Little King Interview

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?

Hey there, the pleasure is all mine!

Yes, currently Little King consists of Manny Tejeda (Bass and backing vox), Eddy Garcia (Drums), and me, Ryan Rosoff (Guitar and Vox).  This is about the 11 millionth line-up for Little King in the last 23 years, but hopefully this is static for a while.  Eddy has played drums on the last 3 records (Legacy of Fools 2008, OD1 2014, and Occam’s Foil 2019), so at least there’s some consistency there.

I started Little King back in 1996 when my previous band disintegrated.  I was playing with a band called Tweed Quickly with two guys who are STILL among my closest friends (Scott Marestein and Shannon Brady.)  In fact, Shannon played bass on Time Extension (1998) and Virus Divine (2003), and Scott and I have collaborated and toured many times in the last 25 years.  But when Tweed went RIP, I had a bunch of songs that I had already written that we were gonna record together, so instead of folding up my tent, I found a couple other dudes and we went hard at rehearsals and on the road.  Eventually, Transmountain was born (1997).  It was, um, fun?  Still can’t really bring myself to listen to is, but one song called “I-10” is still probably gonna make the cut for the live show.

How have those experiences impacted on what you are doing now?

Yeah, Scott was the main writer for Tweed Quickly, and he definitely had (and still has) a very eclectic approach to songwriting.  We both share some primary influences like Rush and the Beatles, but he also really introduced me to Zappa and Parliament Funkadelic when we first starting jamming.  Scott’s playing just SWINGS…and everything he writes is based on the up, so finding the one was a different experience with him.  He also is not afraid of the chromatic, and I was new to that.  I always considered it to be kind of a songwriting cop-out, if you will.  I mean, anyone can slide up a scale one half-step at a time, but he really emphasized how that can lend drama or levity to a musical passage.

What inspired the band name?

After Tweed went AWOL, I had those songs and I needed a name.  I’ve always been into hip-hop, and it seems like there are a thousand “Lil'” this and that in rap, so I thought it was kinda funny.  And, of course, the name “Ryan” is translated in Gaelic to mean Little King, so that fit as well, as it was always meant to be a vehicle to showcase my songs and make records and tour with my friends.  Here we are, almost 24 years later!

Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

I was never interested in playing in a cover band.  I did it for a minute when I was like 16 in a high school band called Green T’s (as in the first toke…get it?)  We butchered some Police and Zep covers back in the day, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I didn’t sit on my bed with my guitar for 10 hours a day to try and sound like someone else…I wanted to BE that someone else.

There are so many different ways to make an artistic statement.  I have a college degree in Creative Writing, so I certainly appreciate novels and poetry and I’ve even written a couple screenplays.  I love to draw and I’m not half bad (I actually illustrated the cover for the first album, Transmountain, back in 1997…mostly because I was too broke to pay someone to do it.)

But music called to me.  It was the synthesis of words and melodies, which satisfies my right brain, and the counting and carefully planned measures in the songs to make a maximum impact…the left brain.  Like Neil Peart wrote about on Rush’s album Hemispheres – The Heart and Mind Collided!  I love that making records involves so much art, including the cover art, which of course I’m always active in producing.  I am very proud of all of Little King’s album art, and the newest album (Occam’s Foil, 2019) is probably my favorite of all of them.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

That’s a wonderful question…thank you for asking it in such a way.

It’s always been about a creative outlet, but when my first album came out, I was 24.  I’m almost 48 now, so that was quite literally half a life ago.  When I was starting out, I just wanted to see if I could do it AND if people would like it.  I Could and the Did, although the first effort and a half were pretty uneven, so to speak.

As I aged, had kids, and thought more deeply about the passage of time, the goals changed.  I wrote the lyrics for Time Extension (1998) at age 25, and it’s basically a concept album where the protagonist is on his death bed and is looking back at his life and wishing he could go back and make some changes…every song is one of those points in his life.  So even at a relatively young age, I was acutely aware of the passage of time.

As I went on, it became an obsession about leaving a legacy…for my kids, their kids, and the universe in general.  As I said before, the creation of an album appeals so much to me on so many levels, so this is my chosen medium to make my statements to the world.  Not sure who or how many people really give a shit, but I do!  So the album Legacy of Fools came out in 2008 when I was teaching English in high school down in Texas, and I was very much thinking about the legacy I would leave as a teacher as well as a father (my son had just been born as well.)  That concept, a wilful legacy of words and music, carries me forward to this day.

