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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
KINGSWOOD-INTERVIEW-2015-Alex-Laska

 

KINGSWOOD INTERVIEW 2015

Kingswood is an Australian band going places and with the songs and the attitude to get there the future is looking bright. Just announced as the local support act for the Australian leg of the AC/DC Tour along with The Hives, and already Festival veterans and support to another of Rock’s biggest names – Aerosmith, things couldn’t look rosier… We check in with Alex Laska to talk about slide guitar and the meaning of life...

OCTOBER 2015

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Mark: Hi Alex, thanks for taking the time to talk to The Rockpit today.


Alex: Hey no problem.


Mark: You guys must be over the moon at the minute with the recent news?


Alex: Completely and utterly!


Mark: As a guitarist was AC/DC one of those pivotal bands for you growing up?


Alex: Oh definitely! It began a couple of years after I finished school, as I didn’t actually play guitar at that time, I had a love of the guitar and Blues music, but didn’t play; so when we were putting the band together I told Fergus  (Linacre, vocals) “I’m going to play guitar” and he was like “ but you don’t actually play guitar”. Then I told him he was going to sing and he said “but I don’t sing” but I remember at primary school he has this great natural talent for it, and that was that! As you can imagine at the time I listened to a lot of music – a lot of Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and a lot of AC/DC. In fact our first few shows contained a lot of AC/DC covers we used to play stuff like ‘Riff Raff’; ‘If You Want Blood’ and ‘Jailbreak’ some of the more obscure Bon Scott-era stuff. So yes Angus was a huge influence at the start, maybe not as much now, but still for his energy. As a Blues rock guitarist in Australia you had Mossy (Ian Moss, Cold Chisel) who was a whole other vibe, but basically as an archetypal Blues rock guitar hero in Australia you had Angus!  So definitely a lot of inspiration, some pinching of sounds and licks!  


Mark: And you now actually get to play with them on the big stage! That makes it support slots for the biggest two Rock bands in my humble opinion for you now after the support for Aerosmith when they were over a couple of years ago.


Alex: Yeah, Aerosmith was a huge trip, growing up Fergus and I were obsessed with Aerosmith. Our primary school band played two songs at our school fair, I played drums he played guitar and we sang in unison, and one of the songs was ‘Don’t Want Miss a Thing’ by Aerosmith! (laughs) We had these pipe dreams when we were kids like that we were going to have this huge band and tour with Aerosmith, almost like a joke from Wayne’s World, and it was such a trip that however many years later Steve Tyler walks into our room, says “G’day” and spends some time with us talking, he was a real character and it was so inspiring that at his age he’s still so passionate about music. It was great.  


Mark: That’s a great story and you guys deserve it. We’ve seen you a few times over the years and you’ve got only got that energy on stage, but also there’s a real Australian vibe about you, and not many bands capture that.


Alex: I guess it’s in our genetics! It’s hard to avoid really isn’t it! (laughs) The funny thing is that we’ve all really grown up o vastly different music and a lot of it comes from America or England. For me it all comes from the Blues greats – like Albert King, BB, T-Bone Walker, Freddie King and then later on Stevie Ray (Vaughn) but before that there was Hendrix – a huge influence on me, but do you all him American, or English? He’s born in the US of course, but he was really there in the UK at the start of the British Rock revolution. But I also loved Cream, The Who, Led Zep and of course The Beatles, who were a real primary influence for the four of us and always have been. So it’s always funny that we sound inherently Australian and yet our influences really come from the real greats of Rock and Roll.  


Mark: I guess it’s a bit like Australia claiming AC/DC! As a band you do have that timeless rock sound, and last year’s album ‘Microscopic Wars’ was a great  introduction and did very well critically and commercially, I think peaking at number 6 in the ARIA charts. What made you head over to Nashville to record it?


