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The Kings Royal

September 6, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

tkrmainSometimes in the world of music the very thing that we all love the most get’s lost, the music.  For The Kings Royal that focus was never lost.  Their penchant to write meaningful songs that people loved as much as they did and their drive to make them unforgettable have lead to their well-crafted debut album “Beginning” – and how intuitive indeed because this is definitely just the beginning for this quartet.  Each a rock and roll veteran in their own right (Benny Marchant on vocals and guitar, Adam Kury on bass, David Krusen on drums, Sean Hennesy on guitar and Walker Gibson on keyboards) together they have formed and army armed and loaded to unleash a barrage of songs that are reminiscent of the seventies infused throwbacks where the music spoke for itself through masterful musicianship.  Some people call it simple or elegant, others just call it rock and roll in its purest form.  Crediting producer David Holman for helping them find themselves in the, The Kings Royal have released an album that transcends modern trends.

With early reviews comparing the band to The Doors, that’s quite a bit to live up to but when this band hits the stage, they are definitely summoning the spirits of rock gods gone by.  Currently out on tour with Candlebox (with Sean and Adam pulling double duties on stage playing for both The Kings Royal AND Candlebox every night) The Kings Royal are introducing themselves to music fans across the nation and hoping they come back for more.  Something tells me they will…again and again.

Interviewed by: Stacie Caddick-Dowty | September 2008

Let’s start off with your roots…Sean and Adam, you played together in another band called the Hiwatts, correct? What was the inspiration to form The Kings Royal and how did everything fall into place?

Adam:  I guess I can answer this… it really started with Benny.  Benny was writing songs and putting together an album and everything… working with some session guys.  The drummer that he was using at the time was actually the drummer from Hiwatts.  At some point they decided to make it a band instead of a solo project.  The drummer Brian (Burwell) brought in both Sean and I, and we’ve been working together for over a year now.

Benny, so this was your baby in the beginning?

Benny:  In the beginning, yes.

You just released your debut album “Beginning” and worked with producer David Holman, can you tell us what he brought to the table for you and his impact on the album since a lot of fans probably don’t understand the true role of a producer.

Benny:  Oh man, he did so much!  I can’t even… let me just scrape a little bit up.  He made me find myself.  It took me about the year and a half to convince him to work with me.  I kept showing up at his house with written music, and he kept turning me away saying “Get another song.” He really just made me find myself, cause all the other music that I was writing and trying to perform was very pop oriented and sort of fake.  Not really me.  Him helping me find myself which makes me more comfortable on stage because I can be me.  This is my first time as a front man and it makes thing much easier.  As his role, he crafted the songs.  I would bring him the melodies and he would show us where to go and how to do it.  The goals that we came up with were just making it a very open sounding record, very old school and retro sounding.  He did it!  That’s a great producer right there, to start off with a focus and keep going till you create that sound.

Going into the writing for the album, what were your main goals?  Did you have a plan per se?

Benny:  Yes, we had a huge plan!  The plan was to bring music back.  Keep it simple.  Two guitars, drums, bass, keyboards…
Adam:  To be fair, the whole process isn’t really writing records.  We didn’t go in and “make a record”.  We went in a tracked a lot of songs.  When we needed to make a record, we picked.  We never went in and made a record, that’s never been in the process for this band.
Benny:  Yeah, it’s weird how “Beginning” came about because we weren’t ready to put out a record yet, but this Candlebox tour came around.  We were so lucky to become a part of this tour we needed to pick out of the 30 songs.  Well out of the 30 we had like 20 done, so we had to pick from those, and have a CD ready to go.  So it was kind of spur of the moment.

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The Kings Royal – Photo by Stacie

You wrote over 30 songs…how did you narrow it down to those that made the cut?  And will fans get an opportunity to hear the songs that didn’t make the cut?

Benny:  We kind of have two sides to us, we have strait up rock and roll, but we also have a very mellow Doors-y retro feel.  So we put some of those songs on there, but kept it mostly upbeat.  We’re saving the other songs.  We’ll actually be putting the others on; we’re actually going to be having two more releases in the next year.  One is going to be a record, like an actual vinyl on 60’s oriented sound.  Songs that didn’t make this record and some that did like “In My Own World” will be on this vinyl.  Then we’ll be putting out a CD, there are seven songs that we demoed before we went out on tour.  We’re still writing as a band, and we’re going back into the studio when we finish up and get another CD ready to go.

So the work never ends…

Benny:  Yeah, we’re going to be very prolific.  We’re going to do it, how they did it back in the day, which is just record and tour.

There have been quite few comparisons to The Doors on your new album ….how do you feel about that comparison?  Do you feel any pressure being compared to a band that was so influential to music?

