Anthony and Steve Babino are a brother singer-songwriter duo we just can’t get enough of. The duo, who perform under the name rebel Rebel Kicks, have been in music as far back as they can remember, learning and making music with inspiration from their father who is also a professional musician. “We’ve been performing together since we were kids, started co-writing songs when we were teenagers, and haven’t stopped since.”
Rebel Kicks has wowed us on stage and in music videos from MTV and Showtime to the Big Apple Film Festival. This month, the duo released a summer single made to play on repeat. We caught up with Anthony and Steve to get an inside look at “Hamartia.”
Showstopper Magazine Online: Who are your musical inspirations? How would you describe your own sound?
Rebel Kicks: The music we write for Rebel Kicks is varied, but it’s mainly alt-pop/rock with some electronic influence. We grew up listening to a wide array of music that spans across pretty much every genre, as well as time period. Our dad is a songwriter and vocalist who fronts a big band specializing in jazz standards from the Great American Songbook, but he also grew up in the 60s and 70s with classic rock and mo-town. Our mom loves Broadway musicals and softer pop/rock like The Carpenters, Fleetwood Mac, and Whitney Houston, so we were lucky enough to be exposed to an extremely varied palette of music from an early age.
Off the top of our heads, and in no particular order, we’ve always loved The Beatles (both as a group and solo), Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra, Carole King, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Chicago, Ray Charles, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye, as well as more modern artists, like Foo Fighters, Beck, Coldplay, Andrew Bird, Kishi Bashi, St. Vincent, Phoebe Bridgers, Sara Bareilles, The Shins, and Halsey, to name a few.
SMO: Your new single “Hamartia” is out now! What was the inspiration for this song? What was the process for bringing it to life?
Rebel Kicks: The word “Hamartia” originates from Greek tragedy, and though it has several interpretations, it most commonly refers to a fatal flaw that leads to the downfall of a tragic hero or heroine. Our song is about a person who is their own worst enemy. Someone who wants to be positive, but is inevitably dragged down by their own perceptions and paranoid beliefs, yet they’re self-aware enough to recognize that as their fatal flaw, or literal hamartia.
We read about a study that said most people have an average of 6,000+ thoughts per day and 80% of them are negative which is really wild when you think about it. So, during a writing session, we thought it would be an interesting idea to write a song that used “Hamartia” as a commentary on the idea that most people are their own worst critic; because many of our thoughts are self-deprecating, we’re constantly tearing ourselves down on a subconscious level, and we have to actively push against those negative thoughts throughout the majority of the day. We wrote the song pretty quickly, and then recorded, produced, mixed, and mastered it ourselves at Anthony’s home studio.
SMO: What drew you to the word “hamartia” in particular?
Rebel Kicks: The word came up during our writing session when we were spitballing thematic ideas for the song. We started talking about the idea of an “Achilles heel”, but we didn’t want to use that phrase, which led us to “Hamartia”, so it was pretty organic in that sense. It just really seemed to fit in well with what we were going for lyrically, tying the ideas together in a satisfying way.
SMO: Do you have a favorite lyric or part of the song?
Rebel Kicks: The lyrics are filled with metaphors and double entendres, and the narrative perspective has a constant push and pull, representing the struggle of trying to willfully reject negative thoughts. “Hamartia” originally came from Greek tragedy, and Steve was a theatre major in college, so we thought it made sense and would be fun to throw in some theatre references as well.
In particular, we like the lines from the second pre-chorus:
I’ve been caught inside a tragedy
Unqualified to play the lead
The irony is that I feel okay
Lights go out, the prophets sing
A hymn for all the suffering
The melody just slowly fades away
SMO: What has been the reaction to “Hamartia”?
Rebel Kicks: We’ve been getting really great feedback from this song so far! Musically, it’s a slight shift in direction from the last couple of releases, “Those Days” and “Here Again”, which were a little more straight-ahead pop/rock. This song has a lot more going on in the arrangement/production; we’ve been listening to a bunch of 80’s New Wave recently, especially Tears For Fears, so we definitely took some sonic inspiration from those records, which are incredible. We like switching it up, it keeps things interesting.
SMO: Do you have a favorite moment from the release?
Rebel Kicks: We’ve loved reading the feedback from people, especially the reviews and the different interpretations of what the song means.
SMO: You’re known for your energetic performances and incredible music videos. Do you have anything planned for “Hamartia” in either of those areas?
Rebel Kicks: We actually just released the lyric video for “Hamartia,” so go check that out on our YouTube when you get a chance! We’re currently in the process of booking some shows for the fall, so follow us @rebelkicksmusic across all platforms, and head over to our website (www.rebelkicks.com) and sign up for our mailing list to get the latest updates.
SMO: “Hamartia” is your fifth single out this year! What can people look forward to for the rest of 2022?
Rebel Kicks: Definitely more music and live performances! We’re already working on the next release which we’re really excited about.
SMO: Is there anything else you want people to know about “Hamartia” or your work?
Rebel Kicks: Just that we hope you enjoy listening to our music and watching our videos as much as we enjoy creating them. We strive to create songs that are thought-provoking and compelling but are also fun to listen to and vibe with in a positive way. Without being too preachy, there’s a lot to feel negative about these days, but we like to think that there’s always light to be found in the darkness.
“Hamartia” is streaming now on all major music platforms.