There are some bands which are so interesting you have to know more about them as their career unfolds at a rapid pace. The King is Blind is one such band, since releasing their debut album Our Father at the beginning of the year, they’ve sky-rocketed in popularity. They’ve supported Sylosis and Decapitated for two dates of their tour and will grace the stage of Download Festival alongside their heroes Napalm Death and Iron Maiden. They will also return to Bloodstock Festival. A week before they take to the stage at the Colchester Arts Centre with Winterfylleth, Fen and Terra; I chatted to frontman Steve Tovey about the album, Motörhead, their recent gigs, their upcoming festival appearances, journalism and new music.
Jack: Hi Steve, thanks for taking time out of your day to speak to me. How are you doing?
Steve: Very good, thanks Mr Fryer. And thank you and Metal Recusants once again for your continued support of The King Is Blind.
Jack: So Our Father has been out since January, how blown away are you with the response?
Steve: Like you wouldn’t believe! When putting Our Father out, we’re putting a piece of ourselves out there for the world to see and critique. For something that’s special and dear to us to be greeted with such a torrent of positivity is pretty incredible, and we’re humbled by the level of love ‘Our Father’ has received, considering it’s not a straightforward album by any stretch of the imagination. It’s an album that challenges and does some diverse, dark and unexpected things. We’re delighted people have given it the chance to take them on its journey.
Jack: Why did you choose the story of Satan for the album?
Steve: It’s been an idea that has knocked around in my head for a long, long time. I studied Paradise Lost at university, and since then the idea of doing a concept album based around it has been in my mind. When we were recording ‘The Deficiencies Of Man’, we had already started writing a couple of tracks (for what would become ‘Our Father’) and myself and Lee (Appleton- guitars) were talking possible lyrical concepts, and I mentioned the idea, and he encouraged me to dive into it. As the concept was developed between us, it expanded beyond the story told in Paradise Lost to include Book of Revelations and a few leaps of “faith” (if you pardon the pun) to create a complete story for Satan.
Whatever your beliefs, the literary character of Satan is an incredible, interesting and multi-faceted one that allowed us to use him and his story allegorically to examine the flaws and deficiencies of mankind across a concept album, with the character of Satan as the anchor. And also because, is there anything more “Metal” than a concept album about fucking Satan? Didn’t think so…
Jack: The album is loosely based on Paradise Lost, why do you think its legacy has endured?
Steve: ‘Paradise Lost’ appealed to me on many levels; as a story; as an allegory; as an anti-establishment discussion; as an analysis of the relationships and events – fictional or otherwise – that a world-dominating religion is based on; the rich and deep interpretation of Satan as a character and it’s criticisms of him, of mankind, of God; and also, technically, as a poem and its fantastic and evocative language. It has absolutely everything.
Jack: Why did you decide to re-record Mors Somnis for the release?
Steve: It was meant to grace the album in that slot. ‘Mors…’ was the first song we wrote for The King Is Blind and I love that a song that was originally about the death of one dream formed the catalyst for the birth of another… Lyrically and conceptually, not only did it marry up the emotions and part of the story it needed to tell once considered part of ‘Our Father’, musically it also belonged, and we were delighted that not only were we able to include it on ‘Our Father’, but that it more than merited inclusion and stands proud in the tracklisting.
Jack: Will you play material from Deficiencies of Man live again or just stick to material from Our Father?
Steve: Ha, I’m going back to the old “never say never” answer for this one. Our set-lists are constructed and defined by how long we have to play, the audience we’re playing to and what we think will represent us in the best way considering the above and the environment we’re performing in. We definitely believe the material from ‘Our Father’ represents us best at this time.
Jack: For the albums launch show at The Black Heart in London you decided to play the album in full, why did you decide to play it in full and how did you think the show went?
