King Bison Interview
Another band that I’m looking forward to with some relish is the West Country Southern Fried Heavy Metal of King Bison. Big, ballsy and in your face in the style of Clutch and Corrosion of Conformity, these boys will rock the rafters of the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage. Frontman Karl was good enough to supply the answers to my questions.
Paul: Let’s start with a quick history of the band and introduce us to the current line-up.
Karl: “We started King Bison in 2016 although most of us have been in bands together for about 20 years. My name is Karl and I am the shouter, we have the big man Ali on lead guitar, Milfy on rhythm guitar, Rohan on bass, backing vocals and the beat master is Hardin”.
Paul: I had a listen to your EP, Snake Head Burial, which I think was released last year. It’s a stomping bit of heavy which I enjoyed very much. For those who haven’t heard of you, summarise the King Bison sound.
Karl: “Thank you very much. Our sound is a solid blend of Southern heavy Rock and Metal. Big grooves and catchy choruses with my gravely bark thrown in”.
Paul: Who are the main influences for the band?
Karl: “Lots of influences really. The obvious Pantera, Down, Clutch, Metallica and then also stuff like Snot. They had great style and variation on the album Get Some. A truly great record that is still played regularly me now”.
Paul: Surprise us with something you also like? What’s the guilty pleasure?
Karl: “I am into a lot of different music to be honest and I like what I like. Future Islands are a regular go to for me”.
Paul: You guys are from Plymouth. What’s the metal scene like there. How would you describe it?
Karl: “Plymouth has a pretty good metal scene to be fair and being in the metal to the masses competition has highlighted just how strong the local talent is. I don’t get out as much as I’d like, and I don’t get chance to support the scene as much as I wish I could but there are some good venues and good people working hard to keep live music in general alive and kicking in the city so big hats off to them”.
Paul: The main purpose of our interviews is to preview some of the bands who qualified for the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage via Metal To The Masses. Every band we’ve interviewed has worked incredibly hard to get to a position where they were ready for Metal To The Masses. Tell us your road to the final story
Karl: “Well in 2017 we got to the semis of the comp but had to withdraw because of one reason or another. We were gutted and said 2018 will be our year! We knuckled down hard and got our set in order and just took each heat as it came and made sure we were tight enough so we could really enjoy it rather than think about it. It made all the difference and we rocked our way to the final in true King Bison style.
Paul: Did you feel confident you could get to the MTTM final?
Karl: “Yes, very convenient we could get to the final. We have worked incredibly hard with this band and knew we could deliver good live shows and stand out from the crowd”.
Paul: Tell us about the build-up to the final; how did you manage to balance gaining support and avoiding saturating everyone?
Karl: “It’s a tough one as we did not want to bombard and beg people to support us but we also knew we had to advertise and get people there for us as votes count plus the more people there the better the venue does and hopefully they will continue to host the comp. Tuesday night heats in Saltash were always going to be tricky for any band to drum up support but to be fair our support was good and we are very grateful to anyone who came down and supported us and supported Livewire. The people who run that place are superb and what they do for the community is just incredible. The world is a better place with people like that around”.
Paul: And the final itself? What was that like and how did it feel when you got announced as winners.
Karl: “A really good turn out on a Friday night, really great performances and being announced as Simon Hall’s special guests was just insane. We were buzzing!”
Paul: You’ve got a Friday slot on the New Blood Stage; You’ll know your times, but the current billing looks like you could be going toe to toe with Emperor. Regardless, you are playing at Bloodstock and there are some brilliant other new bands. What can we expect from you guys – why should those who are undecided come and watch?
Karl: “You can expect one of the most entertaining 30 minutes of the entire weekend. A big groove injected Metal N Roll party with plenty of laughs and attitude. Oh, and a little surprise thrown in for good measure! Seriously tho, if you are undecided on what to do at the time we are on, come in and give us a go. I guarantee you will be head banging and drunk before you know it!”
Paul: Who are you looking forward to seeing at BOA this year?
Karl: “Judas Priest, Devildriver, Fozzy, Suicidal Tendencies, Gojira to name a few”.
Paul: Have you been to Bloodstock before? For anyone who has yet to experience Bloodstock, why should you go?
Karl: “First time for me but the lads in the band who have been before rate it as the best metal fest in the UK. They have said it’s a great lay out and set up and seriously well organised and on top of that a fantastic Ale selection. I can’t wait!”
