Interview With The King Blues - 2nd April 2011

Photo Of The King BluesBen caught up with Itch from The King Blues backstage in Manchester before their headline show to talk about their forthcoming album, festival plans, politics and much more.

You’re several dates into this tour, how are things going so far?
Itch (Vocals/Ukulele): It’s brilliant, all the dates have been sold out, it’s been hot and sweaty. It’s great having a package tour because it’s like one big travelling circus, good times!

You’re set to release your latest record, Punk and Poetry, in a couple of weeks, how does that feel?
Itch: I’m excited for people to hear it, it’s an album that I think stands on its own two legs, so I’m definitely excited for people to hear it.

Would you say that it differs much from the previous album?
Itch: Yeah, the initial idea behind this album was to create a 21st century punk-rock record. We wanted to make a modern record, not in terms of watering it down and making it poppier, but taking the elements that we think makes punk-rock great, the rawness, the anger, the youthful idealism and kind of pushing them forward into something new. I think by record three we’ve managed to finally achieve that.

Some of the songs have been heard both live and on the radio for a while now, has getting this album out seemed like a long process for you?
Itch: It’s been a very long process, it’s been a couple of years since we last did a record so overall it’s felt very long. We started off with initial ideas of what we wanted the album to be, initially we were writing about life and death, deep issues y’know? Then when this government got in we saw people’s futures being taken away, people were losing their jobs, cuts on every level, there was a real war going on. It was something that really angered me, it really pisses me off and I couldn’t ignore it any more. At that point the album took a very different turn and we scrapped pretty much everything we had and just went for it again. Then it became very easy, it was very natural.

So would you say that it’s ironic with the unfortunate state of this country, that this is the best time for you to release this album?
Itch: They say that the only person the Tory government is benefiting is the protestor, and there’s definitely some truth in that.

In the past year you’ve had several line-up changes, would you say that this has dramatically changed the way the band writes?
Itch: Not at all, the way we’ve always written music is that I’ll have some ideas, I’ll take them in to the studio, but when the band plays them, that’s when it becomes The King Blues. That’s not changed at all.

At the time, there seemed to be a lot of animosity with the departing members, how would you describe your relationship with them now?
Itch: It’s a year on now, I’ve moved on and they’ve moved on, it’s kind of over.

Despite this, you bounced back quickly. Did you see the situation as a fresh start?
Itch: The band is what it is, it’s always been a collective of various different musicians coming in and coming out. The core of it has always been me and Jamie (Jazz, Guitar/Vocals) and people have come and gone, we’ve jammed and collaborated with other people. Just because there was one guy who wrote a thing and got pissed off and wanted to launch his solo career, it’s really not as big of a deal as one person made it out to be. It is what it is.

I saw you at Leeds Festival last year, you seem very comfortable playing a gig of that magnitude…
Itch: We’re kind of lucky in that we get to do loads of different stuff, we get to play huge festivals in front of thousands of people and then we get to play on protests and at record stores and stuff. We’re lucky like that, there are a lot of bands nowadays that get signed and get big really quickly, and sometimes they’re just not ready for it. We’ve been able to develop the old school way, we’ve been up and down the country for the best part of ten years, a lot of it has been word of mouth. I think that has made us confident and we’re in a better place. I feel sorry for some of these new bands, they’re suddenly thrust into it and they’re like, “shit, what do we do now?”.

So is there one type of show you enjoy more than the other?
Itch: Each one has its own special thing to it. It’s sort of like meals y’know? I like breakfast, but I like lunch and I like dinner – all for different reasons!

I noticed that you’re playing Download this year, do you have plans to play any other festivals?
Itch: Yeah, I can’t really say what we’re doing yet, but it’s definitely going to be a busy festival season for us.

You’re obviously a band with a social conscience, what would you say to those that think mixing music and politics is unnecessary?
Itch: I think you can’t separate the two, at the end of the day politics is something that affects lives; it affects real people in real situations and that is inevitably going to affect your feelings. As musicians it’s always been our job to inform people of what’s going on because from doing what we do we get to travel around and see the effects of what is happening. There’s something very special about it, sometimes when you believe in love and peace and a better world you can feel very alone, like a bit of a weirdo. But when you come to a gig and you see that there are thousands of other people that feel exactly the same way as you, there’s something empowering about that; it’s reassuringly beautiful. Music affects people in a way that no other art form does, especially in terms of bringing people together and really making a bond, people can feel this real unity with one another. It’s kind of like a celebration and that in itself is political. If there’s a three minute pop song that doesn’t make you think about anything but takes you away from the boredom and bullshit of every day life then that in itself is a beautiful thing.

Do you think more UK bands should take heed and fight to make changes in this country?
Itch: I’m not going to start hating on people for not doing that, I definitely think there is a place for music that is just nice music. This generation that’s coming up now, the one that is going to have to pay for other people’s mistakes, I’d be very surprised if they didn’t get fucking angry. It’s truly the jilted generation, when they see their futures being taken away from them I’d be surprised if they didn’t get pissed off, as long as there are kids that feel like they don’t fit in with society, as long as there are underdogs there will always be a place for punk-rock.

Do you find that a lot of the people who come to see The King Blues are these angsty-teenagers?
Itch: The thing that I’m kind of most proud of with this band is that the kids that come to the shows are from all different walks of life. You get hip-hop kids, punk-rock kids, reggae kids, students, older people, younger people, there’s such a massive mix of people out there and when they all come together no-one is cooler than anyone else. I think there’s a genuine feeling of love and unity in the room when we play, to be honest that’s the one thing that I’m most proud of creating with this band.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2011?
Itch: We’ll obviously be festivalling in the summer, then we’re going out to Europe and touring quite extensively. We’re going to come back and do a little tour in November and then get on with writing another record.

Do you think it will be as long getting the next record out?
>Itch: I really, really hope not, I think we’ve kind of hit our stride now. I’m hopefully going to take December and January off and just concentrate on writing, but these things always change, so we’ll see!

Do you get a bit restless when there’s not very much going on?
Itch: Yeah, totally. Although I can’t really remember the last time there wasn’t anything going on! It’s always pretty hectic, but I certainly enjoy the rare moments of clarity and peace, but then after a day or two it’s fucking boring!

Interview By Ben Connell
 Band Members

Jonny 'Itch' Fox
Jamie Jazz
Jack Usher
Dean Ashton
Kat Marsh
 Latest Releases
The King Blues - Punk And Poetry
Release Date - 18th April 2011

1. The Last of The Dreamers
2. We Are Fucking Angry
3. Set The World On Fire
4. Dancehall
5. The Future's Not What It Used To Be
6. I Want You
7. 5 Bottles of Shampoo
8. Sex Education
9. Shooting Fascistsx
10. Headbutt
11. Does Anybody Care
12. Everything Happens For A Reason
 Band Related Links
The King Blues Myspace