Megan Jean Klay and her husband Byrne have not had a home address since February 2011. That’s when they sold their earthly possessions in North Charleston and started touring nonstop, traversing the land in a Honda Element and making a go of it as Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band, a macabre gypsy-Americana act featuring upright bass, washboard, banjo, and Megan Jean’s husky, howling vocals.
The band will play an album release show Friday night at Tin Roof, promoting their brand-new, Kickstarter-funded record The Devil Herself. The album is their second full-length, and the eve of the show presents an opportunity to reflect on a life built on the road.
So we asked Megan Jean to tell the poop story. It happened five years ago, when the band was making its first touring forays in a ’99 Honda Accord with a taped-on Plexiglass rear window. We’ll let Megan Jean take it from there:
Right, so we were at this place called Club Hell in Providence, R.I., and we were playing with this band King Sasquatch — and I wouldn’t call him by name except for this is his schtick, this is part of the show, so I’m guessing that he stands by it. I mean no disrespect. They’re called Sasquatch and the Sick-A-Billys, and part of his gig is throwing up onstage, and I can’t even deal with it; I start to gag and I have to go. And there was a little bit of doo-doo that night, so there you go. It was like, ‘Thanks a lot, man.’ The funny thing was, he was having trouble booking a tour down South, and I was like, ‘I’m gonna go ahead and say it’s the throw-up, man.’
There have been plenty of road warrior stories since then, like last Father’s Day when the KFB played a show in Raleigh and only one drunken hippie showed up to watch (Sundays, Megan Jean notes, aren’t the best days for concerts, but you take what you can get). Megan Jean watched as the tie-dye-bedecked fan danced wildly around the barroom floor and promised he would buy their albums and merchandise. Hopefully, she thought, they would at least get their gas money for this gig. But then, without explanation, three police officers burst in through the door and hauled the man away. “They arrested our entire audience,” Megan Jean says.
OK, one more road story. This one takes place about three years ago, when the band was driving around in Megan Jean’s dad’s pickup truck with the upright bass in the covered bed. They got pulled over for a problem with their tail lights en route to a show in Vermont, and as soon as they rolled down the window, they smelled what must have been roadkill nearby. The cop asked for their license and registration and walked back to his cruiser to check for warrants. Here’s Megan Jean:
He comes back, and he’s just shaking. And we’re looking at him, and he’s just shaking, trembling, white as a sheet, and we’re going, ‘Uh-oh, what came up?’ And he’s like [here Klay uses her best Vermont accent], ‘Listen, it smells real bad back heah, and I just wanna — I gotta ask you …’ And his hand’s on his gun, shaking, and he’s like, ‘Do ya have a dead body in the back of your truck?’ And we start laughing, and he thinks we’re just psychos, laughing, having a dead body party in the back. We’re like, ‘No, no, no, man, I think there’s roadkill.’ He goes, ‘Well, I’d feel an awful lot better if I could go around and check.’ So then Byrne gets out of the car, and we’re realizing, oh man, this guy really does think that there is a trove of dead bodies back there and that he is making like the psycho find of the century. He’s gonna make captain, you know. And so Byrne walks around back, and we’re all pretty scared, because he’s shaken up and his hand’s on his gun, you know, and Byrne opens up the back of the truck, and [the cop] sees that upright bass, and he just puts his hand right on it and goes, ‘Waaaaauggghhhh!’ And Byrne just jumps back about five feet thinking, ‘I’m gonna get shot.’ And finally he starts feeling around, and he’s like, ‘Oh, that’s not a dead body.’ And Byrne’s like, ‘No sir, that is an upright bass.’ And he’s like, ‘Oh, well I’m sorry to bother ya.’ And then he just let us go.