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Q+A: Itch, The King Blues

Andrew Kelham
Andrew Kelham 19 April 2011 at 15.03

‘I think we are hungrier now as a band than we’ve ever been’, Itch on anger, America and new album ‘Punk & Poetry’.

As The King Blues nestle inside the midweek Top 20 with their new album 'Punk & Poetry' we sit down with lead singer Itch to talk about the band's journey to this point and what could be coming round the corner for the group. Hint: it involves long plane rides.

The new album feels like it has come around quick, proud of it?
"Absolutely, I think we are hungrier now as a band than we’ve ever been. I felt with this record we had something to prove, before going in the studio we were rehearsing six days a week and when we went in the studio we made sure we locked everybody out; all record company people and everyone like that, so it was only the band and producer in the studio and I think that really helped."

Did you learn that from the last record, that you had to shut people out when you were writing and recording the songs?
"We did, I think we were strong enough to make sure that they never got in the way or managed to change anything last time but we were aware that there was certainly a struggle and we thought that the best way to do it, to really be creative, was to just lock everyone out. It was definitely helpful doing that."

Last year there was criticism, new members and a lot of negativity towards you as a person and The King Blues as a band. How was it going through that, dealing with it and moving on?
"At the time, it wasn’t just that we were in a band together, we all lived together in a tiny little flat in Hackney, we didn’t have any money and we would always look after each other. The bond was really a lot stronger than just a band, we were like brothers. For whatever reason he wanted to turn around and say what he said, for him to turn around trying to destroy all the good work this band has done I thought was really quite low. It was a really depressing thing and I hit a low after it but I’ve realised now, a year later, that it’s something not worth worrying about, you can’t please everyone. If you are pleasing everyone then you ain’t saying anything. I learned to stop caring about what people who don’t know about the situation think about it. There was certainly a trying time of realising who your real friends are and everything like that."

Given the change in circumstances for the band, that you have a different line-up and lifestyle, was it hard to recreate the energy you used to have as a band?
"It was very easy; we definitely don’t earn as much money as people might think. My lifestyle is different in terms that I am a father, a struggling father you know? As long as you are real in your heart you’ll find things to become angry about, the anger that we have is definitely still real. I tried to purposefully take a couple of months out of politics, tried to stop protesting for a couple of months because I was just burning out. When this government got in, it was impossible for me to do that, I couldn’t just ignore it. I got out into the streets again and started protesting again, I just found this fire, this rage that I guess I had ignored and tried to push down for six months. Our lifestyle really hasn’t changed that much. We are lucky enough that we can talk to more people and our audience is larger, but we are still struggling."

So that gold Jacuzzi rumour I head the other day is entirely fabricated?
"No, that’s true!"

Well, at least you’re honest about these things. How’s the rest of the year looking for you, how are the festivals looking for you, how is you’re schedule?
"Pretty busy, festivals are just coming in now, I’m not sure of what we’re allowed to say and what we’re not to be honest. It’s looking like it’s going to be a very busy Summer over here and we are going to attack Europe for the first time this year. That’s a first, it’s exciting for us, to be taking this international now and not just focusing on England but taking it elsewhere and seeing the reaction."

Indeed, and has the last mass of land somewhere to the West been discussed?
"Sorry you’ve lost me."

Are the band going to try and tour America Itch?
"Oh right, sorry, I was over there doing little bits last month; yeah we are certainly looking at going over there. We have meetings with certain record labels over there bi-monthly, going back and forth. We haven’t got any tours planned, nothing in concrete yet."

Even without firm plans the desire would still be to somehow introduce an American crowd to The King Blues?
"Yeah, I don’t know whether it’s going to be this year or next year, hopefully we are going to get over there towards the later half of this year, we are talking to a lot of labels out there at the minute so that’s definitely on the cards."

'Punk & Poetry' is out now, The King Blues play the Red Bull Bedroom Jam Arena at Camden Crawl next weekend.

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