Kyng: Return of the Power Trio
Back in the early 70’s Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and a few others manifested what today we call metal. About a decade later, give or take a couple of years the British New Wave of Heavy Metal arrived and it was such a progression from the early days, with no real juxtaposition. From the remnants of Southern California bands, Ankla and Ounce of Self, rises the return of the power trio in the form of Kyng, with heavy tunes that are rhythm driven and could easily bridge that gap of yesteryear; yet with all the influences of those that came before them to have a metal sound that is by no means anything less than a metal force of today, playing rock and metal the only way they know how…heavy.
Bassist, Tony Castaneda, formerly of Ankla, worked with vocalist and guitarist, Eddie Veliz, when they were both in Ounce of Self, and truly valued his skill, talent and the creativity that seeped from every pore. Veliz had a vision for music that he wanted to create and that vision is what manifested into Kyng. Subsequent to that Tony played with a rare talent in Ankla with drummer, Pepe Clarke Magana. The challenges of a 3-piece ensemble, as opposed to a 4 or 5 piece project really boil down to a simple ideology: there is more focus on each member, so even though each may be respected masters of their craft, everyone needs to step up. This recipe works perfect for Kyng.
Starting with Pepe, he is remarkable on his kit. What makes him a talent is how amazing his time keeping is without the reliance on his kick-drum. It is common when you hear current drummers that work the bass drum so constantly and the deep sound that creates, that it has become the norm. Not to take anything away from those drummers but to watch and listen to the amazing beats rattled out by Pepe using his cymbals, two toms and a snare more predominantly, his skill is easily admired. The beauty of that technique in Kyng is how it allows the harmonic and deep bass line laid by Castaneda in technically skillful fashion to shine through. Laid on top of the heavy rhythm section is the vocal belting of Veliz accompanied by his powerful guitar riffs and solos. Picture, if you will, Chris Cornell singing for a modern version of Sabbath.
The formation of Kyng almost never happened, at least not with the desired line-up. The precept for the band started when Tony filled in on bass for Ankla after they shared a show with Ounce of Self in 2006. The chemistry between Castaneda and Veliz was always present, with the same interests in sound and the way they worked together. The same chemistry formulated between Tony and Pepe, when Tony took over full-time duties with Ankla after he realized that Ounce of Self wasn’t going in the direction he had hoped. When he left Ounce, he vowed to Veliz, “When I get back we will work on some music together.” As Ankla toured, he and Pepe would talk frequently about forming a band. Since Pepe had obviously heard Ounce and the guitar work/vocals of Veliz, he was on board before any plans had really been made; but just with the concept. There was a blessing in disguise when Ankla returned from a tour with Nonpoint and Karnivool in 2007 and parked their van with all their equipment in Lynwood, which was subsequently stolen. Not just the equipment but the entire van; thereafter, Ankla was on an extended hiatus, which opened the door of opportunity for Pepe and Tony to get going on their idea and they did so immediately. Pepe went home to Mexico and Eddie and Tony who both constantly are working on music, riff, and song structures sent Pepe four songs basically for him to give his input on. They all had other projects going on, including the resume of Ankla, but their main focus and excitement was on this project, reworking the songs, and the music, the style, etc. really until about a year ago, shortly after Pepe and Tony left Ankla. However, Pepe had become disillusioned with L.A. and was on the verge of going back home to Mexico for good, but was inspired while spending time with Eddie and Tony one week after they just started playing shows as they wrote the songs “Roses” and “Between the Blame” and decided that this project, this band was the happiest he had ever been musically and after dealing with a family tragedy back home returned to go full steam ahead.
The news of the project was not secret, nor was the excitement going beyond the band, including Chris Adler of Lamb of God, who knew about the project and was anticipating the release of their music. Jose Mangin, host of two metal shows, Octane and Liquid Metal, on Sirius XM satellite radio, had befriended Castaneda previously before they hung out at NAMM and then came to Kyng’s studio to hear what they had and was blown away. Mangin insisted when they had some finished product to send it to him, which they did with a cut of the song “Falling Down” and it was immediately put into daily rotation and it soon climbed to #7 on the Devils Dozen on the station that reflects the top 12 most requested songs over a monthly time period. The next song they sent Mangin also made the periodical list.
One of the biggest traits in bands that I talk to that factors into the the quality of the music is their commitment. In talking to Tony, Eddie and Pepe, you can see the light in their eye, the passion not only for the music but for the band itself, the union that has been created between them creatively; their happiness in their pursuit of this project.
Moving forward the release of their first full-length CD is set for early 2011. Like most bands, their dream is to make a living making their music, which always requires at least some luck or in the alternate, some connections. Through their experience, the latter is much more likely. They have made a ton of contacts and friendships through their experience with touring and recording in former bands. They gain the respect and admiration of their peers when they play shows with any band and that, in itself, creates opportunity to play and tour with bigger bands so that they can spread their infection throughout the country.
Although they pondered if they should add another guitar or stick to a three piece, they each raised their game and the outcome says it was the right decision. They have brought back the concept of the power trio. In the vein of another three-piece, Rush, they create textured and layered songs with great vocals both from Veliz and Tony, that leave you wondering how three guys can create so much sound.
People ask me how I find and meet bands and there is always a story of how I stumbled on to most. With Kyng, I had known Castaneda for a few years while he played with Ankla and we have several friends in common, including Jimmy Schultz (Cerebellion, New Eden, Psychosis, 3/13) and was at a Cerebellion CD release show, when I ran into Tony. I was not surprised, since we have many of the same friends, to see him, and we chatted briefly, although not about what projects he was currently working on. Later in the night, when the last band was playing, I was outside. I walked in and see Castaneda on stage and Pepe on the drum kit and a little bewildered since I knew them from Ankla; was thoroughly impressed at what I was hearing. The success they were achieving on satellite radio only validated that this is the real deal. I look forward to seeing them achieve even greater success once their CD drops and the masses will be clamoring for Kyng.