The King Blues
|The King Blues|
The King Blues, Newcastle, April 2010
|Genres||Punk rock, ska punk, folk punk, alternative rock|
|Labels||Transmission Recordings, Field Recordings, Island Tartan Records|
|Associated acts||Suicide Bid, Ramraid The Offy, The Skints, Slow Science, Bleach Blood|
|Past members||Jonny "Itch" Fox
Mike 'Fruitbag' Payne
The King Blues were a ukulele punk rock band from London, England, credited for fusing ska and folk together with influences from punk rock and hardcore punk. Tariq Ali described the band's sounds as 'rough, radical music that should unsettle the rulers of this country. A new generation of musicians are challenging war-monger politicians and their courtiers'. Influences include Public Enemy, The Clash, The Specials, Black Flag and Minor Threat. Their third full length album, Punk and Poetry, was released on 17 April 2011. Lead singer Jonny "Itch" Fox describes the music as 'a mixture of reggae, hip hop, folk, doo wop, punk rock.'
They announced their breakup on the 3rd of April, 2012.
The King Blues began as a two man ska outfit, consisting of Jonny "Itch" Fox on vocals and ukulele and Jamie Jazz on acoustic guitar and additional vocals. The band later expanded to include a second acoustic guitarist and bassist, before again expanding to include two full-time percussion members. Their sound was initially described as "soulful ska with raw folk and a punk rock attitude". or "conscious rude boy ska"
In 2004, they self-released a demo EP titled "All Fall Down" featuring 5 tracks recorded by Itch on guitar and vocals. The cover and CD body art was a stencil of a fuse bomb and the band's logo; each one was hand sprayed.
Under The Fog (2006/07)
In June 2006 their debut album, Under the Fog, was released on Household Name Records, and coincided with increased gigging. In November of the same year, "Mr Music Man" was released as a CD single, also on Household Name. The single was enhanced with a video chronicling the band's attempt to play more gigs in a 24-hour period than Status Quo's record-breaking four gigs in one day. The King Blues managed seven. Their single "Mr Music Man" was voted Best Punk Song of 2006 by BBC Radio 1.
A 12" vinyl version of Under The Fog was released on Tartan Records  in 2007. Limited to 1000 copies with the added bonus track of "If Genghis Khan, then Why Can't I", the vinyl was a hefty 180gms and hand printed. In true punk rock spirit the vinyl was split equally with the band and label.
In 2007, the band was signed to Field Recordings, a label co-owned by Rollo Armstrong and backed by Island Records. Under the Fog was partly re-recorded and re-issued in March 2008, and was preceded by two singles, "Come Fi Di Youth" and a new version of "Mr. Music Man".
Save The World, Get The Girl (2008)
In May 2008, the band released a single from their forthcoming second album called "Let's Hang the Landlord" to those signed up to their email list. The lyric is autobiographical, detailing Itch's life as a teenage punk. The track was also released on a split 7" single, alongside "Mayday", the debut UK single by Flobots.
Save the World. Get the Girl was released on October 20, 2008 in the UK. The album was produced by Peter Miles, who produced Under the Fog, and Clive Langer (producer of Elvis Costello, Madness, Dexy's Midnight Runners, Morrissey, Teardrop Explodes, Bush and The Holloways). The album received positive reviews.
"My Boulder" was released as a single on October 13, 2008 in the UK. Zane Lowe played this track several times on BBC Radio 1 and recommended it on air to Noel Gallagher. "My Boulder" includes an excerpt from a reading of the poem The Pied Piper of Hamlyn by Robert Browning. Other tracks from the album, including What If Punk Never Happened, received airplay on Radio 1, from Rob da Bank, Mike Davies, and Zane Lowe, and on the Xfm punk show (X Punk) hosted by Pete Donaldson and Phil Clifton. The band have also received considerable airplay in Australia courtesy of Triple R's punk program Bullying the Jukebox.
"I Got Love" was released on 4 May 2009 as the final single from the album; its first air-time was on BBC Radio 1. The band also performed a cover of Dizzee Rascal's "Bonkers" on Radio 1's Live Lounge in June 2009.
