Sunday 12 March 2023

Into The Void They Came From!!! - An Interview With KING BASTARD

Psych/Heavy Sci-Fi/Doom/Stoner Metallers King Bastard released one of the gloriously entertaining and most inventive albums of 2022 with It Came From The Void. A stunning mix of heavy stylish Doom/Stoner Metal grooves with a powerful SCI-FI narrative throughout the album.

The album if finally getting a vinyl release from the cool folks over at The Cosmic Peddler in April 2023.

I was asked to catch up with the band to see what's new in the world of King Bastard and it seems they have been working behind the scenes with a new EP hopefully being released in the near future. And it seems the Vinyl is now fully sold out via The Cosmic Peddler website.

You can read my review here

Hi there. Thanks for doing the interview. How are things with you today?

Arthur (bass): Doing well, thanks for having us. We appreciate all the work you do for the doom/stoner metal scene and the kind words you had about the album back when it first came out.

For folks not in the know, can you give a brief history of how the band came together and where it is today. 

Mike: Arthur, Guido, and I would’ve never met if I hadn’t happened to be wearing a Sleep t-shirt on the first day of college in 2016. King Bastard didn’t form until 2018, where we were originally jamming with a different drummer. The only guy we could find that would play with us had only been behind the kit for 6 months, which led to some interesting jams to say the least…

Eventually Arthur’s dumb ass remembered that a co-worker of his, Matt, has been playing for like 14 years, so naturally we had to ask if he was down to jam. That ended up being the core of King Bastard that you hear on ICFTV. Today, we are continuing on as a 3-piece. We ended up splitting ways with Guido, our synth player, due to musical differences about a year ago. This hasn’t stopped us from our conquest of the doom scene, however!

How would you describe your own sound. As you guys feature a stunning array of different heavy sounds?

Arthur: We like to use fuzz pedals and fuck around with effects to create a bunch of different textures. This led to Mike calling our sound ‘psychedelic filth’ because there’s a ton of distortion, but also phasers, delay, vibrato, you name it, all at once. Then as far as writing we have influences from all over, so we have some “happy” sounding songs with clean sections in them, and then we have songs that are almost unpleasant to listen to.

Mike: This band serves as a creative outlet for all of us, so what you hear is the end result of all of our influences blending together. I would say that the heavy use of effects and improvisational jams, combined with the heavier fuzzed out riffs leads to a good balance of psych rock and doom metal.

Your recent album It Came From The Void came out last year and I loved it when originally reviewing this. For people who haven't heard this record what can people expect to hear from this album?

Arthur: This album’s supposed to be a trip. Not that it’s some pretentious masterpiece or anything, but it’s supposed to feel like it tells a story with little to no actual lyrics. Something that you can either put on during a drive, or on the train, or while watching something visually stimulating (like maybe this video we made: and just get lost in it. If you check the comments on that visualizer, you’ll see that some people have come up with a few um… creative ways of enjoying the album.

What bands and artists influenced you when recording this album? 

Arthur: We all have different influences but with common threads. When we recorded the album, I was obsessed with Electric Wizard, Kyuss, and Sleep. That’s what really made me want to record the album live in the studio with all of us in one room. Those legends did it, so why shouldn’t we? Aside from that, there were some more recent bands doing really cool things at the time, like Conan, Slowenya, and Baroness. Both the old and the new had an impact on the recording/writing process.

Mike: At the time, like Arthur, my big 3 were Wizard, Kyuss, and Sleep, however, a good bit of the stuff I wrote (especially on Psychosis) was influenced by this black metal band called Craft. 

The artwork is freaking awesome. Who designed the artwork and how much input did you have into the overall design of this? 

Arthur: Thank you, the album cover was designed by Dixon Jong who goes by the name of ‘Intuitive Designs’ online. We wanted the cover to look like a 50's style movie poster, but he said “let me listen to the album and just design what I see.” The end result wasn’t a movie poster, but something better.

What is the creative process or setup within the band? Do you all write the music together or do certain people within the band do that?

Arthur: The songs on ICFTV started as riffs that we would jam on. Mike would record the jams, we’d listen back, and then we’d make them more structured. Some stuff we just wrote in the studio the day we recorded it, like the ending of Bury the Survivors/Ashes to Ashes. Almost every song has some improvisation/jamming on it too.

Mike: We tend to start all of our ideas with a jam. From there, we would build upon it and create more of a structured song. Recently we had to change it up a bit, since Arthur studied abroad in Scotland for a year. Instead of going on hiatus, every weekend I would wake up early to hop on a call with Arthur and we would write remotely, by screen sharing our DAWs.

We would write a mockup drum track in the DAW and share it with Matt to do whatever he wants with it. Now that we are all in the same time zone, we plan on doing a combination of more thought out writing, while also retaining the jamming elements.

How did you get involved with music? Was it a particular album, group or artist that made you want to write and play your own music?

Arthur: I think most people start by listening to what their parents listen to, my introduction to music was the Beach Boys, but then what makes you want to dedicate your life to it might be different. For me, it was Metallica, really Cliff Burton, a major rager that used the bass in a way that most people are too afraid to. Then there’s also Black Sabbath who recorded one of the greatest records of all time in a single weekend in 1970.

Mike: My whole dad’s side of the family are musicians, so I was surrounded by it growing up. As a kid, going to my dad’s gigs made me want to do it myself one day. Of course I started out just learning random songs that I liked, as any shit-head 15 year old with a guitar would do, but I eventually started writing my own stuff. King Bastard was the first opportunity I had to write collaboratively with other musicians, rather than just recording on my own.

