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King’s X: Still Spreading the Message of Faith, Hope and Love

By David Carr, Contributor
Thursday, December 29, 2005 @ 10:30 PM

25 Years of Texas Shred

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“The best band you have never heard”. “Metal’s best kept secret”. “The most underrated band in the world”. These are the phrases most people use to describe the progressive metal band King’s X. For over 25 years bassist/vocalist Doug Pinnick, guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor and drummer Jerry Gaskill have confounded critics and pleased a core audience of fans with their mix of Black Sabbath styled riffs, Beatlesque harmonies and the soul of Sly and the Family Stone. The band had a couple of minor hits in the early 90’s but has yet to see one of their albums go platinum. After the group left their last record company the band enlisted the production expertise of Michael Wagner and recorded their 11th studio album which they then shopped around to different record labels before partnering up with Inside Out Records. For most bands the idea of not having multi-platinum success after many years in the industry would be devastating and although the members of King’s X may be puzzled themselves as to why their music has not translated to the mainstream masses, one thing is clear, The members of King’s X are happy doing what they are doing, they have a fan base that has stuck by them through thick and thin and the group still puts out a message and gospel that deals with faith, hope and love. At a recent tour stop in Orange County California I had the opportunity to talk to Ty Tabor about their new disc Ogre Tones, the history of the band, their new record label and what it has been like to be part of the best band you have never heard.

KNAC.COM: Ty thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to meet with me.

Ty Tabor: Not a problem.

KNAC.COM: How has this band been able to stay together for 25 years without breaks up and make ups, losing band members, and recruiting new band members? How have you been able to stay together this long?

TY: Yeah we just celebrated out 25th anniversary a couple of weeks ago. We opened up a bottle of wine and toasted to our anniversary on the tour bus. It is a short list of bands that have stayed together with the same people for this long. I am not sure how we have been able to do it. We started out as really good friends who then put together a band. I guess we are a rare group of people who are friends, who really love each other and who really enjoy working together.

KNAC.COM: When I listen to Ogre Tones I hear a newness and freshness in the band. The group sounds like a young band with their first record deal! Did you all set out to record this disc as if it were your first album?

TY: We decided that this record was going to be done right at all costs, no matter if we had to sell our homes! This meant getting outside help, getting away from home and being in the studio so we could focus on the music and only the music until we were finished. This kind of focus made a big difference to us so yes, the goal was to make an album as if it was our first with that kind of energy.

KNAC.COM: For a while you were producing your own discs. On this one you decided to use Michael Wagner. Was it nice to have someone else deal with the production aspect of the record?

TY: Having a producer made the process fun again. We could record and experiment and when we got tired we could just go to the hotel and let someone else deal with all the technical crap!! I didn’t want to admit it but us producing out own records was not by choice but because of budgets. We decided with this record we did not care if we didn’t have enough money, we were gonna do this record the right way!

KNAC.COM: In your years of touring have you noticed new, younger fans checking out the music and message of King’s X?

TY: Not only have we noticed younger fans but we have also noticed more women coming to the shows!! That is one of the reasons why we re-recorded the song Goldilox. Our tour manager Jay, who has been with us for many years suggested we put it out again for the new fans who have joined us and who had not heard the song before.

KNAC.COM: Let’s go back to the early 90’s. By the time Faith, Hope and Love was released and your amazing performance at the ’94 Woodstock, many people believed this band would blow up and become huge? What happened? Why do you think mainstream success has eluded this band?

TY: I sort of think things happen the way they should. I know that’s a simple way of looking at things….I think the album after “Faith” didn’t sell because….well it wasn’t sellable to the masses. It’s not anybody’s fault, some things are just not mainstream and I guess we are not. I mean we have had a little mainstream success but we are not mega mainstream. We are a little bit peculiar to the normal listener. I think this new album is a little bit more straight forward. In our opinion this is the first album that we have done that has a legitimate chance of getting some airplay. We will just have to give it time and see how it does. You know I was reading yet another review of us and the writer was talking about “why aren’t they famous”, but in the article as she wrote about the show she saw that we were genuinely having a great time being on stage with each other and she started to see the connection we have with our audience. That’s what this is about for us.

KNAC.COM: What kind of support have you received for the latest disc?

TY: The folks at Inside Our records truly believe in this band and in this record. We recorded this disc without a deal, shopped it around and felt most comfortable with Inside Out Records. Thanks to them we are starting to get some airplay with this record. VH-1 is also playing our new video on their show Classic/Current. It will take some time to see what the fruits of this labor is gonna be but right now our record label is kicking butt for us!

KNAC.COM: The band came in at #83 in VH-1’s poll of the 100 greatest bands of hard rock. Many musicians of the early “grunge” period of the 90’s credit King’s X with their sound. They look to you as the source. What do you think when you hear these things? How does that make you feel?

TY: It’s awesome!! Anytime anyone mentions that they got something good from what we do I am always thrilled. To know that you have inspired someone with your music....that’s just a great feeling.

KNAC.COM: One thing that was mentioned on VH-1 was that there are a number of bands/musicians who love King’s X but would not necessarily want to follow the band on stage after you have played. Have you heard this and is that the secret plan when you open for bands?

TY: Absolutely!! That’s the whole point when we do an opening slot and we love opening for other bands. It’s the challenge of trying to get the crowd on their feet and into us in 35-40 minutes and we do it every night!! The downside of that is that there are bands that we would like to tour with who have seen us live and seen the reaction and have been intimidated by us and won’t go on tour with us. I can totally understand where they are coming from. Hey there are bands out there that I wouldn’t want to open for so it’s all relative.

KNAC.COM: What does the future hold for King’s X and tell me if you can, what is the payoff of being in this band after 25 years?

TY: In terms of the future, we will be coming back and headlining another club tour. We will tour Europe and then in the summer we would like to get on a tour as an opener. We have some offers out and we are looking at some things. In terms of the payoff…..the thing we have always wanted is to be happy doing what we love and being honest about it. I am floored by how many of our fans who come up to us literally start crying when they try and explain to us what our music has meant to them. I am blown away by that. That’s the dream. That’s the thing you strive after. At the end of the day it’s not about record sales and money, it’s about loving your life and loving what you do. We are so lucky to be doing what we do and I enjoy it night after night. Regardless of sales, we feel very fortunate to be a part of this.

Ty Tabor is quite right when he states that only time will tell if the latest King’s X disc will connect commercially with radio and video outlets. One thing is evident listening to Ty speak about this three piece band from Texas. The group themselves has a devotion and love for one another rarely seen in the music/entertainment industry and it is this love that has kept the band together. They also have a devoted fan base that seems to truly draw inspiration from their lyrics of positivity and hope. By the looks of Tabor’s enthusiasm, this band could be around for another 25 years. If you have witnessed the bombast and musicianship of King’s X make sure you check them out again. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and turn the best band you have never heard, into the best band you have ever heard. Catch King’s X live in the New Year.

David Carr is a freelance writer and writes the music column for Long Beach Magazine.

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