To Kill A King Interview – The Fleece Bristol – 24th October 2012
(Josh Platman – Front Left) and (Ian Dudfield – Back Left)
Previously featured on this blog on days 16 and 31, To Kill a King are a band I have been acutely following for a few months now, so it was a pleasure to meet, interview and enjoy their live set at their gig at The Fleece, Bristol in late October. From the very first thrashing chord and shimmering beat of the gig, the band radiated an awesome energy and element of life that instantly warmed the crowd, as band and crowd alike easily got lost in the ‘live’ moment. Although not a sold-out show, the small independent venue and friendly attitude of the band helped created an intimate and slightly heightened intensity to the gig, with the crowd observing the quiet or acoustic sections of the set in impeccable silence. Clearly enjoying the music they play, the bands immaculate harmonies and folk/rock vibe was perfectly translated with energy and vigour. Check out the interview I had below with the guitarist and vocalist Ian Dudfield and bassist and vocalist Josh Platman for more!
mydaybydaymusic – For those who haven’t heard of you before, how did the band start out?
Josh – Ian, Ralph (our lead singer and songwriter) and I all met at university a long time ago and we were in a band that sounded very different to the one you know today. So after four years up at Leeds Uni, we moved to London where the sound began to change, the members changed and at the end of that process we thought we would have to have a new name, so we managed to settle on To Kill a King, because all the other names we had were just terrible!
mydaybydaymusic – I understand that the name, To Kill a King is inspired by King Hamlet’s death in Shakespeare’s play Hamlet, ‘As kill a king and marry with his brother’. Why did this small quote become the name and centre-piece of the band?
Ian – Well Ralph came up with it, I mean I didn’t even try and come up with names because mine were so bad. Joe did try, he’s not in the band any more, not for this reason but he came up with some like ‘Sell Your Legs’, ‘Catching Colds’ and ‘Shakespeare’s Your Mum’, but Ralph came up with some vaguely good names and that was the one we liked.
Josh – I think the quote relates to poison being poured in the ear…
mydaybydaymusic – (here comes my English Literature badass knowledge coming out) Claudius kills King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ear.
Josh – Yer, Ralph was really into that imagery as it has certain dark elements like the lyrics he writes and it was something we all agreed on, something that can be mispronounced as well. Tequila King is what people say when they get it wrong which is fine, when we tour Mexico in 2014 we will be treated like Gods everywhere we go.
mydaybydaymusic – What do you class as the spiritual home of the band then, Leeds or London?
Ian – Well the spiritual home is probably Leeds I suppose but the real home is London.
Josh – I think Leeds by London is a pretty apt way of summing it up as I think a lot of Ralph’s lyrics relate to people in the North in small villages, similar to where he is from. We played in a barn in a place called Colne which is in Lancashire somewhere and they went absolutely mad for it, it was a real all sort of ages event, so a bit of both I think. Without London though we wouldn’t be where we are…
Ian – London gave us the opportunity to step up to the next stage on the ladder. We had done all we could in Leeds at that point so we were happy to move down.
mydaybydaymusic – Upon releasing the Word of Mouth EP, there has been a lot of emphasis on using the actual word of mouth to spread the news of the EP. I in fact heard of the band from a flatmate who loved your Bestival set so it is working! How much support have you had from the public in spreading the word about the EP? Has it been a rewarding method of releasing music?
Ian – It’s been really great, people came up with some really good, innovative ideas which you can see on our blog, To Kill a King Tumblr. Some of the ones that spring to mind are the train driver who put the Word of Mouth EP.com on the flashing display thing during commuter hours which was great; there was also a guy who replaced his number plates with To Kill a King while he was learning to drive…
Josh – I think partly the good thing about it is we have had people from all over the world trying to get their hands on it. We’ve had a couple of entries from Canada; this one girl found some suitably sized rocks in her local park, cleaned them up then painted To Kill a King on one side and Word of Mouth EP on the other and she hid them around the place in order to spread our name. There has been quite a few creative entries, so now that we are charging for the EP on tour and on the website, people who got it first for free will feel that their efforts were worth it with a form of exclusivity.
mydaybydaymusic – How important is it is for you to feel a personal link with your fans? I understand you personally created 1000 EPs and then hid them all around London for people to find?