Post Save the World, Get the Girl (2009/10)
Over late 2009 and early 2010, The King Blues continued to tour their second album, adding new songs such as "Headbutt", "Sore Throat" and "Five Bottles of Shampoo" to their setlist.
In mid 2010, The King Blues were dropped from Field Recordings. This coincided with the departure of band members Fruitbag, Johnny Rich, Al Gunby and Jim Parmley. A controversial message explaining the departures was posted on the Punktastic forum by Fruitbag. However, the band quickly found a new record label, Transmission Recordings, and new members. Only a few weeks later, the new King Blues line-up went on tour supporting Enter Shikari.
On 23 March, Zane Lowe aired a new single, "Headbutt", as his "hottest record in the world" on his Radio 1 show, and Itch stated on the show that the band had completely finished recording 5 or 6 new songs. On their UK tour it was announced that "Headbutt" would be released on 16 May 2010 and that Rou Reynolds of Enter Shikari had remixed the track for free download.
The King Blues departed on their "London Brawling tour" (10 April until 5 May) along with four different support bands: Mouthwash (all gigs), Moral Dilemma, The Meow Meows and Dirty Revolution. Most nights of the tour the band invited a speaker on stage, including Sophie Lancaster's mum speaking for the S.O.P.H.I.E. foundation. (The King Blues had S.O.P.H.I.E. bands available on this tour.) The band also played gigs for Love Music Hate Racism. On August 8, 2010 they played at the Hevy Music Festival near Folkestone. During this time, the band showcased new songs planned for the forthcoming album Punk & Poetry. However, much of this material, such as "Kissing Frogs" and "We Will Never Grow Old" was shelved due to the band finding new inspiration from the UK's anti-cuts protests and riots, and the Arab Spring, which led to them writing new material such as "I Want You", "We Are Fucking Angry" and "Set The World On Fire".
On 29 August, The King Blues released their new single "Holiday" along with "I Got Hate" and an acoustic version of the previous single "Headbutt" as B-sides. On the same day, the King Blues played the main stage at Reading Festival.
Punk & Poetry (2011)
On 21 January 2011, The King Blues posted a 40 second preview of a new song, "We Are Fucking Angry". It received radio play on Mike Davies' Radio 1 Punk Show and a few days later the band posted a free download link to the song on the internet.
Set The World On Fire debuted on Mike Davies' Punk Show on 7 February, receiving more plays on the same show and Zane Lowe's show over the next few weeks. On 26 February, the official music video for the song was posted online. It was released on the 10 April on digital download with a Dr Meaker remix version of the song as the b-side. On 1 March, Itch co-hosted Mike Davies' Radio 1 Punk Show, previewing new songs "The Future's Not What It Used To Be" and "Five Bottles of Shampoo". On 5 March, the track-listing for Punk and Poetry was announced, and the album was released on 18 April to further positive reviews. It reached the Top 40 of the UK Album Chart, just missing the Top 30.
The band sent a copy of "Set the World On Fire" to the Daily Mail, who responded by pulling every article, webpage and reference to The King Blues from everything they own. In rebuttal to this the music video for "Set the World On Fire" has vocalist Itch burning a copy of the Daily Mail.
On 12 February 2012, the fourth single from the current album, Does Anybody Care About Us? was released as a digital download, backed with a live recording of Five Bottles of Shampoo.
Long Live The Struggle (2012)
At the 2011 Leeds Festival, The King Blues announced the commencement of work on the follow up album to Punk & Poetry, and debuted new song "Power to the People", which was also played on their subsequent debut European tour. At The Roundhouse in November 2011 they debuted another new song "Modern Life Has Let Me Down".
On 6 March 2012, Itch again co-hosted Mike Davies' Radio 1 Punk Show, previewing new song "Tear Us Apart".
