Katy Guillen & The Drive prepares to release an indie rock album with bite

Kgtdphotobymorganjones

Katy Guillen and Stephanie Williams have been working together for the better part of a decade. // Photo by Morgan Jones

Katy Guillen has been a part of the Kansas City music scene for the last decade. 

First, she performed with Katy & Go-Go, which released one full-length album (When I Get Away) with an avenging angel’s foot-tapping, country rock vibe. 

Then, she moved on to Katy Guillen & The Girls. These three albums have a bluesy feel, filled with Mama’s sage advice (“Earth Angel”), well-mannered dunks on a past lover (“Humbucker”), and condemnations for an unnamed someone with a lack of emotional regulation (“Quiver”). The band held its farewell performance in December of 2018 after six years together.

On June 3, 2022, she launched her U.S. tour with Katy Guillen & The Drive in Lee’s Summit, MO. The band is made up of two-thirds of KG & The Girls, featuring Guillen herself on guitar and vocals and Stephanie Williams on drums. 

The tour leads up to the Aug. 19 release of the band’s first full-length album, Another One Gained. It’s characterized by the dissolution of Guillen’s last band and a tough breakup, the sort of rising-from-the-ashes phenomenon often found in power ballads or dull-bladed revenge fantasies. 

Country Queer describes it as “pop and country with a toothy, bluesy edge,” and this album has teeth. 

Since Katy Guillen & The Drive dropped its first EP, Dream Girl, directly before the pandemic’s start, the band has had plenty of time to refine its sound. 

The bones of Guillen’s past bands poke through the flesh of her latest venture, but Another One Gained isn’t an elephant graveyard. It’s a living, breathing testament to how life continually changes against your own will, whether you’re ready or not. 

One thing that hasn’t changed is Guillen’s friendship with Williams. The two live together and found themselves working on songs almost daily during the pandemic. 

“We built up a little home studio in our basement just using what we had,” Guillen says. “The two of us sat down and worked together on all the demos of all the songs we ended up recording in L.A. We would record a song and listen back and then rerecord it at a different tempo.”

Their Southwest road trip to L.A. in spring 2021—as well as the input of producer and engineer Kevin Ratterman at Invisible Creature Studio—had a significant impact on the album’s end sound. 

Another One Gained has an indie rock desert aesthetic, not unlike smoking weed at the Grand Canyon (which, incidentally, Guillen and Williams visited during their trip). 

“I love that drive,” Guillen says. “It is very long. It’s gorgeous. And I love driving through Utah and Colorado and Nevada. The western United States is like a crazy expanse. The desert and mountains—it feels like you’re like on another planet sometimes.” 

The duo has taken the same van from that fateful roadtrip all over the U.S. this summer, from Wisconsin to Washington, D.C. At most of their gigs, Guillen and Williams perform with tracks to cut down on the cost of bringing along extra musicians.

“It’s more of a necessity than anything, just based on the cost of gas,” Guillen says. “There are so many factors making touring just a bit more logistical. You need to focus on trimming the fat, you know what I mean?” 

This approach may result in extra work, but that’s not something Guillen or Williams shy away from. 

“This time around, I’ve been involved in every aspect of it,” Guillen says. “We’re an independent band. Steph I do a lot of the admin and maintenance required to keep the band’s business side going. There’s a list of constant upkeep that needs to happen. It’s usually what a label would manage for most artists, but when you’re independent, you just do those things yourself.”

Katy Guillen & The Drive returns to Kansas City Aug. 26 at Knuckleheads for its album release show

“We started getting really busy with shows out of town, which has been great,” Guillen says. “But, honestly, there’s nothing like playing at home and playing with your friends, family, and the people that have been following you and supporting you for years. I can’t wait to share it with Kansas City, because this is our home. It’s the place that we feel the most love for.”

Another One Gained will be released Aug. 19. Its accompanying singles, “Set in Stone” and “Discoloration,” are out now. 

Kgd Another One Gained Clean Cover

Categories: Music