A Q&A with Little King
“It’s not simple”
Squatting in a studio in Tucson, AZ, here’s Ryan from Little King…
What’s the title of your latest release, and what does it mean to you?
We just released a 25th Anniversary song called ‘Silver Tongue’. It’s everywhere and thus far, we have a good bit of traffic and press response since its release on 25th March 2023. I’m excited to play it live, albeit a little anxious and behind-the-curve at this writing. It’s a mutha. I wanted to incorporate some feel and texture from each of our 7 releases, starting with ‘Transmountain’ from 1997 and up to ‘Amuse De Q’ which came out in 2021. This is the first time LK has released a single that wasn’t part of an accompanying album. I LOVE albums! The songs on a set-piece should all work together like a team to make the whole greater than the sum (which in this case is THE ALBUM.) In light of that, I felt like ‘Silver Tongue’ should feel a bit epic and dynamic, both musically and lyrically. This is a reflection on 25 years (Silver Anniversary, see?) so I felt a need to reference each album in the bridge and also bits and bites from each record.
What was the hardest part about putting this release together, and why?
Great question. I think because we all live so far apart, and because the focus last year was mostly to GET BETTER and be ready to kick ass live, that we kind of slow-walked the single. I do love how it turned out. Manny (Tejeda, bass) and Eddy (Garcia, drums and engineer) got together a couple times to rehearse, and “Silver Tongue” was recorded around those sessions. We always have fun, believe that. Clownshoes. As info, I’m in Arizona, Manny is in Delaware, and Ed is in El Paso. We always record in EP, and Eddy has engineered the last 5 LK albums and played drums on 4 of them PLUS this single. So the logistics aren’t easy, but it’s so worth it and I’m proud of the end result. Usually.
“A dope team”
Who produced the release – what did they bring to it? If you produced it yourselves, what do you enjoy most about producing your own material??
I’ve always produced Little King. It’s been a vanity project in that respect, and I’m feeling done with that hat. In the trash, Hat! Grateful that I’ve assembled a dope team. Eddy as an engineer is like a co-producer. He really tells me if something “NEEDS to be done again,” and he’s such a badass musician and dude that I listen. Intently! Daniel Salcido of Command Space Audio is the mixing engineer of record on both ‘Silver Tongue’ and ‘Amuse De Q’, and we have a great synergy as to what I’m looking for and how he gets it. We really are thinking about making the next record together from scratch, and as I said, I’m so down to let someone else produce.
What do you want the listener to take away from listening to your music?
It’s not simple.
How does a track normally come together? Can you tell us something about the process?
I’ve got an old Washburn acoustic dreadnaught that my dad gave me for Christmas in 1988. I had owned a few electrics before (a rad old takamine metal looking axe), but the Washburn has stuck. I think it’s my oldest surviving possession! Anyway, that’s where I riff, usually, and it goes from there. Looking always for the “right” time signature, tempo, repetition, melody, harmony, key, and that only comes from practice. Repetition. There is a way to know when to say “when,” right? That’s the magic. When do you move on? I think it’s a confidence in that even if it’s just a complete part, for now, we will be able to find a transition into another independent riff that is in the same status. That’s how the music is born. As for lyrics, I typically wait until the music is done. I might have a theme, or even a phrase or two that I’m holding onto. But I don’t really focus on that until I know the song musically backwards and forwards on the guitar. Recently, since Occam’s Foil in 2019, we’ve recorded complete band bed tracks and I’ve run back home and sung on the trail. Nature is my friend, you dig? Lyrics in the office, practice in the desert wilderness. Or neighborhoods. When I’m ready, I go back to Ed and we track my vocals, Manny’s if he’s on one of the songs, and backing vox from our tremendous collaborators Jessica Flores and Becca Gonzales. I’m usually working on guitar solos and other instrument arrangements in conjunction with practicing my vocals. So, when I go to record vocals, the band will finish our odds and ends. Dave Hamilton and Christina Hernandez have played some awesome string arrangements with us on the last two records and live. I’m blessed to be surrounded by crazy good talent.
“Insane music thing”
What countries would you like to tour? Are there any standout venues you’d like to play in?
We are booking for October in the western US. Southwest, potentially all the way up to my original hometown of Seattle. I have so many dear friends and family still in the Seattle area, but we haven’t played there in years and years. It’s time for a homecoming show. From there, the eastern US is a must. After that…I’m down for anywhere in Europe. Anywhere, really! Mexico, CA, and South America would be amazing, too. If it’s doable, and I don’t go broke doing it, we are totally down to travel and jam.
If you could pick one track for our readers to listen to in order to get a taste of your music, what would you pick, and why?
I guess I’ve spent enough time talking about ‘Silver Tongue’. I mean, we did just release it as an anniversary song! But short of the obvious, I think the song “Amuse De Q” from the last album (of the same name) is my current fave. It’s such a fun and trippy arrangement to play live. But it also flows pretty effortlessly. I think it really came together and when Daniel mixed it in 2021, he sent me a reference mix and told me it was his absolute favorite. I appreciated that, but wasn’t sure until I sat down to learn it live. It’s like, “Okaaaaay that’s interesting!”
What ambitions do you have for the band/your career?
The process of all of this insane music thing is totally enjoyable…and the fact that I can make the music that I want, with amazing artists who put up with me is really pretty ridiculous. But the piece that has been missing for so long is the live show. I cannot wait to tour again. My last 26 years have been as a dad to my two kiddos, oftentimes a single dad, and so it’s been hard to justify that last piece of the Little King puzzle. The exchange of energy, the tightrope that our music is in a live setting, and the way we all can come together as a team and express ourselves individually…I am ready. If I can maintain this and people still care in 10 or 15 or 20 years, that’s my ambition.
Finally, as you leave the stage, what are your parting words?
Open your heart to me, baby. I hold the lock and you hold the key.
For more info visit: facebook.com/littlekingtunes