Tuesday, 25 April 2017

An Interview With KING NO-ONE ~ 13.04.17

York based quartet King No-One are undoubtedly one of the most hard-working and proficient young bands in the country at the moment and seem to have built up an almost cult like following since their formation in 2013. The band (made up of Zach Lount, Joe Martin, James Basile and Alex Townsley) seem to be permanently out on the road, touring relentlessly as well as busking on the streets of cities' up and down the country. From Glasgow, Liverpool and Leeds... to a huge hometown show at one of their favourite haunts, Fibbers, their most recent headline tour saw them conquer some of their biggest venues and crowds to date... and things only look set to get bigger. Having played the BBC Introducing stage early on in their career, the band have just announced that they are set to return to Reading and Leeds Festivals' in the Summer, this time to the gargantuan Radio1/NME stage which will see them playing alongside the likes of Sundara Karma and Cabbage. With a mighty seven single releases under their belt, King No-One have proved that their studio recordings are every inch as extravagant and defined as their live show; latest release 'Antichrist' is a powerhouse and exudes an unadulterated coeval vim.

I was able to speak with the band prior to their virtually sold-out show at the famous Leadmill. Admittedly, I've been dying for an interview with them since I started the blog, but due to one thing or another, it's just never worked out. Suffice to say, this was definitely worth the wait. Here are a young band with the world at their feet and their heads fixed firmly upon the shoulders; refreshingly, they were quite vocal about their desire to use the platform they've been given for good, educating their hoards of young fans about the importance of equality and diversity. They're not just about the music... they're a band for the people, too.

How and when did you first come together as a band?
Joe: We always refer to it as a dream. We saw one another in our dreams and then reality brought us together! Fate.
Alex: But a better way of putting that is education!
James: There's your option A and your option B. We all like option A!
Alex: It's been four years, now.

What are your earliest memories of music?
James: My mum blasting out Fleetwood Mac in the car was a good one for me. Before then, everything my mum listened to was just uncool! Everything she'd put on, I'd be like "Mum, I hate this," and then I remember her playing that and saying "This is just great." It was a bit of a secret at the time, I didn't know who Fleetwood Mac were and I just fell in love with it.
Joe: Mine's a similar story... it's always the car tunes! I'd be there with my little CD player and my headphones on playing my Eminem, because that was what I was into, and my dad actually said that when I turned 16 I would be asking to borrow his Bowie CD's... I think it was when I was about 20 that I ended up asking him, so he always knew it would happen eventually. You can't beat a bit of Bowie!
Alex: I remember being sat in the back seat of my dads car blasting out everything from REM, The Smiths, The Police... that sort of vibe! That was generally what got me into music.

What's the story behind you getting matching tattoos?
Joe: We decided on a whim... it was quite frightening, actually! I think we were just hungover one day and we thought "Shall we just get tattoos?" We had been on about it before, but what I've learnt is never get a tattoo when you have a hangover because your blood thins so when they're doing it, it's a mess! So don't do it!
James: I don't regret the tattoo itself.
Alex: It's so monotonous doing those lines over and over again... there was four of us and I had to go last, and it was the same guy doing it, who was just so bored of doing it so mines really jagged.
James: Yeah, with the first one he was like 'I've got to get this right!' and with the last it was more 'I really want to get off and go home!' I left and went home after mine!
Alex: He was at it for eight hours!
James: Either way, it was our first tattoo and we don't regret it. Tattoos can be good! I like the idea of a shared tattoo

I know you spend a lot of time out and about busking all across the UK... why is it so important to you to keep doing that and what kind of experiences have you had?
James: We've had a rollercoaster of experiences.
Alex: There are a lot of homeless people and drunks that tend to really go for it! In fact, we had a granny who was doing some very kind of burlesque style dancing in Leeds city centre... she was 86!
Joe: She did one of them karate jump kick things! She can get her legs up higher than I can!
James: She put her handbag down and at first it was just a bit of a wiggle, and we could tell that she was really loving it... it was sunny, everyone was enjoying it and then by the end of it she had a massive crowd of people watching.
Joe: It was all for her! People were chucking fivers at her!
James: She just lost it! Incredible dancing!
Alex: She was brilliant.

