If you like proper hard rock with a metallic edge, California trio Kyng might be just the band for you. Their third album, Breath in the Water (Razor & Tie), is a heavy but well-polished affair that will leave the fans of Alter Bridge, Godsized, or even Ape Machine more than satisfied. It’s not much of a stretch to say it’s better than the new AB album.Continue reading
Rock music is deeply rooted with the Los Angeles music scene and has produced a number of acts who have helped shape a section of music history. One of the city’s rising stars is East LA natives Kyng, who have made a name for themselves over the past few years with their back to the roots heavy rock sounds with heavy grooves and melodic overtones.
Veterans of the LA music scene, the three members of the band (vocalist/guitarist Eddie Veliz, bassist Tony Castaneda and drummer Pepe Clarke Magana) created a powerful yet hard-hitting sound that fans discovered on their latest album Burn The Serum (out now via Razor and Tie), and their recent journey found themselves on Knotfest 2015, becoming extra special for them being this was in their backyard in Southern California.
Castaneda shared his thoughts about the show and playing at San Manuel Amphitheatre, the Devore, CA based venue which held events such as Ozzfest and Rockstar Mayhem Fest in the past. “The main difference is this is in our backyard. We’re from Los Angeles and this is a hometown show for us, and it’s always nice to go home after the night and sleep in your own bed. That’s not to say the other festivals aren’t awesome.”
“This is definitely a venue that individually we’ve played here in the past. To be here with Kyng is definitely awesome. We love this place. There’s definitely a lot of history here, as you know Ozzfest and I’ve seen Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath. I’ve played Ozzfest back in 2007 with Pepe in another band we were in.”
He shared his thoughts about playingKnotfest and taking part on a much talked about event. Being asked to participate on a festival run by one of the biggest acts in heavy music is an honor for most bands, but Castaneda chose to take in as much of the event as he could, aside from himself playing on it.
“Not falling on my ass from all of the dust on stage and wearing my Vans, and having more canvas underneath them!,” he said, with a laugh. “The highlights for me are yet to come. There’s a lot of friends here. Devour The Day’s here, Suicidal Tendencies…which I’ll be catching. After I’m done [here], I’ll be catching Cannibal Corpse. Clutch…so many bands. I missed yesterday’s set [but] I’m excited for what’s to come.”
Their journey has taken them on tour with a variety of audiences, from Corrosion of Conformity and Clutch, to Seether and then even Megadeth. They discovered along the way how they have managed to work their sound towards that respective audience and winning them over along the way.
“We discovered that we can be as heavy as we want to be and still be melodic. That’s what separates us from all of the other bands. We have a drummer like Pepe that’s a beast and can basically play in a heavy, heavy metal band and plays in a rock band like us. We do both and I feel we do it well as it works for us and we’re going to continue to do.”
Coming out of an area such as East Los Angeles and often overshadowed by the bands coming out of West Hollywood’s Sunset Strip area makes their story even sweeter. Having flown under the radar and slowly building an audience at every
“It means a lot because not too many bands come from East LA. A lot of band would be Hollywood bands, but you do have your bands from Los Angeles like the Red Hot Chili Peppers. There’s a lot of bands. I guess for a band of this genre, there’s not too many of them from LA. It means a lot especially being from East LA and myself, growing up in a predominant Latin community, I’m proud of that all of us are Latinos and that’s something that’s cool to us. We’re very thankful that we can be in this genre and making our stamp and let it be known.“
One of their biggest supporters from the early days was Jose Mangin of Sirius XM’s Liquid Metal, who befriended the band and helped spread their name around the scene. Castaneda acknowledged how his influence greatly helped them towards bigger things such as Metallica’s Orion Festival.
“He’s the biggest supporter since day one. He is the reason why we have gotten a lot of attention. He’s the type of guy everybody knows. Everybody in the industry knows that guy knows his shit and he vouched for us since day one and everybody jumped on board that was a friend of his and believes in it as much as he does. For that we’re grateful and will be forever grateful,” he said.
On the subject of a new Kyng record, the band teased the Knotfest crowd with a brand new, yet untitled tune. “We played a new song today. I’m not sure if it’s a working title at the moment. We only played one new one but the rest were some from the first album and some from the second.”
