Here we go again… Last year we covered every band on the Hobgoblin New Blood and Jagermeister stages in the run-up to Bloodstock 2015. This year, we’re going one better and aim to have interviews from all the bands on those two stages as well as all of those on the SOPHIE stage prior to the event kicking off on August 11th. That’s almost 100 interviews to get online for you lucky people over the course of the next couple of weeks. I bloody love this job, but you lot owe me a beer at Catton Hall, right?
Thanks to all the bands who’ve taken the time to respond!
The King Is Blind – SOPHIE stage, Saturday
Vocalist Steve Tovey tapped away at a keyboard for us…
Simple things first – where are you guys from?
The wilds of East Anglia, England.
How did you meet?
The roots of The King Is Blind go back over twenty five years with school friends sharing a discovery of Heavy Metal, as myself and Lee (Appleton – lead & rhythm guitars) skived off lessons to spend hours searching through old rock and metal vinyl at our local record store, Time Records. It is a bond that, in 1995, saw us form our first band together, Entwined. The band recorded one album for Earache Records and toured with the likes of Morbid Angel and Orange Goblin. We also played several shows with fellow East Anglians, The Blood Divine, where a friendship with TBD guitarist Paul Ryan-Reader, that had begun in Paul’s days with Cradle of Filth, was furthered.
Neither Entwined nor The Blood Divine were to last, with both bands dissolving around the turn of the millennium but we remained firm friends and it was many years later, in 2013, that The King Is Blind was conceived. With a riff.
A fucking heavy riff…
Spending the summer of 2013 working on four songs that would form the promo/demo Bleeding The Ascension, Lee and I made two songs available online to test the water. The response was immediate and overwhelmingly positive. Within days Paul had been in touch offering to help, an offer that led to Paul joining the band. Paul recommended drummer Barney Monger of Extreme Noise Terror, who formed an instant fit. A first rehearsal with saw creative sparks fly, and the track “A Thousand Burning Temples”, which appears on our debut EP The Deficiencies of Man, (Mordgrimm) was written in that first session.
When it came to recording our debut album, Our Father (Cacophonous Records) we realised we needed a final piece to complete the band dynamic, and help us progress one stage further.
The album required some challenging vocal parts – because it’s a concept album, and in deference to King Diamond, there are several different lead vocal styles and inflections for the different characters, all within the Extreme metal styles. Without the bass I found I could really concentrate on giving each line the energy and ferocity it deserved, so we enlisted Ceri Monger as our new bass player, leaving me free to stalk the stage like an unleashed apex predator to be able to replicate this vocal bludgeoning live.
Some of you will know Ceri from his work in one of the UK’s truly great bands, New Model Army, others will know him as the brother of TKIB drummer Barney. He’s a great musician, and a really cool guy to have around.
Where does the name of the band come from?
It’s a play on the famous phrase “In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king”. It’s a comment on how our modern leaders seem out of their depth, and are helping drag this failing world even further into the mire. And recent events worldwide and closer to home show how blind a lot of us really are…
Describe your music. What makes you unique? What are your influences – individually or as a band?
Mate, too many influences to mention, and not limited to just a couple. When establishing the parameters for The King Is Blind, we knew that to be restrictive would be self-defeating. As such, the tag “Monolithic Metal” was used to cover a multitude of metal sins. With over 45 years of metal heritage to draw upon, there would be no restraints but our imagination and the demands of the song. It’s HEAVY metal.
We put a lot of pressure on ourselves, and were exceptionally critical and meticulous in the planning and writing of ‘Our Father’.
Myself and Lee knew from the outset it was going to be a concept album, so we talked at length about what type of concept we wanted it to be. We both felt that it had to consist of songs that would make sense as stand-alone tracks, so it felt right for it to follow the lines of a Seventh Son of a Seventh Son; something truly epic in scope, that wasn’t constrained by any barriers that would stop either the music or lyrics telling a complex story.
The album had to be mapped and flow logically, with the music matching the themes and emotions of the lyrics and story. In talking about the concept, Lee pushed me to resurrect an idea I had raised during the recording of The Deficiencies of Man: to tell the story of Satan, but to take it beyond what has been covered in literature, to bring it to life, with Satan as a true anti-hero.
This isn’t a fantasy story, neither is it just a narrative. Each line of each lyric has to work on at least three levels – to further the concept around man being fundamentally flawed, to further the overarching story and also to carry a separate stand-alone message in each song.
It isn’t just about Satan vs God, or taking sides – everything is grey, there is no black or white. Let’s be clear. It is not anti-Christian. It is not anti-religion. It is definitely not anti-faith, but ‘Our Father’ is against how people use religion as a banner and a mask to commit atrocities. I am pro-equality and pro-diversity, and we stand against oppression and division, a position that is being strengthened by what is happening around us at the moment, in what truly is a turbulent and disturbing era to be living in.