Ian – We hid them in record stores all over the country actually. We sent them out to record stores, so again that meant the way you find music becomes just as important a process as listening to music and people loved it, they were really excited to find the CD’s in the record stores and you do end up engaging with your fans more like that.
mydaybydaymusic – Looking ahead, what is the band going to be up to until the release of the first album? Does the album have a name yet?
Josh – Looking ahead we have seven more gigs of the UK tour after tonight, then we are off to Europe for the first time with seven gigs in Germany, one in Belgium and one in Paris with an American band called Two Gallants…
mydaybydaymusic – Is this the first time you have performed outside of the UK?
Josh – We have been to Ireland before so technically we have been out of the UK but our debut album is finished, we had it finished a while ago but we are looking at putting it out early next year. There is no name yet, there was a name at one point but certain things have changed so I think we are going to sit down and probably fight about a new name.
Ian – It has been a long time coming so we are very excited to finally be getting it out.
mydaybydaymusic – Are you looking forward to going to Europe then? Why seven dates in Germany?
Ian – Very much so, we were originally offered a whole tour for two and a half month with this band Two Gallants but we just couldn’t fit it in so we picked the German part as everyone says German fans are great. I also speak German, well I used too, but I will get it back so it will be fun for me, ja.
mydaybydaymusic – With plenty of collaborations in your youtube videos and Ralph’s Balcony series, are we to expect any collaborations on the album when its released?
Josh – No, the album was actually recorded last year so it was almost done and dusted before we got especially creative with our output, so there is no collaborations, just twelve or so originals from us.
Ian – At the start of this year we began to get more creative outside the music, developing the way we did things and that was when Ralph started the Ralph’s Balcony Series collaborations. We have also been doing loads of living room and guerrilla gigs since then so these things stand out as being a little different.
mydaybydaymusic – The video for Howling was filmed over 30 hours, how hard was it to remain focused on the job in hand? Do you enjoy creating the music videos for your singles?
Josh – Well Ralph almost went mad as he was there for days. In terms of us actually being in front of the lens, we were in it for a day and I found it pretty hard work just doing that. I don’t know what three would have been like sat in a chair.
mydaybydaymusic – Rewarding though?
Josh – Ultimately yes, I think it looks pretty good and we have had a great reaction from it so we are always hoping that our next video will be the viral hit which suddenly propels us to overnight stardom and I’m not sure if that has happened yet, it could be a slow burner but then it’s nor viral I suppose…
Ian – I haven’t checked in a few hours so it could be millions right now.
mydaybydaymusic – Is it nice to be mixing, recording and releasing music under your own independent name, Cannibals With Cutlery rather than under the duress of a large record label?
Ian – Things under our previous label were slow, so it’s quite nice to be doing stuff off our own backs at the moment. We are going to consider other labels and things like that but for now it’s really refreshing to be firing on all cylinders, making decisions ourselves and making stuff happen basically.
Josh – If you want something done, do it yourself, that’s what we settled on really and over this year I think the work has really paid off in terms of numbers, ie numbers of plays and new fans we have gained which compared to the end of last year will completely obliterate all the efforts put in by various people who were paid lots of money to publicise us.
mydaybydaymusic – How has the tour been so far, has there been any stand out moments?
Josh – We have only had three gigs thus far, but the second night at The Brunel Social Club in Leeds was really really good, it was excellent in fact.
Ian – There was a really good crowd and they got right into it. I mean they have got into it all nights but in Leeds the quite bits were deafly still and deafly silent which was really nice while in Middleborough it was slightly more lary with a Saturday night crowd who were really up for it. Three guys also had a long drive over from Barrow-In-Furness , so it was really nice they came and they were just drunk and loving it, so they were fun.
mydaybydaymusic – Have you played this venue (The Fleece) before and what are the best and worst things about being on tour?
Josh – We have, it was a year ago, we were supporting a band that had come over from America and we toured around with them and really enjoyed it…
Ian – As for the touring part, the worst bit is as a band still trying to establish ourselves, the worrying about how busy the venues are going to be as we are not at a stage where we are selling out every venue we play at so I guess that is the only negative really. I mean we are not at a point where we have been touring for so long that we are sick of it, we only ever go away, probably only two to three weeks at a time so we have never got to the point where we are tired of it, I just love it, I mean it’s almost better than a holiday for me really.
