Kiljin (Metal) - Michigan

KILJIN is an American heavy metal band. The band was formed in 2020 in Alma, MI by vocalist and lead guitarist Trevor Aumaugher, drummer Bry Aumaugher, and bassist Tony Aumaugher. Kiljin has been based in Michigan for most of its career. The band's heavy and fast tempos, instrumentals, and progressive musicianship makes them one of the top bands in Michigan and the Nation. Kiljin's current lineup comprises of founding members and primary songwriters Trevor, Bry and Tony, as well as long time rhythm guitarist Jeremy Keeler. KILJIN gained a fast following after the release of their debut album, Master of Illusion which was called best metal album of the year by TuneLoud Magazine and Radio. Since then, the band has released 2 other studio albums and various singles. KILJIN still continues to tour and release new music and videos.

-Interview- (11/29/23)
1. How did you get started with music and how did you develop your sound? Who thought of the name "Kiljin" and is there any meaning behind it?

All of us started playing instruments and performing on stage at a young age. Trevor TREV THE REV Aumaugher, lead singer and lead guitarist of KILJIN, got his first guitar and started singing at the age of 8 years old. His first stage experience was at the age of 8 when he took the lead vocal solo in the school show. At the same time, Trevor’s brother Bryant Aumaugher, drummer of KILJIN, received his first drum set at the age of 5 years of age. Since then the two have been playing together and performing together. The two started their first band at the age of 10. Soon they were performing at middle school and high school talent shows and performances as well as battle of the bands competitions all over Michigan. Later, the boys were joined by their father Tony Aumaugher on bass guitar and back-up vocals. Soon after, they were performing at clubs, bars and even small arenas, opening for such acts as Trapt, 3 Doors Down, Brett Michaels, Ratt, Candlebox, among others as well as working with various talent groups, labels and more. Recently, KILJIN found themselves without a rhythm guitarist and needed to fill the spot, so they brought in fellow musician and good friend, Jeremy Keeler, into the band to fill the void. Jeremy has been playing and performing for several years and has been involved with various groups and projects. The group are fans of many genres of music and through the years, after experimenting with different turnings, sounds, styles and other elements, KILJIN has developed their own sound by mixing their influences together with their modern unique touch and blend of personality. Almost reinventing the genre all together. We just play with what we know and feel and we always have fun with it and always try to be ourselves.

We consider the name KILJIN to be a unique name because we didn’t base it on anything and/or were not influenced by anything in particular. We came up with the name out of thin air. We wanted to come up with a one word band name that would stand out as well as have uniqueness, but every time we came up with an idea we all liked and agreed on, it was already taken. It is a big world and a lot of bands, groups and acts are out there. We did not want to pick something that 10 other bands were already using. So after lots of brainstorming, we came up with KILJIN pretty much out of thin air. Someone just yelled it out, and it worked! It was unique, original and best part of all, no one had it. So, KILJIN was born.

2. What do you want people to take away from your music?

We have always tried our best to make sure that our music is open for interpretation. We felt it is important to let the listeners mind and imagination also take control. We hear all the time, from different fans and listeners, describe our music and it's always described different. And we love that! 100 people might listen to the same song and describe it different, and we love that each description is different and unique. We also want our fans and listeners to hear a story. We always try and tell a story with our music that will take the listener on a journey. But the best part we love about writing music and releasing new music, is that music is magic! Music moves people. Music makes people cry. Music makes people hate. Music makes people sad. Music makes people angry. BUT the best part and the most magic part about music, is that it brings people together and our only goal is to be a part of that magic. And we can only hope that someone feels a bit of magic when they listen to a KILJIN song.

3. How would you describe your sound to the average listener?

We would describe our sound as a unique blend of hard rock, heavy metal and progressive metal. We have been told by many people that we have our own sound which we love to hear. We have also been told that we have reinvented the genre, which again we love to hear. For us, it's all about personality. Injecting personality into each and every song and performance. Our style is KILJIN and nothing else!

4. Who are three bands you’d like to tour with?

Depends which point in time and place, but in all seriousness, that is truly a hard question to answer because we are fans of so many groups. It's definitely hard to narrow down but off the top of our head, we would have to say, KISS, Slipknot and Ozzy.

5. How has Covid affected what you do?

It seems like a lot of things are back to how they were, however, at the same time things are also very different. So the best you can do as a band is adapt to every situation and of course that includes coming up with different ways and ideas to not only release music but perform as well. The live music scene has been struggling and the struggle is very real. But it seems as though its starting to turn around. But we are HUGE on being involved with the digital aspect as well.

6. What’s your take on the current state of Metal?

We think heavy metal has kind of been a lost art to some extent. At the same time you have different cities, states and countries around the world that seem to get it. Heavy metal is an art form. Right now there are still lots of us keeping the flame alive. And at the same time, the metal tree has evolved into so many branches of different styles of metal. So it does seem to be growing and evolving. We also see that history repeats itself. Especially with music. So whoever thinks metal is dead is totally misinformed and incorrect. It will never be lost, it is always the beginning. Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

7. What's the current music scene like there in Michigan?

The current scene has been trying to survive and thrive the best it can after the covid epidemic. We saw a huge break for a while and the music scene itself seems to be unsure of what it wanted to do and which way it was going. The last year or two we have seen it grow more and keep evolving and it seems like it's starting to expand again. For a while it was a sad state, but it definitely seems like it's coming back in full force. People love gatherings and people love music. Music brings people together. So we feel and hope that live music scenes will always have their place.

8. What’s your take on the royalties that streaming services pay out to artists?

It's bunk! The streaming service are making millions and billions from artists both national and local. They pay the artists almost next to nothing per stream. Yet they keep lots of revenue in both member service fees and ad revenue. So, when you put it that way, it's really not all too far. BUT whoever said life is fair. As a band, you have to take advantage of these streaming services to help get your music out into the world, so it’s a love/hate relationship with these things. However, we feel there needs to be some kind of court ruling that will even the playing field and allow these awesome groups, bands and artists the royalties they deserve and at a decent rate. But again, in a perfect world.

9. What's next for Kiljin?

As a band I think we all want to travel and tour around Australia. Our next goals are to expand our reach as far as we can in Australia and globally. We have plans in 2024 to release new music and meet as many new friends as we can.

10. Any shoutouts?

Anything and everything is next for KILJIN. The sky is only the limit and even then we have a heavy metal rocket ship that will take us beyond! We have lots of unreleased songs we will be releasing over the next several weeks. We are always writing music and making content. We definitely will eventually book another tour but right now, we are having a blast writing and recording and releasing. We absolutely love writing new music and releasing new music. Everybody can stay up to date with KILJIN at our official website, or on twitter, instagram, facebook or just google KILJIN! You can also find us anywhere and everywhere music is sold and streamed.