In a review in Stencil Magazine, the artwork and tracklisting was revealed. Tracklisting is as follows:
- We Are The Future
- Modern Life Has Let me Down
- Wasted Words
- Can't Bring Me Down (feat. Jason Butler)
- Tear Us Apart
- This Is My Home
- Bootled Out Of Hell (feat. Tim Armstrong)
- Walking Away
- Power To The People
- We Are What We Own
- When The Revolution Comes
- Keep The Faith
The King Blues have "a commitment to politics and resistance". Itch has written for Last Hours magazine which generally focuses on resistance politics and protest. Several songs on Under the Fog are overtly political, including "Chimp in a 3 Piece Suit" and "Duck and Cover". The band's website states that Save the World, Get the Girl features "a much more personalized take on social ills" than Under the Fog. Nonetheless, overtly political lyrics did feature in two live favourites that appeared on the album. The title track includes the lyric "Going to war to prevent war was the most stupid thing I ever heard", while The Streets Are Ours includes references to Indymedia and Tiananmen Square. "Smash EDO Dub", the B side to the re-release of "Mr. Music Man", features an interview with a campaigner from the Smash EDO movement. The links on The King Blues' official website are almost exclusively political. On his Formspring profile, Itch states that he is probably an anarchist.
Promoting their latest single in February 2012, Itch made the following statement: "There's no fucking future for anyone but the privileged anymore, education needs to be for everyone, we need jobs, houses, and all they want us to do is pay our taxes, shut the fuck up and gratefully eat X-Factor. It makes me sick to my gut. Banker bonuses and politicians claiming thousands for their fucking duck ponds while they sweep the homeless off the streets and hose down where they're sleeping, taking away benefits while two and a half million people are unemployed, leaving empty houses to rot and trying to outlaw squatting during a homeless crisis. There's a battle going on and we're part of it whether we like it or not. Cameron says, 'in this together', easy to say if you're sitting on £30,000,000! He has no idea what life is like for the people he condemns, for the people he makes it most difficult for. He's a fucking scumbag and I've had enough of it, I know I ain't the only one either. I look around and I see resistance on every level. Call us what you like, striking workers, protesting students, rioting kids, the 99%, we are who we are, a product of a broken Britain being torn apart and yes, we are fucking angry - is anybody gonna fight back?"
On the 3rd of April, 2012, Itch announced officially the breakup of the band. He released this official statement :
- "It is with great sadness and very heavy hearts that we must inform you, that as of today The King Blues are no more. We are all immensely proud of our body of work. We will be releasing the last The King Blues album entitled 'Long Live The Struggle' as the final chapter. The album will be released in early July 2012. We simply feel we have taken things as far as they can go and it would be unfair on you if we were to go through the motions like so many other artists do. We all believe strongly in what The King Blues stands for".
Jonny "Itch" Fox has confirmed that he has started a solo project and is releasing music under the name "Itch". His first EP, "Manifesto Pt. 1: How to Fucking Rule at Life" was released online on November 26, 2012.
Jamie Jazz also has started a new project with guitarist Paul Mullen (Yourcodenameis:milo, The Automatic), Charlie Elliot and Invisible Frank. Bleach Blood signed with The King Blues previous record label Transmission Recordings and released their first release, a four track EP 'The Young Heartbreaker's Club' in November, 2012. The EP was met with critical acclaim and they played their debut show to a packed Water Rats in Kings Cross.
The band have spent the last two months in and out of the studio. Their first single, 'Anything, Anything', featuring vocals from Linda Harrison was released on the 24th of March 2013. The single has had heavy rotation on radio stations BBC Radio 1, Kerrang radio and XFM.
On 6th May 2014, former members Itch, Jamie Jazz and Fruitbag briefly reuinted for a three-song one-off encore after Itch's set at the 100 Club in London, joined by members of Bleach Blood on bass and drums.
