British Blues Rock outfit King King are currently out on the road across the UK with support from Bad Touch.
Since the release of their latest studio album Reaching For The Light, King King have been touring relentlessly including a support tour with British hard rock legends Thunder which saw the band take to the stage at Wembley Arena. Their much celebrated live shows have received rave reviews from both fans and the press alike, which subsequently led on to the band releasing the King King Live CD/DVD package last year.
National Rock Review caught up with King King’s front man Alan Nimmo on the eve of the band’s show at the O2 ABC Glasgow to talk about their current tour, their plans for a new studio album and Nimmo’s favourite Free album.
NRR: Thanks once again for taking the time to speak to us, we really appreciate it.
Alan: It’s alright, cheers.
NRR: You are currently out on tour across the UK and Europe in support both King King Live and Reaching For The Light. I was just wondering how have the shows been going so far?
Alan: Well they’ve gone really well so far, we’ve had great numbers and a great turnout as well. You know obviously coming in off the back of a bit of illness and laryngitis, and having to postpone a couple of things, and reschedule a couple of dates I was really apprehensive about the first night when we first came back. I think I got myself a bit tensed up and a bit worried about it, but you know at the end of the day it was fine. As the nights went on I could actually find my voice getting stronger and stronger, so your confidence comes back then and you start to relax and enjoy the show a bit better. Apart from that, it’s been pretty good so far, so yeah, onwards and upwards.
NRR: What has been the highlight of the tour so far for you?
Alan: Well, there’s not been that many dates yet, but just I think definitely in places like Bury St Edmunds and even Dartford, we had great nights there. We were thinking we weren’t really sure what they were going to be like, but great venues and a fantastic turnout as well. It’s nice to see sort of a variation of audience members and their ages – there was the usual middle age band, and then there was a lot of young ones and there were even some kids there as well. So enthusiastic young blues and rock fans, they are getting younger and younger, and I suppose that’s encouraging isn’t it, it gives us a hope.
NRR: You are back in Glasgow tomorrow night, I know you are at the O2 ABC Glasgow, which I know featured on your last live album. I was just wondering do you ever get nervous about performing in front of your hometown crowd?
Alan: Well I mean, I don’t really get the nerves anymore, I don’t suppose I ever did that much. I suppose there’s always something about a hometown show, you create this sort of euphoria for yourself and it sort of becomes a bit more special, because it is a hometown show. All of my friends and my family and all of that, they are all there and I’m just glad to see them and they are all sort of …I feed off their nervousness for me (laughing), they are all more bothered about it than I am. Hometown ones are always a little bit more special, I’m just really looking forward to this one tomorrow. Hopefully, it’s going to be a great night, it’s a pity that Paul Rodgers is playing in the same town on the same night.
NRR: I heard that.
Alan: If we weren’t playing that’s where I’d be (laughing), so we will see what we get and I’m sure it will be fine. I’d be very appreciative of the people that show up to see us.
NRR: We’ve got him here on Sunday night in Newcastle. So if you’ve got a night off then come to Newcastle.
Speaking of Newcastle we are very much looking forward to having King King here on Thursday 11th May at the Wylam Brewery. I know it’s the first time you’ve played there, the last two times you’ve been here you sold out the Sage Gateshead, which is always a special night. You are very regular visitors to the region and the North East, do you enjoy performing up here?
Alan: Of course yeah, because I mean that whole area is like old stomping grounds kind of going back to the early Nimmo Brothers days and even the Black Water Blues Band days. We’ve always been well received in the North East and always been well looked after. People just became friends over the years and they’ve stuck to us and have been very loyal. So we always look forward to this, and the last couple of times we’ve had great nights at the Sage Gateshead as well.
I’m looking forward to playing this new place and I’ve never seen it before, I’ve never been in it, so I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I hear good reports. Yeah, it’s another one, it’s almost like the hometown stuff, it’s like we never tend to worry about that area, the Newcastle area because we always know we are going to get a decent crowd in because we’ve got a lot of fans up that way. I say that now and probably jinx it (laughing).
NRR: You’ve also got Bad Touch out on the road with you at the minute. What’s it like touring with those guys?
Alan: They are yet another great young band to have on the road with you. It’s one of those things where again you appreciate the fact that there are young guys, young players coming up and doing this kind of music and playing it well. It’s nice to see the press and everyone getting behind them, and the fans seem to be getting behind them as well, they are enjoying them. They are going down very well.
That kind of music is obviously right up my street as well, so it’s nice to watch and they are a nice bunch of lads so that’s always good. That’s always very important to have on tour, you make sure you get on together as well, as there’s nothing worse than having a bunch of little arrogant lads, they don’t want to talk to you, they do want to do what they are told (laughing). But, it’s been great so far and the fans seem to have taken to the band so it’s a good opener.
NRR: I just noticed yesterday that you had done an acoustic session for Planet Rock, which is something that I’ve never seen you do before. I was just wondering did you have to approach or rethink those tracks to perform them in an acoustic format and would you ever consider including an acoustic segment in your live show?
