like their opinions are really important. I'm gonna kind of try to gauge off of that I think.

Q: Do you feel like having that strong fan base behind you is going to help you moving forward on trying to break on a national level?

Christina: Yeah it's so important and if I could offer any advice to another band I would say you need to develop that relationship with your fans. When you're starting from the ground up and you're an indie band and not on a label you need to just really embrace your fans because they're the ones who are buying your stuff and coming to your shows. That's why I always make it a point to try and go out after the set and sign stuff and talk to people and meet them because I feel like that's my little way of showing how much I really do appreciate them supporting us and coming out. They're not just a number to me. They're not just a attendance number or a head in a crowd. I want to see their faces and let them know how much I appreciate them spending their hard-earned money on stuff that I've made and on our shows. We're just very appreciative. I think that a lot of bands could really make a difference and start to develop a stronger fan base if they just went that extra step and I don't see that a lot. It's something that we have done since we started out and we continue to do it. I'd say that that has a lot to do with the relationship that we've built with people. I mean it's just how cool that fan base base is. The Kaleido fan base just continues to grow and has been compared in the industry to some of the strongest and outspoken and powerful fan bases in the country like the Slipknot fans who are just known to be hardcore, dedicated fans and even in our own market with the Juggalos. That hold that ICP has on their fan base. Those people are just diehard fans and our fan base is really starting to get compared to those other fan bases like that and I'm just kind of blown away by that. That's such a huge compliment. It's really cool and it has kind of just taken on a life of its own and it has happened naturally and that's the best part about it.

Q: What song from the album are you enjoying playing live the most right now?

Christina: I would say that right now I really like doing "Unbreakable", the title track off of the record. It's definitely a lot heavier than the last stuff from the first EP and it's been how we've been starting our set out. I think that it makes a great statement and it's a lot of fun to play live.

Q: What do you guys have coming up? Anything big coming up locally?

Christina: Yes we do actually. We're playing the Metro Times Blowout in Hamtramck on May 2 at Smalls. That should be interesting because that's going to be our first time playing that and it's like a very historical thing and I think it has been around for like 17 years I think. That's huge and we're very excited to be on that. That's really all we have booked right now locally. This summer should unfold a little differently. Hopefully we're going to be touring and branching out.

Q: You were a mainstay on a lot of the area festivals last year. Will you be doing some of those?

Christina: Yeah, I'm sure we will be doing some of those but we're also going to try to go outside of the Detroit market. I want to try and go and play those same types of festivals in areas like Traverse City and some other markets that aren't too far out.

Q: Besides expanding into other markets, what other goals does the band have moving forward?

Christina: Well it's definitely a national tour but also just continuing to write the best songs that we can. That's my number one goal, just to keep writing stuff that I'm in love with and really believe in. So far, that's been working out really well for us. We're really proud of the stuff that we've come up with. It's funny because we have a lot of other songs that we haven't even cracked the surface with yet. It's just like we have to get these other songs out first. We've got a lot that are just little babies right now but we're going to start working on the material for the next record right away.

Q: Are you always writing?

Christina: Always. We don't force it though. When you try to force it I feel like you just get discouraged because you're not coming up with something as quickly as you'd want. We've learned to just not stress about it and just let it come. I actually wrote a new song after the release show on Saturday night at like three in the morning. It just came out of nowhere. We don't sit down and say alright we're going to write a song, they just happen and I think that's the most beautiful, mysterious thing about being an artist and being creative. The universe just lends itself to you when it feels like it.

Q: Finally, what would people be surprised to learn about you?

Christina: Hmm, geez I don't know! That's a tough one. Well, this might be surprising: we all live together. How about that? Yeah, we all live together and do our band and music full time. We live in a very musical household. I have a very long fuse because I live with a bunch of guys! Yep, one bathroom and a bunch of guys, but it's all good! We get along well but yeah I don't think a lot of people know that about us.

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