The King Blues announced their reunion today. Rock Sound Deputy Editor Tomas Doyle explains why in 2015 more than ever, that is a very, very good thing.
One of the most well-worn criticisms of modern rock music from those on the outside is that there are no bands who "Really stand for anything these days, y’know?" Yet the accusation that we, as a generation, have failed to produce bands blessed with the sort of politicised vigour that the ’70s, ’80s and even ’90s all seemed to have in spades is one levelled by people who, frankly, haven’t been looking hard enough.
Formed in 2004 as a ragtag bunch of Camden Town punks with little more than a couple of wonky acoustic guitars and a fiercely burning social conscience to their name, The King Blues took their self-proclaimed "conscious rude boi ska" and cut their teeth across the UK’s burgeoning DIY punk scene. They built themselves from the ground up; blue collar, working-class kids who took the ethos and spirit of Two Tone forefathers like The Specials – anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-government violence, for-the-people-by-the-people song writing – and made it speak to a new generation. That they hauled ska, a genre long in the doldrums in terms of commercial popularity, back to the brink of a mainstream breakthrough is testament to their prophetic, poetic abilities.
At the centre of all of this was frontman Itch, a diminutive genius whose skills with a pen, pad and microphone at times bordered on the supernatural. Even the most cursory listen to the band’s second album ‘Save The World. Get The Girl’ (still their finest hour) reveals layers of deftly weaved personal narrative and political commentary that most writers could only ever dream of, all delivered with a fangs-bared passion that you cannot fake. Even more than that though, he and his bandmates flew their flag at marches, rallies and protests, practising what they preached in a way that precious few musicians ever authentically do. Truly, they were a lightning rod for British punk...
...which made the band’s sudden split in 2012 feel all the more cruel and untimely. In the years that have gone by since, the world has become a much, much darker place. We live in times where more and more homeless freeze and starve on our streets, planes are blown out of the sky and fanatics run into music venues and gun people down in the name of religion. Meanwhile, government and big business are in cahoots, slicing up our health services and education for astronomic profit at all of our expense. We need a band like The King Blues – who stand for unity, togetherness and social justice – more than we ever have before. That they have chosen this moment to return is a cause for real celebration.
The stark reality is that music, as much as we might want it to, cannot save the world. But it can bring us together in a way that very, very few other things on this lonely planet of ours can. One of the most important British bands of the last 10 years are back and it’s time to listen, talk, think, get inspired and activate yourselves in whatever way you are able to. Long live The King Blues.
The King Blues hit the road with Enter Shikari and The Wonder Years early next year.
18 - GLASGOW Academy 19 - EDINBURGH Corn Exchange 20 - NOTTINGHAM Arena 22 - BOURNEMOUTH International Centre 23 - CARDIFF Arena 25 - MANCHESTER Victoria Warehouse 27 - LONDON Alexandra Palace