INTERVIEWS - published 17.8.09

Now then, the Kingcrows are a Leeds based sleaze rock act, formed in 2006, whose sound brings you back to the very spirit of punk and rock'n'roll. Dirty, fast and fun...A band who don't have any expectations but simply love playing for the hell of it. Something distinctly lacking in a lot of new music these days.

"The plan was to form a band who combined the energy of punk, the flash of sleaze and the sheer reckless abandon of being in a band with no aspirations towards a career or commercial acceptance - simply the rush of playing noisy, filthy rock 'n' roll for the pure hell of it."

Having just released their newest opus "A Murder Most Foul" which is currently streaming from their MySpace page, they're gigging it and will be in a town near you very soon. A full list of dates available on there too.

Check 'em out!

Hi folks, give us all an introduction on yourselves and the band?
How do! We're the Kingcrows - Phil E Stine on vocals, Lee J on guitar, Rocco on bass and Ratbag on drums.

Who would you say your main influences are?
Ratbag: "Loads of stuff. My three favourite bands are Motorhead, the Damned and Hanoi Rocks, and the original idea behind the Kingcrows was to try to blend those three together. Myself, I pick up influences from pretty much anything I listen to - punk, glam, bits of psychobilly, blues, basically anything with a bit of grit and earth to them. It helps that in this band we have such a wide range of influences, it means we don't sound quite like anyone else...""
Lee J: "I'd have to say, late '60s-early '70s "classic rock" bands, straightforward rock with killer choruses, ie The Who, Deep Purple, Free and later Beatles."
Phil E Stine: "UK Subs, Dead Boys, Ramones."
Rocco: "Punk, Glammy Punk, Rocky Punk, anything with Punk in the title and also anything with good backing vocals."

Would you class your music as any genre?
Ratbag: "We pretty much operate on the fuzzy borderlands between the scruffier, more rough-arsed end of glam rock and the more rock 'n' rollish side of punk."

How long have you known each other and how did you form the band?
Ratbag: "I've known Lee since primary school. We lost touch a bit in the late '90s, but then we bumped into each other at an Alice Cooper gig in 2005 and got nattering. Turns out we were both between bands and looking to start something else, so we decided to get together and see what we could come up with. Phil used to be the singer in my last serious band, Assassination Bureau; we dragged him in when we had to part company with our original singer. Rocco's the only one I didn't know before the Kingcrows, he's originally from Cumbria but answered an advert we put up after he moved to Halifax."

What inspires you?
Rocco: "Anyone who is good at what they do!"
Lee J: "Everything; life, day-to-day experiences, beer..."
Ratbag: "There had to be beer in there somewhere."
Phil: "The amount of crap bands about playing miserable songs and getting airplay! And my daughter."

Where would you like to see yourselves in five years time?
Phil: "As long as I'm still rocking I don't care."
Lee J: "In this band? I'd like us to be playing bigger venues, with our huge following hanging round like rabid dogs, fevering for another slice of our rock 'n' roll pie!"
Ratbag: "Mmm. Pie. Um...personally, I'd be happy to be in the same places, but hopefully in front of more people! We're not really in this for stardom, we just want to make a racket, have a laugh and give people a good night out."
Rocco: "On a decent sized festival stage."

What has been your biggest/most enjoyable gig to date?
Ratbag: "Probably supporting the UK Subs in Wakefield - brilliant vibe, the place was rammed and we went down a storm. We'd only recently slimmed down to a four-piece - our lead guitarist left last October and we decided not to replace him - and the reaction was a nice vindication of what we do."
Phil: "Yeah, the UK Subs one."
Lee J: "I like playing the Frontier in Batley, it's a stage set-up to die for. For 45 minutes you can pretend you're Bon Jovi. Or is that just me?"
Rocco: ""Batley Frontier - everytime!!"
Ratbag: "Oh, the Frontier's amazing, it's fuckin' huge. Massive sound system and a lightshow like the end of Close Encounters."

Any plans for recording new material?
Ratbag: "Actually we just did, we've a new seven-track mini-album coming out shortly called A Murder Most Foul. I can't resist the crow puns - the first one was called Carrion Regardless. Anyway, the new one is six full-bore punk 'n' roll tunes and an acoustic reworking of one of the songs on the first CD. We're dead chuffed with it. We'll be flogging the CD through the interweb and at gigs, but this time we're gonna have proper digital distribution too. We're gonna be on iTunes, Amazon, Napster, all those sites. Hopefully that'll extend our reach a bit, cos at the moment hardly anybody outside Yorkshire has heard of us."

Give potential new fans a reason to check you out?
Lee J: "Cos we're fucking ace!"
Rocco: "We're really good."
Ratbag: "We are, actually, yeah. More than that, though - unlike a lot of bands these days, we're bloody good fun. We don't take ourselves too seriously, we believe in jumping about and getting in people's faces and making fools of ourselves. We don't just flop about onstage trying to look angsty and damaged, we just get out there and tear it up."
Phil: "We've got energy, enthusiasm and fantastic songs!"

Who is the main songwriter in the band, or do you all collaborate together?
Ratbag: "Originally it was mostly me, I had a load of songs left over from when I was in the Poison Hearts that I wanted to use up. On the first CD, five of the songs were mine and two were Lee's. Nowadays, though, we're writing together a hell of a lot more. We've all written stuff on the new CD, and a lot of the latest material comes about through just jamming ideas out. Phil's got books of lyrics going back years so a lot of that stuff is finally coming out to play."

