King's X - Artistic Reign
In some ways, King's X is a lot like Rush, able to release album after solid album of songs that are hard to define stylistically, yet easy to remember. The Texas trio first freshened the music scene in 1988 with the layered guitars and dual lead vocals of their debut album Out of the Silent Planet, and Kings X have grown steadily ever since. On the group's latest opus, Please Come Home Mr. Bulbous, vocal harmonies and guitar wizardry once again take center stage. From the uplifting, warm guitar tones of Charlie Sheen and the Beatlesque vocals on She's Gone Away to the haunting strains of Julia and Smudge, Kings Xs eighth album is a melting pot of moods that combines equal doses of melody and experimentation. Shortly before starting a European tour, Ty Tabor talked about Please Come Home, the Kings X writing process, and how its nightmare stint with a major label almost broke up the band.
Guitar.com: What makes Please Come Home different from your other albums?
Ty Tabor: I think it's a little more artsy than anything we've done in a while. In a lot of instances, we're ignoring the rules of songwriting. It's definitely one of those albums that take listening to more than once to even begin to start getting into the flow of it. We were in the mood to be experimental again. Around the time we did Dogman (1994) we started getting more traditional and less experimental.
Guitar.com: Describe the King's X writing process. Do you write together or bring most of your ideas into the studio after writing on your own?
Tabor: We write together now. For Please Come Home we all sat around in a room jamming. Jerry might start a drumbeat, and I'd start a chord progression to get us started. That's how almost everything on the album was written. We enjoy that [process] a lot more than bringing in demos.
Guitar.com: Does your work as a solo artist and in your side band, Platypus, have any kind of overlapping effect on King's Xs music?
Tabor: Doing projects like that has given me some confidence in my creativity, but one doesn't really affect the other. I don't ever write for a particular project. I just write in different environments and different things come out. The band, whether its King's X or Platypus, just gets together and writes. It's the vibe of the environment that affects the songs.
Guitar.com: Please Come Home is the second consecutive King's X album you've produced. Why did you decide to take on production duties?
Tabor: In the past we always had to compromise in some way with someone who wasn't a band member. When we broke loose from Atlantic Records we said, "Here's our chance to start over and get things back to where they were when we enjoyed things." We realized we wanted to make albums the way we wanted to make them, period.
Guitar.com: For a long time King's X was on a major label. How do you compare your days on Atlantic to life with your current indie label, Metal Blade Records?
Tabor: We hated being on a major label. By the time we did Ear Candy in 1996 we were about ready to quit. Atlantic gave us no support whatsoever. When Ear Candy came out they didn't run one single ad in one major magazine to let anyone know that there was a new King's X album. That's how pitiful it was there. But they wouldn't let us out of our contract because they liked the critical acclaim the band had always enjoyed and the bit of integrity [our reputation] brought to the label and we realized it was because we hated our situation at our record company so bad. When we finally got out, Metal Blade made us a pretty attractive offer. We had some bigger labels offer us deals, but we chose Metal Blade because of the freedom they give us. We wanted to be able to enjoy our work again.
Guitar.com: Who writes most of the lyrics, and do you and Doug sing each others lyrics, or stick to singing you own lyrics?
Tabor: Its pretty evenly split between the three of us. That's the way we do it in general. Doug sings most of the stuff I write and always has. Personally, I like to consider Doug the lead singer, and if he gets a vibe for one of my songs, it's always preferential for him to take the vocal. I don't consider myself a lead vocalist, and I don't like singing live too much. But if Doug doesn't quite feel the vibe of the song, he'll encourage me to do it. When I sing, its my lyrics.
Guitar.com: The lyrics seem to be getting more abstract with each album. What are some of the lyrical themes on the new album?
Tabor: It's kind of hard to explain, and I'd rather not. We've never been very cooperative in trying to explain songs. Sometimes it's personal and you disguise it for that reason. It always amazes me what people think of the songs. You paint a picture and that picture is what it is. It's meant for each person to get something different from it. That's what real artwork is. Its like, anytime I see a long explanation under a painting, it only takes away what I was getting from the painting.
Guitar.com: The official production credit reads Produced by Ty Tabor and Kings X. Why isnt it just Produced by Kings X?
Tabor: I'm the team leader who runs the board, gets the sound, and molds some of the sonic ideas. But it's not like totally everything is my say. I'm just basically the person at the helm running the ship. That's why it's produced by Ty Tabor and King's X. We all throw in our ideas. If somebody doesn't like an idea, it doesn't hurt any of our feelings. Our goal is to adapt our style of playing so that everybody is happy with it. We work so good as a team that it's been a long time since anything came to an argument in the studio.