Rainbow Kitten Surprise makes top 24 on VH1


The Appalachian Online

Casey Suglia

Boone-based band Rainbow Kitten Surprise has never had a headlining show at Legends.

It has written and produced two albums, but only played locally when the opportunity arises. However, this past summer led the band to play for some of the biggest names in the music industry, all because of a 15-second video on Instagram.

The band, which consists of Appalachian State University juniors Samuel Melo, Darrick Keller, Jess Haney, Charlie Holt and former Appalachian student Ethan Goodpaster, entered in VH1’s Make a Band Famous contest in May. According to www.vh1.com, the contest was a competition in which unsigned artists and bands submit an original live music video of no longer than 15 seconds via Instagram.

Out of the 3,600 bands that entered the contest, the pool was narrowed down to 60 where fans were instructed to vote on who they wanted to stay in the competition. Rainbow Kitten Surprise made it to the top 24 before being eliminated.

“We saw an advertisement for Make a Band Famous on Instagram so we did it, tagged ourselves, didn’t think anything of it and a few months later we get a message from VH1 saying we were in,” said Goodpaster, a communications major and guitarist for the band. “When we found out we were in the top 60 we were happy with that. Another month or two passes and they tell us we made it to the final 24 and we’re going to New York City.”

As part of the top 24, Rainbow Kitten Surprise got to play for 60 seconds for record executives and famous musicians such as Tyson Ritter of All American Rejects and pop star Natasha Beddingfield during a live broadcast on VH1’s website.

“We were panicking because we are five musicians and we have to take a load of equipment up to New York and no one has a vehicle big enough for all five of us and all of our stuff,” said Melo, a dance studies major and the band’s lead singer.

The band was given the rock star treatment for the few days they were in Manhattan.

“They gave us a personal assistant,” said Keller, a psychology major and guitarist for the band. “It was very interesting. We thought it was going to be more about the music, but it was a bit more of a looks competition. We weren’t the image – we were just a bunch of cool looking nerds.”

The competition ended for Rainbow Kitten Surprise after its performance due to a lack of votes.
“There were some bands who were already kind of famous and so many people who had been together [as a band] so much longer than us,” Goodpaster said.

A record deal with Republic Records and an exclusive feature in VH1’s You Oughta Know, a campaign where the network tries to push lesser-known band into the mainstream, was on the line.

“As soon as the competition was over, we knew that wasn’t what we wanted,” Goodpaster said. “We figured out that that kind of route was how we didn’t want to get our music out there. We didn’t want to just instantly be out there. We wanted to work and get our music out there due to hard work.”

For the past three years, Rainbow Kitten Surprise has been producing its albums with the same equipment and Apple Macbook laptop since recording their first album, “Mary” in Appalachian’s Bowie Residence Hall. Their time in Manhattan gave them a glimpse into the reality of the recording industry.

“I think its something that everyone knows, and until you see it with your own eyes, it’s a different beast,” Melo said.

After Manhattan, the band returned back home to start working on new material. The band is currently writing and putting together their next album, which is scheduled to be finished by the end of the year.

“This next album is going to be the album that makes the band famous,” Keller said.

Rainbow Kitten Surprise’s music is currently available to stream on Spotify, where its song “Devil Like Me” has 24,000 plays. It is also available for purchase on iTunes.


Story: Casey Suglia, Intern A&E Reporter