“Going on tour with all your mates is amazing!” An Interview with To Kill A King (27/03/2013)

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During their time on tour with Bastille I managed to catch up with the brilliant To Kill A King. Guitarist Ian Dudfield and vocalist Ralph Pelleymounter took some time out before their show at the O2 Academy in Bristol to talk to me about the current tour, the brand new video for ‘Funeral’ and their debut album Cannibals with Cutlery.

I worked it out that this is your fifth night on tour with Bastille. How has it been so far?

Ralph: You worked it out better than me! It’s been fantastic. We go back quite a long way with Bastille. Going on tour is fun anyway but going on tour with all your mates is amazing. Also, they just sell out gigs so that is brilliant, and you’re never too certain how the crowd is gonna react to you, your the support act and we weren’t even announced before they sold out, that’s how phenomenal it’s been. So we just didn’t quite know how they’d react at all, but I think because we’ve done various things in the past, like some of the Balcony Sessions and I’m on a couple of the mix-tapes as well. I think that’s probably helped in that, we’ve been very surprised. I think for us, at Rock City and the Brighton one, it was really nice because people were already chanting before we got on, they knew who we were so that’s always really nice. I’m still not quite certain how to take the ‘RALPH! RALPH!’ from the crowd.

Your debut album came out last month, how has it been received?

Ralph: It’s been great so far it’s been so nice to get the feedback from everyone who’s been getting in contact through twitter and that sort of stuff. The reviews have been really kind too. It’s been good so far.
Ian: Positive!

Can you briefly describe the recording and writing process of the album?

Ralph: Hard, really hard. I suppose there are quite a lot of stages to it, because I’ll be just writing by myself for the first bit, finding all the lyrics and melodies and that sort of thing its very much in isolation, that bit can be, sometimes you feel like you’re going absolutely insane and then you bring it to the band and we all then start arranging it and then if its good enough, some stuff gets knocked back which is difficult to take, but we start arranging it and getting to the final stage. That involves lots of arguments and that sort of thing about what should go where. Sometimes two people will come up with really good part and they’re both really good but you need to loose one because you can’t have both, a keyboard line and a guitar line and that sort of thing. That’s why quite often the keys and the guitar end up playing a similar sort of thing, it’s becoming indicative of our sound.
Ian: People share parts around a little bit.
Ralph: Josh writes a lot of the guitar parts. Quite a lot of the album was in band itself because Ben recorded half of it and that was, you’ll have to talk to him about that, but I imagine it was very difficult in it’s own right.

Do you have an individual favourite track from the album? I think mine is ‘Gasp’ at the moment.

Ralph: I love ‘Gasp’. I think the one that I always, I suppose, I don’t mind listening to again is ‘I Work Nights and You Work Days’ whenever that’s on, I’m always like this is really really good.
Ian: Yeah, that’s one of my favourites as well.
Ralph: Pick a different one!
Cannibals-with-CutleryIan: [Laughs] Okay. Pick another one. Erm, I never tire of playing ‘Funeral’ or ‘Cold Skin’. I always enjoy playing those ones. It’s quite hard listening to them in isolation, just purely as a listener because there’s so much tied up in it.
Ralph: I think also when you listen back to the album, it’s hard to enjoy them as individual songs, you’re always thinking about what we do differently now and that sort of thing. It’s funny, you don’t really realise until you record an album, or maybe you just don’t realise it, but for that band that’s just them recording and capturing for that one space in time and the songs evolve as we play live. It’s weird but you have to eventually be like that’s the snapshot of it and then when you come and see us live you’ll see that it’s moved on a bit. I really like playing ‘Fictional State’ for the end bit.
Ian: Yeah, ‘Fictional State’ is great live.

Yeah, I really want to see you doing a headline show and there being a massive mosh pit to the end part.

Ralph: We’ve not managed to get a mosh pit yet.

I’ll start one tonight.

Ian: Please do!
Ralph: We’ve had a couple of stage invasions at festivals.

Yeah, I was at Bestival!

Ralph: That was fun!
Ian: Although we didn’t get to play the end of the song! They didn’t like us.
Ralph: The trouble is we were a bit drunk and I don’t think they liked that.
Ian: You talked for about half an hour straight! 

The video for ‘Funeral’ came out about two weeks ago, how was the filming of that? Because you’re all in it in some way or another.

Ralph: Yeah, it’s the first one where we’re all doing little acting roles.

Your’s was quite easy…

Ralph: You say that! For the next one I really don’t want to be sat down and not reacting to things. Especially with the scenes with the girls and the little kids, they were particularly difficult because in the skate park you couldn’t move, you couldn’t grip on, and they kept on chucking us out of the chair. And also for the most part I was trying to keep my eyes closed because you can see if I’ve got my eyes open or not. So for the first few runs of that, I was like eyes closed and trying not to react or cling on but then they just throw you out and you’re just on the floor. But you’ve got to be nice because they’re Screen Shot 2013-03-29 at 11.22.01kids. And then with the girls they were throwing chips at us and they were quite rowdy girls, they were good fun though and some troupers cause it was freezing! And they had to be in those outfits, we got them a bottle of Lambrini for the end shots and it went down so quickly I think they were just drinking to keep warm.
Ian: I enjoyed having my first role. I took it very seriously. I actually wrote a eulogy out and read it out. I’ve got it on me actually, we’re gonna give it away as a little prize. I took a lemon around with me that I was squeezing in my eyes to try and get myself to cry.

