Interview: Little King

Recently, DutchMetalManiac’s Tim van Velthuysen interviewed Little King.

Hey, how are you?

You know, I’m pretty pissed, to be honest. Flying back from Tampa, FL to Tucson, AZ, and due to weather and the staggering incompetence of American Airlines, I missed my connecting flight. They re-booked me for a flight 5 hours later, and now THAT one is delayed. So, instead of being back in Arizona at 11:30am, I’m looking at 9:00pm. 

I love the destinations, hate the airport. Somehow, it’s now become okay for people to put their speakerphones on and not use headphones. When the fuck did that become okay? Also (and I am vaxxed and beat COVID in April), there were two dudes coughing up lungs on the plane. I mean, okay…maybe you don’t have the ‘Rona. But APPEARANCES are everything. It’s 2021…don’t fucking fly if you sound like you have TB. It’s gross.

Other than that, I bought a new guitar in Florida, which is exciting. I usually use Paul Reed Smiths and sometimes a Tele or Les Paul Standard, but I went and bought a Jackson Dinky Baked White bad boy. It’s a shredder’s guitar, no doubt. Haven’t owned a true metal guitar in years. When I get home (at this rate, sometime in 2027), I am gonna lower the action a bit and get back to my roots.

Can you tell us something about the history of Little King?

I mean, it’s all in the bio at our website. Pretty well-documented stuff…7 albums, almost 25 years, and a lot of lineup changes. Little King was always a way for me to make music with my friends in El Paso and beyond. It’s worked out quite well that way. 

Eddy Garcia has played drums on the last 4 (he’s also the founder of Pissing Razors and formerly was in Ministry and Overkill) and Manny Tejeda has played bass on the last 2 records. That’s helped a lot, I think. Continuity, I mean. David Hamilton (cello) and Christina Hernandez (violin) were on the last record (Occam’s Foil, 2019) as well. I love my band, man. They are so creative and professional and kind people, to boot. I feel pretty fucking lucky that they put up with me.

For people not knowing Little King (yet), how would you describe your music yourself?

Well…I try NOT to describe it. As soon as I do that, it sets someone’s expectations. That kind of poisons the well, so to speak. If you have a pre-conceived notion of what you’re gonna hear, then you’re probably gonna be more likely to hear THAT.

We aren’t metal, but there are influences ranging from Maiden and Judas Priest to Megadeth and even some Anthrax. But I love Rush and grew up listening to them and Zeppelin incessantly. I love Peter Tosh and Tupac, too, but those influences might be a bit harder to suss out. Vivaldi and Mozart and especially Bach, too.

What do YOU think we sound like? I like the word “dynamic”. I can definitely live with that.

When someone doesn’t know Little King yet and you can choose one of your songs to present yourself, which song would that be?

I have a few: Hate Counter from the last album, also maybe The Skin That I’m In“. I love Happy Home from OD1 in 2014, too. Collateral Damage from Legacy of Fools in 2008 still sounds really good to my ears, too. But we have a new record coming out on September 3, 2021 called Amuse De Q, and there is NO QUESTION it’s my best work ever. The title song may be the best I can do, honestly, but there are some other great tracks too. Looking forward to unleashing it…I think people are gonna really be surprised how diverse and complex and emotional it is.

What makes Little King unique?

The range of dynamics, musical styles, and the thoughtful way we go about putting together the whole album – from the music to the lyrics to the actual production – makes us Little King. We used to get the Rush comparison a lot. But I am almost 50, and I’ve now been making records for half of my life. I think we sound like US. Having awesome players and mixing engineers and mastering guys (Daniel Salcido and Maor Appelbaum mixed and mastered, respectively) helps a lot. Maor is a bad motherfucker, man. Daniel, too.

I have a college degree in Creative Writing. I think I write words better than the average band. Maybe not, but that’s how I feel. I mean, practice makes decent, right? If you take the time to listen to the words and follow along, there’s a story and a lot of double-meaning, alliteration, imagery, and avoidance of cliches. It would be nice to have a legacy of inspiring other musicians to aspire to making elegant yet forceful lyrical statements. Lofty dreams, I know…

Any future plans you can already tell us something about?

The album comes out on 9/3, and we just released the first single/video, Keyboard Soldier. Fun little tune about the perils of the “social quicksand” that this generation seems to be so indoctrinated into. Little commentary on the Bad Orange, too. 

The second single/video for Bombs Away comes out on August 6. We shot that video in an airplane graveyard in the desert, and that was really fun. Nicci Radhe directed it, and she’s just so cool and talented. And obsessive, for better or worse.

Bombs Away is the first song on the record and sets the theme of Amuse De Q. I started writing last year as the pandemic kicked into high gear and we had to cancel our touring plans and sit in the Q (quarantine). It was weird and lonely and a bit brutal, and I had just quit drinking, too. Helluva time to quit drinking, but I’m sure glad I did. Don’t know if I would have survived, otherwise. But anyway, Bombs Away really sets the stage for the stories on the rest of the record. Isolation, social justice protests in the USA, domestic violence (which is a bad problem that was clearly exacerbated by the pandemic), and sobriety. And the end of the world. Very lighthearted material, right?

Any upcoming gigs for Little King? Maybe coming to The Netherlands?

I would love to! Was just telling Jan Buddenburg over at DPRP that we need to tour there. If the demand exists, I will come. I was in Amsterdam a couple years ago and absolutely fell in love with the place. You folks are so kind, interesting, open-minded, and apparently into Little King. We only sell more records in the USA and UK than Holland, which is very cool.

The truth is that we are adults with adult responsibilities, and touring is hard. Manny just had a kiddo (well, his lovely wife HAD the kid), and Eddy has 2 teenagers and shit-ton of other responsibilities as well. And me? I am a single dad of a 14 year old son (and my daughter, who still needs me, is 24) so I have to shepherd him through high school. I also run a business outside of music up in SIlicon Valley. I own it, and I CAN step away from it for a bit when I need to, but that is TBD.

We haven’t toured properly in a long time, which fucking sucks. In fact, Eddy, Manny, and I have NEVER played a show together. That seems so ridiculous, but it’s true. When the last album came out, people really liked it. We booked a bunch of shows and festival dates, and then it all disintegrated. But hope springs eternal. Can we crash on your couch?

How do you think your life would be without music?

I can’t imagine, honestly. Maybe visual art or movies would fill the void? Drugs and sex? It’s just so out of the realm of possibility that it seems trite.

What advice would you give to young and starting bands?

Do it for the love. “Making it” is like a winning lottery ticket, and you can be sooooo good and be sooooo anonymous at the same time. I’m an addict…to music, I mean. Writing and producing it, anyway. I don’t listen to much music for a good while after recording it. It’s just draining. I can’t process it.

Also, and I cannot stress this enough, expand your horizons as far as your music. There is so much amazing stuff from Africa and India and east Asia…nevermind music from Western Cultures. The best compliment someone can pay us is when they say Little King really doesn’t sound like anyone else. We just ARE. That’s not an accident…it’s wholly intentional! And, it’s the product of a crazy range of diverse influences. Reggae to metal to hip hop to bhangra. Listen to all of it.

Thanks for your answers! Is there anything you want to say to DutchMetalManiac’s readers?

Just want to thank you for checking us out. I hope you dig it! We are always updating our website with news and music, and our socials (ugh) are all @littlekingtunes except YouTube, which is Little King Official. If you care to listen closely, I think you’ll find something for you.

See you on the road!

Little King Official Website
Little King Facebook
Little King Instagram
Little King Twitter

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