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South Dakota musician says fans help propel band forward

The Kickback, from left, are Zach Verdoorn, Danny Yost, Billy Yost, Peter Alexander and Tyler Zee. The Kickback will perform from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. tonight at the Moonlight Bar in Mitchell. (Submitted Photo)

Billy Yost can still recall the first time he performed his music in front of a crowd at an old skate park in Vermillion.

The experience was a bittersweet one, Yost said.

"I remember how terrified I was, yet how excited I was," he said.

Today, Yost, a Beresford native, looks back on those early memories and is grateful how they led him and his Kickback bandmates to where they are today.

The Kickback, an indie rock band comprised of front man Yost, his brother Danny Yost (drums, keys), Tyler Zee (guitar, vocals), Zach Verdoorn (bass, vocals) and Peter Alexander (keys, guitar and vocals) have returned home to perform for its fans and others who may become followers. The band will perform at 9 p.m. tonight at the Moonlight Bar in Mitchell.

Skippydelic Experience, a performer from Sioux Falls, and The Kickback's Alexander will perform prior to The Kickback taking the stage.

Billy Yost started The Kickback in 2006 while enrolled at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion. It wasn't until about three years ago that the band began taking its career more seriously.

"We built a pretty fantastic fan base in Vermillion and the surrounding areas," Yost said. "Things just started expanding from there."

In 2009 The Kickback took its next step and moved to Chicago to build a bigger home base and encounter teaching opportunities to get more of their music heard.

In late 2009, the group received recognition on Rolling Stone magazine's website in "Hype Alert," a list of bands to watch. The mention allowed The Kickback to better tap into the Chicago music scene, earning opening gigs with several big-name indie bands.

Recently, the group has been selected to play in the South by Southwest Music Festival, which runs March 11-20 in Austin, Texas. The festival draws close to 2,000 bands each year and highlights independent films and emerging technologies. The invitation was a nice surprise, Yost said.

"It's affirmation that we're growing," he said. "It's another big step."

The Kickback is touring on its most current EP release, "mea culpa, mea culpa."

Although the band's career is accelerating in Chicago, Yost said they enjoy visiting South Dakota and taking their shows back to its roots.

"It's a fantastic group of dedicated friends and fans," he said. "It's a great way to start off a tour with people who are honest and supportive of what you do."

It's those same fans who encouraged The Kickback to take their talent further, and move to Chicago. Yost admits they may not have had the confidence to pick up and try something new without that support.

"It's better to try and let the chips fall where they may rather than have that regret of not trying," he said.

And as much as Yost said he and the rest of the band would like to see more success, they are willing to take their sweet time.

"We've put so much into it and it's encompassed so much of my life," he said. "You want some things to happen faster or bigger or more immediate success. But we're building fans and a strong fan base. For longevity sake, that's the best we can do."

"Growing up here has grounded us into a realistic, hardworking approach," Yost said. "To do it right will take time and we're just trying to enjoy what we have while we have it."