You should have put Vic under your eyes. We used to do it in school.

Ian: Did you really? Oh yeah, that’s a good idea! Vic’s a good idea! The lemon didn’t work, I couldn’t make myself cry, I was really trying and I was quite tired and normally I would have tears in my eyes.
Ralph: Normally he cries at anything!
Ian: Anything! If I can’t find a parking space, that sort of thing [all laugh]

A lot of people mishear your band name, where does your band name originally stem from?

Ralph: It’s adapted from a line in Hamlet. I suppose we were all trying to decide on something, so I wrote out a load of suggestions and then various people threw out more while we were in the pub and that’s the one we decided on.
Ian: That’s the one that instantly rang true as being a good name.
Ralph: We decided the name and it’s one of those things, like a pair of shoes or boots or something like that, it felt a bit weird to begin with and then as times gone on I feel like we’re definitely To Kill A King more than anything else.
Ian: About, probably a whole year before,  we were actually another band but we considered changing that band’s name to Yet To Meet The Queen. For some reason there’s royalty involved. 

You like the Monarchy!

Ian: He loves the monarchy!
Ralph: Well, it’s a love-hate thing.
Ian: Loves the Queen, hates the King. 

You’ve got your headline tour coming up in April, what made you choose the cities that you’re going to?

Ralph: Obviously with a booking agent we talk these things through, but very simply it’s most of the places we’re not doing on this tour and that’s why it’s so short as well, because it’s off the back of that. And also it’s just been announced that we’re doing the Dog is Dead tour after that. It’s sort of trying to make sure that there are places that we want to touch to base with that we haven’t done like Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham, where we have quite a strong following. We don’t really feel we should go back to Brighton straight away, also we’re doing the Great Escape there and stuff like that so we’ll be there soon enough. It’s just gonna be those five dates. 

What was your best moment on 2012?

Ian: Does it have to be band related?

Nope!

Ian: But actually all the best things in my life are band related.
Ralph: Good!
Ian: The most fun I had was playing Bestival.

For me it was a highlight of last year.

Ian: Was it your highlight?!
Ralph: It was all that chat in the middle wasn’t it?

Of course! I’ve seen you guys three times, Bestival was just so much fun!

Ian: It was fun, really, very fun.
Ralph: It was, we got made to video it and I haven’t dared look at the footage. We had a lot of fun, I don’t think I’ve done a festival like it. 

Speaking of festivals, are there any you have lined up that you can tell me about? 

Ralph: Not many that we’re allowed to announce. Except for Great Escape. I think in the next couple of weeks to a month there sort of coming up. There’s two in particular I’m very excited about. There’s also quite a few that I don’t know what they are [all laugh]. There are just so many festivals! 

Moving on to your own musical interests, what are you listening to at the moment? 

Ian: I need to get my spotify out, thats how I answer these questions.
Ralph: Mine’s just run out quite recently so I’ve had to go back to listening to loads of stuff that I used to love to listen to. Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of TV on The Radio, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pixies, Nirvana, Million Dead, all that sort of stuff, Elbow, The Eels, yeah lots of stuff that was on my computer and it’s been quite god fun going through it and remembering all this old stuff. Sadly no new bands.
Ian: This is where I come in. Just the last couple of days I’ve been enjoying the new PEACE album, Savages, I really like their stuff, not that there is much out, I really like Jonny Marrs newer album, The Messenger, I think that’s really good. 

Last question. Do you have any idea what the next single will be?

Ralph: We sort of know but there might be a gap until the summer. It’s a weird thing for rock bands in that releasing singles, you don’t really have a play to get them in the charts or anything like that, everyone’s gonna buy the album and so all the songs are already out there. The only thing for the single is one, to try and get it on radio and two, to support tours. Like the headline one, and the Bastille one, and the Dog is Dead one, and that sort of thing so there won’t be much point in releasing a single until it’s festival season, then we’ve got appearances to raise our profile, that’s when the next one will be and there’s probably about two of them that we’re leaning towards.

To Kill A King’s debut album Cannibals with Cutlery is out now.
Check out the fantastic video for new single ‘Funeral’ below.

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About Author

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I’m Megan Downing, an English Literature graduate from University of Southampton. I am the Music, Arts and Culture Editor for The National Student. I am the Membership and Communications Officer for the Student Publication Association, I write about music for 7BitArcade, and contribute regularly to The Culture Trip. I have a passion for live music and this is where I began in student journalism. Reviewing a gig or festival is still where my heart lies four years on. I will be starting at MTV as a News Intern in June 2015. One thing you should know about me is that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kevin Spacey.

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