Steve: Loved it, mate. We absolutely loved it. It is harder to play a full album than we initially thought it would be, but we’re really pleased we pushed ourselves and achieved it. We may never get the opportunity to do such a thing again, so we had to grab that proverbial goat by both horns. From the very beginning, it had been an obsession to play the album live, in full, in order, as it was meant to be heard. The songs are designed to stand alone, absolutely, but they work best as ‘Our Father’, as part of a complete whole. We couldn’t have been happier with that show – a good turn-out of very enthusiastic people who projected a very positive energy back to us, which in turn helped our performance levels and pushed us.
Jack: When we spoke two years ago you said never say never to playing a cover, but given the tragic circumstances it’s understandable why you’d play a Motörhead cover at the launch show in tribute to Lemmy. But why Iron Fist?
Steve: ‘Iron Fist’ is such a great song, and in terms of energy and what we wanted to close the set with at the show, it was perfect. Love Motörhead or not, that band is one of the greatest there has ever been, or ever will be, and it meant something to us to be able to make our tribute to a hero and legend who helped shape the music we love massively.
Jack: You managed to join the Sylosis and Decapitated tour for two dates, how did you think these dates went?
Steve: Two very positive shows, for different reasons. In London (at the Electric Ballroom), we held our own alongside two excellent bands and received a strong reception, particularly considering I’d imagine 90% of the audience probably hadn’t heard (of) us beforehand; very, very happy with the response and we went down well. It also showed us that we can tap into a wider audience.
The Colchester show was, personally, my favourite The King is Blind show to date. The energy and response we got that night… fucking hell! THAT is why you play shows! We hadn’t played Colchester for a year, but we weren’t expecting that enthusiastic a response! So, a huge thank you to our home town for that memory. It felt like a headline show even though we were first on.
Jack: You’ve played the Colchester Arts Centre a few times and will return to it to support Winterfylleth in May, what do you love about the venue?
Steve: Best small venue in the country. By a mile. It looks cool, the sound in there is great, the crew and staff (ha, and Staff!) treat you well, and the veggie chilli is worth playing for in and of its own right!
Jack: When I interviewed Jotnarr they said they love playing the Arts Centre as it’s like conducting a little bit of blasphemy. Do you think the fact the venue is a church adds to the show?
Steve: [Laughs] I did have a little chuckle internally while announcing and playing a song called ‘Amen’ last time we were there… I love the inside of the Arts Centre, absolutely, but from an aesthetic point of view mainly, because it looks different to a lot of venues. It’s a personal ambition to play to a full Arts Centre as a headliner, with the backdrop down and the full stained glass lit up behind us. And film it. Whether that one will be realized ever, only time will tell as it’s a bit ahead of where we are, in all honesty.
Jack: Because the Winterfylleth show is a Metal Recusants show, how important are online journalism sites like Metal Recusants, Ghost Cult etc.
Steve: I think, as with everything, certain sites and certain writers gain credibility over time through the quality and impartiality of their works, and the cream rises to the top. With so much choice, people will find the mediums that represent their tastes and styles and preferences; whether that’s print, online journalism, blogs, vlogs, YouTube, whatever. It’s interesting, to me, being a former freelance how it develops from here and to see where the trends go.
I guess it’s like the label situation… you can DIY now, and some bands will get big enough DIYing; but there’s still a credibility and financial and promotional aspect behind a traditional label, and the same attaches itself to certain print media and some sites. We couldn’t be happier with the response we’ve had with regards to reviews across print, sites, blogs, microblogs – the sheer amount of positive words floating our way both on and offline has been so pleasing.
Jack: Now onto festivals, you’re playing Download Festival in June. How does it feel not only to share the stage with Napalm Death, but the same day as your heroes Iron Maiden?
Steve: We’re honoured to be sharing the day with two of the most influential bands for us in Napalm and Maiden. We couldn’t have picked it better, really. We’re aware we’re one of the heavier bands playing, so the pressure we’re putting on ourselves is to make a real impression and just leave everything up there. Donington is part of the British metal psyche and not everyone gets to play there. The Download crew have put their faith in us, and it’s up to us to fully realize it and grab the opportunity by the goat testicles.
