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DUG PINNICK KXM INTERVIEW 2014

HARD ROCK INTERVIEWS 2014 - KXM VOCALIST & BASSIST- dUg PINNICK

KXM

dUg PINNICK

A new musical force to be reckoned with is about to turn the rock world upside down with the release of their self-titled debut, KXM. KXM is comprised of dUg Pinnick of King’s X on vocals/bass, George Lynch of Lynch Mob/Dokken on guitars and Korn’s drum maestro, Ray Luzier, rounds out the powerhouse trio.

MARCH 2014

CHECK OUT OUR REVIEW OF 'KXM' HERE

Kings X are one of my all time favourite bands and are a huge influence on me as a musician and a songwriter; classic albums like Out of the Silent Planet, Gretchen Goes to Nebraska and Dogman pushed the envelope of what’s capable in a rock trio format, and are one of the few bands in living memory to have an instantly identifiable and unique sound. I had the pleasure of speaking to lead singer and bassist dUg Pinnick about his new band with George Lynch and Ray Luzier, KXM, songwriting, being a cult hero and the meaning of life.


Hi dUg, thanks for speaking with me for the Rockpit. How are you and where are you calling from?


Thanks, I’m calling from my home in LA, huddled in front of my computer!


I’m doing the same thing! You’ve got a new project, KXM, with George Lynch and Ray Luzier. How did you guys get together?


Ray was having a party for his one year old son and had invited a bunch of his friends over to celebrate. He showed me and George his new drum room that he had just soundproofed and set up to record in. George suggested that we do something together. So I think earlier Ray and George had gotten together and done some stuff. Later George got a studio and the next thing we knew we were finishing the record.


That’s fantastic. Is it almost a case of those two guys plotting together to get you into the studio?


George and I have always talked about playing together, so we finally got a chance to do it.


Who produced the new album? Did you guys bring in an outside producer or was it DIY?


Chris Collier produced engineered and mixed the CD.  He’s a friend of George, who he’s worked with many times before.


Listening to the record, I’m struck by how much of a band you guys sound like immediately.


We’ve all been playing a long time and we’ve all had our bands and done our thing, so it was easy to bond and get past all the bullshit. There are no egos and there’s nobody that is really controlling the band. The result is this.


When we got together the bottom line was that nobody brings anything in, nobody works on anything that’s been preconceived, nobody tells anybody what to play, everybody does what they want to do and if we do that then it’s all going to work. We decided to start playing and it seemed to work. It was pretty simple really.


There probably is a method to the madness, but because we’ve all been doing this for so long it all flowed really easy. There are a lot of things you just don’t have to discuss when you’ve been doing this for so long.

That leads perfectly to my next question; who contributed what with the project? Did you all just stick to your own parts or did everyone have input with one another’s parts; especially the lyrics and vocal arrangements?


I did everything lyrically, vocally and melodically except for one song, “I’ll Be Ok”. George had some lyrics, and I took what he was saying and tried to say it in my own way. Everything else was straight up me, lyrically and melody wise and I sang all the harmonies too.


Everybody else played what they played. I came up with the Led Zeppelin style riff in “Rescue Me” and George told me later, after we finished the record, that he thought the riff was stupid until we had finished the song!


Again, that’s the whole thing about it, it’s a matter of trust. After we got done with “Faith is a Room”, George just did not like the song. I hadn’t put any melodies or vocals on it, and even when I did he was still kind of resistant. Then one day he listened to it and he said he got it and loves it now. He was probably bummed out there was something on the guitar he wasn’t happy with, because he’s such a perfectionist; you have to keep yelling at him to let it go!


The vocal arrangements on the record are very distinctive and reminiscent of your work with Kings X, one of my personal favourite bands. As both a musician and a listener I’m interested to know how you approach vocal arrangements in the studio; do you hear it as a whole, or do you layer parts and experiment  until you get something that works?

 

What actually happened was we had all the music done. I had to go write the lyrics and melodies so i did it in my house, in my home studio. Pretty much i just started writing lyrics, trying to find the right thing to say. The melodies came very quick; I really don’t try to come up with melodies, i just listen to the music until I hear something.


I’ll listen to the instruments and what they’re playing while I’m walking around the house with headphones and all of a sudden I’ll hear the melody. The same with the bass tracks; we all played live then I started working on the bass lines once I had heard George’s finalised guitar parts. I just tried to do what George wasn’t doing!


The whole thing was trying to be an individual and each trying to be ourselves. We figured if you put the three of us together as who we are, we’ll make an interesting kind of soup and hopefully people will like it!

As a musician who plays in a trio, that format seems to allow musicians the freedom to express their individual personality more so than any other. Songs like “Rescue Me” are very twisted and have a Kings X meets Led Zeppelin feel; is it a conscious decision to write riffs that are left of center, or is it second nature now?


I don’t think of that, because I don’t care. I want to make music that I enjoy, so whatever comes out of me is going to be me. Let’s face it, my bass tone and my voice sticks out and it’s identifiable, so whatever I write is going to sound like me. People can say it sounds like Kings X and people can say whatever, but the bottom line is I don’t alter anything I do to fit anything else. I am who I am and at this point in my life I’m not going to change it.


With that mentality, I just go for. I imagine that people will complain and say it sounds like Kings X, but what else can I do? I sing and play bass in Kings X so that element is going to be there no matter what. The same goes with George and Ray, and I love this band because everybody sounds like the band that they play in.