While specifics on when a new record is coming are yet to be determined, Castaneda gave an update on the status on their third album, which they are currently working on.
“It’s a little bit of the first album and a little bit of the second album intertwined. There’s gonna be a few new things we may or may not try. Generally it’s definitely a Kyng album. It’s heavy music, melodic with harmonized vocals here and there, [with] singing. So that’s pretty much it in a nutshell.”
Lastly, he shared his goals for the next record. While the members of Kyng have accomplished many personal goals within their first two albums, he admits he is working on a new bucket list as they are entering a new album cycle real soon.
“I think every year there’s a new bucket list, as you mark things off of your list, you want to stay hungry and find new stuff. We got to play with Metallica so it would be nice to tour with them. We’d like to tour with Megadeth again – that’s definitely on the top of the list. It would be cool to play with bands that are not just heavy metal. We’ve done tours with bands like Seether. We would like to do something Foo Fighters or Queens of the Stone Age. I think we can adapt to the different types of fans within the genre. That’s definitely something on my list.”
“We actually went from Seether, which we finished that tour and then went straight into Megadeth. It’s two different worlds. So it worked. It’s weird because we get concerned sometimes when we do tours like that. With Seether, a lot of the times with fans like theirs, we’re a little too heavy for them. Then when we jump onto a tour like Megadeth, we’re like ‘well I wonder if we’re heavy enough…’ Like I said, we pride ourselves on being able to do stuff like that. That’s something unique that we have.”
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Kyng is one of the cooler bands on the scene these days, not trying to re-write the book of rock and metal so much, as striving to put their own spin on it. In a scant few years they have gone from small club tours to opening for some of the biggest bands of today, often winning over new fans and making the headliners step up their collective game. They have to be seen as an up and coming band, but have rightfully come into their own on their new album Burn The Serum (Razor & Tie). We chatted with front man Eddie Veliz about a bunch of topics surrounding the new album, the genesis of the band, and what the future holds.
Although not a true concept album, the title of the album and title track definitely percolated in the mind of Eddie and the band for quite a while. Its message is certainly apropos of these modern times, particularly for a band that came up in the Los Angeles music scene:
“The name Burn The Serum is kind of came from this idea of having a truth serum that nobody wants to drink or take. Nobody wants to tell the truth anymore. Everyone likes to lie, and lie to themselves, and everyone around themselves. So just get rid of it. Nobody wants to take the serum, nobody wants to be truthful anymore. So burn it.”
Kyng is a band that has cut their teeth on constant touring over the last few years, so we asked Eddie to take us through the creative process of making the new album:
“You know what? That last album cycle, we felt like we toured for, you know, two years, two and a half years or something like that. Even when we were writing and recording Burn The Serum, we were still running out of the studio and shooting out on some little tours. It was cutting in between our recording time, so it felt like it never ended.”
“I recall finishing up, we were out on tour with Megadeth, for a month and a half. After the last date of the tour we drove straight home and began writing, and doing some prep work for Burn The Serum, right at the start of 2013. Went in the studio, cranked out some songs, wrote wrote wrote. And then we went into Grandmaster Studios in LA, with Andrew Alekel (Queens of The Stong Age, Clutch) and Rev. James Rota (Sound City, Fireball Ministry) and smashed out Burn the Serum. It was a tough one too, because my bass player Tony was in a car accident and almost died! He broke his clavicle and he was out of commission for a while, so me and my drummer Pepe, and I went into “super-writing mode”. We we just kind of got together in the rehearsal studio everyday from 3 O’clock in the afternoon until 12 midnight or later every night and just wrote, and got the songs together. So it’s been fun.”