Benny:  Any kind of comparison to that band and I’m like “Sweet!!” What an amazing band, what an amazing frontman!

So it works?

Benny:  That’s fine!  But, I also want to make sure I don’t go too far into that barrier.  I don’t think we are though.  They are definitely a big influence though, them and the Kinks.

Your sound stays very true to the roots of rock and roll and letting the music speak for itself.  Is this an approach that you wanted to take or was it more of just a product of you working together?

Benny and Adam:  It’s both!
Adam:  I think its one of those things that was definitely spoken to approach it that way.  I think we’ve all been in a band and thought we’d love to be in something and work that way.  When you can actually do something the way you feel it should be done…
Benny:  It’s really cool!  Every day is just an enjoyable day.  Except for when I have to do some guitar work.  I have to make sure it’s done right.  For Sean it’s a lot easier, he’s an amazing player.  I can’t wait till we can go back in because we can have this kid Krusen (Dave Krusen) and Gibson (Walker Gibson) over there.  It’ll be really nice to have those two personalities put in as well.  It’ll make it full fledged.

Do you want to walk us through a few of the songs on your album both musically and lyrically, to give people an idea of what you’re all about?

Benny:  Man… being artsy and creative just whatever comes to your head.  “Invisible” is about being an artist, but very scared about what people are going to think about it.  “On and On” is a very pompous, you know “that’s right we’re really going to fucking make it in this industry” doing whatever it is we have to do…

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You had a month long residency at The Viper Room in LA…for us East Coasters, can you explain what that experience was like?

Sean:  It was all about exposure.  Personally the Viper Room is a funny place to play for me.  Its ups and downs, depending on the night.  What did we play?  Tuesdays?!
Adam:  Tuesday and Wednesdays.
Sean:  Yeah, a weekday?  One day we’d play at 9:30 and the next day we’d play at midnight.  Some nights there were five people and another there was twelve.  There was one night we played there, and there was like fifteen people but everyone was just dancing.  So we were like “lets just keep rocking, lets keep going till they pull the plug! ” Residencies are fun, because after a while the word starts to get out and more people start to show up.
Benny:  The more your name is posted on Sunset Strip; you know… that is kind of a good thing.

What kind of impact has this tour (With Candlebox) had on the band?

Benny:  Dave…
Dave:  Well it’s definitely gotten this group together.  So it’s formed this band.  Their drummer was not able to do the tour, so they got a hold of me.  Adam and I had just worked together in the studio.  So I listened to it and was really excited to check it out we just sort of gelled.  Then Walker came in.  It’s definitely been a good bonding experience, both musically and personally.

Is it Adam and Sean who are playing with Candlebox as well?  How do you manage to rock out two sets a night?

Sean:  Lots of booze!
Adam:  It’s what we do!  We love playing so in that regard it’s not hard at all.  You do really look forward to your off days.  I think this is the first time on tour that I said “Oh thank God a day off!”
Sean:  Two days off!  No way!!

Given the friendships among the bands on tour, it must be great to be out on the road with all of your friends.  Do you guys get to do any fun things on your days off or are you just catching up on sleep?

Sean:  Yesterday we caught a train from Bridgeport, CT and the four of us… this guy (Benny) “slept”.
Adam:  He’s an amazing sleeper!
Benny:  …and I’m a gamer too, so I’m fine just playing video games.
Sean:  So back to me!  We went to New York City yesterday and walked around.  Went to Coney Island and had a corn dog, had a brewski, hit the Cyclone.
Walker:  Sean almost died!
Sean:  I almost died…
Adam:  Very close to feeling like your kidneys are being shaken up.
Sean:  Someone ringing your testicles like a door bell.

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Click the image to purchase Beginning from The Kings Royal

Benny, do you write most of the lyrics or is a group effort?

Benny:  I write the initial ideas.  Then with David he finishes it up.  At least on this record.

Simple, timeless, Classic, Elegant are just a few of the words that have been used to describe the band.  What one word would each of you use to describe yourselves?

Sean:  Single.  Chocolaty!

Chocolaty?

Sean:  Yeah, I spilt chocolate in my bunk, and it melted everywhere.  I woke up and there was chocolate everywhere.
Benny:  What would you say about yourself?
Adam:  I would say persistent.
Benny:  Yeah, me too actually.  Persistent.
Walker:  You can’t take his word!
Benny:  Do we have a thesaurus in here?
Sean:  Driven!
Benny:  Driven, I like that.
Sean:  I’m sticking with single.
Dave:  I’m grateful to be here.
Walker:  goofy!

Goofy?  You do seem like the goofy guy in the group.