Alex: Vance Powell made us go there! (Producer of ‘Microscopic Wars’) He’s a significant name in the world of alternative Rock and Roll working a lot with Jack White, The Dead Weather, Arctic Monkeys and The White Stripes and also people like Seasick Steve… So he gets it, he’s done Buddy Guy records, he’s recorded Neil Young, he’s mixed all kinds of artists and for the first 20 years of his career he was primarily a live engineer . So he somehow managed to get hold of one of our EP’s, I’m not sure which one, and through some unknown force decided he liked it and got in touch and proposed the idea of us doing an album with him!  At the time we’re didn’t think we were even ready to record an album, let alone going to a completely different country to do it! But that’s serendipity it works in a funny way and it ended up being the best thing for the band and started our relationship with the States, particularly New York and Nashville where we spent the last couple of months. We plan to move to Nashville and spend some time there so that we’re more appropriately positioned for European and US Touring. That’s not to say we won’t be coming home though. In the last four or five months I’ve done the trip from the US to Australia about seven times, so I’ve no issue with long-distance travel , and we absolutely coming home; but we want to at the same time give our music the best opportunity  to get out to as many people as it can. That means America, Europe, then who knows…   


Mark: I think the thing I most liked about ‘Microscopic Wars; is that it is such a good ‘guitar album’.


Alex: Well I hope so as that means I’ve done my job! Thank you for that compliment. I think the way things are at the moment ‘guitar bands’ are in a bit of a minority it’s just the way things are and I think as we’re a couple of years older than some of our contemporaries we still ‘get’ that. I mean when we teenagers people listened to bands like Blink 182, and pop and punk and thrash and rock were all still around and still heavily guitar based. I think these days kids are so exposed to so many interesting sounds it just makes the template for how your hear and listen to music completely different.  But for me if I think ‘band’ I think guitar, bass, drums, I can’t help it.


Mark: And you also got to sing on the album too?


Alex: Yeah, two tracks! My maiden voyage vocally! That was an interesting experience; it still makes me feel a little funny to hear myself!  

Mark: I think everyone should pick up a copy of the album, and hopefully a lot of people who see you on the AC/DC tour will.


Alex: We’re actually doing a re-release with a few new studio tracks and 5 live tracks from our Forum (Melbourne venue) recording. I believe that it comes out at the end of October.


Mark: I think the last time we saw you live was at the Big Day Out last year.


Alex: Yeah, that would have been 2014 – the last one (Big Day Out annual music festival started in Australia in 1992 and was cancelled in 2014).


Mark: Anyone who has seen you will know that you put on a pretty intense live show!


Alex: Well we try! But as my body ages I’m finding it gets injured a lot more so I’m going to the gym as a form of rehabilitation as I’ve completely ruined my back after years of diving off and jumping into drum kits! It’s not pretty and I’m not happy about it, so if I carry on that way our gigs will be me sitting in a chair like BB King!


Mark: Yeah, like and old bluesman! As long as you’re still in once piece for the tour!


Alex: I will be, and having said that I’m probably the fittest I’ve ever been, which means I’ll have a lot more energy to expend onstage!


Mark: So for all the non-Australians in or readership, and we’ve got a huge number of regular US readers; explain the name ‘Kingswood’?


Alex: I guess everyone really says it’s about the Holden and probably subconsciously it is. A ‘Kingswood ’is an iconic Australian car, probably like what a Ford Mustang represents in the States, around from the late sixties to the early 80’s before it was phased out, and over time it took on a few different shapes and forms and names. But the reason Kingswood resonated with us was that it has other connotations, like the actually King’s Wood in England, but the best way I can describe why we are called Kingswood is all to do with, not lineage or one particular thing, but more what seemed appropriate at the time, but it really wasn’t that specific.     


Mark: I think it’s cool that it allows us Australians to claim you whilst everyone else just thinks it’s a cool name!  Kingswood and AC/DC sounds great, let’s forget about The Hives for the minute who are also on the bill…


Alex: The Hives are a great, great band.  I’m almost as excited to be playing with those guys! Though really of course AC/DC and The Stones are about the only two bands on the plant that you’d get away with telling your grandkids you played with and they would know who you were talking about! The two biggest bands on the planet! And then The Hives a kick-ass Rock and Roll band from Sweden! It’ll be a great show!


Mark: I’m hoping The Hives will come out in the mariachi outfits, I’ve seen the top hats a few times now!