With the stakes very high for the crucial sophomore album for a young band, we inquired about the choice of the production team:
“To tell you the truth and be perfectly honest with you: Fireball Ministry. I loved that band growing up. They are one of my favorites. And just the fact that Rev. Jim is the head dude of Fireball Ministry, I love that band and I love him. It was a no-brainier. I love that band and they write great sounds, so I just said do it, the rest doesn’t really matter. They wanted us to work with other producers, more mainstream producers, and we were like “Naaaahhhh, it’s ok.”. We know we are still a rock band. We still want to have a raw, rock element. Those other dudes wouldn’t have gotten it. Those other producers would have made us sound like a shitty band, not a good rock band. Those dues (Andrew and Jim) are wizards. Andrew, and I keep saying this over and over, he is a tonal wizard! The guy knows how to capture tone. He could get the sound. We would sit there and listen and he would say “That’s not it! No, that’s not it! Let’s try again.” (laughs) Then he starts tweaking the sound and doing his thing, and before you know it we got it. He is one of a handful of dudes who is masterful at getting a huge guitar sound.”
Despite being a band with a throwback sound, Kyng is not one to rely on mountains of old gear to replicate the sounds they want to make, and more often rely on themselves and few gadgets:
“The thing about Kyng has always been, is that we like to achieve an old, vintage sound, but do it as modern as possible. I like to call it New-Age Vintage. That is what we did, we like to capture that real raw old-school element with new-age sound. We were running two heads at the same time. One was a Knuckle-Head and the other was an old Marshall. The gear was pretty minimal. It wasn’t like a bunch of crap was happening. It was pretty bare bones.”
In chatting with Veliz, he is humble, but also keenly aware of the growth of the band from where they were a short time ago. He certainly has his perspective on his band in place, focusing on constantly honing their craft and improving their music.
“The first album, we had just gotten together as a band. We spent a year writing those songs. Everything was out of pocket. Everything was done by ourselves. We didn’t really have a producer. The guy who recorded it wasn’t the best. He helped us out and gave us a “bro deal. And then you get what you pay for. We loved the songs, but we were never happy with the tone on the record. It was so bittersweet. This time, by the time we got in the studio, we had already been writing ideas on the road for two years. I had all of these song ideas I was working on. So all we had to do was stick em together. And once we did that, we got to the studio with Andrew and Jim, and Jim was the guy who was like “okay you have a lot of idea’s but now let’s really put them together. It was time for refining. It made a lot of sense. Jim was just helping with the songs, it was more of a case of taking away stuff we didn’t need. More like not adding any more parts that don’t need them. Stuff that was just lean, with no fat. All the good stuff and nothing else.”
Aside from the title track, Veliz admits to the more personal tone of the lyrics in his latest album, and he is not afraid to address deep issues from the pages of his life:
“I just started writing about personal issues that I’m having things I have seen, whatever. Burn the Serum was actually about a fallout I have with my brother. That’s the problem with me, if I am having problems in my life or personal issues with people, I can turn them into songs. So beware people! (laughs) I think the the original title of the album was called “Tales of Dischord” or something (laughs) based upon there are a lot of weird, shitty themes in the songs on this album. We just went. I write in metaphors as well, a lot. It’s not a lot of Hendrix-ian metaphors like tonguing the sea or clouds that are crying or whatnot.”
The band is one of the leading lights of Razor & Tie roster, and Kyng is aware that they benefit greatly from a label with many diverse bands that don’t sound too alike. Not that the band is worried about being the musical outlier, as evidenced by their frequent tour-mates.
“It’s good to have characters in the label, different bands, and different types of music. The band we feel we might be closest to, it’s our brothers in The Sword. They took us on our first tour, ever. They are definitely rad dudes. We feel a little closer to them, than anyone else on that label.”
“Nobody knows how to categorize us. Everybody wants to push into something and a lot of people want Kyng to be a “heavy metal” band. “Oh, Kyng is a heavy metal band! But we’re not. And then there is another weird genre, “active rock” or whatever. (laughs) We don’t care, put us where you want. We will fit in where we can. That is why we do so many weird tours. People are like “why are they out with Seether? Why is Kyng out with Lacuna Coil? Why are they out with Megadeth? Why are they out with Clutch.” You know what? We will fucking play with anybody at any given moment. Just give us a chance! We don’t care. Our heads aren’t too far up our asses. We like a bunch of music. We will play with anyone. We want people to just come out, and we just want them to be exposed to us, and regardless of what band we are playing with, we will play with anybody.”
KEITH (KEEFY) CHACHKES