eGigs talks to The King Blues

protests, saving the world, the spirit of music, and more on Wednesday 6 May 2009

With names like Itch, Jamie Jazz and Fruitbag, The King Blues are clearly a far cry from your 'run of the mill' bands. With the huge popularity of their latest single 'Save the World - Get the Girl', eGigs managed to catch up with a couple of members of the politically-charged trio on their current UK tour, after witnessing a very energetic sound check.

How long have you guys been together for?
Itch: We've been together for about 4 or 5 years all in all. It started of with just me and Jamie - him on acoustic guitar; me doing vocals. We didn't have a demo tape or anything like that and we found it quite hard to get gigs - we wanted to play as a punk rock band but it was just 2 Asian kids and one acoustic guitar. When you say you're in an acoustic band, it conjures up images of James Blunt or something like that so we weren't the norm, you know. So we had to go round at night, find abandoned buildings and kick in the doors, make use of the building again and just throw big parties. People would come down just for the party really rather than to see us - they were just coming down to have a good time but then word of mouth started spreading quite quickly, and that's where we sort of started and got going.

Cool. So where did you pick up Fruitbag along the way?
Itch: Fruitbag was sleeping on our sofa because he got fired from his job so we said "come stay with us." because me and Jamie were already living together. Then we started jamming with him and it was just obvious that it worked - there was real chemistry there. We were mates from before but when we jammed together, something just clicked and we didn't want to throw it away.

Who writes the lyrics and where does the inspiration come from because they're obviously quite deep?
Itch: I write the lyrics. It's a lot of different things really. Philosophically, I'm not really too sure how much inspiration one can take rather than lyrics just kind of coming to you, in a way. Sometimes I'll just sit down and write a stream of consciousness and it will just come out and sometimes you don't really have control over what you write about - it just comes to you. Other times, when we go on protests and stuff like that, it's very inspiring - I like tabloid newspaper headlines as well - I think that the cheap, throwaway puns can be good for getting your mind going.

Do you guys still go on protests?
Itch: Yeh, all the time. We were down at the G20 the other week. We have a sound system that we've built, which is a PA on the back of a giant tricycle so we can literally play as we're marching along. We’ve done so many protests over the years but the most memorable was when we were outside The Houses of Parliament and there was just thousands and thousands of people around us. It was just an amazing vibe and it was quite symbolic as well, just having people dancing on the streets outside where the decisions are made. It's nice to part of those kind of 'A to B' marches but we kind of also prefer to be part of real action.

Last year we were down in Brighton, where there's an arms manufacturer called EDO. We were called 'Smash EDO' and we managed to march down to the bomb factory and we broke through 4 different police lines, and we managed to break all the windows of the building and spray graffiti up on it. Now a lot of people call that mindless violence but in fact, when you're fighting a company, you've got to understand that the only language these people talk is finance and money, so the only way to hurt them is financially. It's about taking direct action just as much as symbolically marching.

Your first album has got a different vibe to 'Save the World, Get the Girl'. Was this a conscious decision or did it just happen?
Itch: With the first record, we were just going to war and I felt there was a real chance, if we could mobilise enough people, not as a band but as an entire larger movement that we were part of, then we could actually stop a war. So that album is just about trying to get people out on the streets and to mobilise the youth really. When people did come out on to the streets, we saw the largest anti-war march we've ever seen and we still weren't listened to, we had to go back to the drawing board. We had to become a little bit more cynical about things and I think that shows in 'Save the World, Get the Girl' - we've gone back and reflected and we've gone a little deeper. We still think action is the way forward and we still think a lot of change needs to happen in the world but at the same time I wanted to get across our personal history of the band and where we've come from as people. There’s more to us than just being a political band.

'Save the World…' has been getting a lot of radio coverage recently. Do you have any views as to why it is so popular?
Itch: To be honest, I really don't know. A band like us has absolutely no place in the mainstream whatsoever. A record company doesn't see a multi-racial, acoustic, political, punk rock band and think 'That's a no-brainer, they're going to make money'; we're quite a different band and we don't really sound like anything on the radio and we're not really saying the same things as any of those bands are saying. We stick out like a sore thumb on the radio and it kind of amazes me that we've been given that opportunity. To get the chance to put out anti-war messages on daytime radio is something we can be very proud of.

(Jamie Jazz, the 2nd of the 3 members of the band, very apologetically enters the room)

Your style of music has been described as reggae, ska, punk .etc. What do you class it as?
Itch: We just call it rebel music. We find it so hard to agree on music; in the van there's about 10 of us in there and agreeing on a record to put on is impossible. The acts we agree on are people like Bob Marley, Rage Against The Machine, through to Woody Guthrie and Asian Dub Foundation. They're the kind of artists who have got something to say and I think it's about the spirit of them rather than the actual music. Musically, I find it hard to define what we do. We play a lot of different things but the spirit is the one constant.

Jamie: From where we came from and when we started out, we were already quite musically different from the bands that we played with and wanted to play with but the one thing we shared in common with those bands was that spirit and that energy. To be genre specific, I think you burn your bridges. If we want to play something hard we will but the next tune could be in a completely different style.

Are you playing any festivals this summer?
Both: Yeh. Glastonbury, V, Radio One's Big Weekend, Rebellion.
Jamie: Quite a few smaller ones too and festivals that we haven't played before so it should be a very fun summer.

Is this the most festivals you're doing this summer?
Jamie: I don't know actually. The last few summers have been quite busy. Itch: Other than that, a lot we've never done before so it's getting out to new kids and stuff and people who have heard of us yet but haven't heard us. It's nice to just get out there and show what we’re all about.

What do you hope for The King Blues in the near or distant future?
Itch: It's kind of heard to think about what's going to happen in the future. I don't want to be one of those bands that says "we're never going to change" because I think that really limits yourself. We're the kind of band that can grow organically, we can be whoever we want to be and I think that hopefully in the future we will just stay true to ourselves and the rest will just fall into place.

I'd like to thank the very chilled out King Blues for taking time out of prepping their gig to sit down and have a chat with eGigs.

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article by: Fiona Madden

published: 06/05/2009 07:29


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