KINGSWOOD Interview: "The album pissed people off, but we're so proud of it."
KINGSWOOD are ready to take After Hours, Close To Dawn on a huge national tour.
Words by Jackson Lavell-Lee.
Kingswood are kicking off another mammoth Australian tour on the first weekend of October, hitting Metropolis Fremantle on October 6 (TICKETS) and Dunsborough Tavern October 7 (TICKETS). Its in celebration of their new album, After Hours, Close To Dawn, and we had the fortune of chatting to guitarist Alex Laska via Skype from Nashville, Tennessee, where he's in the midst of more writing, and enjoying many grilled cheese sandwiches and milkshakes. He said the band was “incredibly proud” of their new sound which is an experimental move away from their traditional rock'n'roll roots. The brave transition includes horns, distorted bass riffs and a focus on deeper lyrics inspired by listening to a lot of soul music.
Learn up on it with Laska below, and also check out a just-released documentary on the making of After Hours, Close To Dawn:
Hey dude, thanks for taking the time out to have a chat about the new album! One track I can see crowds getting down to is Creepin - it has a slow intro and great bass line and strong riff the breakdown, it’s a great track for humanizing a booty call or modern unrequited love, how was that song written?
No worries man, to be honest that one was really easy, it came out of nowhere, I had these lyrics in my head for ages and then chords came out of nowhere. I wanted to give it a bit of a heavier context so I created this bassline which was more the introductory melody but then I said to myself, what if I put it on bass instead? If you listen closely you can hear that subtle guitar melody but not often is bass the hero of the song.
Golden is the big single from the album, it’s slower and more folky than previous songs by Kingswood but it’s an interesting sound. Have you attempted to align yourselves with mainstream sensibilities on this track?
I don’t know man, I don’t even think this second album will be nominated [for an ARIA], the first one was nominated which was a massive surprise to us but had more of a chance to win. This album has just pissed off a whole bunch of people and we didn’t do it for any other reason but the fact that this was exactly the album we wanted to make, you know what I mean? Everyone’s like 'Ahhh now you’ve made all these songs that are more commercially viable blah blah blah you’ve sold out'... but we’re so proud of the album.
What do you have to say to the people that think you may have sold out with this record?
We’ve created an audience who know us and respect us for a specific kind of sound. Once we established that and developed like a brand trust the next thing we do is release something that completely contradicts so that everyone is going to be like ‘what the fuck is this?’ So it’s dangerous and we know that but really it’s only a small portion of people who have said this, everyone else has been really loving the album which has been incredible, but if you think about it what radio station is going to play these songs?
They’re not commercial songs at all so if you had half a brain you would appreciate the ability to change directions. When was the last time you heard a pop song that had a 16-bar distorted bass riff?
Is that the progression you’re looking for to get your audience to question their understanding of Kingswood as a growing sound?
Well if you look at the progression of The Beatles from Please, Please Me to Abbey Road it’s like they started off as NSYNC and ended up as Tool, it’s that drastic a difference and I strive for that, I find that really impressive. It shows versatility and maturity as a band. We love diversity in music, I love all genres like soul, folk, country, Americana, hip hop and Michael Jackson, Aretha Franklin... all of it man. This is a real album and it stands on its own legs.
Have you performed at Metropolis Fremantle before? What do you think of the venue?
We opened for British India years ago. We’ve played the Capitol a bunch of times but were excited to get back down to Freo because it’s been a long time and we love it down there.
It’s quite a large national tour, are you excited to get back on the road?
Yeah 100% I love the road, it’s the only place the that makes sense for a lot of us, that and the studio. Bit of rock'n'roll romance. We get to go to Cairns, Dunsborough Tavern and The Forum in Melbourne has just been renovated, it’s beautiful and it’s going to have
about two-and-a-half thousand people for our homecoming show so that’s going to be one of the most incredible nights that we’ll ever have.
You recently lost a band member, how has that affected your sound?
Na, not at all I did 90% of the writing or a little less. Ferg and I would write a fair bit so it’s the same dynamic with all the creative stuff but the producer and all that stuff is whoever it is at the time.
What about your live performances does that change?
Well yeah that’s evolved now for these tours, we’ve got the three core members plus a bass player, an auxiliary member plus we have two female vocalists and all the horns.
I really loved the track Atmosphere, the lyrics are great for someone who is lost in depression or anxiety looking back at a breakup or their childhood, what was the inspiration behind that track?
We were listening to a lot of soul music at the time like Bill Withers, Aretha, All Green, Marvin Gaye, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Frank Sinatra whatever sort of vibe we felt at the time and deeper, nostalgic lyrics came out in that one.
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