Diversity is what we’re all about here at BBB, if you haven’t noticed, and this week’s band is no exception. This is a band that one second will nearly bring you to tears eyes via their slower, intense tunes, and then the next second will have you jumping up and down to a high energy, witty rock n roll tune. They’ll take your heart on their crazy roller coaster and you’ll leave their show wanting more. Badass Band 83 is King Washington.
I saw King Washington nearly two years ago, at the International Pop Overthrow Festival. I went there to see two other Badass Bands, Lovers Drugs/The Hunting Accident, and KW was set to play right before them. I remember being blown away by them, but then KW fell off the radar for a little while, I believe this about the time when they started working on their newest release, The Overload. Fast forward to last April, Brokechella to be exact, when KW made a raging comeback onto my radar and all I could think about afterwards was how goddamn great they were.
KW is Tyson Kelly, George Krikes, and Billy Lee. Live, what you’re going to get from KW is the epitome of music being purged from the soul on stage. There is feverish, passionate playing of instruments, phenomenal harmonies and though every set I’ve seen of theirs is different, a perfectly crafted set that will keep you interested and waiting to see what they throw at you next.
Album-wise, though I’m going to note my favorite tracks from their most recent release, The Overload, KW’s first album, The Gears, is also just as solid (I’d suggest “Fourth of July”, “Animal” and “Fancy” as tracks to start with). Let’s get down to my favorite tracks on The Overload, the first being the title track, a psychedelic rock tune featuring screeching guitar and funky rhythms. I definitely feel some Queen influence on this one via the chorus-like harmonies throughout that really punch lyrics like, “Isn’t beauty always forsaken? Fear is all you gave, and through these trials I’ve gone beckoned from the grave, beckoned from the grave, Overload” home. My second favorite track is “Don’t Expect My Love”. It’s a witty, twisted track entwined with humor and ruthlessness. It boasts a perfect balance of more of those killer vocal harmonies (As well as some unexpected vocal styling as well. Listen and you will get what I mean.) and solid bounce-worthy rhythms that will really reel you in. Finally, there is “The Cinemas”, a keys fueled, slower track that starts with simple, yet powerful instrumentals, which are then joined with extra deep vocals. These then build to beautifully executed crescendos that highlight the chorus, “If you’re lost and looking for the ocean, silver screen will bury your emotion. If you understand you’re not the only one, at the Cinemas”. All in all, if you’re looking for band that will consistently surprise you, not only on stage with sheer musical prowess, but also by bringing to light emotions you weren’t sure you could feel via music, King Washington is your band.
BBB was lucky enough to have Tyson answer some questions for us, so read on to find out when he started playing music, why quarters are important to their band name, and why it is important that you listen because they make music that was not, “…written in the hopes of making us money or trying to fit into anyone’s expectations.”
When and why did you start playing?
When I was 10 I noticed that my older brother had tried to learn how to play the guitar but gave it up. So, to outdo him, I asked my Dad to teach me. He showed me a few chords and at a young age I was able to play simple chord progressions. Never really got beyond chord progressions though…not even to this day.
What kind of music did you listen to growing up? How does that differ from what you listen to now?
I was really, really into Weird Al. That’s all I listened to for 3 years straight. Then The Beatles. Then Classical Piano (Chopin, Liszt, Debussy, Scriabin) Then The Negro Problem. Then The Pixes. Then The Flaming Lips. Then the Talking Heads. Then Radiohead. Now Grizzly Bear/Department of Eagles.
Which musicians do you admire? Why?
I think the most inspiring musicians to me have always been the one’s in my life. When you actually know someone and look up to them, that to me is more inspiring because they’re not someone on the TV, they’re real and they’re just like you, struggling at trying to make it but kicking as much ass (and a lot of times way more ass) as any already accomplished rock star/famous musician. It just bugs me that Kid Rock is famous and yOya is not.
How did you guys meet?
I met George through living on my brother’s couch at his apartment. building for two weeks while he was attending USC in 2006. George lived upstairs and the two had started singing cover songs together. I watched them perform on a soccer field one day and immediately wanted to steal George for my band. About a month or two later I made him a deal that I would allow him to ask out my 6th grade crush if he joined the band. He did and they were together for many years. And obviously he joined the band…
Why the name King Washington?