- Jonny "Itch" Fox: Vocals, Ukulele, Melodica
- Jamie Jazz: Guitar, Vocals
- Dean Ashton: Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Kat Marsh - Bass, Backing Vocals
- Josie Dobson - Keys, Backing Vocals
- Jack Usher: Drums
- Fruitbag: Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Johnny Rich: Bass
- Al Gunby: Drums
- Jim Parmley: Percussion
- Chris Goodman: Bass
- George Lindsay: Drums
- Perkie: Keys, Vocals
- Ade Preston: Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Charlie Wilson: Guitar
|2006||Under the Fog||Household Name|
|2008||Under the Fog (Reissue)||Field Recordings/Island|
|Save the World. Get the Girl|
|2011||Punk and Poetry||Transmission Recordings|
|2012||Long Live The Struggle|
|2004||All Fall Down EP|
|2007||Taking Over EP|
|2008||The Engine Room Acoustic Session|
|My Boulder EP|
|2009||I Got Love EP|
|Year||Single||Peak chart position||Album|
|2006||"Mr. Music Man"||—||Under the Fog|
|2007||"Come Fi Di Youth"||—|
|2008||"Mr. Music Man" (re-issue)||—|
|"Let's Hang the Landlord"||—||Save the World. Get the Girl|
|2009||"Save the World, Get the Girl"||68|
|"I Got Love"||96|
|2010||"Headbutt"||72||Punk and Poetry|
|2011||"Set The World On Fire"||—|
|2012||"Does Anybody Care About Us?"||—|
|"—" denotes a title that did not chart|
- "Transmission Recordings". Retrieved 2011-03-10.
- "The King Blues". Ukulelehunt.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- Student Activist Diary (2011-08-23). "The King Blues – A Powerful Political Voice". Student Activist Diary. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "Last Gang In Town". Lastgangintownuk.net. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "The Boardmasters website". Surfnewquay.co.uk. 2007-08-08. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Household Name Records: Mr Music Man single.[dead link]
- And Now We're Even - Youmii, Hawaii (Youtube)
- See the sign up area of their website
- "the Philly Girl About Town blog". Phillygirlabouttown.com. 2008-05-28. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- "The King Blues - Save the World, Get the Girl". Punknews.org. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "The King Blues - Save The World, Get The Girl". Subba-cultcha.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- See the King Blues press blog
- "Radio 1 - Rob da Bank - Tracklisting". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "Radio 1 - Mike Davies - Tracklisting". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "Radio 1 - Mike Davies - Tracklisting". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- "Radio 1 - Zane Lowe - Tracklisting". BBC. Retrieved 2010-05-02.
- / (2011-04-18). "We Are Fucking Angry | The King Blues". Thekingblues.bandcamp.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- 19:03. "Music - Review of The King Blues - Punk & Poetry". BBC. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "The King Blues: Punk & Poetry Track by Track Review". BlagSound.com. 2011-03-09. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- Amy Bangs. "The King Blues - Punk & Poetry | Reviews | Rock Sound". Rocksound.tv. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "Punktastic CD Reviews: The King Blues - Punk & Poetry". Punktastic.com. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "KING BLUES | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "The King Blues Talk To FemaleFirst". Femalefirst.co.uk. 2011-05-26. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "The King Blues Concert Setlist at Melkweg, Amsterdam on October 9, 2011". setlist.fm. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- "Power To The People [HD], by The King Blues (@ W2, 2011)". YouTube. 2011-10-08. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- See the King Blues website
- See the Reading Festival forum
- See the Smash EDO website
- "The King Blues - Does Anybody Care About Us?". Femalefirst.co.uk. 2011-12-13. Retrieved 2012-04-03.
- See Itch's official website
- Bleach Blood - Live At Water Rats, London | Reviews | Clash Magazine
- Matt's Playlists | Kerrang! Radio - 105.2 FM, DAB and online
- "KING BLUES | Artist". Official Charts. Retrieved 2011-12-12.
- Official website
- Review of The King Blues at Island Records' 50th Birthday Party 25/04/09
- The King Blues on Myspace
- The King Blues on Myspace
- press blog
- The King Blues's channel on YouTube
- Yuppiepunk interview Nov 2008
- Feb 2009 interview
- ChangeTheRecord.net interview August 09
- May 2011 interview