Having released their new single West Coast and having two other singles already in the bag, Joe Wilson spent some time talking with KINGS. vocalist Hayden Jeffery on West Coast’s summery connection with WA and ultimately the approach the band took to making the single.
With a few singles to your name as a band, how did you guys come together?
We came together through just playing music for a while. I have been playing music with the drummer since we were fifteen and we started a few bands since high school and ended up at the same university doing the same course. We discovered the sound that we wanted to go for and found two other musicians that we thought would suit the part and were good friends of ours at the same time.
It took maybe about eight years. It took its time to find those musicians that work with you well and you have a good relationship with. But now that we have got, we decided to do something new and we called it KINGS. and we came up with some new singles to release.
What would you say the musical influences of the band are?
For me it’s two big two’s I talk about and for me that’s Bon Iver and Frank Ocean. They’re two albums that were released around 2011-2012, Orange and Bon Iver’s self-titled album. I think it really brought me into a different understanding of music, at that time I was just turning 18 and it was this maturity that it felt brought me into. So they have been my two big influences from really when I started to get production involved and thinking about song-writing in different ways.
Was it more rock n’ roll before those two albums?
Yes, my younger years were Silver Chair. When I was going to high school slamming Silver Chair 24/7, I just loved their Neon Ballroom album which was a bit grungy but at the same time really had some obscure composition stuff going on as well. So I always got that side of things, it was definitely more about playing guitars.
So when the band first came together was everyone really into rock n’ roll or was it more synthy production?
We have all come from our different backgrounds; we all went through our phases. We actually met our guitarist, or I met our guitarist back when I was 14 at a hard-core gig and since then we kept contact. But as the years progress, your tastes – really what we are listening to now and share our massive obsession is Drake. He’s got a team of producers and also with his work himself it’s like they’re creating stuff that the world just can’t beat, I think it’s pretty incredible.
As technology progresses as well you can do a lot more things with the infinite options that you have inside technology and what you can do with it. The sounds that we can create on our singles like Whispers and West Coast just take a bit more time to fiddle with and you can actually imagine, you can sit there before you get it done and you can imagine what you want to hear and you can shape the sound exactly how you want it; which is a really beautiful thing to go through the writing process.
We just really enjoy the landscape of the sounds that we are working with and its fun to play live as well.
When you make the songs like West Coast is the production added on initially, or is the song “bare-bones” and the production is added later?
The beauty of West Coast was that it came through just something that happened all at once. We were doing a live jam, so we had synthesizers and our guitarist was playing guitar and the drummer was sitting at the acoustic drum kit and the guitarist just started playing this riff in this odd time signature. For a long time we were actually calling this song 6/4 because that’s all we knew it by. It was in 6/4 time signature.
So the guitarist was just playing that riff, the drummer got involved and made a beat along to it which is basically identical to what you hear on the track and the melodies started just flowing straight away.
I was telling everyone to be quiet whilst I tried to work out the chorus chords and the melody there. That song just kind of came together in one bang, which was really exciting. But in other circumstances it might be just me sitting down with an acoustic guitar and writing the song completely acoustically first before thinking of the soundscapes that surround.
How do the songs come out in a live performance?
We like to have our live drums – I think it’s really important to have a live drummer on stage. A lot of electronic music people can tend to just leave it programmed. But to have a live drummer on stage is important because you need that natural kick drum punching people in the stomach. We have our four-piece set up with Tim on the drums and he’s got his sample pads as well which trigger our out-beat kick-drums, big snare drums and the other electronic percussion sounds. We got Caleb on the side playing bass and most of the time he’s playing that on a MOOG, which is a bass synthesizer and that really shakes the floor.
We love to play vocal sets and tuning live; we do a lot of hard tuning stuff because that’s a lot of fun. It’s all really important to have the interaction inside the music while you’re presenting it live.
Is the single West Coast a secret homage to Western Australia?
I actually spent a few years living in Perth while I was a kid so the chorus is has got this summer, warm feeling that came over me whilst I was singing it. So while I was singing “I’ll be thinking about you” I kind of was replacing the you – we put it in brackets – as a symbol for Perth and all those feelings that surrounded that time, the memories and all that stuff. You just kind of summed that all up in one letter. We thought it was kind of cool; maybe it’s not I don’t know. Also West Coast is obvious, which is the title of the song; we thought it would be nice to chuck that in the title as well.
The lyric video for West Coast shows you had that summery vibe in mind.
We definitely thought it would be nice some imagery that takes you to a warmer place. Especially for people living in Melbourne like we are; winter feels pretty long at the moment.
Since you’ve already made three singles as a band, any plans for an EP?
We’re getting into a very creative time at the moment. We’re thinking about locking ourselves down to get as much material out as we can so from now its building up some songs to put on an EP and I’m doing quite a bit of travelling over the next couple months because I’m playing guitar for an artist called Woods.
I’ll be bringing my laptop and a notepad with me so hopefully we can smash-out some of the next batch of KING’s songs. So by the time I get back we can release those and that’s kind of our goal at the minute to get that EP ready.