One thing I always notice is that you have an incredibly strong and loyal fanbase. I don't think I've ever been to a King No-One gig that hasn't been packed to the rafters! So do you see many familiar faces who have discovered your music by chance when you're out busking who then go on to buy tickets and keep coming back to your shows?
Joe: Yes, we always recognize the faces. Obviously they meet us and our music out on the streets at first so to go from that to seeing them in the crowds at gigs, it'd be hard not to recognize them. They're all such lovely people.
Alex: There is a handful of people that are top fans... shoutout to Jenny!
Joe: Yeah, Jenny. She's our fan from China. Unfortunately she went back home because she'd been studying here in the UK, and then she surprised us at a London show, she was there in the crowd.
Alex: It was pretty touching.
James: She gave us an album full of photos from our first tour... and kinder buenos!
Joe: As well as some seaweed snacks that we'd never tried before and were wonderful. She's a delight, as they all are!

You've just been announced for Reading and Leeds Festivals this Summer. I know you played the BBC Introducing Stage a few years back, and this year you're set to play the Radio 1/NME Stage... you must be pretty excited, right? What have you got planned for it?
James: We are buzzing!
Joe: We are clueless as to what we're going to do, but we know we've got to give it everything we have and more. We've got to go bigger than we've ever done. At the moment and at this stage, we're just not used to this kind of platform... but we're going to smash it!
James: We are so ready for it. We've already played once before and it was great to do the BBC Introducing stage but this is going to be our biggest show to date and it's going to be amazing.
Joe: It's a cracking festival and it doesn't matter which one you go to, either. Reading and Leeds are both great. We're obviously all from around here so we always go to Leeds but when we first did Reading it was such a shock. It was amazing.

Does anyone in the band have any strange talents or interesting hobbies outside of music?
Joe: This guy (pointing to Alex) is an insane jumper! Honestly, it doesn't matter where we are, he will just see things that are unreachable and leap for them.
Alex: I can reach heights that are very unusual!
Joe: Then there's this guy... (Pointing to James)
James: I know you've got something on me and I'm hoping it's going to be a good one!
Joe: He's great at the worm! You know that body move when you're dancing?
James: I've not had enough to drink so I can't bring it out right now, though. Maybe you'll be lucky enough one day to see it. Going back to talking about what you're going to see at Leeds and Reading... maybe I'll bring it out then?
(At this point Zach arrives, so I repeated the question to him)
James: It takes an outsider to recognize somebody elses' talent, so I'm hoping one of us has got something for you!
Joe: You always pop out roly polys now and again!
Zach: And dive rolls... pretty epic dive rolls! Or the swan dive, as they call it in some countries. I don't know why they call it the swan dive... maybe it's the shape that I fly? I kind of go up very, very high and then I drop practically vertically. It's more than spectacular!

There's a real element of showmanship to everything that you do, from your live performances, to your style and within your studio recordings too. I can tell that you very much have your own style and way of doing things. Do you think that's something that has developed subconciously over time and with experience, or did you have an idea starting out of the kind of band you wanted to be?
Alex: I think we have always wanted to go for that vibe, it's just a case of developing the confidence. I think we have grown.
Zach: I think we've kind of learnt as we've gone along. As it's progressed, we've started doing something new. Everything has been subconcious... you might be on stage one day and you'll have this instant urge to do something that you've never done before, and then you pick everything that works and think 'Well I liked it when I did that, so I'm going to do it again,' It's all stage by stage, so like stage one development is having more confidence and making eye contact with the crowd. You start doing it more often and it becomes your norm, then you go on to stage two development which could be losing the guitar and freelance around the stage. It goes up and up to the point where every time you have an important gig, you're always doing something completely new or something that you never expected you'd do as a band and it becomes part of your set because you know you liked it, become comfortable with doing it until you step it up again... which means that every time you see us, technically we're getting better and better.
Joe: To the point where you end up swan diving off the PA!
Zach: Exactly!

