“The Essex Scene Is Awful, There’s Loads of Great Bands with Nowhere to Play” - Past Kings

14 June 2019

We sat down with Past Kings before their headline show at the O2 Academy Islington 2 to chat about; the formation of the band, how their latest release ‘Glass House’ has gone down and much more. Watch or read below!

Guitarists Joe and Jack, drummer & lyricist James and vocalist Sam were clearly in high spirits before the show and let us know how Past Kings came to be.

James: “I was in a band before and it just wasn’t a very good situation to be in and I knew Sam from college. So, I left that band because a load of stuff went on and literally straight after I text Sam, Sam then text Jack and we had a different guitarist to Joe at the start but he had to leave and go to Uni.”

Joe : “I’ve been in the band about six months. I basically got into Past Kings because I spoke to Jack and went ‘I know you’re in a band, if you’re ever about give me a shout and see if i can jam with you.”

Jack: “He went ‘I’m not asking to be in the band but could I jam with you guys’, basically saying ‘can I be in the band?’”

Joe: “‘I just went to Jack if you’re about then I can come jam with you and he said ‘Our guitarist has just left, do you want to join us?’ and I was just like ‘pffft go on then’”

Sam: “Me and James were working on stuff together before we came together as a band”

James: “In the other band nobody else was allowed to write apart from the singer, so I had a backlog of about 30 songs that were ready to go.

Sam: “We were in a college course together, so we were just sitting practising about an hour a week and we’d sit there and write together. We came up with the first couple of songs and now we look back on them and they’re not that great.”

Joe: “They’re not bad, but we still play them”

Sam: “Once we got the band together we recorded an EP with the old guitarist. It didn’t come out great”

Jack: “It didn’t come out bad”

Sam: “First EPs aren’t always that good, we were still trying to find our sound.”

The band had this to say about the reaction to their latest single, Glass House

Jack: “I have had quite a few people message me saying ‘It’s fantastic, well done boys, keep it up lads’”

James: “When we were showing people the rough mix they were like, ‘It’s not the same as what it was before, you’ve added so much synth and the vocals are a bit held back”, but now everyone’s got used to it and forgot the old mix so it is what it is.”

We asked the lads where they take their inspiration from

James: “I listen to so much rap, so where we’ve got all the synths…”

Jack: “He says rap he means Lil Pump”

James: “...all the synths and sub basses stems from there, and then we’ve got the guitar. I think we’re all quite big fans of Don Broco and Lower Than Atlantis”

Joe: “The mix in genres between all of us is mad, like James has got rap and I listen to heavy metal. And then you’ve got reggae over here…”

Sam: “I’m not reggae!”

James: “It’s R’n’B”

Sam: “I never listened to rock until I met James. Jack was into Foo Fighters and I listened to that sometimes but never got into it. I was always R’n’B, hip hop all that stuff.”

Joe: “There’s a lot of different influences”

Sam: “We’ve changed how we write now because it was more James and some of the songs were a bit me. Then we started to write more as a band and working a bit better”

James: “I’ll write pretty much all of the lyrics most of the time…”

Sam: “Not most of the time, all of the time. I’ll send him lyrics and he’ll be like ‘Naaaah’”

Jack: “He goes ‘Alright, send it to me and I’ll change a few things”

James: “We had one the other day. He sent it to me and I was like ‘I’m just going to change a couple bits’, the only bit that stayed the same was two lines in the second verse”

Sam: “I still got a little bit in there I’m taking it.”

Jack: “He’s not a control freak it just genuinely does sound better.”

James: “We get the lyrics down and then me and Sam will spend hours and hours on the synths. That’s how we get the structure and feel of the song and the guitars have the chords they have to play”

Past Kings have played the O2 Academy Islington 2 before, so we asked them how that went. They also spoke about the Essex music scene and how it’s lack of venues let’s Essex artists down and how London is the place to be if you’re an independent band.

Joe: “It was one of our best gigs, it was such a good gig. It was the gig that everyone started singing the songs back to us and that was a mad feeling”

Sam: “We’d just released 100 about a week before. We went through the set and then people started to sing 100 as I was about to, I was like ‘Aaaah’”

Joe: “You went a bit Alan Partridge there”

On Essex as a place:

James: “The scene is dead. It’s awful. There’s loads of bands with nowhere to play. You’ve got Hideaways and Bassment”

Sam: “And if you’re over 6 foot like Jack, you can’t really stand up in there.”

James: “And outside of that you’ve got Chinnery’s and that’s about it, there’s not really the venues”

Joe: “Unless you want to do pub gigs”

Sam: “The next place is London really, London and Southend”

Joe: “Talking of venues, the London venues are always good venues to play. One we played not that long ago was the Cafe 1001 and it was an incredible venue to play at. Sam got in the crowd and was singing in the crowd, my guitar amp blew up so I started dancing. Jack played a solo on his own.”

Jack: “It didn’t sound too good”

Joe: “Our set was cut a song short and all and it was still one of our best gigs. Everyone felt so involved with the show and you don’t get that in Essex. It’s a shame because there’s so many Essex bands and people talk about the Essex scene and there’s so many bands with good music, but there’s nowhere for them to play.”

Sam: “Bands that are doing headlines in London already have a fanbase that support acts can take a few and build their own fanbase. In Essex, because there’s nothing going on, it’s really hard to build a fanbase. You’ve got social media but you can’t target an area so we had to go to London.”

Joe: “The difference in London as well, is that you get a couple walk-ins aswell. You never get that in Essex”

James: “If you’re a fan of underground and indie music, I guarantee you when you see a band in London the vibe is just totally different”

Joe: “It’s more quirky aswell, it get’s everyone involved. It’s just an indie scene, it takes everyone into consideration”

Sam: “You’ve always got to look at it like even if you’ve got one or two fans from each gig or even no one, you’re getting experience so it’s working out. Even if it’s just the sound crew there’s somewhere there who might go ‘They’re good, I’ll tell someone about them’ and then it builds up. You’ve just got to keep going at it’”

Finally, we asked the band where they see themselves in five years.

Joe: “About 100 yards over there on the bigger stage”

Jack: “I’d hopefully say touring, even if it’s a little tour”

Joe: “Supporting bigger bands, playing bigger stages and I think that’s where we’re going”

Sam: “It’s just growing the fanbase, that’s the big thing. We just want to get more people toi come to shows. If we can pack out a venue like this then we know we can move onto bigger venues, until then we’ll be here getting stuff done”


Read our review of Past Kings set at the O2 Academy Islington 2 here »

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