Alan: Well initially a lot of the time when I write songs it’s on an acoustic guitar, so I can play them on an acoustic guitar. Once you start arranging them for the band then that kind of in a sense disappears, so you have to go back and go ok we need to strip this down and make it sound like we are not trying to play the electric set on acoustic guitars. So we thought about it that way, we put a little bit of effort into it and I think it turned out ok. If we were going to take something like that more seriously then we would cater it all to make sure it did work properly acoustically. We would readdress the parts and everything else a little bit.
I mean it’s not something that we’ve thought about doing, to be honest, but it’s something that’s always available to us and it’s always an option to have somewhere down the line if the mood takes us. If we end up with a bunch of songs that work that way there’s no harm in putting them into the set, depending on what kind of tour we are playing and that kind of thing. I think it all sort of plays its own part.
But yeah, we will consider it, it’s not something we’ve dismissed, it’s not something we’ve thought about either, you never really know how to do these things. Again, you gauge it on the reaction of people, so the reaction has been so far, it’s only been up there a day or so, but everyone’s asked all sorts of questions – are you doing an acoustic album? Are you doing an acoustic show? So of course, you do get all the questions all the time.
NRR: It seems like you are heading into the final furlong of this album cycle. I just wondered obviously you guys tour relentlessly, have you had the opportunity to write anything in any recent time, or do you have any plans to go and do a new studio record?
Alan: Well, we are almost finished. All the songs are written for the new studio album, and we are just about finished the recording, everything is done except for a couple of vocals left to go on. Obviously, we had to take our time getting the vocals on after everything that’s going on with my voice and stuff, otherwise, it would have been finished by now.
So yeah, we manage to get that finished and that’s another ten original songs. I’m still writing things as we go, ideas come and go here, there and everywhere. It doesn’t matter where you are, an idea can come into your head, that’s the beauty of having something like an iPhone, you can just record your ideas wherever you are. So we’ve already got a handful of stuff for the fifth album whenever that comes out (laughing), as far as the new one goes it’s all done and zipped up and just looking forward to getting the first single out.
NRR: Have you got a time frame for that? Are you going to get to take any time off or are you just going to run straight into the next one?
Alan: I think every tour just runs into the next actually these days for us, because if you are in the UK watching King King you see us maybe once or twice a year, then people tend to think you go into a cupboard then or you go to the Bahamas and do nothing, but we move on to other territories and we tour all year round.
So I mean when we finish the UK we’ve got the summer festival season coming up, so that’s a little bit of a breather, in a little sense because you are not constantly touring. But then we’ve got a lot coming up in France and Scandinavia and everywhere else. Before we know it it’s going to be autumn time and we’ve got another UK tour, so you don’t really get a lot of time off. We always used to say we would take January off but, then off course this year was different because we did the rescheduled shows in January and of course other things come in and you end up not getting any time off (laughing).
NRR: So have you had the opportunity to road test any of the new songs yet?
Alan: Yeah, we’ve been showcasing a couple of them on this last run here, they’ve been going very well, people have been liking the stuff. You have to be aware that it’s a new song that you are playing to them, so the normal reaction that you get from a song that they know, you are not going to get that. You are gonna get that, yeah, yeah I like that, but it’s not going to be the most enthusiastic applaud because they are standing thinking about it, they are listening intently to the new thing and they are trying to take it all in. That’s why we don’t like playing too many of the new songs at one time because too much is overload for people and you forget that people want to be entertained as well, so they want that familiarity of the songs they know.
It’s different with a band thing, we’ve got all these new songs we want to play them, we are desperate to play them, but it’s not a very clever move to do that, you’ve just got to ease them in there and let them get used to them. Then, of course, that becomes part of it and then they enjoy it.
NRR: What’s currently your favourite song to perform live and why?
Alan: Goodness, I don’t know, I like doing all of them. I enjoy playing one of the new ones at the moment, that’s great. I’m still loving things like “A Long History of Love” and “You Stopped The Rain” and things like that, these are all favourites of mine. I like what the band plays, I like how they sound and I love the reaction from the crowd, even playing “Rush Hour” and things like that, we get the audience singing along. All of it’s exciting, it’s very difficult to pick out one.
NRR: I understand you also jammed with Walter Trout last night is that right?
Alan: I did yeah.
NRR: What was that like?
Alan: Walter actually sent me a message – how you doing and are you going to be in town on Wednesday night? I said well actually I wasn’t supposed to be, but I am now. He said just bring a guitar and that was it. So I brought my guitar along and we had a chat in the dressing room beforehand, he said I will give you a shout up in the middle of the set. I said any idea what we are going to play, he said I don’t fucking know man, we’ll just have a jam (laughing). I was like alright, fair enough, that’s the way we like it.
