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FIFTEEN YEARS WITH KING'S X

Interview by Christopher J. Kelter - March, 1999

King's X is one of those bands that has survived - not only commercially, but critically - throughout the years. Their unique style of progressive rock has given them an army of loyal fans who are currently filling venues across the country as they tour in support of their latest CD, "Tape Head" (click here to read our review). Our East Coast Correspondent Christopher J. Kelter caught up with bandmembers Doug Pinnick and Jerry Gaskill recently and asked them about their careers.

Rough Edge: "Tape Head" seems to be favorably accepted by both fans and music critics - did you feel there was anything special about the album when it was finished?

Doug Pinnick: A couple of things; one, we did it all together without an engineer or a producer and that's something we've never done and given to the public. It's the bare essence of King's X. The other thing is that it's a really simple record that has simple songs. I, myself, wanted us to put a record out with good songs instead of a record with lots of riffs and time changes like "Faith Hope Love". That was then, this is now. I like the simple approach and it was fun; that's what music is all about. It was special to me to put these songs together with each other.

Rough Edge: Was the decision to produce yourselves a conscious decision or was it something that evolved out of necessity?

Doug Pinnick: I think the conscious decision came from a feeling of necessity for me. I had just done the "Pound Hound" record and got that out of my system - writing songs for me. For "Tape Head" I was more willing not to be in control of what was happening. All three of us felt the same way; we all put our two cents in and it was nice to give everyone the freedom to do exactly what they wanted without anyone saying "I don't want to do that." I think it gave Jerry a lot of freedom to play his own drum riffs. Actually, all the ten songs that we wrote together came from Jerry's drums riffs - that's really cool. The record to me is all of us putting are hearts into what we do individually, rather than trying to make it like "Faith Hope Love."

Jerry Gaskill: I felt quite inspired on this record. It was probably one of the lowest points of my life personally and I was able to be inspired musically.

Rough Edge: Was the focus on process or was the focus on results in making this record?

Doug Pinnick: Music evolves; music is natural and spontaneous at the same time. You have to direct it, but at the same time you have to allow it go where it needs to go. To me it's always a process of making something whole; some people may be gifted in certain things over others. But, if it's done right, the collective effort without analyzing is important, too. Even Nirvana thought about what they did, but it ended up sounding only like pure passion.

Rough Edge: It seems the progressive side of King's X has been down-played on the last couple of albums - will we see a little more creative interplay during the show tonight?

Doug Pinnick: I really don't know; we do something from every record. We've been on the road for four months; if we listened to a tape from the first show and last night's show we'd know that things evolved. I'm probably singing songs completely different than they were on the records for all I know. I haven't listened to the songs on the records for so long. Even "Goldilox" - I can't remember how the chorus goes, but it changed, and we kept it that way. I don't even know how the chorus goes.

Rough Edge: King's X fans and music critics appreciate the willingness of the band to explore a broad range of human emotions and human experiences within the subtle context of Christian ideals. Is that something you see being a continuous part of King's X or is that something I'm reading into the lyrics?

Doug Pinnick: I think that everything we do leads to some arguments about what the lyrics mean, but I say we have the right to change our minds from day to day. We always wrote lyrics representing where we are at that moment - who we are ten years later is completely different. Everything we've done is what we thought we should do at that time.

Jerry Gaskill: I know what I feel, I know what I think, I know what I believe - I know all that. It's just lyrics.

Rough Edge: It's been said that your influences combine the Beatles' psychedelia, Black Sabbath's heaviness, Rush's prog-rock, and Sly Stone's soul and funk. Do you feel that to be accurate? Was that your original intent? Or was it just a natural by-product of your influences?

Doug Pinnick: By product of our influences? Some of it's deliberate, some of it isn't. I try to sing like Sly all the time; he's my hero. I grew up in a black gospel church so I kinda got some influences there, too. All three of us come from different places and different influences. So, yes, those are some of the main influences. Metallica without Black Sabbath wouldn't have been Metallica. Without Judas Priest there would have been a Metallica. It's just a stepping stone. Now we've got Korn or whatever so it's just that Black Sabbath came first.

Rough Edge: Was it that the three of you brought shared influences to the band or did each person bring different influences to the band?

Doug Pinnick: I think the shared influences are what King's X has become because without the shared influences it wouldn't have become what it is.

Rough Edge: It's been 20 years that you guys started playing music together; 15 years as King's X producing original music. How does it feel to be working together for so long?

Doug Pinnick: I don't know if we think about it, but once in a while we wake up and go "We've been together ten years!" and then 15 years, and then 20 years: we just look at each other and say "go figure." We just celebrate music. I don't know how to compare it because I've never been around people who've been in a band as long as we have. We're like a family - we're like parents: we stay together for lots of reasons and we stay together for the "kids."

Jerry Gaskill: That's what I was just thinking! It's like a marriage; we dated, we got married, raised a family, and we stayed together.

Doug Pinnick: It's our life, it's our business, it's how we make a living. If we stopped doing this we'd actually have to work on something. In our hearts it's real.

Rough Edge: How did the "Pound Hound" experience of the solo project change your outlook for "Tape Head"?

Doug Pinnick: I wanted a record that didn't have anything to do with King's X; however, I had a couple of drum tracks that just weren't working and I asked Jerry to play on those tracks.

Jerry Gaskill: It was a beautiful thing for me, too, because I didn't expect to be on the record at all. I would have done the whole thing; when he told me to come in I was psyched.

Doug Pinnick: It changed my outlook because now I have a record where I could write everything I feel and everything into my music - my "mistress" - but my "wife" didn't seem to mind. It helps me, because it helps me to put the things don't fit King's X into music and I not be frustrated when King's X doesn't turn out the way I want it to.

Rough Edge: My favorite album is the self-titled album. Overall, it seems that this is the least well received among fans and critics. Any positive thoughts or fond memories of the album now that it's been 7 years?

Doug Pinnick: Yeah, for me that record made me do something that I'd wanted King's X to do as part of our progression. A record without Sam Taylor; for us it was a struggle to make it because somewhere in the back of our minds we knew that we had to make that record in that setting without Sam Taylor producing. We went and got Brendan O'Brien for the "Dogman" record; for me personally, the "Dogman" record is what King's X really sounds like. The self-titled record was a step and an eye-opener and after that we could just make our music.

Rough Edge: Any special plans for King's X in the future? New styles or influences? Recording with guests?

Doug Pinnick: You never know. We haven't thought about it yet, but to me you have to begin something sound wise. We don't know what tomorrow will bring. After eight records I think we can pretty much throw in the kitchen sink. We might get a whole slew of people and barely play on the records ourselves; you never know what we might come up with in our creativity. Whatever you get we hope you like it.


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