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

Without question, I am a better writer, arranger, and singer.  I was not classically trained, so as a self-taught player and writer I think there is a lot more trial and error.  Mostly error at the beginning!

I am a fan of conceptual albums that tell stories, even if they’re not completely cohesive.  Again, the melodies, lyrics, production, and artwork all combine to leave a milepost on the spiral of time.  So one thing that I’ve always tried to do is play up diversity within those albums.  Key changes, different tempos and time signatures, and evolving lyrical themes all within the context of a 3 piece band…that’s been the goal.  On Occam’s Foil, and really on most of the records, there are a few special guests (the violin and cello arrangement written by David Hamilton for “The Skin That I’m In” is STUNNING).  But the ethos of reproducing live a faithful representation of what you hear on the record is important to me, perhaps more than ever now after making 6 albums.

Has it been more of an organic movement of sound or more the band deliberately wanting to try new things?

Forgive the dodge, but a bit of both, I think.  “Organic” may be an overused word in this context.  It’s organic that I want to take some different directions.  Is that forced?  No.  But maybe that’s a better word.  I know what I am and what I’m pretty good at.  I always have a notion to stretch out and try different things, but somehow it always ends up sounding like Little King!

Presumably across you guys there are a wide range of inspirations; any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

I have gone on ad nauseum in other interviews about how much Rush has influenced me and how much I admired Neil Peart’s brain, work ethic, and dignity, so I will leave that as it is and talk about some less obvious influences.

I love Vivaldi and Mozart as much as I love Iron Maiden and Tupac and Peter Tosh.  That really runs the gamut, doesn’t it?  I am drawn to equal parts of passion, skill, and intelligence.  those things transcend genre, for sure.  So those guys all are in rotation in my car.

Is there a particular process to the songwriting?

It’s music first for me.  I am the singer and guitarist, but not necessarily in that order!  Little King songs are not all in 4/4 and are not all in the same key, so I have to really make sure I have the playing of each of them down to absolute second nature.  That takes time and patience and practice.  The goal is to be able, of course, to be able to sing and play them at the same time.

My songs are dictated by what I like to play FIRST, and then I fit the words to them.  If a song makes sense to me in structure and melody without any words, then I feel like I can’t fuck it up by writing lyrics to it. Sometimes, though, the music is enough.  I don’t ever really set out to write instrumentals, but sometimes when I fall in love with a riff or a song; it just makes sense to leave it as is.  This also gives my voice a rest in a live setting!  But I have 3 companion instrumentals from the last 3 albums called “Internal Smut” (Legacy of Fools), “The Leaded Beatdown” (OD1), and “Nerve #8″ (Occam’s Foil) that are just too much fun to play…so they didn’t get words.  Poor, neglected instrumentals!  Oh…””Internal Smut” is an anagram for the word “Instrumental.”  I’m a massive dork.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Parenthood, current events, the squirrel invasion in my backyard, global pandemics, or just a failed relationship…they all make their way in, somehow.  We recorded 4 little videos this time discussing with my friend Ashley Ruark each of the lyrical themes for the songs on Occam.  I think they’re worth watching.

Give us some background to your latest release.

Occam’s Razor is a famous theory that originates with wise old Father William of Ockham, an area in Surrey, around 1300.  He believed and preached that the simplest answer is usually the correct one absent of extenuating circumstances or additional information.  I’m paraphrasing, but the Razor is a popular enough theory that it’s still regularly used, particularly in medical diagnoses, almost 700 years later.

My argument is the “Foil” to good Father William.  The counter-argument, if you will.  I think the Razor discourages deeper thought, healthy discourse, and it makes it less like that one will spend the requisite time to research and find an answer to a problem that may be much more complex that it would be at first blush.

Each song deals with that counter-argument in some way.  But in a world of social media pontification, bellicose posturing filling the void of intellectual rigor, and instant gratification, I was compelled to address the Razor in my own way…through my music.

“Hate Counter” deals with the separation of migrant children and the border as a policy enacted by our current administration here in the USA.  I always record Little King albums at drummer Eddy Garcia’s studio, Krank Studios, down in El Paso, Texas.  El Paso is on the border, and these disgusting camps were front and center in July of 2019 when all of these lyrics were written.  They were also sandwiched around the mass shooting at Walmart by a fucking racist from Dallas that killed 20+ people. I was pissed, and that music fit the bill to write an angry song.