 

A large part of that is your bass sound; there’s even a Protools plug in with a Kings X bass patch now! How did you develop your bass sound?


The honest truth is John Entwhistle from the Who and Chris Squire from Yes; listen to their bass tone all by themselves. I’m just the hybrid little brother of those two guys. I laugh when I hear my bass sound on record because I go “that sounds like Chris Squire!”. I’d love to meet him and tell him how much he inspired me! Those guys used guitar amps and bass amps together to get the high end and low end rumble and I do a similar thing.


That makes a lot of sense; John Entwhistle was essentially the lead guitarist in the Who!


Definitely, as soon as I heard those guys I wanted to get that sound. The song that really did it for me was “Roundabout” by Yes but no one knew how to get that sound. It wasn’t until I saw Yes in 1973 that I figured it out; Chris had a Marshall stack and an Acoustic bass stack, in stereo with his Rickenbacker bass. That was the day!


We’ve talked about a lot about your role in the band. What’s it like playing with George and Ray, guys who both approach their instrument from left of center?


That’s what I love about them, they’re both left of center, and that’s the music I want to make; even though it may not be popular. I like to make something common with a slight twist and that’s why I like working with these guys. Each member is being exactly who they are, and that’s so refreshing.
It’s refreshing to be playing with people who are continually refreshing themselves! (Laughs)

What songs, if any, are you most excited about on the new KXM album?


I don’t have a favourite because they all mean so much to me lyrically; every song is a true story, so I guess it’s difficult for me to choose. What’s your favourite?

 

The song that stands out for me is “Faith is a Room” which has a very hypnotic, Led Zeppelin inspired riff. What’s the story behind that one?


I don’t even remember how that one came about because we’d write the music for a song and then move on to something else; we weren’t even think about lyrics or melodies yet.


I’ve been watching a lot of CNN and Fox news, John Stewart and Alex Jones; where everything is totally opposite. I’m not the sort of guy who sticks to one side and believes the bullshit from one side, because it’s all bullshit and you’ve got to find the truth in there somewhere.


Similarly with Gunfight, I’ve noticed there is an unrest in the USA and people on both sides are frustrated. Maybe one day people will drop all the bullshit and rally together to get the USA sorted out, somehow. If you believe the conspiracy theories, with all the guns people have here in the USA, if you ever had martial law here you’d end up with a gunfight like you’ve never seen before.


Everything about your sound and image seems very at odds with what is considered mainstream and acceptable. Furthermore, Kings X and yourself are often name checked as being a massive influence by so many musicians, despite never really being accepted by the mainstream; how does it feel to be a cult hero?


I’m proud of that title that some people have put on me. I look at it this way, and this is especially true of bands like Living Color and Sevendust that are black and who play rock music, we don’t fit in to the worlds perception, at least in the USA.


The sad thing is that in the seventies, everybody tried to sing like black singers; Glenn Hughes, David Coverdale, Robert Plant and especially Paul Rodgers. It baffles me that when people hear me sing soulfully like they did in the seventies that people think it’s so unique or that it doesn’t fit. To me, heavy rock and roll had that kind of voice. I don’t fit in and I like that. I’d rather be me and not fit in than get lost in the shuffle.


All the people who have stood the test of time are unique, and I hope I’m one of those. I hope I’m here forever.


We talked about how you feel being an inspiration to a new generation. What keeps you inspired?


Put it this way; I’ve written over 1000 songs in the last 45 years or so. I’ve never had a hit, which tells me that maybe my songs aren’t as good as they could be, or they’re not as good as a lot of people tell me they are. It keeps me in a place of continually trying to write that great song. If I keep that standard in my life, I can never go wrong, even if i never reach that standard.


I listen to a lot of new music; every Tuesday I go on iTunes and go through the new releases until I hear something that makes me go “wow”. I’ll give it a minute and a half and if I don’t feel something, I push on. I’m always looking for something that’s left or right of the norm, anything a little twisted. That’s what I believe is what I should be doing in my art form; to continue to push the envelope and to continue to fuck up the program!


The first thing my college music professor ever told me was “all rules are made to be broken” and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. Anything new that gives me goose bumps, I’m going to take and work into what I do.


I’ve been listening to a lot of Djent music and I’ve been experimenting with my 7 and 8 string guitars and working that into what I do too; I love Periphery and what they do, and they love Kings X and grew up with it like you did. There’s a lot of camaraderie and when i meet these guys they all tell me how much Kings X have inspired them, and it’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. I’m just like Uncle dUg!


You mentioned you're always seeking out new music on iTunes. What are your thoughts on the impact of streaming services like Spotify, both from the standpoint of an artist and a music fan?


From an artist standpoint (momentarily) it’s a disaster. No one buys music anymore so us starving musicians are really starving now. As a music fan it’s awesome!!! New free music to share with all my friends! It’s a love hate thing for sure but this is 2014; you can’t stop change, you just have to learn to deal with it and use it to your advantage.


If you could be a fly on the wall for one classic album, what would that have been?


“Boy” by U2. I love that album so much; I would have loved to have been there to see them make that.


What’s the meaning of life?


Know what you know and don’t know what you know. No one knows the meaning of life until they die, so I think it’s whatever you do and what you believe and how peaceful you are when you die. I want to go out of this life in peace and that that good energy will go someplace else.

 

 

dUg spoke to Leon Todd March 2014

 

 

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