Jack: You’re also returning to Bloodstock in August, how do you plan on topping 2014’s show?
Steve: By playing better songs than last time. 2014 was brilliant – we had nothing “official” out, and yet the tent was busy with people looking to check us out, a fair percentage of whom we won over, but The King Is Blind in 2016 is a much more advanced, feral and cerebral beast. We’ve explored and developed our sound, and the material on Our Father is leaps and bounds ahead of the demo/EP fare. We also feel back then no one had heard of us, and we had nothing to lose, now we have a burgeoning reputation to live up to and it’s up to us to make sure we exceed that. We’re very grateful to Vicky Hungerford and all at Bloodstock for their continued support of us, and it’s so cool that Vicky has got in touch with us to say how much she loves ‘Our Father’, so we have the added inspiration of living up to her expectations of us, there, too!
Jack: You’re working on new music at the moment, how will it be different to Our Father? Will it be a sequel to Our Father, another concept album or something else?
Steve: All in good time, my good man, all in good time! Things are still embryonic, though we have a LOT of ideas – skeletons of songs and plenty of massive riffs – but to go into detail would be a touch churlish, really, at this stage. That said, the challenge is to do something that expands on what we’ve done already, musically, without moving from the core of hard-hitting, horrible, monolithic metal. We are hungry to evolve, but in a way that is still undeniably us and doesn’t take us away from what people, including ourselves, love about The King Is Blind.
It will be a concept album, yes, and we’re currently fleshing out what that looks like. We think it’d be good to bring our story up to modern day and really examine humanity in the present and this fucking mess our world is in. With regards to our protagonists, it’ll pick things up where ‘Our Father’ left off, story wise.
Jack: Do you have a release date in mind or are you just taking your time? What are your plans for the rest of 2016?
Steve: We have ‘I Love You All The Time (Requiem)’, our version of the Eagles of Death Metal song ‘I Love You All The Time’ coming out very soon, with 100% of all proceeds going to Sweetstuff Foundation – details around that will be made public very, very soon. We’ve de-constructed and reworked it, leaning on some of our Anathema et al influences of old(e) to construct something we feel is very “us”, while again being a departure from things we’ve done before.
Then we have Download and Bloodstock, and plenty of writing to do, as well as a track, which conceptually will link ‘Our Father’ and album two, on the Music For Nations ‘Speed Kills’ compilation that is due in the Autumn. We’re also hoping to sort a run of shows for later in the year, too, ideally supporting someone we respect and have an affinity for, though there’s nothing sorted yet.
Our deal with Cacophonous was for ‘Our Father’ only, and we haven’t discussed or explored what we’d like to do label wise for a second album yet. We’d like to be ready to record later this year for a release in the first quarter of next year to maintain momentum, and because we’re just loving what we’re doing at the moment, but these things are sometimes taken out of your hands.
Jack: Finally, are there any 2016 releases coming up that you’re really looking forward to?
Steve: The monkey is out of the cage! I have to say, the return of Akercocke is definitely something exciting and their new album has to be one of the more heavily anticipated releases I can think of. I have to admit to having taken my finger off the pulse as far as what else is coming up this year – the more ensconced in TKIB I get, the less awareness I have as to what’s on the horizon externally. Collectively, and personally, from albums released this year, we’re well into the new ones by Deftones, Oceans of Slumber and Killswitch Engage. If you have any recommends, let us know, man, and will keep an eye on the reviews on Metal Recusants for pointers!
Jack: Thanks for your time once again and I’ll see you in Colchester.
Steve: Thanks again for continuing to champion us, it genuinely is appreciated, and we’re delighted to be playing the ‘Recusants anniversary show. Stay metal!
You can buy tickets to see The King is Blind with Winterfylleth, Fen and Terra here.