INTERVIEW: FERGUS LINACRE, KINGSWOOD – March 2017
By Shane Pinnegar
Kingswood entered 2017 having toured the country supporting AC/DC, recorded the follow-up to debut album Microscopic Wars in Nashville, and leapt into Triple J’s Hottest 100 at #48 with Creepin’. After Hours, Close To Dawn is out now, presaging a national tour, and it sees the band vastly widening their musical palette, imbuing their riffy rock with tantalising hints of The Beatles, Queen, Elton John, Aretha Franklin and the like. SHANE PINNEGAR explored the albums creation with singer Fergus Linacre.
KINGSWOOD – After Hours, Close To Dawn National Tour
THU 23 MAR – SOOKIE LOUNGE – BELGRAVE, VIC
FRI 24 MAR – 170 RUSSELL – MELBOURNE, VIC
SAT 25 MAR – THE GOV – ADELAIDE, SA
WED 29 MAR- THE CAMBRIDGE – NEWCASTLE, NSW
THU 30 MAR – WOLLONGONG UNI – WOLLONGONG, NSW
FRI 31 MAR – THE METRO – SYDNEY, NSW
SAT 1 APR – ANU BAR – CANBERRA, ACT
THU 6 APR – MIAMI MARKETTA – GOLD COAST, QLD
FRI 7 APR – THE TRIFFID – BRISBANE, QLD
SUN 16 APR – THE TORQUAY HOTEL – TORQUAY, VIC
FRI 21 APR – DISCOVERY – DARWIN, NT
THU 27 APR – SETTLERS TAVERN – MARGARET RIVER, WA
FRI 28 APR – PRINCE OF WALES – BUNBURY, WA
SAT 29 APR – THE CAPITOL – PERTH, WA
Fergus: It’s all happening – it’s all happening! It’s very exciting.
100% ROCK: The response so far, from the media and fans has been very encouraging.
Fergus: Yeah, it certainly has. They seem to understand that we tried to make something bold and new. I think it’s going well.
100% ROCK: Well ‘bold’ is a really good word to use. Having supported AC/DC last year, some people might have thought that you’d go down an even more rock road, but you’ve really embraced a whole lot of other influences instead.
Fergus: Yeah, totally. It is certainly diverse. We just wanted to make the best music we could. When you’re in the moment in the studio, if you want strings and flutes and whatever, you know, you just go for it. But yeah, the response has been really good.
Recording in Nashville again, the band used Eddie Spear – who engineered the first record – as their producer this time round, and he has certainly helped Kingswood expand their sound.
Fergus: We just got on really well with him. He’s an Englishman living in Nashville who’s our age, and we just bonded so much [when] we recorded the first record. We kept in touch ever since, and caught up over time and kept talking about music, and kept talking about new technology. He’s just an extremely passionate man. It’s almost like we never even had the discussion who’d do the next record: it was just so natural that Eddie would do it, you know?
100% ROCK: There’s a lot more focus on your vocals and the vocal melodies on this album. They really seem to the forefront of most of the songs.
Fergus: You’ve nailed it. One of the things that we’d do when we were workshopping songs, the test was, can you stand in the room right now without the guitar or piano and just sing the songs? If someone walks in the room and sings, ‘yesterday, all my troubles seem so far away,’ it’s immediate – that’s a great song, because the melody is so good. We didn’t want to hide a less engaging melody or lyric behind the music to cover it up. When you stripped it all back, if it works like that, then we move on and we do the rest around it. You’ve nailed it – it was a lot about having great melodies.
100% ROCK: Big City is practically a country ditty. Did that stem from recording in Nashville and soaking up that vibe?
Fergus: It was kind of special, that one, it was great. In the studio we certainly knew that it was going to be a different one, a bit of a country song. We just put our heads down, it turned out really well, I think. It’s definitely sort of a country song. It had that Nashville vibe.
100% ROCK: Who sang the female vocals on the closing song, Why Do I Get Stuck When You Arrive?