Matt: My father got me interested in Rush and my cousin played the drums so I knew very early on that I wanted to play. Rush is awesome and they’re still my favourite band. Moving Pictures is obviously a classic but I think Snakes and Arrows doesn’t get enough love. I try to emulate those drums when I can.  

Looking back at the album, is there anything you would change or would you leave as is.

Arthur: We were so pedantic in the recording of this that I can’t imagine it being any other way. Actually, there was this one riff I think I played wrong… oh and I don’t like this one bass solo…. You know what, let me just re-record the whole thing, I’m sure I can do it better…You know what? Scrap it! Just delete the whole damn record!

Mike: We probably could rewrite and tweak the album for years and it still wouldn’t be good enough for us. It comes to a point where you have to just leave it be or you’ll risk ruining what you have originally created. Do I think it could’ve been better? Sure. Are there stupid little things that no one else notices but drive me crazy every time I hear them? Absolutely. But do I have any major regrets with how it ended up coming out? Not at all. Anywhere that I see room for improvement will just have to wait for the next album.

Matt: I’m never satisfied with “good enough.” I try to push everything as far as I can take it and I usually need someone to finally say enough is enough already. I’m really happy with how the drums came out on the album but I don’t think any performer is ever satisfied. You always want to be better no matter what. 

Congrats on getting the album released on Vinyl via The Cosmic Peddler. How did this all come about? 

Arthur: So Matt collects vinyl, and he was buying random psychedelic/stoner metal records from this website he found called The Cosmic Peddler ( Half the time he wouldn’t even know the band; he’d just buy them based on the artwork and then he’d be like “dude, this random record I picked up, it’s like a twenty minute guitar solo!” (it was Earthless, which we’re all fans of now). I don’t know who reached out to who, but all of a sudden, Matt was in contact with Paul, the cosmic peddler himself. Paul had the hookup for us and now we’re collaborating to bring the analog version of ICFTV to the masses. We’re playing three shows in Texas, which is where Paul is based, to promote the release (head to for details).

How does the album sound on vinyl? As I always felt it deserved a vinyl release when originally listening to it. Mainly to the use of different sounds you included on the release.

Arthur: Honestly, and I know this is cliche, but vinyl is the way it’s supposed to be heard. The lack of compression on the file means that all of the little overdubs and double solos cut through WAY more. With an analog format like Vinyl or Cassette (which we also have available here: it’s like all of our hard work actually paid off. It’s like “dude, now I can hear all twelve violin tracks on Psychosis in a Vacuum, woah!”

What is the current state of the Stony Brook, New York Rock/Metal scene? Do you perform gigs on a regular basis and do you have a local scene that you're actively involved with?

Arthur: I think we might be the only stoner/psychedelic metal band in Stony Brook, but on the whole of Long Island, there’s a couple other guys doing it. It makes for a really intimate scene. Some Long Island DSS (Doom/Stoner/Sludge) bands you should check out right now: Indus Valley Kings, Pig Farm, Goliath, Smoke the Light, BlueBlack, and False Gods! Aside from that, metal on Long Island is inundated with cover bands, hardcore/deathcore bands, or pop-punk. There’s some crossover between the scenes because ours is so small, but I think it’s growing, which is good, but we can only play so many times a year without playing to the same people. That’s why it’s so nice to get out and play some shows in a place like Texas or North Carolina where the stoner rock bands seem to be going strong.

Mike: It's mainly a pretty tight-knit community. You quickly start seeing a lot of familiar faces at local shows, whether you are on the bill or just there to see your friend’s band. There doesn’t seem to be a huge Doom scene here, but I am hoping that as we play out more, we can help bring it all together and let the scene grow.

Will you be performing any gigs to promote this album on vinyl locally or further afield! 

Arthur: So the vinyl drops on April 5th and we’ve got 3 shows in Texas, April 5th-7th in Arlington, Austin, and San Antonio. Then we’ve got a show up here on Long Island on the 29th. After that the next confirmed date is Asheville on August 2nd, but that’s hopefully gonna turn into a small tour and we’re tryna fill the space between then and now with more shows. 

If you're planning a tour, what can people expect from the LIVE version of King Bastard. 

Arthur: BRING EARPLUGS. We like to play loud and heavy wherever we are, and also it’s just good to protect your hearing. If you like the record you’re gonna like the show, but if you think the album is kinda mid (I know you’re out there), we’re playing some new stuff too and we change up the old songs with improvised jams at every show. So you know what, aside from the effects pedals, you don’t know what to expect at a KB show!

Mike: A lot of this album was written organically from playing live and we want to preserve that aspect of it. When we played out, before the album was even done, a lot of the songs sounded much different and evolved over time into what made it on the album. We like to focus on making the live show  feel more “live” rather than just standing there and playing through the songs exactly as they are on the record. 

Does King Bastard have plans for any future releases or anything you can tell us about.

Arthur: Oh yeah, we’ve got an EP in the works. Mike and I are playing in Drop F now, and if you wanna know what it sounds like, you’ll have to come to the shows.

Before you go, do you have any words of wisdom for your new and potential fans out there? 

Arthur: Of wisdom? I don’t know about that, but if you like our music, or even if you just tolerate the noise and give us a listen, we appreciate you more than you know. Come to a show and let's have a beer!

Mike: Never take life advice from a doom metal band.

Matt: Stay in school, get a good education. Andy Capp’s Hot Fries are the best snack you can purchase. Foster’s isn’t Australian for beer. Neil Peart is still the best. Never settle for satisfaction. 

Words by Steve Howe and King Bastard