King Blues- an interview by ilona burton
They are back and they are fucking angry. The King Blues return with another anthemic protest album at a time when it feels new, exciting and arguably more relevant than ever. I grew up towards the end of Thatcher’s time as president and had friends who had Weetabix for dinner every night because their parents were victims of privatisation. Thanks to that, the loss of my free milk and my dads rants, I grew up with an inbuilt hatred of Tories before I even knew what or who they were.
Round 2 and I am now studying a postgraduate degree, more thankful than anything that I got through university before the coalition got it’s nasty hands on our country and trebled the costs, increasing even further the gap between working and upper classes no matter what bullshit they feed us. If I were a few years younger, my parents would not have been able to help me out and I, like the sixth formers now, would be facing years and years of debt that I would struggle to ever pay off as I would be unlikely to even get a job after years of slaving away over an overpriced degree.
This system is clearly not working and we, the youth, the affected people, the victims if you like, are anything but apathetic. Thousands are fighting back, demonstrating against funding cuts across the country, in every city, every sector. Funding cuts are damaging thousands of lives and little is being done to help the most vulnerable. It’s understandable that we are angry, and the King Blues, through poetry, lyrics and thrashing ukulele-playing articulate and encompass this better than I ever could”Â¦
“Even Cameron has love inside him; the motherfucker just needs to get in touch with it.”Â
You may not have heard of The King Blues, you may not like their music if you have, but none of that matters. With the upcoming release of their third album Punk and Poetry, a sell-out tour, a Summer packed with festivals and whispers of breaking into America, I wanted to talk to the band about what’s keeping them awake at night.
Jonny ”ËItch’ Fox and Jamie ”ËJazz’ met on the streets of London. Itch was ‘saved’ by a group ofÃÂ Spanish guys who offered to let him stay in their squat. He sold the Big Issue to raise enough money to eat and not long later, The King Blues began to play music and perform poetry in squats and dives throughout London. They mix punk rock with hardcore punk,ska, folk and reggae and they have one message. “We talk about love and peace, hope and soul, and that’s it”Â¦”Â
What strikes me the most of this band, an in particular Itch and Jamie, is how angry they are with the way this country is being led and how impassioned they are about a movement they believe so faithfully that they hope and believe could change the way we live and work.
“How much longer are we gonna keep giving this system a chance; a system that fails, that keeps the rich rich and the poor poor. We’re constantly told that it’s gonna get better and it never does. At what point do we try something else?”Â
This band know how it feels to be regarded as the lowest of the low, the scum of society and as activists, they see it as their duty to not just accept the way a government treats it’s people, but to stand up and fight.
Itch tells me about what he calls “an all out attack on the homeless”Â. He describes in detail a project being run by the coalition government in which people go out at 3 or 4am with pouring buckets of cold water on rough sleepers, hosing them down and clearing them on. They have nowhere to go because funding cuts mean that homeless shelters and hostels are being closed down and the council are not providing nearly enough council housing. He speaks at a million words per minute with very little eye contact but with the eloquence and knowledge of his subject to rival the likes of Stephen Fry. “This government put profit before people. They treat people like vermin.”Â
We discuss efforts to close down a soup kitchen in Westminster, one of London’s richest boroughs. They are disturbed by the idea, especially as the application has been turned down once before. “The tories see the homeless as an eyesore and nothing more.”Â Itch and Jamie agree that homeless people each have a valid reason rather than an excuse for ending up in that situation.
“The perception of the homeless as something that we need to get rid of and start starving out is appalling to me, these are vulnerable human beings.”Â
“Our civilisation can only be judged on how we treat these members of our society and if we’re treating them like vermin, this is why people hate the tory government.”Â
Last weeks student protests appalled many, but for Itch it was the most beautiful sight. He wants the countries youth to stand up for what they believe, and that involves fighting against a system that he believes to be taking our jobs and our lives, with no remorse. He despises the perception of youth that paints us as a people with no ambition. “This is a generation that does care, it’s a generation that’s thrown the largest anti-war demos that we’ve ever seen, this is a generation that definitely cares.”Â
The King Blues’ new album Punk and Poetry has been a couple of years in the making and now contains barely any of the original material. The idea at first was to write a 21st century punk rock record, but tracks were scrapped when Itch became riled with the current political climate. He tells me recent events and changes relit a fire inside him. “We went for this full on, angry protest record and at that point it was written in a couple of months. It was easy and it was natural.”Â
Itch tells me that he is used to being censored. This is why you may not have heard of them ”â reviews and interviews have been pulled by editors and mainstream radio stations have refused to playlist certain tracks, but the band tell me that the fact that every show of this tour has sold out serves as testament that however many doors are closed, there will always be a way to leave their legacy. “As long as there are kids that feel that they don’t belong in society, as long as there are kids who are angry, as long as there is an underdog, there will be a place for punk rock and there will be a place for King Blues.”Â
Two hours later, Itch demands the stage with just a ukelele and a voice that speaks with so much passion, energy and emotion that I worry he might explode. What I go away with is that this band, however angry, however appalled and however frustrated is simply trying to speak for every human heart. Tories aside, they have a universal message and that is just to love. Kinda Godlike.
As I leave, I thank them profusely.
“I’m only a wannabe journalist.”Â
“We’re only a wannabe band.”Â