Local band Krooks looks and sounds a lot differently than it did at its genesis in late 2020. What began as a surf rock trio — comprised of Cal Poly students Liam Reece, Kyle Hauk and Tanner Price — has evolved into a four-piece experimental group focused on creating connection and developing their sound in anticipation of an EP release.
The current group is made up of Price and Ethan Norton on guitars, Aidan Dillon on bass and Shawn Matthews on drums. The three new artists joined Price in 2023 around the time two of Krooks’ original members joined Makeout Reef.
Dillion had played guitar for a few years before joining Krooks, but he started playing bass just a year ago after he found a $40 bass and amp on Craigslist. Then he met Norton and started playing with him and his friends, which encouraged him to keep learning.
During his freshman year of high school, Norton began playing guitar casually, learning songs on YouTube. He played guitar in several bands throughout high school and started writing his own music during his freshman year of college. He then began taking his craft more seriously when Price reached out to create music together.
Inspired by his older brother, who was always in bands in his teenage years, Price started playing guitar during his sophomore year of high school. He joined his first band during his senior year and knew he wanted to continue playing when he entered college.
Matthews started taking drum lessons in high school as a class requirement, and he quickly fell in love with the instrument. As cousins, Mattews and Price would always get together and jam growing up.
Krooks released a surf-rock EP with its original members in 2022, but when the newer members joined, the group wanted their sound to head in a new direction. They aimed to keep some hints of the band’s prior surf-rock sound while incorporating genres that inspire them the most: ’90s shoegaze and heavy rock.
“We also try not [to focus] on sounding like a specific genre as much, because you can kind of get trapped in that,” Norton said. “So we just jam around, see what we like that sounds good to us and try to not let our voices get to us of what we should play versus what we want to play.”
With today’s members, Krooks delivered their first single, “Superbloom,” in late November 2023. They will soon be releasing an EP with about six original songs.
“[The new music is] more us,” Matthews said. “The stuff we are putting out is mostly just the stuff we’ve created together as this kind of new Krooks 2.0.”
The band on stage
All four members are on the same page about what makes a show memorable: the audience’s energy and playing with each other on the stage.
“The crowd … that’s what makes it for me,” Dillon said with nods of approval from his three bandmates.
Matthews said the band has fun playing off of each other during performances.
“We can play confidently and feel good individually about what we’re doing,” Matthews said. “It’s just super fun, we love playing all together.”
The band constructs its setlists so that each song transitions smoothly into the next, helping the show sound cohesive and engaging.
– Ethan Norton
Dillon also said the songs that get the best crowd reaction are the most entertaining to play live, like the unreleased “Younger” and “Drag My Head.”
“There’s this one, the tentative name is ‘Younger,’ and … people like to move to that song,” he said. “It’s the most feel-good, it’s very melodic.”
Price said Krooks has enjoyed playing with other local bands over the last year. Not only do the bands bond over a shared passion for music, but they also build genuine friendships.
“The other bands we have had the opportunity to play with are just always so fun and so nice … they are all such good people, it’s super fun to hang out with them,” Price said.
The group wants to thank the people who have helped them get their music out to the public: Ivan Ditscheiner, the CEO, founder and chief recording engineer of The Rec Hub San Luis Obispo who has helped Krooks with recording, and Michael Martin from Free the Youth, who has helped the band bring their event dreams to life.
Information on Krooks’ upcoming events and announcements can be found on their Instagram.
Aidan Dillon is a journalism junior and a DJ and reporter for KCPR. Krooks is not affiliated with KCPR.