ABOVE: KYLE MCNEILL (LEFT) WITH HIS DRUMMER, LEWIS PULLMAN.
Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Kyle McNeill got an early start. “I had this girlfriend that I wrote a little melody for in the fifth grade,” says the musician. “It was the first thing I ever recorded—just four lines that I repeated over and over, recorded, and gave to her on a little cassette.” It goes without saying that the tween relationship didn’t last, but McNeill’s penchant for writing self-described “cheesy, embarrassing-to-look-back-on” love songs with a gritty, blues-rock base took off. He started a band, Big Pink Chair, with friends Lewis Pullman and Indio Downey (Robert Downey Jr.’s son) at age 13 and proceeded to record grimy, garage-y tracks “whenever we had the time.” None of this music sounded like the product of teens, largely due to McNeill’s deep, gruff voice.
Now, still very young at 18, McNeill is releasing a debut EP, Kyle McNeill & the Stumble, with Pullman on drums and music producer Jason Hiller on bass, later this summer. “It’s not better or worse than anything else we’ve recorded, but just for whatever reason, it felt like it was time to put our music out there and see if people like it,” explains McNeill, who left high school a year early to attend college (which he recently dropped, as well). The release—five earnest, but still raw, Black Keys-reminiscent songs about love lost and getting into trouble—is the precursor to a full-length to be released later this year. “In the meantime, we’re just doing what we love to do the most—just play,” says McNeill. “We have a few shows lined up in LA, but we’re always playing—even if it’s just for a couple people.”
KYLE MCNEILL & THE STUMBLE IS OUT AUGUST 7.