Download 2017: No. 16 - The King Blues - 50 bands in 50 days

By Eric Mackinnon


The King Blues

Download Festival

Avalanche Stage

Sunday, June 11, 2017

“If you're in a rock n roll band and you're not trying to change the world then what's the point?” asks Johnny ‘Itch’ Fox.

The King Blues main man isn’t the type of frontman to hold his tongue or keep his opinions to himself. After all the London punk band have built a reputation on writing songs which tackle social issues head on. The band have given themselves a commitment to ‘politics and resistance’ and a style Fox calls rebel street music.

“It's been said that a Tory government is good for no one but the protest singer and there's some truth in that,” Fox tells The New Rock Times.

“If the world were a perfect place I'd certainly be out of a job. Politics is such a huge part of what we do it's difficult to know where the activism starts and the music ends but I think that makes us fairly unique in a lot of ways, after all if you're in a rock n roll band and you're not trying to change the world then what's the point?”

The King Blues will bring their rebel street music to Donington Park and the Download Festival on Sunday, June 11, when they play the Avalanche Stage and Fox jokes they might play their set in full heavy metal spandex.

“We had such a great time last time we played Download,” he said.

“It's a truly legendary festival and it's an honour for our band to be asked back. This time we'll be wearing heavy metal spandex.”

The King Blues’ sound comes from a glorious mish-mash of a number of genres and influences but Fox says the key to deciding if a new song is a keeper or not hangs on a ukulele.

“We try to mix up how we write to keep it interesting,” he explained.

“Essentially it's a mix of punk rock and hip hop but if the lyrics are "heavy" we try to make the music more palatable. The test is always whether it sounds good played on just a ukulele and singing, if it does we know we've got a good song we can then do in any style.”

He continued: “I think there's room for everything in music, if a song helps you to forget for 4 minutes about the boredom as bullshit and drudgery of every day life then that in itself is political in a way.

“Protest music is difficult to write, it needs to be entertaining and a good song first and foremost, you can be saying the most right on things but if it's a lecture set to music no one wants to hear that. I'd rather people just write about whatever they're passionate about. When someone has a token political song for the sake of it it's obvious and feels ingenuine.”

On their latest tour, The king Blues hosted a food drive at each show and collecting tinned food for the local soup kitchens which proved to be hugely rewarding for the band.

“It's been an amazing experience having people bring down tins of food and sleeping bags and sanitary products, it makes everyone feel like they can really make a difference, that music is about more than just music,” Fox explained.

“We've had fans end up volunteering for their local soup kitchen and keep it going. It's nice that we can do something so basic- feeding people in the towns we go to- and for it to be a real team effort.”

“If I was in control of the country for a day?,” he adds, “I'd fill up all the empty homes with the homeless.”