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Interview: Common Kings

6 min read

Having recently wrapped up a hugely successful Australian tour alongside one of pop music’s most iconic stars, Justin Timberlake, during the U.S musicians latest The 20/20 Experience World Tour, Common Kings are hitting all the right notes as they take on the mainstream with their brand of reggae/roots influenced music.

The band – which consists of lead vocalist JR King, Jerome Taito on drums, lead guitarist Taumata Grey and bassist Ivan Kirimaua – are paving the way for a new album, expected to land at the start of 2015. The forthcoming records lead single Kingdom Come has recently been unveiled and following its release and during the bands lauded support slot on JT’s Australian tour dates, we caught up with the four-piece to talk about the shows, their brand new single and what fans might expect from the upcoming LP release. Here is what they had to tell us…

BV: How are you all?

All: Great

Ivan Kirimaua: We are great thanks. Really excited for tonight and the shows with Justin!

BV: Great stuff! So there are a few things I want to ask you about but to start things off I want to talk about the new single Kingdom Come. Can you tell us a little bit about the single in terms of theme and what type of sound or style you set out to achieve with this track?

Ivan Kirimaua: That was a really fast track. Basically we had just about 3 hours before we had to catch a flight and we went in with our boys Igloo and Drew Lawrence and we just started vibing and the subject for the track just came out. We all love and appreciate our women and so it was kind of like a dedication to them.

The Common Kings Kingdom ComeBV: You come from a roots background and while Kingdom Come is still rooted heavily in that sound, I does carry a much more mainstream and RnB sound and also slightly orchestral. Was this a conscious decision or something that naturally evolved in the recording process?

Ivan Kirimaua: I think that just naturally came through this song.

JR King: Yeah, it really did happen very naturally for us.

Ivan Kirimaua: All of our influences are all over the place so you’ve got RnB, Classical, Pop and Rock so when we did that song, all of us were just feeling it and those influences just sort of same through each of us when we put the song together.

BV: What artists have helped inspire all of you?

JR King: for me it was Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye

Ivan Kirimaua: I grew up listening to music like The Gypsy Kings and a lot of the great flamenco guitarists.

Taumata Grey: I like a lot of stuff like Crosby, Stills and Nash, The Steve Miller Band, all those big bands and the great songwriters. John Mayer is a big influence too.

Jerome Taito: I grew up listening to a lot of rock and reggae music and that sort of thing.

BV: So it’s a real mix of genres and influences between the four of you which must result in some incredible jamming sessions and songwriting moments:

All: Oh yeah.

Taumata Grey: We have a lot of influences and that comes through in our own music but with our own stamp. When fans get to know us and our background they will be able to hear where t all comes from and the artists that have inspired us.

BV: You are on tour at the moment with Justin Timberlake. How’s the adventure been so far?

Taumata Grey: We still can’t believe it to be honest. It’s such a big deal and its all very surreal. We are playing with Justin on 6 shows and its so much fun.

BV: Has there been a highlight moment of the tour so far?

Taumata Grey: The catering (laughs). The food has been amazing. But seriously, the production from top to bottom, from everybody has just been amazing.

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BV: What’s it like touring with an icon?

JR King: Oh it’s been unreal. Performing every night and learning something new about the show and Justin’s performance. We’re just trying to suck it all in – it’s just really crazy.

BV: How did the opportunity come about? Was it a matter of being in the right place at the right time?

Ivan Kirimaua: Yeah you could say that. Our management team has had us working really hard back home and we’ve been in with a bunch of amazing writers and producers and it’s a really small world and words kind of getting around like “hey, so you’re working with those guys?”, “I like those guys” and “my so and so knows them”. It all winded up getting to Justin and he heard some tracks and he loved it and one of the producers that we worked with, who is close with Justin, he made it happen and it all went from there.

BV: Have you had a chance to chat with Justin? Has he offered you any career advice or tips while you have been on the road together?

Taumata Grey: Yeah the very first show we  had with him in Melbourne, he came up to us and greeted us and that was huge. He was just like “just do you” and he said “I’ve seen you guys, I love what you do so just do you and just have fun” so that was pretty awesome.

BV: What’s it like performing in front of such enormous crowds – have you played venues like this before and to this many people?

All: No

Taumata Grey: No, not like this before. Not of this level. It’s pretty unreal to be performing our music to such enormous audiences around the country. It feels great.

BV: You get a lot of love from fans on social media with people asking you to play shows in their city. Are there plans I place for a headlining tour?

JR King: Yeah, we are planning on coming back at around February. We are going to be doing our own headlining tour as well as releasing our album

Taumata Grey: We’re gonna be tying in the headline tour with the release of the album as everyone is dying to hear it.

BV: When can we expect an album to land and is Kingdom Come a hint in terms of what we might expect with the next album style wise?

Taumata Grey: We should be releasing the album around February time and yeah, Kingdom Come is definetly  indicative of what our fans can expect with the record. It’s definetly a great template of what people can expect with the record. There I still a lot of who we are  on the record and people can look us up on YouTube to hear what we have done in the past. There  is a mix of that style and what you are hearing now with Kingdom Come so it is definitely very fresh so it is going to be right in that vein with all these amazing producers we’ve been working with so we are really looking forward to people hearing the album.

The Common Kings brand new single Kingdom Come is out now.