Jersey City, NJ Hard Rock/Metal band Them Damn Kings has revealed the official music video for their debut single, “Throw it Away.” Self-directed and produced by multi-talented front-man Jef Rhodes, “Throw it Away” is lifted from their upcoming album, Rise Up. Here’s the background on Them Damn Kings (including the story of the riotous debut live gig) from Jef himself. Check out Them Damn Kings below…
What are the origins of the band, how long have you been playing together?
Them Damn Kings started in 2016, it started out as a one man project. I played everything on the EP, the guitars, bass, drums, and vocals. I hired a few guys from the area to come and play live. Rusty Cornel from Abbath flew out and played rhythm guitar and I had Steve Wellz from The Hixon come on and play drums. Over the next few shows it started morphing, the live players that is…..I’ve been friends with Ryan Blake Folden (ex-Lacuna Coil) for the better part of a decade, there isn’t really much of a day that goes by we don’t talk. When he left Lacuna I asked him to come out and play drums on the new record “Rise Up” which is due to be released Spring 2021, and of course, he nailed it and we had such an awesome time making the record. The pandemic has really put a damper on things but I think you can expect to see Ryan pounding on the drums at the next Them Damn Kings show.
How did you feel performing your first gig? And how was it?!
The first gig we did was absolutely bonkers man, I mean everything that could go wrong, did. It was our EP release party for “Beer Born Rock n Roll” at a club in NJ. The idea was if you buy the EP and t-shirt you got in for free and you got to drink for free all night. Pretty simple concept, for some reason, not simple to execute. We hired a lighting company and sound company, load in was meant to be early we all roll outta bed way too early to get over to the venue, sound company is there, lighting company is there…venue locked. So we head across the street to the second bar this place owns and of course no one knows wtf is going on. The Promotor we booked the show through, who works for the venue, is nowhere to be found, later come to find out she’s F#%^ed off somewhere on “vacation”. 5pm rolls around and finally, someone comes to open the venue (5 hours late) doors are at 7pm and of course we’ve been sitting at the pub all day so we’re all pretty hammered already. We load in and of course, no one has a clue that I was supposed to be buying a few kegs from the club for our promotion.
Basically, in the end, they shook us down for like 10x as much as agreed upon, on top of that it was a record-breaking heat wave and the venues A/C broke. Man, by the time we hit the stage it had to be over 110 degrees in the venue. But ya know what, we still had a good turn out and everyone there was puttin down cold frothy adult beverages and moshing even in the extreme heat. It was a great show and in the end, I think we still made a few bucks and for sure will be one show I will never forget. The fans that were there what a bunch of troopers……that’s dedication!
What should people expect when they check the band out? How would you describe yourself?
Ya know I’ve heard so many different takes on what this band means to someone there really isn’t a collective. Personally, I would say what you can expect is no-frills no BS…it’s straight up Rock n Roll, there’s no shoe polish on this, what you hear and see is what you get, antics, mistakes, all of it, just LOUD ROCK N FUCKIN ROLL.
The new music scene is bursting at the seams with fresh talent, in what ways do you feel that a band has to stand out from the others trying to build a name?
Be yourself and play what you love. That’s really it. I mean if every chick looked like Barbie where’s the variety. Nobody wants the same thing over and over again, and even though we have access to millions of artists/bands, It’s still tough to weed through all the BS. Nobody stood out by doing what the next guy does, however even if you do what the next guy is doing, if you’re being yourself and playing what you love, it’s going to translate and resonate with the masses.
What are you working on at the minute that people can check out?
Right now we just released the song “Throw It Away”, you can check out the video on YouTube or the song on whatever your streaming pleasure is. Of course the beer fridge is disappearing quite rapidly so go download the tune on iTunes or any one of our distribution partners. With each download, you can help one starving band member continue to destroy their liver.
What band out there at the minute do you feel that you would be best suited to open for?
