I’m writing this on a cold February evening and it’s even snowed today. Oh, the joys. If you even remotely know me, you know that I do not like winter. In fact, I despise it. Here’s why:
- the fact that I can’t go outside without wearing 19 layers
- everyone’s lack of positivity in these dreary months
- if the weather is shit, my mood is shit. It’s as simple as.
However, there is one thing this month that has been getting me through; it’s the light at the end of the tunnel. This one thing is a band you may have heard of: Alexis Kings.
If you haven’t heard of them, Alexis Kings are a 5-piece delightful indie band, hailing from humble roots in Hertfordshire. Their latest single, Squire, the subject of my happiness this month, has been hailed as the ‘perfect antidote to that developing cold’; the remedy to a dull February. The bluesy, energetic yet chill Squire tells a mysterious story of summer days past and has been racing into the top 10 on the Spotify UK Viral Chart with over 100,000 streams. None other than Huw Stephens from BBC Radio 1 is singing glorious praises for Alexis Kings, naming them ‘the new band I’m really excited about at the moment.’
So not only was I chuffed to bits to have been able to have a chat to lovely Fabio, the band’s drummer, on a dreary Tuesday evening, but Alexis Kings’ latest single Squire is pretty much the only thing getting me through this month. The song has such a bluesy, summery, nostalgic vibe and within a minute of listening, you’re transported to happier, warmer and more exotic climes. It’s fab it is.
My chat with Fabio consists of what makes Alexis Kings who they are, some v mysterious clues as to what Squire is actually about, what’s in store for the band this year (more mystery there as well) and I even played a little quick-fire summery Q&A with Fabio, just because he’s a good sport. Before we crack on with the interview, have a listen to the track here. I promise you, you won’t be disappointed. It’s just as good as a summer holiday.
So, we began our chat with what I thought was the easiest question of the lot: describe Alexis Kings in 3 words. However, if I’m completely honest, Fabio did have a little struggle. ‘Describe? Ah, Christ!’ were his first words in response to the question. But, the man did not disappoint. ‘If I had to pick three words it would probably be energetic, kinda-heavy-ish, but like very melodic at the same time. Is that alright?’
“Music is everything to me”
Yes, Fabio, yes, it is alright. His keenness to answer my question correctly is just token of Alexis Kings’ work ethic. These guys are bladdy serious about this whole musician thing. Something that’s paramount for Fabio, being in a band is all he’s ever wanted to do. However, his entrance into Alexis Kings was somewhat spontaneous: ‘the band started with Brendan and Sam, the lead singer and guitar player- they started playing in secondary school. They’d been doing the band for around 5 years, I think, and they were mates with my sister. One night, they were playing a gig in London and their drummer couldn’t make it because he was ill. So, my sister said to them “oh, my brother plays drums”, she showed them a video I had on YouTube, they kinda liked it and then I was asked to come in and jam with them. We just got along really well, so then I just became a permanent member.’
For something so thrown together, the boys are actually a lot more serious than the band’s beginning paints a picture of. Enquiring if Alexis Kings started as a bit of fun, or whether they’ve always been serious about reaching stratospheric heights, Fabio was quick to say that the band’s energy comes from their hunger to do well. ‘Music is everything to me- there is nothing else I’d wanna do or I would even like to do with my life. Music is all I’ve ever wanted to do since I was a kid. As it’s got more serious, everyone’s really got their hearts set on doing it for the rest of our lives.’
“[Alexis Kings are] the new band we’re really excited about at the moment” ~ Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1
And Alexis Kings are carving out their route on the road to longevity. With BBC Radio 1 picking up on the band’s latest EP and having fans screaming their lyrics back to them every time they do a gig, the band is lapping up the attention. However, that doesn’t mean they’re going to get comfortable, oh no. Alexis Kings are continually sprinting forward. ‘Radio play from Huw is great, he’s a cool guy and Spotify with the Viral Chart thing is cool but you know, we’re not going to get comfortable; this is only the beginning. We’re not going to get too excited and forget who we are or where we’ve come from- we’re going to keep going and that’s it.’
“We smash through our set list in half an hour because we’re so pumped and ready to go”
This energy and hunger for success is clear in Alexis Kings’ live performances. In October, the band performed an exclusive set for BBC Introducing, showcasing the energy of their last EP. Asking what I’d get from a typical Alexis Kings gig, Fabio laughs before saying that ‘when we play on stage it’s kind of like a punk rock show. We have a set list for 45 minutes and we smash through it in about half an hour because we’re so pumped and ready to go.’ Now, this isn’t something I wouldn’t mind seeing to get me through the slog of Feb.
Alexis Kings’ last EP, featuring hits such as Strawberry Blonde and Morning Diana, cemented the band as a catchy, energetic, feel-good contender for success. However, their latest EP, with the title track their latest single Squire, sent the band into the radar of BBC Radio 1 and brought a new legion of fans to their talents. Fabio believes this EP has set the benchmark for where the band want to go next. ‘I think although the first EP was really great, I don’t think it quite captured our vibe. I think it was maybe because at that point we hadn’t really found our vibe yet. It was kind of early doors, but I think now we’ve really come together. I think this next EP will really show our colours and will tease out just how energetic we can really be.’