I got on stage and he just said A minor and I said right ok, and then I heard him shout to one of the other guys, we are playing “Thrill Is Gone”, so that’s how I found out what I was playing (laughing). But it was great fun, I’ve been watching Walter since I was a kid, since I was 16 years old and something that has always been a wish was to get onstage and have a play with Walter. So it was another nice little box ticked again, it was smashing, he’s such a nice fella as well, and all of the guys in the band are all great lads as well. So it was just a lot of fun onstage, just no pressure, having a laugh and just jamming a bit of blues together.
NRR: That’s cool, I saw him here on Monday night and he is on fire.
Obviously, you and Stevie have also got the Nimmo Brothers band. I just wondered what’s the current state of play with the band and do you have any plans to do anything together in the future?
Alan: Yeah, I mean what we always said was that this wasn’t the end and we were always going to do something again at some point. We are still planning on doing that, it’s just when we can do that, to be honest. At the moment if things go the way they are for King King with a new record coming out and Stevie is about to embark on doing his next album as well. So with all that happening it makes it very difficult to put something else in the mix and it’s difficult to do.
But, we always said we finished on our 20th anniversary, but we could maybe aim to do something on the 25th anniversary, it would be at closest it would probably be then. The beauty of it is because of how things have been going so well with King King and everything else, people then who have never heard of the Nimmo Brothers start to discover them through looking at the back catalogue and then so we know there’s a massive demand for the Nimmo Brothers to make an appearance somewhere. So that adds to the anticipation for when we finally do something, it will make it all the worthwhile to do it.
We’ve got a Christmas show coming up, King King’s annual Christmas show in Lincoln and Stevie’s trio are going to be on the bill that night as well, so I’m pretty much certain there is going to be a couple of Nimmo Brothers songs get played that night at the end of the night for a bit of a jam. So if people are coming along to that, and if there’s any Nimmo Brothers fans that weren’t thinking about coming to the King King show then this gives them a reason to come and get a ticket for it, because you might see us for a one off time for a few numbers.
NRR: That sounds great, I will have to get myself down to Lincoln for that now. You mentioned there before about Free and Paul Rodgers, I know obviously they are a huge influence on you and you cover the likes of “Heavy Load”. I was just wondering what is your favourite Free track and album, do you have a particular favourite?
Alan: Well I always liked it with Free when I heard live stuff, and I like the official live album, which was recorded between Sunderland and I can’t think of the other place now and that was great. I used to trawl around the record fairs, and I used to search around for cassette tapes, and vinyl and CDs at that point.
I managed to find this album which was a compilation of live stuff and it was called Free Climbing. It was all of this imported stuff and there were various tracks from the Isle of Wight, that everybody has seen nowadays, but back then nobody had ever seen or heard any of that live stuff. Finding Free footage is quite difficult, you know there’s a bunch of it going around, but to find anything else is quite hard.
There was a version of a song they did called “Woman” and this particular live version that they did was probably my favourite, just because how it sounded, how it was recorded and how they performed it and Kossoff’s solo in it was one of those hairs on the back of your neck things, along with Paul Rodgers vocal on it at certain points was absolutely amazing, so I think that’s probably it. The live obscure version which I don’t know where it was from called “Woman” that’s my favourite one at the moment (laughing).
NRR: I was just actually listening to Free Live today as well.
Alan: Great album.
NRR: Yeah, it is, it’s fantastic. What’s the plans for the rest of this year?
Alan: There’s too much to tell you (laughing). As I say we are obviously in the middle of a UK tour at the moment, plus we are going to be shooting a video for the first single which is going to be released in June for a new album. Finishing off recording, we will get these vocals on the album and get that finished off, get the album out.
As I say there are some festivals coming up in the Summer, you know Ballyshannon and Steel House, things like that. Then we’ve got some more tours in France, Scandinavia and various other places and another UK tour in October, which we look forward to doing that and that will be with the release of the new album then. So, all in all, a pretty busy year coming up now, even though we are almost half way through already. It feels like it was New Years Day only five minutes ago, we’ve not stopped since.
NRR: I know that feeling. Well, that’s great, thanks so much for chatting today, I really appreciate it and I will be seeing you at the Wylam Brewery. Good luck with all of the shows and the homecoming gig and I will see you soon.
Alan: No bother Adam.
King King will be touring the UK throughout May and July with support from Bad Touch including a show at the Wylam Brewery in Newcastle on Thursday 11th May. Tickets for all shows are currently on sale via www.thegigcartel.com.
King King UK Tour Dates:
Newcastle, Wylam Brewery Thursday 11 May
Glenrothes, Rothes Hall Friday 12 May
Inverness, Ironworks Saturday 13 May
Aberdeen, Lemon Tree Sunday 14 May
Leamington, Spa Assembly Thursday 18 May
Harpenden, Public Halls Friday 19 May
Southport, Atkinson Saturday 20 May
York, Fibbers Sunday 21 May
Wimborne, Tivoli Friday 16 June (Re-Scheduled)
Corby, The Cube Friday 30 June (Re-Scheduled)
Bristol, Fleece Saturday 1 July (Re-Scheduled)
Tavistock, Wharf Friday 28 July (Re-Scheduled)
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