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The Joe Kings

FasterLouder took the chance to sit down with the young, excitable Jack Stirling of The Joe Kings, the band’s lead singer, guitarist and keyboardist and chat about life in the band and what exciting things lie ahead for them with their approaching EP launch and tour.

What has been the biggest inspiration for your music?
My main excitement about music when I first started was to write upbeat and kind of exciting and very rhythmic rock and blues. I find that the idea of starting a party or that feeling when a song starts you’re mood changes completely and you’re uplifted and excited.

For instance people would listen to particular music before they go out or have a particular party playlist, because it makes people feel a certain way, emotionally and even physically it even gives you a buzz. So at the start what really inspired me was really old rock and blues artists and soul artists that have these amazing rhythms like James Brown, and Otis Reading, they’re my main influences just in excitement of writing something upbeat and funky. So yeah, the excitement of starting a party.

What’s been the best place you’ve performed at so far?
Blues’n’Roots. We played Blues‘n’Roots at the start of this year and that was amazing, such a good day, the best artists to play alongside, and just the best vibe.

There’s been a heap of really good gigs though, actually the Fly By Night was really fun, that was crazy. The Fly By does just remind me of like a big party, like a big expensive house party, you know when you’re younger and some guys just organised the craziest parties like they have it in some huge warehouse somewhere, that’s what it reminded me of at our last EP launch, to be able to play and be comfortable and just drink and party and not be nervous of what the crowds going to do, or what your going to play. A lot of the time in smaller venues that’s actually far more nerve racking and far more intense to play.

What were you guys doing before you were The Joe Kings?
It started with just me and Phil, I finished school in 2007 and got into architecture and decided not to study for the first year and take a year off and see how it went. I was playing solo and just writing acoustic blues kind of by myself and playing around a bit.

That started going really well and at the end of the first year I left school I bumped into Phil, I was working at a music store and he had just come over from England, his whole family had moved over here a few months before, and he got into this really prestigious guitar school in England so he flew back and he was really excited about going there and studying guitar. But something had gone wrong with his accommodation and he ended up not being able to stay there and study the course, and he couldn’t stay anywhere in England so he had to fly back here, so he was pissed off, and was like hating life and three days later he met me at a guitar store in the city.

I quit the guitar store straight after that ‘cos we just jammed and started to make a band, and started playing as a duo, and that was it. And we played as a duo for about a year and a half or two years, we recorded the EP Calls in the Night. From that we got the Blues’n’Roots gig and the Southbound gig so we needed a full band, and we found Ryan our drummer, he was a session blues drummer at Mojo’s and he had crazy big spiky hair and a mean shuffle, and then his good friend Riley is a bass player. And so that was about 8 or 9 months ago.

What’s been the best thing you guys have been able to get away with, because you’re in a band?
The worst thing about trying to get away with something is when you get caught.

We’ve gotten in quite a lot of trouble for quite a few things. Like when we just finished recording the EP we had a day out after spending a month locked away recording in our managers house in West Perth. Imagine being locked away in a room with three boys, twiddling small knobs on a big board, uh that sounded very gay didn’t it? So when we finished that we were so happy to be out of it and not have any work to do so we went crazy and I think we had one crazy night out in Leederville and we got extremely drunk and were there with our girlfriends at the time and Phil ran across the road and mooned me in the middle of Leederville on a Friday night so I was like ‘I’ll show him’, and took all my clothes off except for my boxers and my socks, and I sprang across the road and me being a fool I listened to Phil when he said, ‘Jack the cops are here, run!’ And if I hadn’t of run they probably wouldn’t have seen me, but I listened to Phil and ran and tried to hide.

I ended up hiding behind a keg and then I was grabbed by an undercover cop and I pulled away and ran off and all these other cops came and grabbed me and I was like this little skinny kid in green underwear running around in Leederville, it was pretty ridiculous. We actually did get away with it though, they said we’re going to charge you for drunk and disorderly or something like that but nothing ever actually came out of it.