“The Skin That I’m In” is my response to the song “Happy Home” that I wrote in 2014 as I was getting divorced and moving across the country to a place I’d never even been. It was a dark time, but I came out so much better 5 years later. “Skin” is my “marked safe from the shitstorm” song, and it deals with infidelity, paranoia, substance abuse, and triumph over these things.

“Forgotten Mile” is about turtles. Sort of…  It’s also the name of the area I lived in when I wrote these songs.  “The Foil” is sort of the title track and also references religious douchebaggery and also the Opioid crisis in Delaware and beyond.

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

The arrangements are DONE when we get in there.  Eddy learns them on drums pretty much on the fly, although I send him demos beforehand.  I don’t know how much he listens to them, though, and I don’t really care.  The dude is INCREDIBLE, and his playing is so on-point and creative that I don’t care how much he has worked out ahead of time.  I like that he brings spontaneity to arrangements that are otherwise meticulously crafted.  The other things I totally improvise are the guitar solos.  I am absolutely at my playing peak by the time I get to the studio to record, so I love to just unleash live, no rehearsal, and see where that takes me.  Again, it’s cool when juxtaposed against these arrangement.  The solos for “Hate” and “Skin” I think are the best I’ve ever done, especially “Skin” – and they were both in one take!

Tell us about the live side to the band, presumably a favourite aspect of making music?

Stay tuned, friend…all will be revealed soon.  I can say that I’ve never performed with this particular line-up and I am beyond thrilled to be able to get this to the masses someday very soon.

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it your neck of the woods? Are there the opportunities to make a mark if the drive is there for new bands?

Sure! How good are you?  How willing are you to make sacrifices in time and money?  Do you care enough to evolve?  What DO you really care about?  Is it money, fame, or just sharing your art?  I think that there are a million different avenues to promote your music, but I would like to think that the best promoted band isn’t always the one who “Makes It.”

I still hope we live in a world where the cream rises to the top.  Hope springs eternal, right?

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date? Do you see it as something destined to become a negative from a positive as the band grows and hopefully gets increasing success or is it more that bands struggling with it are lacking the knowledge and desire to keep it working to their advantage?

Again, it is what you make of it.  If your music is shit, you may have a nice short run of people close to you who love it and fill your head up with platitudes.  It’s cool to feel good about yourself, but it’s fleeting.  How does one have lasting power?  I think it’s evolution of the craft and a willingness to work hard, both creating and promoting.  I grew up in an era of paper flyers for shows in parking lots.  As that old meme goes, “You never flyered a show at a Walmart in the 90’s and it shows…”

It’s great that the playing field has been somewhat levelled.  It’s certainly easier for bands to distribute their music and have it promoted and streamed for free.  You can’t make a fucking living doing that, which sucks, but we never did really anyway.  Maybe a few of us did, but not much of a living (I just got a check from our distributor today…let’s just say in HELPED pay for toilet paper that I need during the pandemic.)

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Please just go visit and have a poke around.  Hopefully you can get a sense of why I’m still doing this after almost 25 years.  And I APPRECIATE IT SO MUCH…you can’t imagine how gratifying the reception to Occam’s Foil has been.  Manny, Eddy, and I worked so hard on this record.  Thank you for caring!

RingMaster Review 16/06/2020

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Revealing Lucifour M with Mattia Dallara

Hello and thanks for taking time out to talk with us.

Can you first introduce the band and give us some background to how it all started and what brought you all together?

All started after Marco and Michele first met in the backstage of a gig…then all developed naturally when I, Mattia, joined… we all knew each other a bit already because we come from the same area and we occasionally had the chance to do something together too…then the music just started flowing after the first musical meetings…jamming just playing live y’know…we don’t even remember the steps we made, we remember that we have been having so much fun since then…and we are here now

Had you been involved in other bands before? If so has that had any impact on what you are doing now, in maybe inspiring a change of style or direction?

All of us have been involved in other bands and projects over the years…I in Capucino or recently in Amycanbe, Michele in M+A and Marco in MACK or Orange Combutta or C’mon Tigre….everything we do influences us of course, but it is unconscious…

hummm….what we did so far in Lucifour M is mostly based on our common passion for R&B and Soul Pop Music…Jazzy pop… but this is only the start…and we are very open…and so next things will go in different directions maybe…who knows?! 😉

What inspired the band name?