Paul: You’ve been going for a couple of years. Share some of your highlights so far.
Karl: “It’s been slow and that’s down to the nature of the business these days. We all have full time jobs and family’s so it’s hard trying to get a band on anything or anywhere especially if you are new. People don’t really take a gamble on bands they haven’t heard of, so it’s been tricky getting gigs out of town.
Supporting Hed Pe in Plymouth was a wicked night tho so that is one of my highlights so far. Getting to Bloodstock is obviously our greatest achievement yet and when we play Friday it will be a dream come true”.
Paul: After Bloodstock what ‘s next for the band?
Karl: “Hopefully we will be spotted at Bloodstock and given a record deal and shit loads of cash and the chance to tour the world................. If only ha! We have said that after the festival we will come straight back in the studio and record our debut album. Then just take it from there. Hopefully getting the chance to play around the country would be ace”.
Paul: Finally, you describe yourselves as Southern Fried Heavy Metal. I’m vegetarian. What can you do for me?
Karl: “We can offer you first dibs on Hardin’s veg patch”.
I’m not sure of the quality of Hardin’s veg patch in comparison to my own; Mrs H is a ferocious gardener but I’m looking forward to chowing down on 30 minutes of stomping metal with the boys from Plymouth. Huge thanks to Karl for taking the time to answer the questions and I hope that he enjoys his first BOA.
First, many congratulations on winning through to the New Blood Stage. With a week to go we’ve only just been asked to do this so if you guys can turn it round quickly we can get it onto the website, so people can have a read. Thank you for your time and have a great Bloodstock.
Let’s start with a quick history of the band and introduce us to the current line-up.
"We formed in 2009. We'd all previously played in different bands and for the most part knew each other from various gigs. At Bloodstock our line-up is: Tom H, Vocals, Marcus, Guitar, Tom S, Guitar, Tristan, Bass, Noah, Drums
I had a listen to your EP, Pariah, which was released last year. It’s a slice of brutality alright. Impressive stuff. For those who haven’t heard of you, and I know you don’t like any tags or labels, how would you describe your sound.
"We love to write in odd-time, which helps bring together a groovy,technical, progressive passage through songs. We draw from a wide range of influences skipping through sub genres all over the place to create something which sounds a bit different. Our songs can be frenetic at times and controlled and melodic at others, brutal in places and more subtle and haunting in others. My personal favourite word to describe us is groovy, it's all about the groove. The word we most often get used to describe us is heavy even on bills where we have the only clean vocals of the line-up. As always the best way to find out how we sound is to have a listen."
Who are the main influences for the band?
"We have a massive range of influences among our members with us all enjoying music from a multitude of genres inside and outside the metal bell-curve. The bands we're most often compared with sound-wise are Meshuggah, Tool, SOAD, Fear Factory, Korn, Strapping Young Lad among others."
Surprise us with something you also like? What’s the guilty pleasure?
"We honestly love music from all sorts of genres, there aren't really any guilty pleasures as such.
Between us we like such a range of music it'd be hard to leave any particular bands here. All music has a time and a place.
Pariah followed your debut album, Divine Self Intervention which came out in 2015. There are some subtle differences and a progression in the song writing. How did the album and EP come about?
"The album was written over a long time period, we were all finding our way a little and pushing our boundaries. The songs were written as individual songs and we hadn't really concentrated on the album as a whole.
When it came to writing the EP I feel we had found our sound a bit more. We had a concept to write the entire EP around which helped define a solid start middle and end. This also helped with the songwriting knowing how certain tracks should sound as an overall theme and having an idea for lyrics from the Pariah story."
You won the Bridgewater area final. That’s Somerset to the uninitiated. You are in striking distance of a few cities but what’s the metal scene like there. How would you describe it?
"We have a small but veracious up and coming scene in the Bridgwater area, with a good returning fan base in the venues around town. The cobblestones has become a touring stop for some bigger bands in recent years which is great for local music fans and gives smaller bands an opportunity to gig to new people and bigger audiences. It's fantastic to see Metal to the masses coming to Somerset, the quality of the bands show that there's great music around the UK even outside the larger cities."
