King Champion Sounds is a 7-piece genre melding band based out of Holland. Their most recent album, ‘To Awake In That Heaven Of Freedom’, features such standouts as ‘What I Mean’, ‘A Foggy Day In Rotterdam, and the viscerally weird ‘Last Night We Saw A p.o.l.t.e.r.g.e.i.s.t’. They will be playing at the brand new Vernal Equinox festival in Preston this Friday, March 3rd.
King Champion Sounds started off as a one-off gig, now you’ve released three albums.. Feel free to explain to our readers how that happened…
Τhe initial idea was to do a one off show. I wrote all the music for it, gathered musicians together whom I thought would be able to see out my vision and then proceeded to rehearse. Firstly with just the musicians for a 12 hour rehearsal, and then the next day a 12 hour rehearsal with band and singer G.W. Sok. The day after we played the show. The feedback from the audience was tremendous. That was when we thought it was an avenue worth pursuing. My idea thereafter was to release 3 albums in 3 years in different formats, which we have realised. The band has been going from strength to strength with critics and audiences being extremely kind about our recorded output and live shows. Today we release a new 7 inch single and hit the road to play show in Holland and the UK. What the future holds, Ι don’t know.
At the upcoming Vernal Equinox festival you’ll be soundtracking ‘‘Man With A Movie Camera’’. How will your soundtrack differ from others through the years?
Well it’s a silent movie, and I’m not sure if other acts/musicians have soundtracked it….well what I mean to say is, that I’m sure others have soundtracked it, but I have never heard anything before. We performed the soundtrack to this at a film festival in Switzerland in 2017 and it was a real pleasure and treat to do. One’s approach to making music for moving images is a fascinating thinking process and it’s interesting to hear and see how other members of the band interpret particular passages of the movie and what they feel should be played on certain scenes. We will probably do something different for this film in Preston to what we did in Switzerland….to keep it exciting for ourselves as well. And it’s an amazing movie too.
The director, Dziga Vertov, of the 1929 silent film was known for saying fiction film is “the opiate of the masses”. How would you say that translates to culture nowadays, specifically in things such as music videos?
Well I have to say that the amount of time I spend in front of a TV or YouTube surfing for new videos for bands is pretty small. King Champion Sounds have made a great number of videos for songs, but that is something I leave to bass player Oli as he has a gift for appropriating great passages of old footage to go with our music. That means that the videos we have released have a very particular style that can be instantly recognised as a King Champion Sounds video. With regards to your questions, television and mobile phones are the drugs of the nation….breeding ignorance and turning the general public into couch potatoes. Something that authorities and governments around the world actively feed and encourage.
Thurston Moore describes your band as “touching on the sounds of The Fall, Can, Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, Public Image Limited, King Tubby”. Are there any particular works by these artists you’d say are main touchstones for KCS?
Well, The Fall play a central part in my life. They always have and will continue to do so until my final days. They are my lifeblood and I still hear things in their music that energise and empower me tremendously. The Fall are my life. When I started the band, I wanted to have a rhythm section that captured the hanley/burns axis and a drummer that channeled Liebezeit, we will never be as good as those guys, but by heck we will give them a run for their money. Sun Ra, Captain Beefheart, PiL and King Tubby are all geniuses who have touched our hearts and lives with their amazing music. And for sure there are traces of their influence in our music.
What were the main inspirations behind your most recent album, ‘To Awake In That Heaven Of Freedom’?
I always said we would make 3 albums and see what happened thereafter. And as this was the third album, I wanted it to be huge. The music I wrote pretty fast and made sketches and notes for ideas that I wanted to produce later. Having recorded the core of the “songs”, I then went about doing the other tracks which involved a lot of guest musicians. The idea for the album was that it should be musically adventurous, but also be a journey from A to Z. There’s a common thread running through the whole album, and the tracking of the album was really important. It’s a personal journey, but the story is, I feel, also relevant to other people’s lives. It’s a search for truth, freedom, peace.
The title of last years’ album alludes to a poem by Rabindranath Tagore from his collection ‘‘Gitanjali’’. ‘‘An offering of songs’’. Would you say there’s a specific song that resonates with the poem in particular?
There isn’t one particular song that’s relevant to the title. But the title of the album is relevant in the bigger picture of things given the fact that the world is passing through a dark period, and I guess that the title and subjects of the songs will remain relevant in the future too.
‘Debby One Day/Fool Throttle’ is to be released as a limited edition single to coincide with your tour in Holland and the U.K. The sound is a slight departure from what we’ve last heard from you, how do you think you’re evolving as a band?
The idea of making music to me has been about challenging yourself and keeping things interesting. Our albums have always been a potpourri of ideas without spilling over into a generic compilation album. It’s done for a reason and fits in the bigger picture. This single is fantastic and I’m extremely proud of the results.
What are some of the differences in touring Holland versus the UK? How is your audience different?
In Holland you get paid better and get fed, watered and are provided a roof over your head at the end of the night hahaha…I love touring in the UK. It’s where I grew up and where I cut my musical teeth and where my family and friends still live. Music is holy in the UK and the breeding ground for the greatest bands in the world. The fact that it can be grim to tour there only adds to the charm value and makes you a better band. You can’t have everything on a silver platter now can you?
What are your future plans for King Champion Sounds? Another tour? A new album in the works?
I already have the next album planned in my head but need to see what the other members want to do.