The lyrics highlight the deficiencies of man; that despite thousands of years of existence, we still can’t tolerate difference. As a race we have lived in constant conflict, over land barriers, or over which God is “Better”, over whose scripture is “right”, over interpretations and misinterpretations of ancient teachings, with pride, ego and greed fuelling constant unnecessary conflict.
The starting point for the concept for the album was the song “A Thousand Burning Temples” on The Deficiencies Of Man, which is about purging clean the human race of people who sin in the name of religion, and of the truly corrupt, about starting again. But in doing so, there was a realization that even if we did, humanity is so fundamentally fucked that we wouldn’t learn. We haven’t done so far from our mistakes. We don’t teach our next generations, we don’t learn from history.
Using a host of reference materials, such as the Bible, Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained, The Last Temptation of Christ, the Book of Revelation, The Holy Blood and The Holy Grail and The Divine Comedy amongst others, ‘Our Father’ takes that premise and looks deeper into it.
It’s an allegoric tale based in the telling of Satan. It’s developing him as a literary character, and his story from his genesis through the genesis of man to resurrection, to highlight that in us all is the instinct to commit the seven sins; that, despite the incredible potential in each of us, apathy and pride, mis-teachings, and this horrific, selfish world, take over. The true creator of mankind is not God, but Our Father is Satan, and in us all, from his creation of Adam as a gift to God, through to his seed implanted in Eve at the point of the Fall of Man, are these seven failings.
It isn’t our fault, our core is flawed, but yet we still haven’t learned how to learn – how to evolve
The failing comes, but not from the child. The failing comes from the Father.
What’s your live show like – why should the baying hordes troop over to the stage you’re playing on to watch you?
Fucking powerful. On record, a lot of our music is intense, dark and cerebral, but live we allow the more “heavy metal” side of things to shine through; we don’t ascribe to the ethos of taking ourselves too seriously onstage, but we ensure the performance is deadly, and with every ounce of positive aggression we can eke out. We go out, and leave absolutely everything on the stage. It’s working so far. We recently played Download, and the tent was rammed and people were moshing before the first riff was even fully unfurled, with people outside the tent who couldn’t fit in, out there in the rain in the field headbanging and chucking the horns. Last year we launched proceedings at Damnation Festival to a fevered and full audience, so we’re doing alright in the live arena, you know. The reviews have been great, and our live reputation is ever increasing.
When/how did you find out you’d been selected to play at Bloodstock?
We love Bloodstock. Shortly after Our Father, our debut came out, Vicky Hungerford (Queen of Bloodstock) got in touch to let us know she loved the album. From there, a return to the Sophie stage (where we played in 2014) was absolutely our honour to accept.
What sort of setlist can we expect?
Hard and heavy. We do like to vary the setlist a bit based on the audience we’re playing to – at Temples Festival, we opened with “Mourning Light”, a morbid, twisted 7 minute sprawling epic. Bloodstock is part in our hearts, and it’s a fucking heavy metal festival. We’re going to be playing the aggressive stuff from Our Father, with a couple of surprises.
Which main stage band do you most hope you’re not clashing with so you can see them play?
We already know we’re on the Saturday, so we avoid clashing with Memoriam (Karl from Bolt Thrower’s excellent new band) and Slayer, so, you know what, we’re cool. The line-up is strong as fuck, with some great bands. We’re hoping to get out and see a bit of Gojira, because Magma is exceptional, but the line-up rips. When we’re not on, we’ll be out checking out most of the others. I’m looking forward to seeing Anthrax with Belladonna back as their last two albums have been strong. We’re also happy our friends in Mage and Witchsorrow will be bringing the riffs, and we’ll go check them out.
What are you working on at the moment?
Our new video, “Fragility Becomes Wrath” is being launched on Monday 25th July [you can see it below – Mosh] and we’ve just been demoing tracks for our second album. The response to Our Father has been overwhelming, it’s given us a creative boost and impetus, and it’s full steam ahead writing and bringing album two together. Like Our Father it’ll also be an allegorical concept album.
What advice would you give to a young band just starting out today?
Don’t do it for the money. Don’t do it to “get big”. Don’t limit yourselves. Particularly that last one, because far, far too many bands say “we sound like x vs y”. Fuck that shit, don’t limit it. If you’re in a band to sound like Entombed… you know what? Entombed already did it. And better than you ever will.
If you could be part of any 3-band line-up who else would you have on the bill? One band above you and one below – a chance to plug a smaller, unsigned act!
Tough, tough, tough… OK, ignoring the obvious massive headliners (Metallica, Iron Maiden), but going for someone big and heavy we respect, but not necessarily our direct audience I think we could get some great exposure from, let’s say Lamb Of God, with Barney’s hardcore band To The Nines opening (providing he could get some Monster in him between sets!)
What stage / time are you playing at Bloodstock (if you have your slot yet!)
Saturday afternoon, on the prestigious SOPHIE stage. We’ll be issuing a call to arms and ripping people’s fucking lugholes to pieces and roaring down the gaping chasm.