by Alexandra Hall
Mid-doom scroll on Instagram Reels, the weird brother of Tik Tok that somehow tricks you into thinking it is not as bad as its sibling, up came Patrick Hansen covering “True Love Will Find You In the End” by Daniel Johnston. My swiping immediately halted.
Reno, Nevada’s Charity Kiss consists of Hansen as the lead, Noah Linker on guitar, Cole Hendriks on bass and guitar, Wyatt Ziegler as the back-up bassist and producer, and Nate Drum on, you guessed it, drums. A departure from their previous high school project, Color T.V., Charity Kiss says their newest development waters down to their skill.
“We started the band in high school when we barely knew how to play our instruments,” Hansen said. “Now, we are able to ask ourselves what we actually want to do. We aren’t constrained by our lack of skill as much anymore.”
The group released their debut single “Virginia is for Lovers” in 2021, a folksy tune about the transactional nature of pain. It highlights the sentiment that we all hurt people and get hurt, an inevitable trait of human relationships. The chorus rings, “Sometimes I hurt others when I’m in pain/And sometimes in the sunshine, I forgive the rain/ we all have a dark part to play.” It rotates between soft, melodic verses and a bass-heavy chorus which gives the song a sense of meaning while still being jammable.
“I think we’re always taking in new ideas and finding new ways for those ideas to come out in different ways,” Hendriks said. “In the past few months, we’ve been writing differently. We’re learning more all the time and putting that pack into the music.”
This single differs from the style that Charity Kiss is planning on working with for the foreseeable future. “Virginia is for Lovers” is lighter compared to the group’s typical garage rock, grunge style, but it shows the potential they have. If this song was written and recorded on a whim, audiences can expect a lot in the future. No longer held back by skill limitations or hometown binds, the group is finally able to bud.
But although more knowledgeable with their instruments and their prospective plans, the group grapples with the reality of the current state of the industry right now being dominated by short-form content and sensationalism.
“We kind of have to ask ourselves if our audience is really on Tik Tok,” Ziegler said. “When it comes to dance genres, they do really well. But for something that is not as straightforward, it is a little harder to find your niche.”
For small artists right now, Tik Tok seems to be a foreboding presence: a make or break in success trajectories. Some artists genuinely want to play the game and do well with social media presence, but not everyone wants to participate. The balance between creating for the sake of creating and creating for the algorithm is hard to strike.
Fellow Reno band, Surf Curse made their claim to fame through Tik Tok over the past year with their hit “Freaks” which is a widely used song on the platform. Using them as a guide, Charity Kiss is planning on moving to L.A. within the next year to completely hone in on their work.
Reno, L.A., or within the confines of a screen, Charity Kiss knows where their actual target audience is. On top of a parking garage.
“If you’re showing up to an unsanctioned show for a group of local bands at a parking garage on a college campus, there’s probably something about you we can get along with,” Cole Hendriks said.
After playing that recent show on top of the parking garage, the group lit up when discussing the scene in Reno. As fellow parking-garage-goers, Charity Kiss looks to their audience as a reflection of themselves. Beloved in some venues like the Holland Project, the group will surely be missed in the area when they move.
Energy and on-stage dynamics are vital to the group’s performance and are what make them stand out. So much so that Ziegler, a recent addition to the band, found the group’s gravitational pull strong enough to join.
“We have a really passionate energy,” Ziegler said. “People really love that and I think the more people we can get to feel what we’re about the better. I started as a listener and I was amazed. I wanted to be involved.”
The story of the small band moving to L.A. to follow their passion might seem diluted at this point, but if there’s anything that will give Charity Kiss the upper hand among their peers, it’s their drive. The group knows the blueprint for success and is choosing to do what they want with whatever wiggle room is left. The coming year will be transformative for the project and hopefully, we’ll be along for the ride.
“All of us are doing this because we want to do it,” Linker said. “We’ve lived in a basement for four days while writing and none of us have a problem with it. We know that what we’re doing is something we will be proud of and will love. That’s something we want to share with people.”
Until next time,
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