In an interview with Lead singer Joe Clarke, C Lue Disharoon asked THIS on 8/28/2012:
C Lue Disharoon: When did your band’s concept begin to take the shape it has now?
Joe Clarke of King Legend replies: We really didn’t know where this thing was going for a long time. We tried out all the styles we are capable of and slowly distilled the BS out and sorted ourselves into three genres. We’re currently focusing on our main style. It’s like a cocky American style rock. Cage the Elephant calls it “Strut and Roll.” I think that’s appropriate. That being said, it really didn’t completely click until we started planning this upcoming tour back in July. We hadn’t thought critically or objectively about the band until we were first asked “Who are you? What’s different about you? Where are you going?” We realized that we are The revival of rock in this country, we’re more raw and untamed than anyone else doing it, and we’re going wherever the biggest crowds in the worlds are, the crowds that still believe in raw, real music about real life.
Disharoon: Are you writing about a platonic blues girl or were you inspired by a particular person?
Clarke: The lyrics about the recurring “girl” character in all of these songs are basically a fictional account of actual events, if that makes any sense. Like the popular “Lola” or “Janie” characters, they’re as much about personal experiences as they are about that perennial person in society that takes advantage of people for short term gain. I think we all know that girl in one form or another. For instance, I talk about the girl in “She walks” leaving me at her father’s doorstep while she’s out with her friends. That’s a real story about a real…um…tramp, but in “Just got my gun back,” I say I’m going to use my gun to shoot her down. That’s obviously a hyperbole. I never shot anyone officially. As bad as I wanted to.
Disharoon: How did you pull together your Arizona tour?
Clarke: The Arizona tour was tough as hell to pull together, and in a sense, we’re still “tugging” as it were, ha. But really, after calling venue after venue and just trying to book some respectable sized gigs in Tempe… Yuma, Tucson, Flagstaff, whatever, I landed on a place called Club Red. The guy that books there was so cool and helpful. He took about an hour and broke down to me how he got started years ago. He really took me under his wing. Soon thereafter, I started trolling for bands on ReverbNation and contacting them to trade shows with them for one here in SD. A lot of really cool bands got back to me right away and we started booking. Really rad bands like the Shattered Kennys, A Boy Named Sioux, Atomic Zombies, Crash Street Kids… they were so supportive right away. It’s really exciting just knowing that we’re really doing it and doing it well. It makes us want to work even harder.
Disharoon: Do you think King Legend’s heard more by individuals with headphones or live?
Clarke: Live shows, definitely. We’ve only got four “studio” songs that make up our first demo, and the rest is all live stuff we give away via dropbox. Nobody has that stuff, even though it’s out there. We’re probably on a hundred or less Ipods right now. ha. Definitely a live band. We’re more comfortable on stage than in a studio. Always will be.
Disharoon: What was a big barrier you had to break for yourself as a guitarist, and was there an insight that encouraged you to practice and do it?
Clarke: Covers, man. Definitely. I had a mental block for years about learning and performing other people’s music. Ryan and Blake urged me for the last two years to just learn someone else’s stuff, and i flat out refused. I mean, they’re both way better than i am, musically and technically, and they both know tons of cover songs. it blows me away. It was just time to take a step back and learn from them. Lately, I’ve been beefing up my repetoire for tour, and it’s opened up so many doors, just showing me where the greats went in their journey before us. It’s amazing, and i’m glad I got over myself enough to just sit down and get to it. You’ll definitely hear some new tricks on this tour and on our radio stuff.
Disharoon: What’s your show on the ninth like? How did that come together?
Clarke: The Shattered Kennys and our friends the Atomic Zombies put together this sick show at Hollywood Alley in Mesa, Arizona for us on Blake’s birthday November 9th. We’re so stoked to play with all of these hardcore/punk bands because it gives us the chance to flex our muscles a little bit and play to the torn-jean crowd. I grew up quasi-punk in DC and it’s really refreshing to talk to people like the Kennys. Anyway, they’re putting it on and it’s going to be the shit. Really. Party of the year.
Disharoon: Did you start out playing at friends’ houseparties? K.L. doesn’t sound like a coffee shop band.
Clarke: King legend has only had like five practices ever. we started as a live band, complete strangers, and we’ve always been a live band. We speak a kind of secret language. We’ve played halfpipe parties and a shitload of dive bars, once played a pizza joint, a few festies and big clubs and all ages and colleges. Never a coffeshop, tho. ha. No, I don’t think we could open for Moldy Peaches or something like that.
Disharoon: Which song has changed the most from its inception?
Disharoon: What’s your favorite moment you’ve had in concert?
Clarke: The second time we played 4th and B. definitely. The venue or whoever booked us or whatever tried to stop us from playing, and we had to fight our way on stage. We only got 20 minutes, but the crowd went nuts and by the end of it, we were the best show of the night. I don’t want to come off as arrogant here. That said, we’ve always been the underdog, and we’ve always had to fight for our place. It felt good to kill it that night, and the crowd was so cool afterwards. That was a real turning point for us.
Disharoon: Have any of your riffs come to you in dreams?
Clarke: Not really, I guess unless you count opium dreams. The name of the band did come to me in a dream, though. I was hanging with Blake and Ryan at some lavish CD release photo shoot in it. Like everything else, it just worked out right, and fit us.
Disharoon: When did K.L. become a serious professional focus, or did you always want to do something in entertainment and just started paying attention to this?
Clarke: We’re all really focused. this is the first band we’ve each been in that really speaks to us as musicians and lets us do what we want with our music.
Disharoon: How often do you rehearse as a band? Do you have a story about a song that contained a conflict of direction before it meshed, and was the conflict between personnel or just in your own decisions?
Clarke: We don’t really fight. When we do, it’s over stupid shit, and we pretty much just talk it out and get over it. We’re all so focused- and having so much fun, the group is too valuable to break or stop for any one of us. We’re married to it man! So no, our songs and our style are really organic and they progress naturally. Blake and Ryan have such good sensibilities about music, if they don’t like something I bring to the table, they just tell me. It has to be that way, or things just get hung up and bejiggity.
Disharoon: What kind of legacy do you want for King Legend?
Clarke: We want to come out and tell the outcast kids that being a lame ass, or a pushover or a wimp ain’t cool anymore, and it’s okay to be yourself. We (the band) all grew up listening to music that told us that, and it was so important, it still is. We’re taking up that torch and we hope that our statement as well as our sound stays in the fabric of history forever. .Sounds corny or maybe even trite, but I really believe that’s what we’re doing, and we’re not stopping until one of us gets shot, turns to smooth jazz, or dies in a plane crash.
Disharoon: Do you take a particular thing to shows for luck or focus?
Clarke: Blake brings a small golden frog with a coin in it’s mouth. I don’t know why. the thing is pretty freaky. Other than that, i think that my 1968 Harmony and Ryan’s clear kit are good luck. maybe they just feel right in our hands. they serve us well. I guess it’s the fans that bring us the real luck, though. that’s what we bring to every show. Clerics, Mages and scholars in the church of King Legend.
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Unless you were raised on the back of a motorcycle, KL is not a bedtime lullaby! But if you like that crunchy, blues-based vintage rock and roll sound, a la Cage the Elephant, White Stripes, Kings of Leon...you should go here and look for their songs and their next shows!