INTERVIEW: David Gunn – KING 810

After aggressively commanding the attention of the entire industry when they first came about, KING 810 were a band with something to say and absolutely no fear with how they said it. Memoirs Of A Murderer was easily the best debut of 2014 and even now still stands tall as a monolithic telescope from which everyone was abel to view KING 810‘s bleak reality as they survived in the crime ridden city of Flint, Michigan. Now KING 810 are gearing up to release their second album, title La Petite Mort Or A Conversation With God. We got the chance to talk to front man and chief lyricist David Gunn about everything that has, or hasn’t, changed in the two years since we last heard from them as well as everything that went into making an album that is literally dripping in emotion, atmosphere and violence.

So, in the two years since Memoirs Of A Murderer came out, how has Flint changed, if it has at all?

David: Don’t you watch CNN? It hasn’t changed, we’ve got this new water crisis. The water gives you lead poisoning, if you drink it, it makes you retarded and they haven’t fixed it, it’s been over two years. That’s one way it changed, we didn’t have that I guess…

You guys did some charity work for that cause, contributing the song Crow’s Feet to the Not Safe To Drink compilation album, how did that come about?

David: umm, I guess it was just the flavour of the week, and just the topic that everyone seemed to talk about. It’s all done now and it’s still very much a problem. Y’know, everyone thinks they’re helping, but we got involved because we live here, aha. Y’know I had already talked about it on The Midwest Monsters II, the little EP/Tape. I’d already mentioned it on a song called Let Me Be Alone and it says ‘I feel like I shouldn’t talk about knives and guns when they can’t even serve water in the schools where I’m from’. I had already mentioned it but everyone took it with a grain of salt and brushed it off, but that one [Crows Feet] I guess ended up bubbling to the surface. It wasn’t any new kind of development or discovery for us though, we live here and we drink the fucking shit.

How have you and the other members of KING 810 changed since Memoirs? Because after listening to La Petite Mort, it feels like something has happened to cause a shift in creativity.

David: Uh, well, life happened [laughs]. I dunno, was just in a different place at that time man.

What was the main objective when writing La Petite Mort?

David: It’s not a single message we want to get across, just like I cant name all the things that have happened over the last two years. I can’t name the single objective, I don’t have Wikipedia syndrome, and I can’t give you an elevator pitch. The record to me is a much better record; it has a lot of characteristics to it. It’s empowering in a way, I didn’t feel empowered by the last record. I don’t think, if someone were to listen to it [Memoirs Of A Murderer], that they would find it inspirational, they wouldn’t find those characteristics at all on the last record. Whilst there are some differences that the records have, as far as objectives go…you have to care what everyone else thinks to have objectives. To me, we’re writing just like we always have. Each lyric and each song has many different meanings and we are thorough with regards to the work, the moment you add objectives it takes it all out of the artistic realm and into the real world.

Sounds like the writing is all very organic for you guys…

David: Yeah, but at the same time everything is done by design. We’re a group writing songs, just like every other group. Except everyone’s design is pretty shallow and shit, done by armchair experts and ours actually has several layers of meaning and incorporates a lot of things I don’t find in other peoples work.

La Petite Mort sounds like it has two separate halves, was that a conscious decision?

David: Everything we do is a conscious decision, but I think I have to disagree with you. The last album had two spoken word pieces, two acoustic tracks, three atmospheric, sorta really environmental tracks and then six heavy tracks. This record is actually no different; I just think it’s the perception. Memoirs… was 40%, maybe 45% heavy and yet we’re put into the category of being a ‘heavy band’. So when this record comes, it only feels like two separate halves if you believe it to be, we don’t. There’s always been, erm…I just don’t think you can have the Yin without the Yang. I don’t even wanna say it’s like the two sides of a coin because it’s a multifaceted dice. I think you’re a shitty artist if you can’t convey more than one attitude or feel. You can’t convey anger without feeling happiness; you can’t convey hate without conveying love.

Could you explain the album title?

David: It just sums up a conversation with God or whatever that may be. It could be a prayer you say to yourself. It could be being in a state of weakened or heighted consciousness. It has a dozen different meanings, it moves between all of them from beginning to end. You begin [the album] with this sort of prayer and then when the first title track comes in, you start hearing these female vocals and it’s almost like you’re getting an answer, no longer talking to yourself. At the end it has a conclusion, some form of enlightenment and that’s the only way I could word it. 

What the influences going into La Petite Mort, were they any different to Memoirs?

David: I can’t find any really, all the influences sorta fell by the wayside and they’re not there any more. I’ll use the same answer I used a couple questions ago, I don’t have an elevator pitch for the influences, I’m really bad at that because it’s not how I work. We’re influenced by everything around us, it doesn’t even have to be musical or artistic, y’know, and everything basically goes into the formula. I can’t trace back any influences; the songs are just a snap shot of our lives at that time.

If you could trade all your art and work to live somewhere other than Flint, would you do it?

David: No, not for anything. You don’t think I could leave this place? I have a car right now; I’m sitting in it. I could just drive and never come back. I could’ve left this place a long time ago as a kid. I don’t have any parents, I could’ve just got up and left cause I didn’t have anyone to answer to. I’ve been able to leave this place for like two decades now and I don’t wanna. I don’t even like to leave to do a tour, I cant wait to get home. I don’t wanna live anywhere else, there’s no inkling or desire to leave for even a weekend. There is no way you could never get me to move. The waters poisonous and I’m still not moving. 

Despite all the violence and poisonous water, what is it about Flint that has captured your heart so entirely?

David: It’s too much to explain. There isn’t an answer because it is indescribable. Every block I walk past, every building that I drive by, every house…Y’know, it’s a 100,000-person city, its only 6 miles from one end to the other. I have this relationship with every street, I obviously don’t know everyone but I know thousands of people here. Growing up, everyone has stories like ‘hey, remember when did this here, and that there?’; every block that I walk past, even today, every street has this significant meaning. When you leave, you’ll have experiences in certain places where there are certain people and you grow from that but I’ve spent a lifetime here. You can go to one singe block and it tells a 100 different stories.

Where would you want to see La Petite Mort take you on tour?

David: the places I wanna go are just…they are not usually places tours go. Places like Siberia, or Indonesia or Haiti, that’s the idea. Places in Russia and Sudan. I’m not interested in touring the westernised, mainstream areas. There are a handful of English shows that are some of the best we’ve had. We played The Thekla, in Bristol on the first night of our first tour and it was one of the best we’ve ever had. Even our London show was crazy, those are places we definitely want to get back to, but to me, there are places that will probably take this thing first off, we’ll find people that resonate with us. We want to keep pushing outward. Even though these shows were great, we’re not just gonna stay stuck in one gear till were we don’t push outwards to try new things. We don’t like running in place.

La Petite Mort Or A Conversation With God is set for release on September 16th through RoadRunner Records. The album is available for pre-order at iTunes, Amazon and in physical bundles via KING 810’s official website.  

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