Q&A with Megan Jean & the Klay Family Band

photo courtesy of Megan Jean & the KFB

photo courtesy of Megan Jean & the KFB

What: A spitfire duo playing a fast and fiery blend of folk-Americana-punk-country-rock. Megan Jean sings, hollers, plays banjo, washboard, guitar & more, and her husband Byrne plays upright bass & banjo.
When: They’re on tour now and will be making a stop in DC this Thursday, February 7th, show starts at 9pm.
Where: Desperados,1342 U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009.
We Love DC’s Alexia got the chance to ask Megan Jean a few questions, and here’s what she had to say.
Alexia: How did you start playing music?
Megan Jean: I started when I was young, both my parents wrote music, sang, and played. I started on violin, sold it, and bought a guitar when I was 11. I didn’t really know I could sing until I was 15, and started doing musical theater. I went to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU for theater and got a lot of vocal training there, which I learned to apply in club settings gigging all over the city. I guess that’s when I knew I’d be a musician, playing original music.
Alexia: How did you and Byrne come to play music together/form MJ&the KFB?
Megan Jean: We actually dated for a year before we started playing music. I played solo shows, and Byrne split his time between a punk band called Dynamite Club, who’s lead singer was a Japanese man in his underpants, and a great original surf-rock trio called This Spy Surfs. We started playing together in 2006, and the name was originally Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band. We kept my name, because I already had good gigs, and our last name is Klay. The idea was that anyone playing music with us was family. When we went on the road it was just the two of us, so we shortened it to KFB, cause club owners would get mad when they were expecting a full band.
Alexia: Is there one song/artist/album that first made you fall in love with rock & roll?
Megan Jean: I kinda grew up loving music, all kinds. I probably felt the most emotional connection with punk music, and good rock & roll, like Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The song “Search and Destroy” was probably the first song I ever heard that made me feel like there was a fire in my chest, or that I could be dangerous if I wanted to be. That’s a very liberating feeling for a 14-year-old girl. My love for music, not just one genre, that goes much deeper than one song or album.
Alexia: You all have played DC before- is there anything you love to do while you’re in DC? Any favorite spots/things?
Megan Jean: I love Pho Wheels, the food truck, and I randomly end up next to it every time we’re in the city. Not a problem for me. Also, your audiences are very kind. We’ve never had a bad show in DC.
Alexia: You’ve been on tour for a long time now! Do you have any favorite or weird moment from tour in your memory? Any pearls of wisdom for bands who are looking to tour?
Megan Jean: We have been on tour for two years now, about 20 gigs a month. There are so many weird moments to choose from, where to begin? Here’s my favorite: we played a very large club on Father’s Day, and the local openers bailed. We don’t really have a draw in that town, but we decided to do the gig anyway. It ended up being us, the bartender, and one crazy dancing dude, with a 500-cap club to himself. He loved us though, and said he was gonna buy shirts and an album, so we thought, cool, at least we’ll make gas. He made it about 3 songs in, before the 4 cops came in, placed him in handcuffs, and led him out the door. I still have no idea why. The cops came in and literally arrested our entire audience, with no explanation. My advice for bands looking to tour? Just do it. It may or may not be the hugest tour, and it may not bring you fame and fortune, but you will never regret it. I promise you.
Alexia: The last time you were in DC you played at the Pentagon- how did that come about, and what was that experience like?
Megan Jean: We were asked by a friend of Byrne’s brother (who is a former marine) to do a spot for Pentagon TV, and we just showed up and played. It was a really great experience, everyone was so kind and fun to sing for.
Alexia: You have a brand new album out now! What was the process like of getting that done?


Megan Jean: It was the most rewarding and difficult thing I’ve ever done creatively. I poured my heart and soul into it, and I’m really proud of it. We pretty much had every peak and valley you could dream of, but it happened just the way it was supposed to I think. We had so many plans to make it just evaporate on us, until it finally worked. That’s the key, if it doesn’t work the first, second, or even third time, just pick yourself up and try again.


Alexia: What’s on the horizon for you two?


Megan Jean: We’ll be doing 200 shows this year to support the album, and playing the main stage at Floydfest this summer, alongside the Lumineers and Trampled by Turtles!!!


See Megan Jean & the Klay Family Band play live this Thursday, February 7th at Desperados on U St., 9pm!


Alexia Kauffman

Alexia was born and raised in Arlington, VA. She has been a cellist since age four, and a lover of rock & roll soon after. The first tape she owned was “Make It Big” by Wham, and the first tape she bought was Nirvana’s “Nevermind,” and she still loves both. She was a member of local synth-rock outfit Soft Complex for several years, and has recorded with bands including Engine Down and Two if By Sea. By day she works for a non-profit distributing royalties to musicians and labels. She currently plays cello, lap-steel guitar and tambourine in the DC post-folk/Americana band The Torches.

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