INTERVIEW WITH... KING CREATURE
Since first forming in 2013, Cornish rockers KING CREATURE have hit the ground running, sharing the stage with heavy hitters such as MOTÖRHEAD and MEGADETH. After signing to Marshall records in 2016, the band set to work recording their debut album, ‘Volume One’, at Abbey Road studios, which included the singles ‘Can You Forgive Me’ and ‘Lowlife’. KING CREATURE released the stonking follow-up EP ‘To The Bone’ earlier this month (7th December 2018, on Marshall records), which is packed full of beautiful acoustic reworkings of some of the songs from the debut album, together with some breath-taking new tracks. Lead single from the new EP, ‘World Of Sin’ was nominated for track of the week in Classic Rock and has already received over 20,000 worldwide video streams (watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7O9vZ6i8cJE).
In addition to reviewing the EP, we caught up with frontman Dave Kellaway to pose some questions about the new EP and life in the band in general.
We were keen to know what had influenced the decision to put out acoustic versions of some of the songs from the first album. Kellaway said, “Well we are currently writing and demoing album 2, we didn’t want to put too many new songs on it as we didn’t want people to think this was the new sound of KING CREATURE. It’s not album 2, it’s more like a piece of work that sits nicely with ‘Volume 1’. This EP is the calm before the storm that will be album 2!”. And why those five songs in particular? “We picked those songs because we felt they worked the best acoustically and that we could re-work a couple of them to change the vibe without compromising the song”.
World Of Sin’ is the opening track and instantly grabs my attention. It clearly shows that KING CREATURE don’t have to hide behind the ballsy, in-yer-face, heavy tunes they are better known for. This song’s strummed riff and addictive beat will work its way into your brain and make itself known when you least expect it. It reminds me of the times years ago when I used to go and see bands perform acoustic sessions at HMV stores, they were some good times! The harmonic vocals are melodious and almost hypnotic when combined with those guitars and easy beat, and the song itself appears to be about someone in particular, “You and your world of lies. God how will you survive, I see you reaching out for help. I know your fate, but just you know…I’ll wait here for you, again and again and again”.
‘Down In Flames’ is a new song and has a distinctly southern rock vibe. It’s easy to picture the band playing this in some kind of spit ‘n’ sawdust bar somewhere. This track really highlights the subtle nuances in Kellaway’s vocal and shows what an underestimated singer he is. The singing picked guitars in this track play a real earworm of a melody and Jack Sutton-Bassett’s deftly-produced drums are expertly showcased. The song seems to point the finger at someone for whom karma will be paying a visit; “You’re lost in your own world, you self-assured fool. Don’t think we don’t know the truth of what you put us through. You fueled the fire again, but it’s you who’ll be going down in flames”.
One of the reimagined songs from the ‘Volume One’ album, ‘King For A Day’, sounds completely different when arranged acoustically. The guitars from Dave Evans and Matt K. Vincent are the stars of the show on this track. Delicate jingling notes and lively, flowing riffs provide accents to the rhythmic melodies of the vocals. The lyrics of this one tell a tale of waking up in a hotel room the morning after the night before. Like it’s predecessors, it’s infectious beat will have you moving, nodding your head and tapping your toes at the very least!
‘Money’ is another of the reworked songs and is the classic story of the gold-digger; “Moves fast, takes more, Two weeks the key to your front door, Oh wait it’s all lies, It’s a game, It’s how she’s playing…It’s so easy to see, not to you but me, she don’t love you, she loves your money”. It has a fantastic bass line throughout, with impeccable percussion and focuses on the groovy rhythm section that KING CREATURE have in Kellaway and Sutton-Bassett.
If you’re looking for a song with a poignant message in the lyrics then you need look no further than ‘Lowlife’. “I see you on the pavement, where you sleeping tonight? How’d you fall from grace to where you sit? Society’s turned its back on you, what you gonna do…I’m no lowlife human, less than nothing, Yet you judge before you know. I’m not worthless, pointless. You know not what I’ve been through”. The rich, harmonious vocals and playful, strumming guitars lift the song despite the seriousness of the subject matter. Kellaway’s rasping vocals at certain points and the lively riffs at the bridge are a highlight in an already dynamic track. The heavier version of this song was a stirring anthem on the Therapy? tour, which Kellaway says was a great experience with an awesome band, “They are such a solid band who deliver the goods every night without fail. Therapy? and their crew made the whole tour fun and easy; just how it should be. We had a great reaction every night, got to play to a lot of folks who haven’t heard of us before and made a lot of new fans”.