I think the best thing you can get away with though is playing a great gig and after you get a bit more leeway than the average punter and you can get a bit wilder and a bit drunker. The bouncers will be like ‘what’s going on over there?’ And then the owners will be like ‘oh no its okay, they played, let them go’. Like Phil will be running around naked somewhere, or I’ll be hanging off the roof or something. So okay we do get away with a little bit…

If you had to describe your music in one word, what would it be?
That’s the fucking hardest question… I guess raucous and exciting. Excitement I guess is what we try to achieve. But I’d probably say exciting.

What song would you happily never hear again?
I don’t know who it’s by but I had this song stuck in my head for about three months and like I nearly killed myself, its you know that song; “ain’t nothing gonna break my stride, ain’t nothing gonna slow me down, oh no, I got to keep on moving…” it just like pure pop and that was killing me, and now its going to be stuck in my head for another month because I just remembered it again, and probably you as well.

How are your mums?
All our mums? Yeah they’re all pretty intense, they all want to be involved, but then like none of them want to hear like ‘yeah we had lots of gigs and got really drunk after every gig’, they don’t want to hear that. They’re more like ‘oh my Jacky boy he’s doing really well’. They’re all happy but nervous for us, because we’re planning to move to Melbourne. But they’re very helpful, mothers are always trying to help us out and ring you up; ‘oh Jack I just heard a song on the radio, I don’t know what the name of it was and I don’t know who it was by, and I don’t know how it goes, but I’m sure you’d like it.’ I’m like thanks mum, thanks a lot. But they’re all pretty excited and they all want to be involved, and hopefully going to push the launch, and get all their friends to come.

If you could go back in time, where would you go and why?
Probably to London in the late sixties, cos I think there would have been a lot of amazing music, yeah London or America in the late sixties. It sounded like a pretty free spirited kind of time, a lot of pioneers of rock and roll and that sort of thing were coming out.

When the first records came out there’d be lines down the street to a record store and that sort of buzz doesn’t really exist that much now, because there’s so much music everywhere and its so accessible to everyone, especially with the internet and that sort of thing, whereas back then when news came out whoever read the newspaper first was the first person to hear it. And whenever records came out, the first person at the record store was the first person to hear it whereas now, the day after something’s finished recording its released on the internet as some sort of link or some free release or something like that. It’s not as imperative to get it right there, people are like ‘ah don’t worry I’ll download it sometime’... And of course iTunes downloading, not illegal downloading (haha).

Performing at Blues’n’Roots and Southbound would have been incredible, who were the best and worst performances?
I really really liked Buddy Guy at Blues’n’Roots, and I really really like John Mayall and Jeff Beck of course was amazing.

At Southbound I saw a band play called King Khan and the Shrines, he was this amazing sort of fat Indian or Pakistani guy who just sung like funk soul, full James Brown but he had like a cape on, no shirt, just tiny little spandex briefs. And I think they were all actually from Germany, he had this full band of really straight kind of horn players in suits, it was just an amazing show, really out of place, it was so funny. They were amazing, that opened my eyes.

The worst, I don’t remember I wouldn’t have stayed there long enough to have even noticed.

What was it like winning the favourite newcomer WAMI?
It was amazing; super unexpected and just super exciting. Any help you get it’s like a pat on the back or something, it has an unbelievably positive effect on the band because if your doing so much work, postering, rehearsing, writing, recording, and people take notice of it and winning the WAMI award was a good reflection on that. It’s not only us I mean a lot of bands work really hard and it is kind of sad to see bands work that hard and not get that thanks by anyone, but its like I said before there’s so much music it’s impossible to do that for everyone, so we were lucky and really happy to have that label given to us. And it boosted moral and to think fuck yeah, if we keep going where we’re going we can make something out of it, so hopefully that’s the way its gonna happen.

Do you get a lot of support from other bands?
Yeah, we’re friends with a whole heap of the bands around Perth and they’re always really positive, Perth’s so small there’s not really any place for ‘oh these guys are dickheads, these guys are really bad,’ y’know, I mean that’s not the reason why people are polite and friendly, but it just helps the fact that a lot of the bands are positive and we’re all doing it for the same reason, we’re all playing music because we love it.