Sean:  I’ll agree with the goofiness.
Walker:  Sean called me a cartoon character.  Maybe I’ll go with cartoon.
Sean:  Cartoony
Walker:  Cartoony, that’s a word!
Sean:  Animated.

You have tour dates through mid September…what comes after that for you guys?

Benny:  Recording, and then more touring.  We’re actually starting to work on, everybody back in LA; they’re starting to figure out where we’ll be come January and February.  In the meantime we’ll be recording.

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Kevin Martin of Candlebox

July 5, 2008 by  
Filed under Interviews

cboxmainKevin Martin has said that the songs on his band’s new album “speak to you like an old friend you haven’t seen in years, but are so happy to be able to catch up with.”

There’s no doubt that Candlebox fans share the sentiment.

It’s been ten years since the band’s last album of new material. The Seattle-based outfit rose to prominence in the ‘90s with their multi-platinum self-titled debut, which featured the huge singles “Far Behind” and “You.” The band spent the rest of the decade putting out two follow-up albums, “Lucy” and “Happy Pills,” and touring the world with acts like Rush and Metallica, before ultimately deciding to part ways in 1999.

The July 22nd release of “Into The Sun” not only marks Candlebox’s return to the studio, but a return to their original lineup, with one exception — lead singer Martin is joined by songwriting partner/guitarist Peter Klett and drummer Scott Mercado, while Adam Kury takes over on bass for Bardi Martin.

Recently, I had a chance to catch up with Martin to find out what he’s been up to over the years, get a few hints as to what fans can expect from the shows this summer, and learn the surprising interpretation to some of the album’s best songs.

Interviewed by: Heather Kobrin | July 2008

So, I know this is a little unprofessional, but I’m going to have to start this interview off by telling you straight up that the new album just completely kicks ass. I’m loving it.

Cool… thanks!

But before we talk about the record, I want to learn more about how the band got to this place. After Candlebox separated in 1999, I know that you performed with The Hiwatts and Peter with redlightmusic, but what else were you doing during that time period?

I was meeting my wife, producing bands and writing songs. I was really just focusing on music. It’s what I’ve always done. I don’t really know much about anything else, so that’s what I needed to stick with. I was pleasantly surprised that Warner Brothers was releasing a best-of cd of ours back in 2006, because I knew there was an opportunity for us to restart everything.

Can you tell us the story of how Candlebox got back together? Was it a decision you struggled with, or did you know it was the right choice early on?

I think the struggle was more about wondering what was going to be the attitude towards us for putting things back together. How were people going to feel about it, what was going to be the acceptance level… was it really even worth it? Were there people who still listened to what we were doing and really gave a shit? The process of putting things back together was very easy. I called Pete and said, “They’re doing a best-of record.” He said, “Are you coming home for Christmas to see your family?” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “Let’s get a cup of coffee.” We sat down, and he said, “Look, I’ve talked with Bardi and Scott about this record, and we talked about maybe going out and touring on it this summer. How would you feel about that?” I was like, “That’d be great, that’d be a lot of fun,” because we hadn’t played since 2000. And as a band with Scott, we hadn’t played since ‘97, so I knew it would be something really enjoyable. The apprehension was more about wondering if people still knew who Candlebox was.

You’ve described “Into The Sun” as your best work to date. Coming from a band who’s sold millions of albums, that’s pretty high praise — you must be really proud of how the record turned out.

I’m crazy about it. It’s funny. I never listened to our records. I never listened to the first album after it was done. I never listened to “Lucy” or “Happy Pills.” There have been moments when I’ve had to pull the songs off of iTunes to remember parts or to retype my lyrics, but they’re not records that I ever really sat down and said “God, this is a great record, I love it, and I’m gonna listen to it everyday.” This is the only record that Candlebox has ever done that I actually do that with. And I think it’s because it’s just such a strong album for us. It’s the best record we’ve ever made, hands down.

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Candlebox – Into The Sun / Drops on July 22

What was it like writing again with Peter after a gap of so many years? Did you fall back into a natural groove quickly, or was it a challenge to learn how to work together again?

There were a few things we had to relearn. The writing process was a little different now that we have both grown up as musicians and have worked with other people. We’re not who we were when we were 19, 20 years old when we first started this band. We’re older now. We’re a different band. So we had to rethink the whole element of sitting down in a rehearsal studio and working together, because I live in Los Angeles and Pete and Scott still live in Seattle. So there were a few things we had to take into consideration, and figure out if it was really going to work. And I think what we found in the process of writing these songs over the past two years and making sure that we were headed in the right direction… was that we were in fact headed in the right direction. We knew exactly what we were doing and were doing it the right way.

You’ve released a few songs ahead of the album release date, including two very different tracks — “Stand” and “Surrendering.” Why did you decide to release more than one song in advance, and what can you tell us about the inspiration behind these two in particular?