I was getting stoney one day when I was (17?) with my old pal and original lead singer/co songwriter of the group Aaron Weisbuch. I had asked him why George Washington was on all the quarters and of his REAL significance. He told me the story of how he was offered to be King of America by the people. There was a pause. We both looked at each other. “…King Washington” and the band had a name.
Describe your show visually & musically for those who have never been.
You walk into a venue. There is a feeling of angst in the room. Excitement. We finally make an entrance and the crowd usually cheers pretty obnoxiously loud. It’s a good thing though, cause they really want us to know how they feel, and we fuel off the energy and bring it right back. (This is only our crowd in LA, mind you) We usually open up with a rocking song that hits you hard and pulls you in with our luscious 3 part harmonies and George’s endless impressive guitar licks he plays while singing in perfect tune and tamber. I keep up with my tight and intricate rhythm guitar whilst also singing my face off. For some reason I always got the harder harmonies that are the hardest things I ever had to sing in my life. Until Billy joined the band. Then we gave him all the hard ones. This rocking continues and then halfway through our set we usually hit some smooth songs and hopefully the sound guy turns up the reverb on the vocals. And hopefully you’re stoned. I don’t want to give away too much though….
How does your creative process typically work?
It varies. Depending on the song someone will bring an idea to the table-George or Myself- that will usually consist of a half or full structured chord progression with some un-solidified melodies and we solidify them and then write lyrics. We always write lyrics last or during, never first. On the last album Dylan Cronin (our old bass player) brought a couple songs and George too. On this particular album George brought in The Legend of Red Mahogany, but played a much bigger role in the creation of lyrics and structure development.
What do you think you biggest break or greatest opportunity has been in your career so far?
I wish I could say “When King Washington played on Letterman!” but nothing like that has ever happened. The biggest gig we ever played was probably opening up for the Young Dubliners at the main stage of House of Blues on Sunset. Which was an awful awful show, perhaps our worst…Though to answer the question IN MY CAREER? Playing the lead in a Broadway show I think takes the cake. I will always be able to say that.
What has been the biggest challenge for you so far?
Learning how to play the guitar. I seriously hate how annoying practicing scales is. The piano is a much easier instrument to get really good at in my opinion.
What are you working on now, and what can we expect from you the rest of this year?
Hopefully after our East Coast tour we’ll have plenty of new songs…I have a goal of a minimum of 1 new album a year.
Why should people listen to your band? What makes you unique?
People should listen to King Washington because it’s not music that was written in the hopes of making us money or trying to fit into anyone’s expectations. We write our music from our heart and because of that we get people who really connect with the songs on a deep level. I’m a big believer that in order to write affectionate and meaningful music you have to experience a great deal of pain. If you have a rough childhood or lose someone in your life abruptly or get picked on at school and you hold that all in, one day it’s gonna come out. Now, it’s not always gonna be through art, but if you are musical than it most certainly can, but you have to channel it.
If you had the opportunity to change something about the music industry, what would it be?
Oh god, what wouldn’t it be. I would steal every club DJ’s music collection and delete everything they’ve been playing made in the last 10 years. I’d put an end to musical acts being strictly successful on their looks and retarded lyrics.
One song you never get tired of.
Frankie V and The Four Seasons: “Workin’ My Way Back to You Babe”
What is the best live show you have ever gone to?
Hmm tough. Probably the first time I saw Madi Diaz at the Hotel Cafe…Yep. Definitely.
Favorite things to do NOT musically related.
Submerge under water. Blitz Chess in Union Square Park, NYC. Wine tasting and cheese pairing. (Reds mmmm…)
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?
Iron Man, of course.
What kind of jobs did you have before (or currently) you were in the music industry?
I was a pizza delivery boy when I was 18. Somehow got sucked into making flyers for a property management company? And I worked at Johnny Rockets for a year.
If you ran Badass Bands Blog, what is one band you would feature? (Exempting yourselves of course.)
Awe man I have to pick one?! yOya! They really know how to capture the full potential of a song, and write consistently impressive music that makes you feel better and better the more you listen to it.
FIND KING WASHINGTON HERE: