Interview | King No-One

Rising indie-rock three piece King No-One are fast building a reputation and their newest release 'Roll of The Dice’ builds on the previous success of the band.

Gorgeous vocal harmonies are matched perfectly against skittering percussion and piercing synths, while a pulsating bass and unforgettable hook serve to propel the track to its conclusion.

‘Roll of The Dice’ explores the fundamental unpredictability of life and the element of chance that is so prevalent.


While the distinctive sound of King No-One, as heard in previous singles ‘Out of My Mind’ & ‘Not Willing To Sacrifice My Life’ remains integral, there is something refreshingly bold, self-assured and euphoric about ‘Roll of The Dice’. Indeed, the air of confidence and vibrancy it delivers is the perfect embodiment of King No-One’s core essence. A band who through pure grit, talent and drive have accumulated a huge fan base bonded by a shared message of equality and epitomised by the ambitious nature of modern DIY culture. 

We had the opportunity for a truly in-depth chat with Zach about their roots, inspirations and new track 'Roll of the Dice'.


Where did the name King No-One come from? What was your inspiration come from and why is it so important to the band?

"The name means 'No-one's king - we're all born equal'. It's important because I've always had as strong sense of justice. I'm a socialist at heart and believe that nobody on this planet should have benefiting circumstances. I believe we should all have equal opportunities and I understand how hard it is to get from the world where we are which is flooded with capitalism, and oppression. As far as I'm concerned there should be no defining factor about the colour of your skin, your gender, sexuality, financial status - it shouldn't define who you are and we should all be born with equal opportunities.


I've always had a really strong sense of justice in that sense which is why the name started. That being said I was very young when I came up with the name, so it was very heavy handed on that process, and I'm not saying my morals aren't the same but they've definitely mellowed out. The name does have a very aggressive stance to it but sometimes you need that agression to be heard and I guess I am very anti-monarchy, anti-establishment and I'm dead against capitalism." I discovered you guys while on a trip to England — one day I was in Manchester and I saw you guys busking, the next day or so I went to York and you guys were playing! I recognized you immediately. How has busking helped the band grow, whether that's through generating more fans, gaining new influences from other cities, or through having impromptu performances? 

"It's a tricky one, it's not something we were proud to do to be totally honest. Looking back on it, yes, I am now but the truth behind it is we weren't born from much, we didn't have any financial backing, we had no money. We're from the North which as people know there is a lot less money circulating, there's no industry, no nothing. Busking was a means to an end - we needed to fund records and we needed to get out there in front of people so it was a two pronged attack.


We went out there and busked our own material which is turn promotes that material, people then buy the songs, go home and play them. At the same time we were advertising our live performances. What basically happened is that we were selling a big chunk of records and a lot of people would watch us on the street, we'd get crowds of hundreds - 200/300 and eventually it became a thing that this band were promoting their own material on the street and shifting a hell of a lot of records.


We basically built a system where we would turn up to get the best pitch in town and we'd play bang on 12 on this spot, play for 20 minutes and create a crowd of 100-200. We realised early on people would taper off after 6-7 songs, so bang on 20 minutes was leaving people wanting more, and they'd buy CD's so that would be their 'more' and that created a massive buzz. Then we started doing live shows in York and they started building and building and before you know it, a local band from York were putting four/five hundred people in a venue and we thought 'somethings happening here' so we applied the same logic to different cities in the UK and it really really worked. Before you know we'd go on a tour and there would never be less than 300 people at a show and it was incredible, it was amazing that we'd done that. A lot of these cities we'd only busked 3 or 4 times but people had heard the name cause' word travels.


This was amazing but then what happened was our tracks started overtaking the busking and we had certain records like 'And It Cries Two Islands' or 'Toxic Love' that had a national reach and then what started happening is people associated us with larger levels of success than this independent band that were just busking. So then the busking made those people associate our higher level reach to a busking band saying 'They're not as big as we thought they were, why are they busking?' and it stated to have an adverse effect when we got to a certain level but it only applied for the cities where we were doing anything above 600-700 tickets and by that point you're not a local band anymore that's doing something exciting. You become a national act and we realised there was a really funny psychological effect on people and that's what we studied after 500 tickets, you pretty much just can't busk there anymore otherwise it's kind of degrading you as an act because you don't need the busking to sell the tickets and also most of the ticket buyers don't actually know that we ever busked in the first place. It's an interesting prospect and one that we've had a lot of battles with."

I know the pandemic has been difficult for the band with having to cancel two tours, but how has the time been creatively for the band? "To be honest, it's been pretty up and down as you can probably imagine, especially emotionally speaking. I think at first it kinda put life into perspective for me personally as an artist and that really helped. I had the opportunity to think 'there's nothing I can do to affect the life around me, I was frozen in time'. So, I got to weigh up everything that I truly cared about because when you live in this high mobile life you forget what you do really care about and the drive that you have makes you warp reality and it get's confusing and you start misunderstanding things.


Lockdown really showed me what was important, it was clear as day, almost like a dream and that helped me write absolutely driven music that I'm so proud of, particularly at the start of lockdown and I've come up with personally I think the best and a real clear vision.


I live with Joe and he's always been a reclusive nerd and lockdown has really given him the opportunity to realise what he really specialises in, he loves programming and making sounds and I love writing songs and we gelled in that sense. With a click of a finger we really started gelling after being best friends since we were 11 years old and it took us this long to realise that this is where we worked the best - that was a standout moment in our career.


What we do is that I write a song, the basic level, the full structure - the song, the chords, the melody but I always see the song in my head. I see the full orchestra, everything but I can't translate that to people. I always thought that people would just get it, and only now later in life do I realise that producers and people who listen to the core ideas and what the vision is don't get it - where as Joe does. He takes my idea, picks all of the sounds individually for it and then sends it over to James and he is the most enthusiastic person ever. He's got one of the greatest roles, he's the filter and he has his own dying excitement for our ideas that we maybe didn't think we're that cool and he adds the fattest drum beat and sends it back with his programming and drum beats. I've never been one for computers and the best thing about this I don't need to get involved, I just sit back and write and those two get excited between them and before you know it they're giddy and crying in the corner of the room about how happy they are.


We send that to the producers that we work with, teaming with excitement because they then don't have to get in my dyslexic brain to understand the vision behind the song and they can understand it for the first time and that is just wonderful and I am eternally grateful for that procedure."


Your latest release 'Roll of the Dice' is a real tune — can you tell us a bit about what the song is about and what inspired it? 

"So, 'Roll of the Dice' came before the method of this amazing chemistry between us. There has always been great chemistry, but it's the new method of working out. I'm going to be totally honest with you, I've been in an existential crisis, I've been here there and everywhere - a quarter life crisis you could even call it and some points I was on my knees but 'Roll of the Dice' was at that was end of it.


I am born into the circumstances I am given and there's only so much I can do to change it, I will work as hard as I can but some poeple will get given the opportunity that I will work a lifetime for, just because they're in the right place and right time or they have a connection directly from people they were born into the family of. This isnt just on music, this is on everything and it's a social commentary and it's acceptance. I shouldn't be comparing myself to other people who get given what I will never get given because of the average to low wealth in the North. I don't know anybody and I had to start from the bottom and I've got this far and should be grateful for it - everything that we do is just a roll of the dice. You can do your absolute best but if it doesn't work out, just move on and try again." The video for the track was filmed right at the end of lockdown when Manchester was still quiet. What was it like to still be social distancing from one another, but still mark the end of lockdown by filming a new music video together? "Well, we shot over two days and on the Friday it was still lockdown - and the day after we were in the studio and we weren't in lockdown anymore. Me and Joe live together anyway we've been hugging left right and centre like little puppies but James couldn't really touch us, you've gotta respect the rules and people are going to watch these videos so you kinda wanna be fair about it.


We shot all the outdoor footage social distanced, not a single bit of footage on there isn't social distanced and everything was sanitised. The day after when we did the indoor shoot, it was a whole different thing and it was all hugs. It was so interesting doing that, actually not being able to touch James until the shoot because I love grabbing his bum, he's got the juiciest peach going.


I'm not gonna lie, I remember everything and we had such a great time and we got some takeaway pints from the Northern Quarter. It was cracking, I'd do it all over again."



It's been six years since your single 'Millenium' released in 2014. How would you describe how the band and your sound has changed in those six years? "Well, I mean with it being that long ago it's a classic case of maturity. I was a child when 'Millenium' came out. Loved it - it was our first ever affirmative song really where the songwriting was put into a single format - sort of juiced from the same lemon. We've grown and matured but the sense of who we are hasn't changed and our being has remained the same, but our outlook on life has somewhat improved in some areas and not in the others. Back when you're pre-twenty you think you can chnage the world and you really do - and you know what? You can, but it's the grasp of how much you can change it as an individual that changes and that is the thing. I thought I could change the world, just me, and the lads and no one else. You realise later on that life is a balance and the best thing you can do is tip it in a balance that favours everybody and be part of that fight.


That's what we've picked up and learnt - and I guess it comes out in our sound - it's become slightly more nonchalant. Not to say that it will become more and more nonchalant. In fact our next movement is going to be a bit more instense but not politically. Politics have and will always be there but a bit more on a social commentary and the rights and wrongs, or the overzealous of them." You guys are unsigned but have sold-out venues like the O2 Ritz, gaining fans through a grassroots DIY approach rather than needing a label to push that for you. What does it mean to you to have creative freedom on your projects rather than getting involved in label pressures?

"There's a level of us which is a flagship to a lot of independent artists starting up - 'Look what King No-One can do'. That's the best thing about it - you can be an inspiration to others and I will never change that - it makes me so proud. Truth behind it is to anybody going up through the ranks, absolutely do it but when it gets to our point, it's unbelivably difficult because we're completely independent and the 3 of us are the decision makers and we are in charge of absolutely everything. The amount of stress that puts you under is sometimes unbearable, you feel the weight of gravity is crushing you. It's a bit of a catch twenty two, because you know it's wonderful to be entirely responsible for your successes.


We sold out The Ritz, we're the ones who did that and nobody else had a foot in that - we paid for that and funded it ourselves and that is something that almost no one else on the planet can say and that in itself is so empowering. However, we need a structure, we work so well under pressure and the difficulty is we've done so well organically. If we had a massive level of funding, we could pay for team members and actually put people on a payroll to work for us. We could grow this project exponentially, but the thing that really hurts is until we find a big wad of cash, we're gonna struggle to grow it because we're now at a level of echochamber. We rely on organic reach on everything - and now social media are making us pay to even talk to or reach our own fans and that is crippling for independant businesses which we now are.


It's beautifully empowering but also frustrating because we're just waiting for the next level and so are our fans" What do you hope people take away from your music after listening to it? "I hope they find what they're looking for in our music. We speak about a lot of things in a lot of ways and they can perceive it in many different ways and I hope people find release in our songs, and I know they do. There's a lot of our songs that people have got them through dark moments in their lives or it's given them the confidence to say come out to their parents. That is, not what we were hoping to achieve but that's the message we wanted to push, that being who you are is ultimately the best way to be.


I've always been a dramatic person and I believe that things have to have a high level of consequence and I like to write lyrics that are consequential and that make people feel at least something. That's what we are lucky enough to have achieved and no matter what the song is, I hope it gives people the confidence and add to their strides so they can walk down the street and not play the comparison game because they're doing just great." Lastly, what can we expect from King No-One next?

"I don't think I'm allowed to tell you that, but just look around the corner!".

Listen to 'Roll of the Dice' HERE Instagram: @knomusicuk


INTERVIEW BY KELSEY BARNES

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