The main purpose of our interviews is to preview some of the bands who qualified for the Hobgoblin New Blood Stage via Metal To The Masses. Every band we’ve interviewed has worked incredibly hard to get to a position where they were ready for Metal To The Masses. Tell us your road to the final story.
"We've worked hard in recent years to write and record an Divine self Invention and the Pariah EP while gigging sporadically around the UK and Ireland. This was our third Metal to the masses. The other times we had entered the competition they were based in Swindon and Bristol so it was difficult to get our fans to make all the heats. These were great exposure letting us play to new audiences and meet bands who we've stayed friends with. This year when it was announced the competition was going to be on our doorstep it was a no-brainer, we got to play alongside friends in local bands and see the local scene flourish."
Did you feel confident you could get to the MTTM final?
"I guess the best answer is we were quietly confident. We knew we had the potential to do so and that we have a great fanbase to support us but as in all competitions it's difficult to predict the final result. We played alongside a load of great bands providing tough competition throughout. We just concentrated on doing what we do to the best of our ability and waited for the result."
Tell us about the build-up to the final; how did you manage to balance gaining support and avoiding saturating everyone?
"In the build up to the final we refined our set and made sure we could perform at our best for the occasion. We had a show beforehand to test the new set to a fresh audience, this helped us prepare. The show was well advertised, we're lucky enough to have the support of great fans and the buzz for the final was immense. There wasn't a lot of time between us being announced for the final and the event itself so over saturation wasn't really an issue."
And the final itself? What was that like and how did it feel when you got announced as winners.
"The final was fantastic. I hadn't played Bridgwater town hall before and it was a great venue with a great turnout. The entire night had a great vibe with bands mixing with each other despite the obvious tension of the occasion. All the bands gave it their all and the crowd was great. The show went well and we all had a great time. When we won it took a while to sink in and being on stage with Simon was a total manic, elated blur. Obviously we were over the moon when it all sank in. Winning a slot at the best festival in the UK was a dream come true!"
You’ve got a Friday slot on the New Blood Stage; You’ll know your times already, but Friday seems a bit of a bonus as it gives you the rest of the weekend to relax and Friday always has the biggest buzz as things start getting into gear. There are some brilliant other new bands on the New Blood Stage as well as the Sophie Tent. What can we expect from you guys – why should those who are undecided come and watch?
"Having a Friday set at Bloodstock is amazing, as you said getting to play the Friday and then having the rest of the weekend to relax and enjoy the rest of the festival is a great prospect, we're stoked. In regards to our set you can expect a full set of frantic energy. Something a little bit different. We don't just play we put on a show. Expect a wide range of musical ideas coming at you sporadically. Come along and see for yourself!"
Who are you looking forward to seeing at BOA this year?
"We're looking forward to quite a few bands. Some main acts such as Gojira and Judas Priest are on our to do list and we can't miss the Cannibal Corpse Ace Venturathon.we are also looking forward to seeing loads of the best up and coming acts in the scene such as King Leviathan, Mallum Sky, Cadance Noir, Mortishead, Turbyne and Obzidian to name a few. There's an epic lineup this year so we'll be in for a treat."
Have you been to Bloodstock before? For anyone who has yet to experience Bloodstock, why should you go?
"I personally haven't been to Bloodstock before but I've always wanted to. Loads of my mates have sang the festival's praises for years and it's amazing that I'll finally get to experience it myself. Tom S has been to the Festival numerous times and could be considered a veteran at “The best metal festival in the UK”.
I read that you supported Sepultura and Sylosis to name but two. Share some of your highlights so far.
"We've had countless great moments during our time in the band. Gigging in Italy was amazing and our Irish tour was fun too. We've been lucky enough to play alongside loads of great bands over the years. Playing alongside Napalm Death was amazing and Sepultura and Sylosis were also fantastic. Hammerfest was certainly a noteworthy high point. We've had great fun touring around the UK over the years and seeing the great metal communities up and down the country with more great gigs than we can count. Recording with Justin Hill was great. We've been really lucky to have the support of Enso Music management making the past couple of years fantastic. Winning Metal to the Masses has probably been the biggest highlight of all. I can't put into words how much we're looking forward to this."
After Bloodstock what ‘s next for the band?
"After Bloodstock we have a tour at the end of August with more dates coming through for the rest of the year. There are loads of ideas flying about at the moment and we are working on new things to come. Watch this space!"