That’s a great question. There are so many bands that we look up to that have inspired us that we would love the opportunity to open for. I think each of us, Ryan and Gogi, would have different opinions but I am a Zakk Wylde fanatic so I would have to say Black Label Society…………… if you’re reading this Zakk.
Who do you feel is the next band to break out?
It’s really difficult to say; this industry has changed quite a bit. There isn’t a platform that defines who’s going to make it or break it anymore. Especially now with the state of the world and everything being next to completely shut down…..I’m not much of a get-on-the-internet-and-find-stuff. I go to shows, and that’s usually where I’m like…oh yeah that band is fucking great and I’ll go buy the record.
What are your first musical memories? And what was the lightbulb moment that made you go I want to do that?
My first real memory of music was a band called Bread and the song was called The Guitar Man, kinda ironic huh. My mother used to play it non stop, I think it was the only way she could get me to shut the fuck up. But man I loved that song I couldn’t speak yet so I was super young but the way it made me feel, well, it’s indescribable. Especially the wah guitar I used to laugh like a madman when I heard that. Took me years to find that song again, but I still listen to it. Always puts me right back. The defining moment I was 12 I think, Michael Jackson was just releasing his video for Black or White, at that time every kid was obsessed with Macaulay Culkin, Home Alone was HUGE back then. Anyway, I remember sitting down at the TV to watch the video, that was also a big thing, man, Michael Jackson really knew how to make a production out of something. The video starts and BAM Macaulay Culkin grabs this red guitar and blew his dad out the roof! I knew at that moment I wanted to play…..and I got my first little red guitar that Christmas. I still have it.
We have recently had the tragic passing of Eddie Van Halen, do you have a particular favorite Van Halen track?
Every Van Halen song is my favorite!!!! R.I.P EVH
AC/DC – Brian or Bon? Or both?!
Bon all the way!!!!!! Sorry, Brian you still seriously kick ass!
What was the last gig that you attended as a fan?
It was The Cadillac Three. I saw them in a little club in Savannah. It was jam-packed and those guys really blew me away. I’m not much of a country fan but personally, I consider them Southern Rock and they put on a kick-ass live show. You should definitely check them out if you haven’t.
What current issue are you particularly passionate about?
Well, the job market is pretty grim so I’m pretty passionate at the moment about keeping my favorite booze slingers employed. Sadly there’s too much variety but I’m trying to keep up!
There is great debate at the minute about whether or not musicians should use their platform to talk about political issues, some for and some against. Music has always been a form of protest, surely an artist has just as much right as the next person to offer an opinion? Or should they just stick to the music?
All politics does is alienate, idk, I think as a public figure or band or whatever, all talking about it does is divide when music is meant to bring everyone together. Who wants to hear about it man our lives are shitty enough I don’t think we want to go to a show to be reminded how fucked this is and how great that is. Megadeth did it best…..fuck em all!
The album that you have in your album collection/Spotify playlist that would surprise most people?
NWA I still love that. I mean it doesn’t take much to understand the portrayal of what was going on in those times, still is for that matter. From the first note you know what they are doing is real…….do what you love and love what you do.
Who would you class as an underrated songwriter?
Jani Lane, he is one of my favorite songwriters, that guy had unbelievable talent. It’s funny and sad how an artist gets stuck in the mindset of the people. For most, he will always simply be the singer of Warrant but man when you dig in he was so much more. R.I.P Jani.
What are your plans for the New Year?
Well with the current shit show at hand I plan on continuing to keep the fine fellows at Jack Daniels employed and hope my liver makes it to 2021 so we can get out there and bring everyone some good ol’ fashion Rock n Roll!!!
How active are you on social media and where can people connect with you
I’m pretty active on FB and IG you can connect with me personally on either @jefrhodes or the band @themdamnkings a friend of mine just turned me on to tik tok but I don’t know much about it yet. I’m also on Twitter but I have to admit I don’t use it much.