(Oct 28, 2008)
Q: Hey Pete/No More Kings, how have you been?
A: We’ve been well, thanks! We’ve had a bit of a break from touring. and we just finished recording our second album.
Q: For those who don’t know No More Kings, can you give us a short introduction of the band and the music?
A: The elevator pitch, eh? i guess ‘No More Kings’ is a pop-funk-rock band, with songs about the Karate Kid, Smurfs, and zombies. sonically, we’re somewhere between Maroon 5 and Jamiroquai.
Q: You released an impressive debut album in 2007, which has been received quite well. How would you describe the self-titled debut?
A: Thank you! The originally concept for the album was that it was a ‘thank you letter’ to the 80’s, for raising me. I grew up, essentially, in front of a television. So I’ve had all these things rattling around in my head for years. And when it came time to write an album, it made sense to pay tribute to some of those movies and tv shows that influenced me growing up. There are a few, more introspective songs on the album too. but the whole project is pretty light-hearted and fun.
Q: Obviously a lot of inspiration for the album was drawn from modern pop culture and tv. Why the fascination with specifically this and what made you write songs and record an album about all this?
A: Oops. I think I accidentally answered this above. Sorry.
Q: A lot of time goes into creating and producing an album and there are many things going on in the process. What is the toughest and what is the most rewarding part of the whole process?
A: Wow, great question! Well, there were a lot of both really: tough parts and rewarding parts. I wrote all the songs with my writing partner Neil Robins, who I’ve been great friends with since high school. So we were very open with each other, and didn’t really worry about pulling punches. Co-writing can be a delicate thing – collaboration of any kind, really – and so there’s a lot of back-and-forth that happens. The challenge then becomes how do you make something that fits both people’s sensibilities, while becoming something new entirely. ‘No More Kings’ has such a specific fingerprint that we had to constantly pull back and ask, ‘is this the right feel?’ But honestly, every new step was a giant reward. we worked with some fantastic musicians on this album, so it was really exciting to record with them, and see it all come together. And then when we took everything to be mixed, there was a whole new level of excitement. And of course getting the final packaging in my grubby little hands was the greatest feeling!
Q: You have to decide which songs will or will not make the album. How hard is it to make that final decision as to what songs make or don’t make it?
A: I guess normally that would be a difficult process, since each song can feel very precious to you. I’ve heard artists talk about their songs like they were their children. Which means someone like Billy Joel has thousands of children. Weird. But for us, it was really just a matter of running out of time. There was only one song that didn’t make the album, a song called ‘Missy’. And the only reason was that we ran out of time to record the final vocal tracks. Of course, there were tons of song ideas that didn’t make the cut, for other reasons. but those never got a chance to become full songs.
Q: Which of the songs on the album is the most interesting to perform live?
A: I really like performing ‘Umbrella’. it sort of comes and goes like a rainstorm, you know, very simple and soft beginning, then it builds and finally trickles away with just piano. It’s a lot of fun to get lost in.
Q: Currently, what are your plans and goals for the (near) future? And how do you plan on accomplishing those goals?
A: We have a lot of similar goals that we had with the first album, for our new album: make a video that we can be proud of, tour, etc. But this time around we want to really push the limits of what we can do online. We’re looking into streaming live shows, making lots of fun short video content, animations, doing live video chats with fans. We obviously want to grow our fanbase, but more than that we want to really connect with the fans we already have.
Q: Who would you say are the main influences on your sound and songwriting?
A: I grew up listening to Michael Jackson, The Beatles, Billy Joel, Boston; that kind of stuff. Neil and I both had a steady diet of 60s and 70s funk groove stuff like Sly & The Family Stone, Bill Withers, Al Green, Isley Brothers. I guess we just sort of tried to mash that stuff together.
Q: If you could play a show anywhere in the world, where would you want to play?
A: Definitely Tokyo. I lived in Japan for a while, and I was in a band there. We mostly played small venues. But when the ‘No More Kings’ project started back up, I instantly wanted to play big shows in Japan.
Q: And if you could also pick someone to play that gig with, who would it be?
A: Ahh! That’s a tough one! Barry Manilow?
Q: What is the best thing and the worst thing about being a musician?
A: The best thing is all the free gummi bears in the green room. The worst thing is 10 hours in a sweaty van.
Q: Okay a few random questions now.
Q: Who was the best songwriter in The Beatles?
A: Well George was the most consistent. All of his songs are awesome. But for me, Paul is best. I love his melodies and epic arrangements.
Q: Day or night?
Q: Club venue or arena venue?
A: Yikes. Club I guess? But a cool club. Like a swank Austin Powers lounge type club. I don’t think we’re quite the arena rock band.
Q: CDs or digital music?
A: aren’t CDs digital music? Is this a trick question? I’m curious what the next format will be. Music-fruit. You have to eat it to hear the songs. “Dude, you hear the new NMK album yet? It comes in banana and cantelope”
Q: Okay, final question. What are your thoughts on people downloading music, both legally & illegally?
A: My official thoughts are that people should pay for stuff they consume: movies, music, art, books. And I think most people want to. as long as there’s a safe, convenient way to do it. I absolutely hate all the precautionary measures that companies take to keep their stuff from being stolen. I bought a cd the other day and it asked for a blood sample before it would play in my car. It’s all becoming a little 1984 big brother. But obviously, as an artist, I want as many people as possible to see/hear my art. I just hope that enough people pay for it to make it possible to keep making more.
Thanks for the interview Pete/No More Kings, it was a pleasure talking to you!