Sunday, November 23, 2008

Sunday Spotlight - The King Blues Revisited

It's either feast or famine, and this week it's a full spread. After reading about the Alan Cohen Experience earlier today, now you get a chance to taste something quite different.

You might remember me mentioning The King Blues a couple times over the last year. The first time was back in February when I wrote about their debut album's release here in the States. Then in May I gave a sneak peak at the title track from their upcoming album Let's Hang the Landlord. Well, time has rolled by, and that new album is now coming out. For today's Spotlight, Johnny "Itch" Fox, frontman and main songwriter in The King Blues, shared his thoughts and the story behind the albums third track, The Schemers, The Scroungers & The Rats. As always, text in red is his, and mine is in black.


There are many political songs written about work or lack of jobs or working hard but I wanted to do one about simply not wanting to work. It was half inspired by an Ali G quote when he interviewed Tony Benn he asked him "Everyone is banging on about the right to work, but what about the right to not work?". Of course it was a joke - Sacha Baron Cohen was portraying a character so ignorant he assumed striking workers were striking through laziness - but I thought it raised an interesting point.

Working for someone else is an accepted part of life I wanted to in some way question. The old school British attitude that ‘as long as you’re working you’re alright’ needs to be challenged. I don’t think that having a job by default makes you worthwhile. I’d respect someone more for enjoying their life, helping others, seeing their family and getting the most out of the short ride we’re on rather than cold calling me to sell me something I don’t need.

There’s a part of me that believes a good government wouldn’t strive to create more jobs but fewer. Let’s share out the work that NEEDS to be done and leave the rest of the time for enjoyment. Every generation we live shorter and work longer. There are many people in this country who choose not to work, for whatever reason, and this is a song for them.

And a few more Q's for Itch:

1.) The band has always been politically active, and there's some of that evident on the new album, but there are also some more personal songs that delve into touchy feely subjects like love. Was there a conscious shift in writing the album?

In a way it was conscious, we could easily have made another Under The Fog but we wanted to do an album that pushed forward what the band was about. Overall it's definitely a political record and we're still a political band. We just wanted to give this one more depth so there are songs that deal with more personal issues too. There are still a lot of fairly militant messages scattered throughout the album though. It's a sugar coated molotov cocktail.

2.) Your sound pulls in a lot of very diverse elements: a ukulele laden mix of reggae, ska, punk, British gypsy folk, etc... How the heck did you find two other guys willing to mix things up like you do?

Haha we all just know each other from going to punk gigs in London and we kind of just fell into a band together and I realise how utterly blessed I am to have found other people who are willing to really try anything rather than staying stagnant.

3.) How is the band doing making inroads here in the States? Any plans on touring the U.S. in support of the album?

We've been getting radio play from people like Rodney Bingenheimer on KROQ and the Passport Approved show on Indie 103.1 in LA, and Robert Levy on KDHX in St Louis. We've been featured on some cool blogs as well. We really want to go to the US.


It's hard to argue with that logic. God knows how many studies and articles there are about the average number of work hours going up and vacation days going down, especially here in the States. Anyway, enjoy listening to the track along with the fourth cut from the album, Underneath This Lamppost Light, a song that reminds me of a working man's version of Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight.

and an older favorite:

The King Blues - Mr. Music Man (Root-id Re-Rub) : Original version on Under the Fog

Visit their website, their label Field Recordings, and become their friend on MySpace.

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