2012
10.22

From Brig, November 2011.

The kids are united: The King Blues.

Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox finishes off a hamburger in an underground dressing room in the heart of Glasgow, happily reminiscing about the people he has met on his recent travels. A few hundred miles may separate him from his native London but, apparently, very little distinguishes the inhabitants of each city from another.
‘People are different everywhere. There are nice folk and dicks no matter where you go.” he laughs, swivelling his chair away from the mirror.
He would certainly know, having spent the last few months touring Europe with his rock band The King Blues. However, ‘rock’ is too insultingly broad a term. Their sound, particularly on latest album Punk & Poetry, is a hard one to define: a pendulum of punk, hip-hop, ska and folk, swinging between cheeky pop sensibilities (the bittersweet harmonies of Everything Happens For A Reason) and compellingly unsettling vitriol (the snarling call-to-arms of We Are Fucking Angry). That’s not to mention the poetry juxtaposed with their more energetic offerings, the lyrical themes of which range from Itch’s respect for women, despite his inability to understand them, to his tongue-in-cheek branding of certain politicians as fascists.
And it’s on streets like the ones above that this sonic regime was formed.

‘You couldn’t get Radio 1 where I grew up. There were just pirate stations coming in from every angle, playing all kinds of music.’ explains the frontman, lighting an after-dinner cigarette without a second thought for the smoking ban.
‘There was no Internet to download from. So whatever the people around you chose to play, that’s what you listened to.
‘The six of us in the band don’t agree on a lot of music, but I think it would be boring otherwise. There isn’t a genre I don’t like – each just has good and bad stuff.’
Its impact on radio is not his only observation of the World Wide Web.
‘The mainstream media had so much control before social networking. They could demonise protestors so that everyone would turn against them, without realising that the problem was higher up. Thanks to the Internet, we can talk to each other and tell the other side of the story. We’re powerful now more than ever.’
ItchAnd this is where the other side of the band’s story starts to show: their politics. Growing up around the streets and squats of the capital, Itch witnessed the social and political injustice faced by those at the bottom, but channelled his feelings into positive energy through activism and music, all in the name of the underdog.
‘Education is a vital thing that everyone should be entitled to.’ he states, when told about the increase in tuition fees at the University of Stirling. ‘Right now, only the rich can afford it. There’s something incredibly wrong with that. It’s all part of the worker-and-boss divide.
‘What inspired me most after the student riots was the fact that workers and the unemployed came out to protest too. They realised that we’re in this together. I think students need to realise their personal struggles are part of something much larger. Sharing your struggles with others makes you far stronger.’
He drops his fag to the floor and stamps on it like it was a Tory Government.
‘Because, even when being political, you always need to have some humanity.’

Bands come and go. Some make it big and are hyped ad nauseam. Others pack a punch to a cult following, but never climb the ladder. This is, however, the first time in many years that an act has felt so important. The King Blues are entirely unafraid to hit out at the world’s wrongs, but not from the top of an ivory tower or from a Hollywood mansion like today’s shameless stars for whom global warming is a profile-booster. Instead, these are the heartfelt words of an honest group of people who relate to how unfairly tough life can be, but who aren’t reserved in urging the idea that you can make a difference, that you can shape your own future, and that it’s okay to smile all the while.

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