Fergus: That’s Christian Rogers. She’s a singer from Nashville, and she sang on the first record as well. She’s a friend of ours and a friend of Eddie’s. She was great. That last song’s quite a journey – it was this huge big, everyone in a different room banging a different drum, percussion experiment, that came from a dream that Al [guitarist and main songwriter Alex Laska] had. There was all this crazy melotron and percussion going on, and this vocal, and we were just like, ‘this song sounds like a death march.’ So then it got stripped back to just a vocal, pretty much – almost no percussion and just the vocal melody, and that was how it turned out.
100% ROCK: And you cut it down to only one minute eighteen. That could’ve been a hit [if it were a more traditional length], it’s one of the songs that really stood out to me.
Fergus: It was certainly a discussion that we had. It worked really well, just like a little end of the album tie-off, kind of thing. I was saying to Al, ‘are you sure you don’t want to just save this and work on it properly later, and turn it into a proper song?’ I agree, I always liked it and it’s a really nice song. I think it does work really well just to end the album.
100% ROCK: It does work as a little snippet thing at the end there – it’s a little bit Beatles-like. And there’s a few other tips of the cap to The Beatles as well, especially in the production of songs like, Belle and Alabama White, even the boogie woogie rock and roll of Like Your Mother. Was that a conscious thing? Were you listening to The Beatles when you were writing and were recording?
Fergus: Certainly, yes. They’re a big influence on all of us. Also, through the production as well, the way this record sounds, is phenomenal and that’s something that will grab your ears as well: the way the toms sort of slap back at you and stuff. The Beatles are the greatest band ever – we did listen to a lot of it, and talk about how they achieved such great sounding music, and we wanted to grab what we could from that. So yeah, certainly.
100% ROCK: Have you given much thought to how you’re going to recreate these songs live?
Fergus: It’s very exciting – we’re working on all that now. So, it’s five of us on stage, and we’re running a light show that sort of time-trained into the tracks. It’s quite a step up, production-wise for us. It’s gonna be pretty amazing. I walked into the studio the other day, and there was no instruments in the tracking room. There was just all these lights set up. Because we’re playing the songs and then programming the lights to match them. It’s a pretty heavy show that’s coming out.
100% ROCK: What’s the significance of the title, After Hours, Close To Dawn?
Fergus: We went to a Japanese restaurant, and we said, ‘we’re not leaving this restaurant until we have an album title.’ Because we’re terrible at that kind of thing. It takes ages, we bounce ideas around, we love them, we hate them. It’s a lyric from Creepin’, the lyric is just ‘After Hours And Close To Dawn’. It just popped out and we thought, ‘why haven’t we thought of that before?’ I think it sort of captions that time in the night when all the good stuff happens, so we named the album after that.
100% ROCK: You recorded Microscopic Wars with Jeremy Hunter on bass. How were things different this time around without him there?
Fergus: It was definitely a different dynamic. Braden [Michetti], who played bass, has just done an amazing job. He plays with us now. It was more like, rather than a bass player playing bass parts, it was more like the bass parts were written as more as part of the ensemble. They’re all written by Alex and I think that it made for a very concise ensemble of instruments, that kind of thing.
100% ROCK: You said there would be five of you onstage on the tour. Who’s the extra bod?
Fergus: The extra man is a man called Marco Belson, who used to sing in Hunting Grounds. He’s a brilliant musician and a wonderful person to have on the road with us.
100% ROCK: Well it sounds like it’s all coming together for you guys. Are you making much headway overseas?
Fergus: A little bit. A couple of the new tracks are playing in The States and in Europe. We’ll wait and see how the album goes coming out over there. And then, hopefully get over there and do some touring when we will spend a bit of time in The States. So we’ll just have to wait and see how it all goes.
100% ROCK: Exciting. You’re obviously aiming to be in this for the long run, and making Kingswood one of the great Australian bands. You’re not afraid of stepping out of the box and doing something that’s pretty unique. It seems like you’re really on track.
Fergus: Yeah, absolutely. We have completely committed to this. It’s not like a bit of fun on the side, it’s completely what we do and we want to do forever. We just want to keep it going and we do care a lot about the music. We want it to be good. We don’t want to write songs that might do well because they’re catchy and thrashy or something like that. We want to make music that’s gonna stand, and be great.
An edited version of this interview was first published with X-Press Magazine in March 2017
Filed Under: Interviews
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