Rock and Roll is just the best way of life I guess, writing music and playing in a band, it’s just the best thing, everyone understands that the other bands feel the same way, so yeah its good. And that’s the other good thing about Blues’n’Roots and that sort of thing is meeting up with local artists and the WAMI events and the parties Xpress and Drum Media hold, it’s really good, it’s like this really nice, positive community. And I love it.

When was the last time you thought ‘never again’?
Probably on Sunday morning, at the end of Saturday night when I started drinking red wine that had been lying out in the morning sun. I’d been up all night and once we ran out of normal beers we went to emu exports and I thought ‘never again’ after that, and then I kind of woke back up about 5 or 6 in the morning. This was at a friends 21st we played at and yeah that afternoon was when I decided never again am I going to drink warm red wine that’s been lying in the sun on a Sunday morning, and expect to be in some sort of consciousness. Never Again.

What was the first record you ever bought?
There was these hip-hop DJ’s called the Wise Guys. And they mixed a lot of really old records with hip hop kind of beats, and it was very pop-y, I remember hearing a song called Ooh La La, I don’t know how old I was probably 11 or 12 when I remember just hearing this song Ooh La La and I thought that sounds killer and had a really killer beat. So yeah, I went out and bought the CD and I remember it was with my birthday money or something, and I’d saved it, probably the last time I’d ever saved any money, but my mum said run in grab the record and I ran back to the car and put it in and the first song actually had a whole heap of swearing in it, so my mum was like ‘what is this?’ but its was okay I quickly kind of ejected it and said oh don’t worry I’ll listen to it when I get home… I don’t think my mum was too impressed.

If you could meet anyone in the world who would it be?
Neil Young, he’s amazing.

What are you most looking forward to for your national tour?
Just playing venues, playing to a complete new crowd and being out of my comfort zone with the band, and partying. That was the most exciting thing about any of the tours we’ve done up north or down south. It’d just be so exciting to think we’d got ourselves over there and hopefully get some good shows going and get some excitement going over there, sell some CDs.

What was your very first gig as The Joe Kings like?
Uh, pretty horrendous. It was just me and Phil, so I guess our first gig back as me and Phil, as soon as we arrived there I dropped this little amp I had down some stairs by accident while we were loading in, and it busted, as soon as we plugged it in it was like grrrrr, like screaming, crunching and squealing and so yeah that was pretty hard. And so we played through the same amp.

But the first gig we played as The Joe Kings with the full band, was New Years Eve with Abbe May at the Norfolk Basement which was an awesome gig, it was packed out it was crazy, a full party. But again I think we had some crazy technical difficulties like a lead didn’t work or something, the keyboard didn’t work so we ended up only playing four songs, but it was good, it was a good party gig. It was a good way to kick it off.

What’s next?
We’re super excited for our launch and the tour and as soon as we get back we’re playing Blues at Bridgetown and Norfolk Lanes. But the launch is only two weeks away and I’m super excited to see how it’s going to turn out, the Fly By is a huge venue I’m pretty nervous with how its going to fill out. Life’s good, everything’s good and there’s some pretty amazing music. And I’m just very happy to be doing what I’m doing now and still alive.

The Joe Kings tour:
Saturday 2nd October – Fly By Night, Perth
Friday 15th October – Uni Bar, Adelaide
Saturday 16th October – The Pretoria, Mannum
Wednesday 20th October – The Espy, Melbourne
Thursday 21st October – The Evelyn, Melbourne
Friday 22nd October – St Kilda Foreshore, Melbourne
Saturday 23rd October – The Sand Bar, Mildura
Sunday 24th October – The National, Geelong
Thursday 28th October – ANU Bar, Canberra
Friday 29th October – The Excelsior, Sydney
Saturday 30th October – Wickham Park Hotel, Newcastle
Thursday 4th November – Port MacQuarie Hotel
Friday 5th November – Swtell, Coffs Harbour
Saturday 6th November – Pacific Hotel, Yamba
Sunday 7th November – The Rails, Byron Bay
Wednesday 10th November – Step Inn, Brisbane

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