An Interview With Kings Destroy Vocalist Steve Murphy
Featuring members of Killing Time and Uppercut, Kings Destroy seems like the ultimate wet dream for any hardcore music fanatic. However, the band is as far away from their roots as possible. With a groovy stoner metal sound and some sneering attitude to boot, Kings Destroy will leave some scratching their head in confusion.
Thankfully, the band seems more than capable at playing at a slower tempo if their show in Philly on June 25th supporting Starkweather was any indication. While it was only their fourth live show, they gelled well as a unit and put on an effective performance that featured songs from their upcoming debut album scheduled to be released later in the year. In-between their set and Starkweather’s, I had the opportunity to speak to vocalist Steve Murphy about the band’s latest 7-inch, plans for the debut album, and how important storytelling is to their songwriting.
Heavytothebone2: How did Kings Destroy come together?
We’ve all known each other for 20+ years, playing in hardcore bands. We’ve listened to this type of music for 20+ years. We’ve always played really loud and really fast and we decided we’re going to start playing really loud and really slow. About a year and a half ago, I kind of threw down the gauntlet on these guys and said, ‘If we’re going to do this, it’s time to do it now,’ and here we are.
Heavytothebone2: Was there any struggle in changing from a faster pace into a calculated, slower sound?
No and the reason is because Rob (Sefcik), who plays drums, had played in a band called The Begotten, which was a doom band that was on Man's Ruin Records, so he was very used to playing slow. Ed Bocchino, who is the bass player, also has a lot of history playing doom-y type of music. So when your drummer and your bassist are used to playing slow, it kind of makes it an easier transition. I had a much more difficult time, but time seems to have taken care of it.
Heavytothebone2: Did that have a hand when you first starting writing songs? Was it difficult at all songwriting-wise?
When we first started writing songs, Ed had three songs written musically. It was a challenge vocally coming from a hardcore background, but I remained completely open to what was written. The other members in the band, who had done time in rock, jazz and doom bands, also helped out. After the first three songs were written, the other guys in the band got a hang of what we were doing and branched out creating what we think is a pretty unique sound involving multiple facets. We are not afraid of harmonies nor are afraid of extremely heavy riffs. The idea was to meld this together in a non-genre specific way. We’ve been bound by genres before and have no intention of being bound again. We feel the current metal/doom/psychedelic scene is very open to innovation and we are enjoying it and enjoying meeting like-minded people.
Heavytothebone2: Can you tell us about the status of the debut album?
We’re going into the studio next Thursday with Sanford Parker; we’re pretty psyched about it. We’ve got about ten days and we’ve got about eight or nine songs written. We’re going to go in there and bash it out and see what happens.
Heavytothebone2: So how did you get together with Sanford?
A lot of research on the Internet. He’s done a lot of stuff that we respect. He’s done a lot of bands that we think pretty highly of. We’ve made some calls and he’s come very highly recommended from virtually everybody. For us, we’re really looking forward to it.
Heavytothebone2: So are all the songs already written for the debut album or are you thinking about writing a few more?
We’ve got about six songs fully written. We’ve got the structure of three songs that we haven’t quite worked out yet. To be honest, I called him (Sanford Parker) up and I said, ‘I’m not sure how you work, but this is what we got. What do you think?’ His response was, ‘That’s fantastic. The more input I can have, the better I feel about it.’ We’re just going to kind of trust him and see what comes out of it.
Heavytothebone2: With ten days in the studio, is there any pressure in coming in at the last minute and getting the songs done?
I think that we would be very disappointed at this point in our careers, having all played collectively thousands of shows, if we couldn’t record eight songs in ten days, but anything is possible. Who knows?
Heavytothebone2: Do you think that is one of the problems with the music industry, that bands take months and months to record all this material? Do you think it’s better for bands to get in there and just get it out?
I think you can cut that one off on both sides. I think a lot of creativity can come out in a short time; at the same time, I don’t think a lot of bands, away from serious major label acts, have the luxury of being able to record and write in the studio. I think a lot of bands would love to, but the expense of it doesn’t really make it a reality.