Alex: I’m sure they will. We met them on the last Big Day Out tour which they played on too. We originally met them though at a Falls Festival (Melbourne festival) that they headlined, talk about guitar bands!  


Mark: They are insane live! Getting back to your album though, one of the things I most liked about it was some of the slide guitar, especially on tracks like ‘Ohio’.


Alex: There is a lot more on there than people realise, a lot of the bleed on ‘Heart of the Storm’ is slide and a lot of textural things on there contain slide too, there’s a lot on there.


Mark: And where does that influence come from?


Alex: Primarily I would have to say the Allman Brothers , I was hugely into the album ‘Eat a Peach’ and also ‘Live at the Fillmore’, and because I’d listened to guitar playing of a certain type for so long when I heard this slide playing I thought ‘what is this’? It sounds a lot more human and a lot more vocal in the way it translates, and I needed to know everything about how it worked as I wasn’t at all familiar at the time with that approach to playing guitar. So I had it explained to me that basically using something like a bottleneck on the strings you remove the idea of fretting and control pitch by ‘sliding’ it around, and I was like ‘wow’! And then I started to play and experiment and started to listen to people like Derek Trucks and it changed the game, to see a guy like that and to be able to see what was possible with the slide.  I mean I didn’t even know who Derek Trucks was till I was lucky enough to see Clapton in maybe 2010 and he had Doyle Bramhall II on guitar who is the son of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s keyboardist and who plays guitar in a really weird way, upside down, back to front, he’s a leftie but he doesn’t restring, he just flips the guitar. So there was Doyle on one side and Derek Trucks on the other, Derek would have been mid 20’s at this stage, with long blond hair, he didn’t move much but to hear him play – man! The most incredible stuff you’ve heard with a slide since Duane Allman. And when I heard it I thought, man, I want to be able to do that! So I attempted it, and I still ‘attempt’ to play slide to somewhat of a decent level, and that’s where it all came from.

      
Mark: With all that’s been happening for you guys recently, up to and including the AC/DC tour announcement there’s been a lot of momentum building. What are the net steps for Kingswood?


Alex: After the tour we’re going to move to The States and write a second album, hopefully touring North America between writing and recording. Then once that’s done release a single and tour that in the States and here before dropping the album. Then hopefully a worldwide tour! How does that sound?  


Mark: Pretty awesome, are you basing yourself in Nashville? There are a lot of Rock musicians in that town?


Alex: I just got my three year Visa so that’s the plan, more and more it’s a music hub for all kinds of music, not just Country and western like it used to be. Sure that’s still prevalent but nowadays it’s just a music town. A lot of really good Rock and Roll is coming out of that town.


Mark: It sure is. And one finally question, the real easy one we ask everyone – ‘What is the meaning of life?’


Alex: This is a question that I ponder every single day and the best answer I have so far is ‘to truly love something’, that’s all I have right now. My latest proposal is that if you can truly love something in the time you have here, then I think you’ve done a good job. How does that sound?


Mark: That’s a pretty good answer to leave us with. And with all that is happening for Kingswood at the moment, just grasp hold of it and run with it! Thank you so much and good luck on the AC/DC tour!


Alex: Thank you very much; we’re looking forward to it and to crossing paths when we get out there.


Mark: Enjoy every minute of it on that big stage mate!


Alex: We will, thank you.

 

 

AC/DC ROCK OR BUST AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES

SYDNEY Wednesday 4 and Saturday 7 November at ANZ Stadium, www.ticketmaster.com.au

BRISBANE Thursday 12 and Saturday 14 November at QSAC, www.ticketmaster.com.au

ADELAIDE Saturday 21 November at Adelaide Oval, www.ticketmaster.com.au

PERTH Friday 27 and Sunday 29 November at Domain Stadium, www.ticketmaster.com.au

MELBOURNE Sunday 6 and Tuesday 8 December at Etihad Stadium, www.ticketmaster.com.au

TICKET PRICES *From $99 to $159.90 New release oval tickets @ $99.00

*Ticket prices include GST and booking fees. Transaction and credit card fees may apply.
 

    

Alex spoke to Mark Rockpit

 


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