What's the origin of the band's name?
Ratbag: "Hehe. I'd been trying to think of a name for ages, but couldn't come up with anything. I knew I wanted a 'The' name, but couldn't think of the other bit. Anyway, one day I was driving up the road near home, and passed a flock of crows on a grass verge. Now, these crows were massive, I'd never seen crows that big before, so I said to the wife "Bloody hell, look at them f'king crows" and pretty much straight away the little light went on in my head."

What equipment do you use, and any reason for your choices?
Phil: "Just my fantastic voice, ha ha...!"
Rocco: "Rickenbacker 4001 and an Overwater, Peavey Centurion amp and Warwick 4x10 cab - reason good deal and they were cheap (relatively)."
Lee J: "I use a Crate 120 watt half stack, Epiphone Dot semi-acoustic, Epi Les Paul Gothic and Schecter Omen 6 guitars, Crybaby wah and some cheap shit valve overdrive pedal. The only reason I use these is because it's all I can afford - come on, you corporate motherfuckers, sponsor me! Now!"
Ratbag: "To be fair, that Dot is fucking beautiful. My set-up is Premier XPK drums with Zildjian and Sabian cymbals. The XPK I won in a competition in Kerrang fifteen years ago - it was a lovely kit and I knew the answers to the questions, so I filled in a hundred postcards, stuck second class stamps on 'em and fired 'em all off. The Kerrang guy rang me up and said "you really wanted this, didn't you?". I mean, fuck it, I got a pro-level kit for just over twenty quid and a bit of elbow grease, that's not bad in anybody's language. The cymbals...the ride is an old 20" Zildjian Earth Ride, a really heavy unlathed thing with a beautiful raw sound. Three crashes - Zildjian Z Custom Rock Crashes, 16", 17" and 18", loudest cymbals I've ever played. The hi-hats are Sabian Pro 14" and the China is an 18" Sabian Pro-Sonix - the Sabians are a slightly cheaper range, but they're amazingly good for the price. Oh yeah, and then there's my cowbell..."

Any advice for people wanting to form their own bands?
Rocco: "Crack on - what you waiting for?"
Lee J: "DON'T! It's too much heartache, a better idea is to join an established band and convert them to your sound, subversively. Corrosion from within!"
Ratbag: "Make sure you're doing it for the right reasons. Don't just play what's the In Thing now as a way to get signed, play the stuff YOU want to hear. If you think it's an easy way to a fortune, you're deluding yourself. Be prepared to piss away a lot of money. And for fuck's sake make sure you enjoy it, otherwise there's no point."
Phil: "Get out there and do it, but make sure the rest of the band are dedicated enough."

What is the ultimate direction for your band?
Ratbag: "To the pub, and then the kebab shop."

What's the most rock'n'roll thing you've ever done?
Ratbag: "I'd best not say, I think I got away with it."
Lee J: "I once stayed up til well after midnight, and once - only once, though - I didn't wash my hands after using the toilet."
Phil: "I don't do that rock 'n' roll cliche thing."
Rocco: "Got tinnitus."

Any pre-gig rituals?
Phil: "Alcohol."
Rocco: "Having a wee."
Lee J: "Is beer a pre-gig ritual?"
Ratbag: "I just pace round getting more and more edgy."

What are your songs about?
Phil: "Life, friends, and sex of course."
Lee J: "A few are about life experiences, but more are a collection of words that rhyme. Songs don't have to "mean" anything; they just have to be good - wherever possible, with superb hooks."
Ratbag: "Sex, urban paranoia, unrequited lust, bad relationships, fetishism...!"
Rocco: "Normal clichés - Birds, booze and fast cars, and then the truth - not having birds, not having enough money for booze and crap cars!"

How would you define the word 'success'?
Lee J: "A seven letter word beginning with S. Success to me isn't about cash, although that would be nice, it's about what bigger and better gigs you're offered and how well you're received by the swelling masses of your adoring fans."
Ratbag: "I had a swelling mass once, but I got some cream off the doctor. Hmm, me, it's just a case of being able to keep on doing what you love doing without anyone stopping you. Anything else is a plus."
Phil: "Success is relative, if just one person loves what we do then that's a success to me."
Rocco: "Signing an autograph!"
Ratbag: "Heh! We did that the other week!"

Anywhere in particular you'd love to play/support?
Rocco:i "The Cockpit, Leeds."
Phil: "As long as someone appreciates what we're doing I don't care where we play!"
Lee J: "I'd love to support Jethro Tull."
Ratbag: "Hippy."
Lee J: "I'd love to play a big stage, I mean a really stonking mother of a stage in front of a huge crowd, preferably outdoors. Is there another Live Aid coming up?"
Ratbag: "The ultimate for me would be to support Motorhead, how fucking ace would that be? I'd like to do one of those big punk weekend festy jobs in Blackpool or Brid too, so many great bands appear on them and the crowds are mad as fuck. And like Lee said, anything on a big outdoor stage."

Any final words?
Ratbag: "Support yer local bands and venues. You'll miss 'em when they're gone!"

I couldn't agree more!

- Steph Abbott