We released “Stand” as a single, and on iTunes, we’re releasing five songs, two weeks apart, to lead up to the release of the record. We wanted to give people an idea of the different direction that we’ve taken on the record, and let them choose for themselves whether it’s something they may want to buy. “Stand” was inspired by the second elected term of George Bush, and how people didn’t figure out the first time around that he’s a complete and utter buffoon. But more so, it’s about society in general, and the fact that you’ve got to pull your head out of the sand and reclaim this country. This is the United States of America, and the first three words of the Bill of Rights are, “We the people.” And that means you and me and everybody else who is not an elected official. Elected officials work for us, and I think people somewhere along the line have chosen to believe that we work for them. And so that’s what the song is about… “Surrendering” is about giving in to the woman who you’re in love with, or the relationship that you have with someone, whomever it may be. It’s about allowing yourself the freedom to do that. (Laughs) I tell you, when you do it, it makes things a hell of a lot easier, because you’re no longer the one who’s right all the time. It’s something that I’ve had to learn. This is my second marriage, and I’ve just had my first child. He’s four months old and he’s amazing. And I’ve learned so much through this process, being with Natalie six years… how important she is to me, and how important my mother and my sister and my aunts are, and all the people in my life that I feel closest to. It’s surrendering to that, and allowing it.

What can you tell us about “Miss You?” That’s another one of my favorites from the record.

That’s awesome. “Miss You” is a song that was inspired by my father, who was a World War II vet. He passed away four years ago. Just the stories he used to tell me all the time… every June 6th he would call and tell me a new story about Omaha Beach. He was at D-Day, June 6th, 1944. He was basically Tom Hanks’ character in “Saving Private Ryan” — he was one of the first ones on the beach. It was a pretty cool part of my life to understand those stories from my dad. The nice thing about it is that I have those memories now, and I figured I would put it in a song. So yeah, that’s one of my favorites as well.

You’re going to be touring in support of the album all summer. What can we expect from the show?

(Laughs) A rockin’ good time! You know, we always put on a good show. We always have so much fun, and we really, really enjoy what we do. We’ll have new songs, a new attitude, new energy, new versions of stuff, a keyboard player… just more and more Candlebox.

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Kevin Martin Live – Photo by Mary

You must have a lot of fans coming up to you and expressing how excited they are for the album after ten years of waiting for new material. It’ll be like Christmas in July!

That’s what we’re hoping. I mean, you never know, people may be like, “What? You’ve got a new record? What’s wrong with the old one?” (laughs)

What do you and the rest of the guys do for fun on the road, to keep yourselves from going crazy?

A lot of Xbox 360. You know, I do so much work on the road that I really don’t get much time off — I do a lot of press. We play music and sit around with guitars, which is something we didn’t used to do. I used to take a bike on the road with me because I would mountain bike all the time. I don’t enjoy that any more, I’m kind of over it. Now I just sit around and play guitar with the guys. We hang out and talk, and we drink some good whiskey.

Over the years, you’ve played with everyone from Metallica to Rush. Any particular favorite that you most enjoyed sharing the stage with?

The Flaming Lips. We took them on tour with us back in ‘94… that was awesome… that was brilliant. They were amazing every night, blew us away every night, were ten times the band we were. And also Aerosmith. I was a huge Aerosmith fan, and it was nice to tour with them in ‘98, that was killer. Rush, Metallica, all of them… you know, there’s so many great memories from all of the tours.

Your original bassist, Bardi Martin, has moved on to pursue a career in law. Do you think he has any regrets after making the change?

No. He’s met his wife Julie and he’s running marathons now… he may miss playing live with us, but I don’t think he has any regrets.  You go to law school for a reason. He’s always been about the underdog, and I think that’s why he’s practicing human rights/environmental law.

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How do you think the Seattle music scene has changed since your initial success in the ‘90s?

I couldn’t tell you… I don’t even know a band from Seattle right now. I know that the Presidents of the Unites States of America are back together, and Seaweed and a bunch of the others who were around when we were around are reforming.  I think that Sub Pop (Records) is definitely one of the best things that’s still going on in Seattle.  They’ve got a lot of local bands that are doing really well. I think the scene’s entirely different. It’s not how it was back in the ‘90s. It’s just a much different world up there.

If you were limited to only three albums to listen to for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Wow. Zeppelin, “Physical Graffiti.” What else… that’s a tough question… Kings of Leon, “Because of the Times” — I could listen to that record every day. And probably U2, “Achtung Baby.”

What message would you like to leave with your fans?

Just listen to the music, you know? Don’t judge people for what they write. Just listen to the music. And enjoy it, because it’s an art form that not everyone can do.

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