I do always think when I listen to King No-One, there's no one that you actually remind me of- which is definitely a good thing. So do you actually take inspiration from any other bands or artists at all?
Zach: If we do, it's all subconcious. With the songs, we're inspired by life experiences. They're just stories and expression through music. This might sound offensive and I don't mean it that way, but I think all the best artists are because they're not repeating other peoples' stories and making them their own... they're telling their own stories and that's why they have a bit of an edge to them.
James: That ties in nicely with your previous question, because we don't have to think about performing the songs... there's so much thought and experience in the songs already that it just feels really natural to perform them.

If you were King, thus in charge of the country, for a day- what would you do?
Joe: I think that would be quite hypocritical given the name King No-One!
Zach: If I was King for the day, the first thing I'd do would be to destroy the throne. This is our country, so lets make it a real democracy.
Alex: I'll second that, it's a good one.
Zach: Destroy the throne! King No-One!
James: I'd make meal deals a bit cheaper. That's it for me... plain and simple! Vote for me... cheers!

What I've always really admired about you is how vocal you have been on a number of political and social subjets... I've seen you speak out quite passionately about feminism, especially. Do you think it's important to use the position that you're in to not only entertain but to educate as well? Do you think more bands/artists should do the same?
Alex: Absolutely.
Joe: No matter what platform you're given, you should always be like that anyway. Even if you're just your average everyday human, you should be looking to educate or even just talk to people about how you're feeling.
Zach: What's really great about us at the minute is that our demographic is really powerful, but they are the future. They're easily influenced by people that they respect and some people, whether it's their parents or whatever, will tell them this, that and the other and sometimes it doesn't sink in because sometimes you need cultural icons to tell you things... not that we're calling ourselves cultural icons as of yet! But at the minute the fanbase that we are developing really care about what we have to say, more than they do their teachers and family sometimes, so if we have an important message to spread and these people love what we say and how we think... then naturally they're going to start following, which can be damaging if you've got the wrong message. We're quite passionate about across the board equality, and we've got the power of the young people who are picking it up and pushing it themselves which is great.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go and what would you do?
James: I know I've got a good answer for this, but it takes a bit of time! I'd go back in time and think of my answer!
Joe: Dinosaur ages! You've got to go back and see the dinosaurs. But what about the butterfly effect?
Zach: It's too much, isn't it? The thing about the butterfly effect is that it really does apply... I'm a firm believer that if I didn't touch my chair just then, then this concert could be completely different. However, the dinosaur age is where it varies a little bit because you touching your next door neighbours tree or whatever isn't going to change that comet and the outcome for them so I would probably go back to about two hours before the comet hit and just have a proper laugh. I'd want to experience a good time, and then pandemonium- so the final hour before the comet hits.
James: You could potentially end up being prey, though.
Zach: Do I get to change shape? I'd be a human with trees for legs.
Alex: I don't think you get that choice mate, I think you're just you.

Finally... what are the hopes, dreams and plans for the future of King No-One?
Joe: To rule the world!
Zach: There will be new music. It's a tough one because we've just released 'Antichrist' so the plan now is to hit festival season and take it on the best that we can. Obviously when we play the NME/Radio 1 stage at Reading and Leeds there could be a lot of people there so we need to convince people and not only get them on board in terms of the music but with what we're about and the ethos as well. Not many bands have an ethos. Once Summer is over that's when we hit you with new music, but we can't really say much about it right now! Quote us on this... but we will headline Glastonbury before 2030!

Listen to King No-One below:

Where to find them...
Facebook/Twitter/Instagram: @KNOMusicUK

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