Performing musicians are athletes, too. Just ask Kim Schifino of indie-rock duo Matt & Kim. On March 25, 2017 Schifino and singer-keyboard player Matt Johnson were performing at a festival in Mexico during stormy weather. Schifino, a drummer, is a fireball of energy, not afraid to climb scaffolding, crowd-surf while banging away on a drum and constantly dance while playing an instrument for which most simply sit behind.
On a relatively innocuous jump off her drum riser right at the start of the performance, which had already been delayed by rain and technical difficulties, however, she landed awkwardly and suffered an ACL tear in her knee.
“We have footage of me falling, and I still can’t watch that,” Schifino said in an email exchange, ahead of Matt & Kim’s first tour since that injury. “When we were editing it, Matt would tell me to look away. Oh and there is definitely a part where the EMT were taking off my pants and I was apologizing ‘cause I hadn’t waxed in a while!”
Somehow, Schifino was able to play through the injury, but five songs later, she could not go on. She was rushed to a hospital. The time following surgery was difficult, with her reacting poorly to her medication and falling into depression. Worse yet, recovery took so much effort that Schifino was not able to work on her visual art; she enjoys silk screening, which requires one to stand for long periods of time.
Eventually, the duo did begin writing again, but the tone was darker; not only because of the injury but also because of the general state of the world. Almost Everyday, Matt & Kim’s sixth album, will be released in May and on the surface is another energetic record. But the title, like the underlying theme, hints at the multiple doses of bad news coming seemingly every day. The album includes a gaggle of guests like King Tuff, Santigold, Kevin Morby, Kevin Ray from Walk The Moon, Dave Monks of Tokyo Police Club, Van Pierszalowski from WATERS, Fletcher C. Johnson, Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, Bay Area punk band SWMRS and Flosstradamus.
Schifino stayed off the drums for eight months. When she finally was strong enough, relearning the parts to the band’s songs was “not like riding a bike.
“I forgot how to play half of our songs,” she said. But with the rust finally kicked off, she’s more determined than ever to hit the road.
RIFF: How difficult was your recovery process, post-surgery? What you had is a devastating knee injury for athletes. But working knees are essential for drumming.
Kim Schifino: I was shocked ‘cause I kept thinking, “So, is this like a month of physical therapy and then I am back to playing shows?” NOPE! This has been a 10-month process, and I made it my full-time job to get better and strong. I still hurt now and then, and I do physical therapy five times a week. I can’t get on stage and half-ass it, so I had to make sure my knee was stronger than before I hurt it. We did some warm up shows to test it out and make sure I can still do what I do, and it held up!
How did it feel to start writing again after your surgery?
We thought we would start writing a week after my surgery, but I was so out of it and in a lot of pain. I found out I don’t handle painkillers well, and started having panic attacks on them. Poor Matt would wake up in the middle of the night to me freaking out, telling him to open every door and window in the house ‘cause I couldn’t breath. It was freezing in our house for a few weeks, and he didn’t complain once. He was amazing, and I am so fucking lucky to have him. Sorry I went off topic there. Yeah, so we ended up pushing writing back for a month because I wasn’t ready to focus on writing. I got really depressed and wasn’t feeling creative. But to look on the bright side of things, it gave us something to write about and, man, every day I get up and get to play drums and do all the stupid shit I like to do, I enjoy every minute! I hate sitting still and not being able to take care of myself, so that whole post-surgery, stuck-in-bed life is not for me!
Matt has described that you guys used your own music for inspiration, or a pick-me-up, for the first time. What did he, and you, mean by that?
I think maybe what Matt was talking about is that when writing ALMOST EVERY DAY, we used my injury and the overall shit of a year in 2017 to vent and get all that frustration out. Writing the album was almost like a therapy. It felt good to get it out there.
Is there a central theme to this album?
This album is more about enjoying what you have before it’s gone. We’ve gotten a bit darker content-wise with it, but still looking at everything in a positive way.
How did you know SWMRS, Santigold, Kevin Morby and the other guests on Almost Everyday?
Everyone on the album are people we have befriended along the years. We are lucky enough to meet some really awesome people in this line of work. Some are also old friends. Matt and Kyle [Thomas] of King Tuff have been good friends since high school. I met Kevin Morby when he first moved to [New York] when he was 18. I tried to wingman him and another friend. Fletcher C. Johnson is Matt’s brother. Santigold and us have similar circles of friends, but for years [we] didn’t meet. All these friends said we would hit it off really well. … Kevin Ray from Walk the Moon and I met side-stage at a radio show we were doing. We talked for a while and then exchanged numbers. He has become one of our besties and just got a spot near us in L.A. SWMRS, I am a huge fan of and after hitting them up one day on Twitter, I found out a good friend of ours manages them. Mark Hoppus, we became friends with when we toured with Blink-182. We met Van from WATERS when he opened for us on our last headline tour. I hate asking friends for favors, but we wanted the group vocals on the album to be friends and not just some hired singers. So I hit everyone up, and they were totally down. I was so honored that they all took the time to contribute and be part of this album.
Did you also get more time to work on your art? How long has that been a passion of yours?
Nah, I wish. I didn’t realize how much this fucking thing would keep me down. A lot of my artwork is silkscreen-based, so the standing and moving screens just didn’t happen. Now that I am moving again I am back to making work.
Where else can people see your art besides the album covers and merch?
I just had some pieces in the paper and art fair here in NYC last week, but right now I have nothing planned ‘cause I am just focusing on tour. I was posting stuff on Instagram. Hopefully I will bring that back on tour. Oh, and we will have a few prints for sale at the merch table on this tour.