Heavytothebone2: What are your lyrical inspirations for the band?
We write stories that are pertinent to us and hopefully people can relate through our own experiences, however bizarre they may have been. Also, we write songs about current topics that interest us. For instance, “Old Yeller” is about how we feel the media has let the American people down and forgotten its responsibility to be the 4th check and balance to our slowly failing democracy. This nation seems to have lost the ability to question itself through the media. This is of great concern to us as citizens. We believe in what we are writing about lyrically and feel that it adds to the passion of our recorded and live sets.
Heavytothebone2: What kind of stories can we expect on the debut album?
Well, we can expect stories of love lost, we can expect stories of relationships gone bad, we can expect stories of situations, specific nights; for instance, we got a song on the album called “The Mountie,” which is about an actual individual who used to frequent a venue we used to play back in the day, an interesting character and an enigmatic sort of guy. We’ve got a song called “The Whittler,” which is about five guys who grew up in the city and seemed to have a fascination with wood.
Heavytothebone2: As a singer, did you have to adjust to the stoner/doom metal style of vocals? Did you find it a challenge?
I kind of went into it with a completely clean slate. I tried to block out really everything that I had listened to or heard before. I tried to start completely fresh. So the reality is that I was born in the Bronx. I didn’t grow up listening to metal. I grew up listening to hip-hop and then the underground hip-hop scene was a natural thing into punk/hardcore. I don’t have the same metal experience that a lot of these guys do, which isn’t to say that I haven’t embraced it and don’t love it and listen to it all the time. It’s not wholly where I came from, so I really feel like I needed a completely clean slate to do whatever sounded okay and these guys had a say in it too.
Heavytothebone2: So is there a hip-hop album in the future for you? A solo project, perhaps?
I think the reality is, I should have been on Tommy Boy Records in 1981 and I blew it. I missed it; story of my life (laughs).
Heavytothebone2: Let’s talk about the 7-inch for a second that just came out at the end of the May. It has “Old Yeller” and “Medusa” on it. Were those the first two songs you guys had done or did you have a whole bunch of songs and just chose those two?
We actually recorded four songs at that session. We knew “Old Yeller” was going to be a song we were definitely going to put on the 7-inch. We didn’t know which of the other songs. We actually thought a song called “Two Tons” was going to be the second song, and when it came out, we actually preferred “Medusa” in the way it was recorded. That’s how those two songs came about. We had a bunch of other songs written, but those were the two that we wanted to put out as our first statement.
Heavytothebone2: What progression have you noticed from your first live show to this one?
Even though we’ve been playing together for a long time, in other bands, when you have a new band, there’s always a kind of get to know you process live. I would say, in my opinion, this has come together way quicker than the other bands have. I think it’s a combination of the fact that we are playing music that we super love and we’re completely behind it and I hope that it comes out in the live set.
Heavytothebone2: Is there one thing that you think you guys could improve on with your live show at this point?
In my opinion, you could always improve your live show, and I think that comes with time and comfort. The reality is we’ve been playing in a small studio in a basement for 15 months. There’s a huge adjustment from playing in a basement to playing in a live venue with a bunch of people there. I think even though we have experience playing live, I think we feel like each show gets further to where we want to be live.
Heavytothebone2: What’s the one thing you want people to get out of your music?
I think the main thing that people need to get out of it is that we are very passionate about the music, this band, the stories that we are telling, and enjoy it. Let’s face it, you play live for people, people buy records or stream records, it’s for enjoyment. Music is for enjoyment, and while it is heavy and it is dark, the reality is that you enjoy it for that moment and we want people to enjoy it.
Heavytothebone2: If you could tour with one band, past or present, who would it be and why?
I would love to tour with Yob. I think they are kind of doing everything right in terms of the way they are approaching it. I don’t think that’s an outlandish statement...Those guys have come across and said that they love what they are doing, they work at it hard, they have families, they have jobs, and they treat it as well as they can given their constraints. I really respect that; I have a family, I have a job, we all do. So if there is one band who I think we could go on tour with and appreciate their music and appreciate where they are coming from, it’s those guys.
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