“When writing this EP, Brendan and Sam just went away to a mansion in the middle of nowhere”
As for a typical writing process for Alexis Kings, Fabio let me in on a little secret when lead singer Brendan and lead guitarist Sam began writing Squire: it was full of glitz and glamour. ‘When this EP was written, it was written mainly between Brendan and Sam. They went away to a mansion in the middle of nowhere (I don’t know how they got it) and they set their gear up and wrote that between them.’ Getting back into the studio to write new music to be released in 2017 (exciting times, you heard it here first ya know) the band are beginning a slightly more humble writing process this time around. ‘It normally starts with Brendan having a few chords and a vocal melody that he’s written at home and he’ll have a vague image in his head for what he wants the song to be. But it’s not really until we get into the rehearsal space that everyone chips in their parts and that is when a new track really comes alive.’ Enquiring why Brendan doesn’t just finish writing a song he’s started for the band, Fabio reminds me of what exactly makes Alexis Kings stand out from the crowd of contenders. ‘Because we’re all into different styles of music, Brendan just writing a song purely on his own would be foolish. It’s good for everyone to put their own kind of spin on it.’
Now, this is where the mystery of this interview begins. Fabio is a tough nut to crack and as much as I tried to get some tantalising info out of him, I unfortunately failed miserably. The first issue came about when I enquired: why ‘Alexis Kings’? What’s the inspiration behind the name? Fabio gave me a very mysterious, yet diplomatic answer. ‘I’m not sure on that one- you’d have to ask someone else. I think it’s a bit of an inside joke between a few of the lads.’ Of course that then led me to ask ‘what inside joke?’ and of course he answered with ‘I can’t comment on that one, I’m afraid.’
“There’s kind of a private meaning to Squire”
Mystery surrounding Alexis Kings article number 2 occurred when I innocently asked what their nostalgic, summery, latest single Squire is about. Fabio giggles before saying ‘that’s kind of a private thing between…’. He falters, the continues. ‘The main kind of gist of the song is what you would expect. It’s a song about going out and just having fun with your mates, enjoying the summer and whatnot, but there’s also an underlying story underneath intertwined with it.’ Enquiring what exactly this little story is, Fabio again cheekily laughs. ‘It’s kind of something to do with our guitar player- maybe you can talk to him about it.’ Am I a detective or a blogger? Come on Fabio, you’re teasing us.
And finally, mystery surrounding the band article number 3 occurred during the last few minutes of our chat: I wanted to know what was in store for Alexis Kings this year. In the very near future, Fabio could let me in on some exciting info. The band are playing a special gig just this next week: ‘we’re playing Proud in Camden as part of Camden Rocks Festival on Friday 18th Feb.’ As for the rest of this year, Alexis Kings have a lot to look forward to. ‘We’re looking to tour the UK later this year and we’ve got a good few festivals booked in for over the summer’ and with a mysterious tone, he adds ‘oh- and we’re looking to get in the studio very soon.’ Of course, leading me into saying ‘what are you getting back in the studio for?’ Fabio laughs, then says ‘it’s very exciting, we’ve got some exciting news about another EP coming up – but I can’t spill too many beans just yet.’ Of course you can’t, Fabio. I was led right into that trap.
Before we end our phone call on a dull Tuesday evening, I wanted some pay back for the excitement and mystery Fabio’s just dropped me right in surrounding all things Alexis Kings. So, I decided to throw him a curveball for a change, and threw in a completely random, quick-fire Q&A surrounding all things summer. Because it really was a dull February evening and after a good few days of having Squire on repeat, I was feeling in the need of some summery nostalgia to compliment the band’s getting-you-pumped-for-summer vibe.
Have a listen and a watch of Alexis Kings’ new nostalgically-summery single Squire (so much sibilance there it is crazy; can you tell summer is on my mind?) and take a read of Fabio’s quick-fire answers to get you through the dull months before the sun (hopefully) starts shining. Enjoy!
Where’s your ultimate summer holiday destination?
Italy – it maybe has something to do with the fact that I’m Italian.
What’s your favourite ice cream?
Rum and Raisin! Love it!
Are you a lounging-by-the-pool-doing-nowt kinda guy, or do you like to get out and about on holiday?
I like to be out and about. In the wild, amongst the trees. (laughs)
Fave alcoholic beverage to drink in summer?
Believe it or not, I don’t really drink too much, but I’d say Guinness. I like a good Guinness.
Fave thing to do in summer?
Just be out in the open, with a few mates, enjoying the fresh air and the sun.
What’s your fave part of a good old barbecue?
Can’t go wrong with a good burger.
How hot is too hot in summer?
I generally like it kind of cool. I get hot really easily, I think it’s probably because I wear too many clothes, but I don’t know, as soon as it gets into the 30’s I’m just like nah.
What do you love most about the UK in summer?
I like being out in the countryside. Oh and the beach! I live near the beach.
What’s your ultimate summery track to listen to?
I don’t listen to this guy anymore, but on the first day of summer, I always pop this song on. As soon as that sun peeps behind the clouds and I’m in a t-shirt walking down the street, it’s gotta be Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza by Mac Miller.
Where’s the most exotic place you’ve visited as a band?
It’s not that exotic, but probably Amsterdam. (laughs) We went on a road trip and filmed the video for Squire there.
Like the sound of Alexis Kings? To find out the answers to all of the band’s mysterious, make sure to follow Alexis Kings on their social media right now for exciting announcements galore.
Excited to return to Proud Camden to play at the Camden Rocks Festival All Dayer on the 18th Feb, 6 months after selling…
Pre gig rituals for tonight's sold out show at The Camden Assembly. ? – – – – – – – #alexis #kings #music #rock #guitars #band #epiphone #gretch #gibson #london #indie #blues #recording #writing #bbc #nme #thefuture #musicians #singer #guitarist #drums #bass #instalike #fashion #instadaily #picoftheday
Alexis Kings are playing Proud in Camden, as part of Camden Rocks Festival on Friday 18th February. Get down and see the boys if you’re nearby!