Interview: To Kill A King

Benin City

Interview: To Kill A King

Do you feel To Kill a King’s sound has changed since you guys first started out?

Yes, massively so. I think when we first started out we weren’t particularly certain of our musical identity. We were just five guys who wanted to make music but we weren’t quite certain of what type of music we were going to make.  We have got a very distinctive sound now. It has taken us quite a while to work that out.

How would you describe that distinctive sound now?

This is a question everyone dreads. But we normally go loud then quiet and then loud. I guess you can say it is lyrical indie folk.

When I first saw you guys play, it was back in 2011 at a tiny music venue in Bristol. It was a completely stripped back performance, there was no stage, and the focus was solely the music. Is this how you guys prefer to play?

I think that we do two types of gigs; we do a lot of guerrilla gigs, and stuff like that. This is normally where we will set them up on the day or sometimes they do need a little planning. It is unamplified, kind of quite raw music. We did one on the DLR when it was moving along, and even one underneath Festival Pier. It is great to do stuff like that, but we also really enjoy plugging in and playing electric guitar. For example, we got a headlining show coming up at the KOKO, which is going to be really exciting. It will be a really big venue, but we shall still keep it, as you said, about the music.

If you could organise your own dream line up at a festival, who would head line?

I think the Stones would be really good, and then it would have to be Bob Dylan. Then us guys just beneath them, so that we could share the stage with those two acts.

What inspires you guys when you are writing your music?

Well I always like to tell a short story when writing each song. I like reading stories and comic books as well as watching movies. To me, it’s all about the storytelling and that is what I like to hear in the music.

There has been a massive shake up in the way people access their music.  Even music giants, HMV, took a huge tumble this year. How should new musicians approach this change?

I think it is an exciting time. Basically, with things like Twitter and Facebook, and all the other mediums, you can talk to audiences a lot more. You can engage with them but I think it also means that now more than ever you actually need to do that. I feel like you need to have a dialogue going with the audience, it can’t be just about the music. I think they want to know more about you, and be engaged through all these sorts of things. There is so much stuff going out, you need to do something which separates yourselves from everything else.

If you could work with any band, or musician on your next track, who would you pick?

It would be great to do something with Jack White, he is prolific and just such an amazing musician as well.

You are about to support Bastille on their UK tour, how did that come about?

Me and Dan Smith (Bastile lead singer) went to university together and lived together then so we have been friends for quite a long time. When I first moved to London, I lived with him, and we always supported each other’s music, before people even knew who Bastile were. At our first single launch, they supported it, and at their first single launch we supported them. Since then, things have obviously sky rocketed, but we just enjoy playing together, and it is nice to go on the road with good friends. Also, because we supported them at the last tour, I think people are now quite excited because we have a similar type of fan base now which is cool.

What was the reason in the change of your band name, you guys were previously called Kid ID?

That band was completely different; it was still made up of some of the same members. But it was like a seven piece folk ska band, and was very upbeat, and dancy. So it was less of a change in name, and more a case of the death of one band and the formation of another really.

Your sound is often described as mix between ‘The Nationals’ and ‘Mumford and Sons’, do these bands influence you when you are producing new material?

Not directly, I think we enjoy what they do. I wouldn’t say there was a personal influence, but we do listen to lots and lots of music. The music we do listen to within the band is very diverse, there are some bands that we will all like but they are quite rare. I think these different influences, give the band it’s shape and allow us to have heavier and softer moments.

What is next for To Kill a King? What does 2014 bring?

We have lots of touring ahead. We set off in September, and then we come back at the end of November. We are doing Europe at the end of this year but we would also like to go out to America and tour there. So over Christmas, there will be lots of writing!