Josh – I think the only downside is probably health related, as you can hear I have been coughing all over your interview so that can suffer and some of it is self-inflicted too…
mydaybydaymusic – Do you have any bizarre following from any obscure countries?
Josh – We seem to have picked up a large proportion of Taiwanese fans of late, I’m not sure whether they are a ‘bot’ or not though…
Ian – I actually heard another band say that so maybe they are ‘bots’…
Josh – Oh, well the other day I sent a Word of Mouth EP to Kuwait which is quite unusual, so I guess the Kuwait fan takes the award for our most unusual fan location.
mydaybydaymusic – Do you all have a similar musical background in the music you play and listen to or do you come from very different musically influenced backgrounds?
Josh – I think the way I’ve come round to sum it up in my head is that our musical background is quite divergent but I think the reason why it works is that we all appreciate similar things about music. In essence we like certain ways things are done as our approach is similar whereas the things we put into our ears, there is some common ground (if there was no common ground this wouldn’t work) but it’s quite a broad spectrum of tastes really.
Ian – Me, Josh and Jon the drummer have always (not so much now unfortunately) played a lot of jazz which you won’t hear in the music now necessarily too.
mydaybydaymusic – On my music blog I post about a new artist / single every single day. Who do you recommend that I should check out?
Ian – Jay Brown, she’s someone we know from London and has toured a little bit with our other friends Bastille and she’s just got a song on the radio so she would be good or Professor Penguin, Youth Imperial, We We Were Evergreen who are all really great. There is also Peter and Kerry, we played with them at a Sofar Sounds gig recently and there is a band I just bumped into seeing at Bestival who are hopefully going to come down to our next acoustic night called Saint Spirit who are brilliant, so you should check those out!
mydaybydaymusic – You have brass and strings on some tracks, does that come out at all in the live show?
Josh – Only on special occasions when there is the room and the microphones and the available brass players, so we have only had brass on a couple of gigs. I think that will come at a time when we are a little more successful really.
Ian – We used to have strings sometimes but I think it’s quite nice with the five of us as a unit, all live just making a big, powerful sound so it’s quite nice to keep it self-contained.
mydaybydaymusic – Is there a particular stand-out gig or performance that sticks out in your mind?
Ian – It’s tricky but I would have to say our Bestival slot, it was probably one of the worst we have played in terms of mistakes but the energy and atmosphere was just amazing, it was the vibiest most energetic crowd that we have ever had, it was just brilliant. There were stage invasions and it was so raucous, it really does stand out as the most enjoyable.
mydaybydaymusic – Is there any festivals that you would really love to do or have planned for next year?
Josh – Well Glastonbury would be the big one, we have never done it before but in a previous incarnation of the band, three of us played at Reading and Leeds which was great, we wouldn’t mind doing that again but Glastonbury is the big one. We also wouldn’t mind some European ones, there is Primavera in Spain, some of the Eastern European ones like Exit or wherever, we will see where it takes us. Maybe Lollapalooza in America and South X Southwest, maybe just all of them, we will play all festivals!
mydaybydaymusic – Is the band collectively a fan of any bands or artists as a whole?
Josh – We worked out something that had a high band aggregate liking the other day which is Wild Beasts. I’m usually the elbow sticking out…
Ian – The hater.
Josh – I’m very fussy, so it’s quite hard to impress me musically.
Ian – The rest of us adore Whitest Boy Alive.
mydaybydaymusic – I was researching the band and somewhere it said in a quote ‘If you ever get the chance, do ask Jon (drummer) about his time spent playing with a Kenyan reggae band’ and nothing else. Could you elaborate?
Ian – He was on his gap year in Kenya and he met musicians out there and started playing in a reggae band, he got made an honorary Rastafarian so that he wouldn’t be beaten up so easily and then toured the Kenyan slums.
Josh – They were called The Warriors a lot like the film but less violent and more reggae.
mydaybydaymusic – Finally, why should people buy your album and just as importantly, come and see you play live?
Josh – Well the album has quite a wide soundscape, good songs, honest music, well played and the live show similarly is something a bit different. So come and see us!