It is partially based on Lucifer’s Sam song….we want an evil name…and also our names all start with M…so this is it.

 Was there any specific idea behind the forming of the band and also in what you wanted it and your sound to offer?

Not any specific idea but the fun! We just do it because we enjoy it…well maybe we also fancy some cinematic stuff…we all love cinema…and yeah we often think to our music with some image connection…and it seems working too! 3 songs of our recent EPs will be a soundtrack to a new great short film by Robert Daniel Martin called “State Of The Game”…it will be out soon.

Do the same things still drive the band when it was fresh-faced or have they evolved over time?

We are evolving sure!…but in a very natural way…we don’t like to plan too much….we want to stay always fresh if possible! J

Since your early days, how would you say your sound has evolved?

We basically write pop songs… maybe the new ones are more psychedelic?…I don’t know honestly…but there is a part of what we do that now has more of it.

Again, more of an organic movement of sound or the band deliberately wanting to try new things?

We love the “new” in what we listen to and in what we do…we are attracted by new sensations…and sounds just follow that ….in a stream of consciousness.

Presumably across the band there is a wide range of inspirations; are there any in particular which have impacted not only on the band’s music but your personal approach and ideas to creating and playing music?

Stevie Wonder…Prince….The Beatles….Radiohead…Pino Daniele…Franck Ocean…just to name a few…Jazz…Italian Music…there are so many things….sometimes you hear something that is completely unknown and never heard that could make your day …and your music can’t help but be influenced by that…giving you different ideas, changing a bit your approach….no rules and no edges really

Is there a process to the songwriting which generally guides the writing of songs?

All starts with a jam….then when it becomes a mess! J we try to make order and then some of it could become a song.

Where do you, more often than not, draw the inspirations to the lyrical side of your songs?

Life in general…Michele (the singer) loves philosophy so maybe you can hear also that in his lyrics.

Give us some background to your latest release.

Our latest release is called DUE is our second ep, the first one is called UNO, simple isn’t? 🙂 They are 2 parts of the same project, recorded during the same sessions…we just split in two together with Sonarkollektiv Berlin and K7 Records London (our labels)

Give us some insight to the themes and premise behind it and its songs.

12 songs all together, all available in digital stores….and we are preparing also a vinyl release…themes are various…all inspired by little experiences, lived, or read…or dreamed….

Are you a band which goes into the studio with songs pretty much in their final state or prefer to develop them as you record?

We are so lucky that we can jam in our own studio, we are mainly based in a studio which is often our home….so sometimes things start at home, just an idea or a riff…but more often they start in the studio and end  there as well.

Tell us about the live side to Lucifour M, presumably the favorite aspect of the band?

Yeah exactly! We are a live band…on stage we play often as four piece….we feel more comfortable. And the sound is far better…but sometimes for logistic reasons we are just 3…anyway…what you hear on record is what we do on stage…not very different…the biggest different is of course the experience…every live is a different story and the impact on us and on the audience is more powerful, and emotional

It is not easy for any new band to make an impact regionally let alone nationally and further afield. How have you found it?

We just play and play…enthusiasm brings enthusiasm, in us and in people around us, if they are fans or people of the music biz….anyway there must love in what you do, then it could be growing if we are good enough…we are keen of what we are doing, and we don’t want to stop.

There is always a chance, but you can’t think about it too much, if you want to have a chance you have to just what you do best: playing. The rest is secondary.

How has the internet and social media impacted on the band to date?

It is just the new way of listening, sharing and promote music….the problem is that there are too many artists, projects, songs etc…the good thing is the freedom….we are able to do what we want without pressure …and there are also opportunities…for example next may we will play The Great Escape Festival in Brighton, we just made and application online and they said yes – it would not be possible 20 years ago without internet

All is very fast and changing very fast…so there is always a lack of knowledge…we always have to learn every day every minute…but we like it.

Once again a big thanks for sharing time with us; anything you would like to add or reveal for the readers?

Thank you very much for having us.

Follow us on our social pages, a lot of new music is coming up – stay tuned.

Please find new EP DUE out now – link below.

RingMaster Review 16/06/2020

Copyright RingMasterReview