How did the band come to be?
I was not a cover band guy...never saw the point. I mean, I can put on a CD of the band playing the song (this is 1995, so yeah...CD's) better than any other band. I'm not much of a dancer, and I felt like the time I would have spend learning other people's songs would be better spent writing my own. So I did!
My previous band in 1996, Tweed Quickly, broke up and I had written a bunch of songs. They were, um, a good effort. But that eventually turned into the abomination known as Transmountain, my first album. Decent songs, actually, but terrible production, mediocre playing, and poor singing. I was clueless. But we toured around the southwestern US and I kept playing, and that hooked me. So I stayed with it, thankfully. And I think I got better as the years rolled on.
Do you have any releases coming up in the new year?
Occam's Foil just came out, so we are waiting until the middle of this year to decide. I have a new song done (musically, anyway) that I love, so I may release that as a single. I don't really like to do that...I am old school and like the concept of a whole album that stand on it's own. Something about the cohesion of sounds, lyrics, artwork, and really just what is going on in that moment in time that makes collections of songs more attractive that just an individual track. So it's gonna be a tough call.
With the Coronavirus and a very questionable economy, though, we will have to see if it's more prudent to keep recording or to hit the road. It's all up in the air right now, to be honest. I wasn't touring during the last recession, so this is new territory for me.
What is something you want listeners to take away from your music?
When they listen to the new record, Occam's Foil, they will know that I give a shit. I care about crafting songs, arrangements, lyrics, a message. Never ever gonna mail it in by any means. My legacy is in my music, in large part, and it's too important to treat with anything but the utmost care and consideration. Little King may not be your cup of tea, but it's A cup of tea and it may not be your flavor. But that cup of tea took time and care to brew, dammit!
With everything that is going on in our world what is one cause or organization that you are passionate about?
I am passionate about kids, animals, and human rights. But those are pretty non-specific, right? At this moment, as I am talking to you, I am having a sidebar conversation about health and the obesity epidemic in the USA. We have lost 100 people to the Corona Virus in our country, to date, and everyone is in full PANIC. 40,000 people A MONTH die in the USA from obesity-related illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, related cancers, etc. That's totally preventable.
Diet and exercise lead to better health, both mentally and physically. Put down the phone, put down the sodium and sugar and booze, and figure out how much better you'll feel if you start putting the right oil in the engine. Let's discuss, too, how lobbying in this country dictates legislation. Have you seen a typical school lunch lately? Get them hooked on sugar and crap early...they'll mainline it for the rest of their lives. Gross.
What is your writing process like?
It's virtually unchanged from back in 1996 to now. I get inspired and I pick up my Washburn acoustic guitar that my dad gave me in 1988. I use it as an extension of my heart and mind, really. Sometimes songs are born from an exercise, like alternate picking or an odd time scale. Anything to get the juices flowing.
From there, I string together riffs that make sense, smooth the transitions, make sure that nothing sounds gratuitous or redundant, and then take it to my band mates. They are awesome in their own right! They make suggestions, learn their parts, and then we track the music all at one time. Drums, guitar, bass, extras...in that order. Once the music is done, I go back into the woodshed and write the words. THAT is a fucking process! Gotta make sure I can sing to the meter I've written in, and make sure the key is working for my voice. I used to sing in a higher register, but whisky and children have beaten that down. But once I have the lyrics where I want them, I go into the studio and cut them and make sure the phrasing makes sense.
To follow up with the last question, what inspires your sound?
I will take "My Sound" to mean what Little King comes across as. I am inspired by my heroes like Rush, David Byrne, Roger Waters, Donald Fagan, and more. Inspired by my friends and band mates, too. I strive to never rehash my old riffs and words, and when you've been at it for 23+ years, that can be a challenge.
Little King has always bee me + 2. It probably always will be, so I want to make sure that our live set as well as our albums are diverse. We bring a lot of dynamics to a 3 piece sound, sort of like Rush and The Police used to do. I cannot stand listening to an album where every song sounds the same! Just stop! So key changes, time signatures, tempos. You can make songs and albums that don't all sound the same but still have a through-line. That's what I try to do. With success, I think. Again, the songs and singing might not always work, but by no means will anyone accuse me rightly of not TRYING to keep it interesting.
Any tours coming up soon?
I've just gotten word of 3 cancellations TODAY of shows in DC, Nashville, and LA. All gone. We had a festival tour planned, but that is all up in smoke at this point. Not sure what's gonna happen...I mean, when Coachella postpones, what follows?
I am down to play some clubs and go on small weekend jaunts. We are now based in Delaware, which is an odd place to based out of! But it's literally 3.5 hours or less from NYC, DC, Baltimore, Philly, Virginia Beach, Atlantic City, and the surrounding areas. There are more than enough people and potential Little King fans in that corridor to keep us busy. So we will get to those folks without question. Go another 3 hours in either direction and you're in Boston or Raleigh, NC. We've got plenty to do in our backyard.
Anything you would like to tell our readers?
Visit our web site at www.littlekingtunes.com and have a poke around. Our last 5 albums are all available to stream for free from YouTube on the Music Page, and Apple Music and more on the Streaming Page. Lots of interviews, too. I obviously have a lot to say and take these things fairly seriously, so if you wanna know what we are about and what my brain sounds like, give it a whirl. I think you might have a new favorite band to turn your friends on to. And we will see you on the road!