Interview: Alan Nimmo – King King

King KingWith a new single on the airwaves and a new line-up, King King were ready to go and raring to meet acquaintances, old and new, on their nationwide tour. We all know what happened next, and the dire consequences for so many touring bands. But, it’s not all doom and gloom, stonking new single ‘I Will Not Fall’ is out there for all to devour, and tour dates have been rescheduled. Mr King King himself; Alan Nimmo, talks us through the process of putting the new line-up together, thoughts on the new single….and the best place to stock up on toilet rolls.

You must be absolutely gutted that you’ve had to reschedule the tour?

We were holding off and holding off, I told our manager…don’t you dare pull this until we get thrown under a bus and have it taken out of our hands. Then of course the situation kept on getting worse and of course the inevitable happened, but yes, it’s devastating. I don’t even want to get into how financially devastating it is, but you know what, I’m not going to be selfish over it, everyone is in the same boat, and I wouldn’t put that burden on anyone. It’s horrible for all of us, but it’s such a shame as we’ve been busy bees, working hard in the background and we’ve been absolutely dying to get back out on the road…and we were so close!

Incredibly close!…

…I could see it coming and then it was…no, you’re not going anywhere! So unfortunately, our fans are going to have to wait a little longer to catch us. They’ve been terribly patient and I thank them for that..but just a little bit longer.

Everyone is in the same boat, we are all in the same position and everyone has been left high and dry. It’s bad for promoters, local business, small business, self-employed people, bands etc, it’s terrible for everyone. The one thing that I would say about musicians all over the world is that we are kind of used to this, we have some resolve in us. We are survivors so somehow we’ll find a way to carry on.

Leaving the doom and gloom behind for a bit, new single ‘I Will Not Fall’…it’s rather tasty isn’t it!

I think it’s a great song, I really do. You’re sitting there biting your nails when it is put out there for the public, but the reaction has been fantastic, I couldn’t have asked for a better response from people. So far, well from what I’ve seen anyway, so far the only thing coming close to anything that wasn’t absolute praise was somebody saying…”It’s growing on me”..!

You’ll take that then?!

I know! That’s not a bad result! To get that kind of response for a first single, from a brand new album, from a band with a new line-up and have been out of the way for a while..I don’t think that you could ask for better than that. The boys have done a great job.

They certainly have, especially Jonny (Jonny Dyke, keyboards) the Hammond organ sound that opens the single is bloody massive!

Yes it is, it came out of this little riff that we were playing, and it blossomed quickly, actually this was the first song that we worked on, for the new album and ironically enough it ended up being the first single. You usually don’t get that, you usually work on your first song and it ends up at the back of the line, or even in the bin, but this one seemed to stick. With the style of the song, it was the only choice for the first single..it was the song that said…”here’s new music, but it’s from King King and you’ll know that.”

Especially with a title like ‘I Will Not Fall’, quite a statement.

Absolutely, you are singing about what you feel, that’s the only way that I can write really, I find it very, very difficult to perform something with my whole heart if it’s not real to me. So, you try to make it as universal as possible for people to relate to in their own way.

King KingIs it indicative of what the rest of the album sounds like?

The rest of the album is pretty much like that, yes. Some people can write songs all day long, they can churn out twenty a week, I can’t do that though. I need something to say, and that’s what takes me a little bit longer, I bare my soul a little bit in a song and I have to pour everything out emotionally, which makes it more difficult to churn them out one after another. I’ve got to have a meaning to what I’m saying, so that’s why it takes me longer, but what you get is the absolute best of me. As long as I know that I’ve given it my all, then I’m happy.

Johnnie Walker has played it on BBC Radio 2, is it still a buzz to hear your songs on national radio, especially a new song?

You know, it was really strange when that happened. Jonny and myself were sitting chatting on the night that it got played, now Jonny knows Johnnie Walker and he was saying..”maybe if we have a disc I could give it to Johnnie and he might play it on the show, he’s old-school and like cd’s”..so I got in contact with our engineer at the studio and asked him if he could make us a cd to send to Johnnie at Radio 2, he said..”no problem I’ll get you one tomorrow”..and literally just as he said that, one of our fans posted on Facebook…”You’re getting played right now on Radio2!” So I replied…”playing what?!” And she replied…”the new single..on the Johnnie Walker Rock Show!” You honestly couldn’t make this up! We were just sitting talking about sending him a disc and he’s already got it and played it! So he played it, but not through any friendship or anything like that, he was serviced the song from our PR people and he seemed to like it and played it! And it was fantastic!

Uncanny timing!

Yes, and we also have got it A-listed on Planet Rock, which is another great achievement for us because that has never happened before.

First time?

First time yes, we usually get the B-list, but it was nice to be on the A-list for a change! Who knows what it means, but it’s fantastic! At the end of the day, it’s out there and that’s what it’s all about. We rely on things like this, we rely on people playing the music for people to hear. Otherwise you release an album and it’s like the proverbial tree falling in the woods.