‘Dead Inside’ is an understated, laid back track with wonderfully emotive vocals that appear to narrate the tale of a man who has made a massive mistake that has affected the rest of their life. “A momentary lapse of concentration, and it’s one that will cost you all of your pride. A life mistake that will never leave you…you beg for mercy, and get no answer…shame you feel, the guilt inside…you’re dead inside”. Kellaway’s voice is haunting as he relays this man’s story, and when the backing vocals are layered in, it becomes beautifully atmospheric.
The emotionally-rich ‘Can You Forgive Me?’ has soulful, tender vocals from Kellaway, and stirring, intricate guitar work from Vincent and Evans. Of the five tracks on this EP, it’s the least different of the reimagined tracks, as the original song is a ballad, but it does sound totally different when performed acoustically. There are subtleties in the percussion and beautiful guitar notes that really stand out in this version.
‘Drinker’ has a powerfully intoxicating beat, stirring vocals and lively riffs, all wrapped up in a message about how drinking is no good for you, “You been drinking, and destroying yourself. It ain’t no good for your mental health. You run away but hide from it all, but this time you’re gonna fall”. A little precautionary advice in the run up to Christmas perhaps? All I know is, it’s impossible to sit still while this one is playing, it’s vigorous, will get your head and arms moving, and your hips swinging too!
In ‘To The Bone’, KING CREATURE have produced an eight-track EP that showcases their individual talents and accomplished musicianship as a band. The reworked tracks from their debut album sound completely different, it’s like the band have come down from the stage and are playing an intimate performance in your very own front room! This EP is impeccably mastered, the tracks sound polished but not over produced. Each song tells a story, with the layers of instrumentation and vocals making up the multiple dimensions within that tale. I pondered whether the acoustic versions show a softer side to the band, and if releasing an acoustic EP would possibly open up KING CREATURE to audiences that had thus far eluded them. Kellaway said, “Maybe, and if it does then great! I’d just call it a different side of us really, or even a different side to the 2 songs”. One thing that really stood out when I saw the guys recently on the Therapy? tour was the black band-branded denim that present a really unified look onstage. Says Kellaway, “It was something we did for a music video and we thought it looked good so they became our stage clothes. It’s not a mandatory uniform though, very often you’ll see us not wearing them”.
KING CREATURE seem to have a collaborative approach to pretty much everything they do, including songwriting, as Kellaway explains. “One of us will usually have a riff or a melody and we’ll jam it out from there until we have the base of a song, then we’ll add lyrics. Sometimes one of us will have an almost complete song. We don’t have any set writing structure. We just write what we like and feel at the time”. All the guys in the band work regular jobs and have families too, so there’s a lot to plan around. “Time off for tours is the hardest thing at the level we are at. We are all very lucky that we have understanding and supportive bosses”. That doesn’t leave a lot of time for trying to establish a fan base, particularly when you’re based down in Cornwall. Has the recently established Facebook fan page helped? “Yeah it’s taken a long time and a lot of work to build what we have now. Yes the fan page has helped a lot. The guys that set it up have been great to us so thank you Bevis, Bridget and Paul”.
In January, KING CREATURE have three acoustic shows scheduled in Cornwall (dates below), but, Kellaway says, it’s not something they plan to tour with; “KING CREATURE are still very much a heavy band”. After these dates, the band jet off to LA to play at NAMM 2019 before heading back to Cornwall to play Truro Old Bakery Studios in February, hopefully more dates around the UK and Europe and then it will be full steam ahead with album 2…watch this space!
Dave Kellaway - Vocals/Bass
Dave Evans - Guitar
Matt K. Vincent - Guitar/Backing Vocals
Jack Sutton-Bassett - Drums
‘To The Bone’ track listing:-
World Of Sin
Down In Flames
King For A Day
Can You Forgive Me?
10th - New Inn, Tywardreath (acoustic)
11th - Old Ale House, Truro (acoustic)
12th - Queens Head, St Stephen (acoustic)
1st - Old Bakery Studios, Truro