You'd think that by now we'd be used to hearing strange band names. But every so often a name comes along that kind of defies explaining...such is the case with KingBathmat. Here's my interview with them.
Jerry Lucky: Your bio talks about being driven to music as a result of a failed romance. Are you living proof of the “tortured artist syndrome”?
Matters of the heart, loneliness, love etc. seem to be topics that are omnipresent throughout all music. In regards to my personal situation, I did utilise feelings of unhappiness as a launchpad or a like generator, to ignite my musical endeavours, and I suppose I used the anguish to drive me forward and to give me more focus and determination. I'm a great believer in taking any preconceived negative situation and looking for positive effects and outcomes that can be derived from them, as they are always available. No matter how dark it is, that black void is needed in order for us to detect the light. I was deeply intoxicated by the displeasure of living to such an extent that I envisaged music as a friendly fulcrum, a device that could lift me up and halt the impending drunken and mental collapse that I was heading on towards at a fast rate.
JL: I have to assume that music has been a part of your life before this climactic event?
Yeah I'd listen to music as a way of escaping, and I did play the guitar intermittently, it was just as a pass the time pursuit, in fact at that time, before I started to take music seriously, I did not know how to play a chord properly and to my shame I did not realise, until somebody told me, that I was a left handed guitar player who was playing a right handed guitar the wrong way round. Back then I was all-round numpty, I still am.
JL: Artists tend to dislike “labeling” their own music, but if you had to…what would you call the music you create?
I really couldn't say, perhaps I should come up with a new name in an attempt to create a new sub-genre, as if there is not enough already.
JL: I hear some interesting “seventies’ influences in your music…who do you identify as influences in the music you create?
There are so many, I believe there is a very broad range of influences fused together within the KingBathmat sound, both vintage and modern. I am a huge fan of early Sabbath, and love the Irish rock band "Horslips" there is a multitude of classic rock bands from that era which must have left a musical mark somewhere upon my brain and has left its influence when I am composing a song, but if I had to emphasise a big influence on the melodic sound of KingBathmat it would be the late film composer John Barry. I'm a big fan of his chordal leitmotifs.
JL: You’ve had a good response from the prog community…to what do you attribute this?
I feel that the Prog community are a big bunch of lovely, intelligent, warm hearted folk, who are endowed with many gifts; one of those numerous gifts is being open-minded and accepting. Open-mindedness, the attribute to accept something that is not conventional, something that is difficult to ascertain or to assign to a certain genre. The music of KingBathmat never falls sweetly into a ready-made dish for it to be served to a marketable consumer and therefore it is hard to package and sell specifically. Luckily the prog community is very open to new sounds and music that is not conventional.
JL: What are your feelings to the prog label?
I like it, what's not to like about the word "Progressive", it’s a positive word, a word advocating change that looks forward. The label "Prog" may have been perceived in the past to make a band appear to be un-cool, but the negative connotations associated with that term is a misconception, and if that misconception still exists then I don't believe it is a collective one. I feel that a lot has changed within this genre over the last 10 years and there is now a much wider spectrum of styles incorporated and accepted all within this one genre.
JL: Your first few albums were solo projects, then the last couple you brought others in, describe the difference?
There is not much difference, in regards to the albums, I suppose I'm what some people may call a "control freak", as I like to be involved with every facet of the recorded product, all songs are written by me, all arrangements are fixed in stone prior to recording, I like to oversee everything from the recording, mixing and the final mastering. When the tracks are performed live then we cut loose and alter them and the band members can put more of their own distinctive stamp upon those arrangements over time.
JL: When John is not KingBathmat…what does John do?
At this moment I'm fascinated by vintage lenses. I've recently found myself enamoured with photography and filming and being able to attach old lenses onto new digital cameras, as the old lenses are of as good quality, if not better than some of the expensive modern lenses available today. I also eat a lot of honey and contemplate the moon; sometimes I combine these two activities.
JL: I’m sure I’m not the first (nor the last) but tell us about how you picked that name?
Arrgghhh! This name is a curse placed upon me by a gypsy, a name that I cannot change or remove as the penalty is death by a thousand lashes. It was a name plucked out of obscurity in a moment of flippancy. It’s one benefit is that it is easily located in a search when browsing the internet.
JL: What are your thoughts on playing live and touring? Obviously as a solo artists creating the music live might have been a challenge, but as a band is that something that interests you?
We are in talks with a few bands in the UK in relation to supporting them on their respective tours to enable us to get out and gig more. Playing live is something I wish to focus on more over the next coming year.
JL: The new album is just out…what’s next on your agenda?
The next album is 60% finished, I'm hoping to have it out late summer 2013 and so far its sounding good. There is an 11 min song called "Kubrick Moon" which I'm very pleased with. We hope to do more gigs, focus more on the live side of the band. Need to finalise the name of the next album and secure artwork and a theme for it, as I'm looking to release the new album in a digipack edition and the artwork will be very important. Possibly, right now in a moment I will go for lunch and put together a cheese and cherry tomato sandwich, I may pass on the mayonnaise.
JL: Lastly, if you were stuck on a desert island and could only have 5 discs with you…what five discs would they be and why?
Well, first of all, is there any form of electricity available to use on the island, as if not how would one fire up the CD player and attached speakers to hear these discs? And even, if by chance I had harnessed the power of electricity, would I wish to be reminded of the culture from a time spent in a popularised civilisation which would be in so much stark contrast to the alienating, desolate feeling of utter loneliness that I must now be experiencing, stranded upon this god forsaken island. No, I think I would rather be without any reminders of a happier past. But if I had to pick 5 CD's that I love over all others, It would be very difficult, although I do have 3 that come to mind instantly.
ELO - Out of the blue :It was the first record I ever owned, a double vinyl record that I played frequently over and over again as a child. I just loved the amazing richness of the production and the varied instrumentation. Every song on this double album is memorable and distinctive and I still listen to it now.
Black Sabbath - Vol 4 (or Vol 1) :I think Vol 4 is my favourite Black Sabbath album, but it’s a close call with their debut album. Also there is the 1975 released album "Sabotage", which overall, I feel is not as good an album as either Vol 1 or Vol 4, yet it contains the track "Megalomania" which is probably my favourite Sabbath track, and has probably influenced me very much.
Horslips - Dancehall Sweethearts :I remember the first time I heard this album, and it was also my first audio introduction to this band. I was laying on a bed in a friends bedsit in the morning, nursing a debilitating hangover and the music stunned me out of my fuzzy inebriation. The interplay of arrangements, the multifarious instruments and melodies concocted from this heady brew truly blew my noggin on that fair day.