King KingNow that the world has gone to shit, what timescale are you talking about when it comes to the album release? Later in the year?

Yes, because of certain circumstances we knew that we were never going to have the album finished in time for the tour starting in April, so we had a contingency plan for that. I don’t have the exact date at the minute, but there will be an announcement made soon enough. With the tour rescheduled for early next year, it will be a little bit more beneficial to us by that point, to release an album, and have a massive PR campaign with the album, and have the tour to go along with it. So, there’s always silver linings!

Well you’ve got to stay positive! I mean there might be no toilet roll in the shops but at least you have something to look forward to!

(laughs) Tell me about it! I’ve mastered it though, I’ve sussed it out..you go to places like Waitrose and Marks & Spencer, because all the posh folks are too embarrassed to buy in bulk! So these places are alright, the shelves are stocked!

Not just toilet roll; Marks & Spencer toilet roll..

That’s it yes!

Back to the band, you mentioned it yourself, there’s been a line-up change, bringing in Andrew Scott on drums and your old friend Zander Greenshields on bass, was it important that you had a familiar face in Zander alongside you?

You know what, that was definitely part of it. I went to see Zander when I knew things were going to change, obviously he’s an old mate of mine and we have a lot of history together. We often get together anyway, I said to him..”would you be interested”..and I think that was as far as I got and he said yes! I had to point out a few rules first before I allowed him to say yes! It was important for me to have quality in a bass player as well, and to have that ability to take a step upwards. Zander’s style of play is suited to the band, where I was wanting the music to go, but absolutely, it was probably most important that I knew him. Obviously Jonny has been here a couple of years, and we’ve also known each other a long time as well, but in band terms he’s relatively new. Also bringing in a new drummer, I thought it was important to have a familiar face and an allie, someone that I knew was going to be a help to me, in a supporting sense. It was a very natural choice, to be honest, Zander was the first guy that I thought of and I didn’t have to look any further.

You also want personalities that are easy to get on with, everyone to be pulling in the same direction as yourself. We’ve got a team of lads now that are just great, great boys, up for a laugh as well, nobody’s too sensitive…

King KingAnd you need that, especially cooped up in a tour bus for a month..

Yes, you’ve got to have thick skins, you’ve got to have a bit of a laugh with each other when you live in each other’s pockets, and these guys can do that. Musically, there is chemistry between us, Zander and I fell straight back into how we used to be, we have a very natural way of playing together, and Jonny and I had already sparked together, and Andrew is a very good listener, his head is up all the time when he is behind his kit, he hears everything that is going on and he is very good at improvising, at jamming. All the lads are great at taking direction, I don’t get any arguments or fights, no one is resistant, including myself, there’s a great democracy about how we do things, suggestions are made and….rejected haha! But I do let them make them!

At least you let the guys make suggestions!

I’m nice enough to do that! I give them the chance…

I’m listening to you…but no!

Exactly, yes!

King KingKing King are known as a touring band, was there ever a worry that the fact that you had been away for a while meant that the audience wouldn’t still be there?

Of course yes, you worry about over-playing, because you very rarely increase your audience that way, because if they don’t see you this time then they’ll see you next time around because it won’t be that far away. So you’ve got to try and come off the road for a bit, if you want to raise your profile and become a bigger band and play to a bigger audience and move up to bigger venues, then you have to come off the road for a bit and stop working. But, if you stop working, we all know what happens..you stop earning. For bands like us, our source of income is through touring, nobody makes money from selling albums anymore. The introduction of Spotify has single-handedly ruined the music industry for bands like us, everyone is getting a product for free and we seem to be the only industry, the only people in the working world that are expected to give away our product for free. You can’t just walk into a supermarket and take things off the shelves and say..”well I want these for free”, that sounds like a ridiculous notion, but that’s the way that the music industry is looked upon. But if you over saturate the market, then it will have a negative impact. It’s a really difficult situation.

It’s a no-win situation…

Totally, they’ve got us all by the short and curlies! As a musician, that’s what you are, that’s what’s in you, and the universe knows, as well as us, that we can’t do anything else, this is who we are, this is what we are….so we’ll do this forever.

Have you looked into live broadcasts online? Maybe even ones where the viewer pays a nominal fee to watch, and helps the band out? I think that I’ve just seen The White Buffalo announcing one for $10 to view?

That’s probably something that we’ll think about, I wouldn’t talk rubbish though and say that one of the reasons for doing it was not to generate some money to help keep us afloat. But it’s also a good idea as it keeps the momentum going for the band, especially at a time like this when we have just released a new single, the tour has been rescheduled, and we want to stay fresh in people’s minds. We don’t want to disappear for months and start all over again, so if we can find a way then we will.

Plus, you need the money to buy toilet roll!

That’s it! If we don’t start getting some money in, then it won’t matter if the shelves are empty or not!

 

Check out all rescheduled King King dates here.

Interview – Dave

King King band image – Graham Milne

Live images – Callum Scott and Rob Wilkins

 

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