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Interview – Luke Yeoward, King Cannons, July 2012

| 26 September 2012 | Reply

By Shane Pinnegar

Luke Yeoward formed KING CANNONS in 2007 alongside guitarist Rob Ting and bassist Jonno Smith.  Having “earned his stripes” playing in punk bands throughout his teenage years, by the time the King Cannons lineup crystallized (also featuring Mikey Ting on keys & piano, Lanae Eruera on percussion and drummer Dan McKay), their direction was firmly along the “rock n’ soul” highway.

Taking their cues primarily from Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen, King Cannons create widescreen, panoramic songs about real people and places, telling moving stories, and connect with people on a very real, organic level.

With their debut album being released this month by EMI, Yeoward is ready to talk about the songwriting and recording process, and a lot more besides…

Hello Luke!

Hey Shane, how you doing?

Very good mate. Thanks for taking time out to talk to us. How you doing today?

Not too bad, man. Just at home today. Feeling pretty good.

Excellent. You must be excited about the album launch?

Most definitely man, definitely. Talk about a long time coming, you know? We’re really amped about it. We’ve got some shows coming up over the next couple of weeks, around Australia to celebrate and yeah, just can’t wait to get it out to the world.

Awesome. I had a listen to it for the first time this morning, and it kicks arse man, it’s really good.

Thank you very much.

Yeah, really impressed. So how did the recording sessions go? You had Tom Larkin from Shihad producing most of it, didn’t you?

Yeah, about this time last year we went into the studio to do the main chunk, and Tom produced about 75% of the record and it was fantastic. We spent a couple of weeks in Sing Sing in Melbourne and just, you know, set up in a big room together, because that’s how we like to record, it’s a very old fashioned process the way we record our songs. We all set up live in a room and mic everything up, and look at each other and try and install that handmade, live magic into the song, which is really cool.

And Tom helped bring out the best of us, and helped capture that in a really positive way, and he was working with us last year. So yeah, that was awesome. Then we did another few songs earlier on in the year in the same fashion and that’s when we recorded Too Young and Too Hot to Handle and The Brightest Light, earlier on this year.

But yeah, really, really fantastic process and I’ve learned so much about song writing and the recording process, how to do things and how not to do things.

We’re pretty happy with the result.

Well that makes a lot of sense to me, you saying you sit around in a circle and look at each other, because it sounds really organic. It sounds like you’re jamming away, you know?

We are. That was like, kind of, one of my key things about, when I said to the gang before we were going to go in there to make a record, I said I want to make sure that whatever we’re going to be doing is like, you know, authentic and played with integrity, heart and passion and it’s going to be captured like that as well. So I’m glad we did it that way.

Your website bio really kind of hammers home your punk background and the honesty and integrity behind your song writing. Does that intensely personal honesty that comes out in your songs, does that come easy to you or do you have to dig really deep and really wring the songs out of your soul?

Kind of a bit of both. Sometimes some things are on the surface and they’re easy to talk about, and sometimes you really have to start questioning yourself. This was just something I thought we would do for this particular album, you know, being our first album we thought it would be a good place to come from. I used to tell all those stories of my past and my teenage years as a punk rocker and all of that kind of stuff. So yeah, sometimes it was confronting, but I think if you’re going to make soul music, or music with that element of truth and passion and stuff, you have to be willing to put your heart on your sleeve and lay it all on the line for people. That’s what it is.

And on the subject of that outspoken honesty, is that how you live your life generally?

Of course, yeah. We’re all pretty straight talking people, we call a spade a spade. Yeah, we certainly don’t beat around the bush in anything that we do. Life is too short. We’re not here to fuck around.

I’m much the same but I find that honesty kind of gets me in more trouble sometimes, but…

Sometimes it gets me in trouble with my wife. There’s a time to paint a rosy picture and a time to tell it like it is.

For sure. I can hear The Clash and Joe Strummer’s obvious influence in your music. Would I be right in thinking there’s a bit of Mick Thomas and Weddings Parties Anything attitude in there as well, from the storytelling side of your songs?

Possibly man, I mean everyone’s got their own little thing that they hear from our band, and I love hearing all of the different comparisons that get made. They all are compliments to me, but its really just all these different loves for different kinds of music, all kind of colliding and getting channelled out through our album, you know?

Obviously Joe Strummer and The Clash, you know, has had a big influence on all of us and they have done through all our teenage years growing up and that, and that will forever stay with us, and you can hear it through the music. But its that same kind of approach that The Clash had to music where you have to have your receptors open, and you have to listen to it, everything that the world has to offer, from world music, through country and folk music, pop music, rock and roll, blues, you know, hip hop, whatever the new thing that’s happening, take it all in and go okay, we’re going to mash it all up and put it out with a bunch of guitars and drums and pianos and stuff, and do it our own way, and that’s how we get the King Cannon sounds. It’s not something that I can put my finger on, what exactly it sounds like or whatever, there’s, you know, its rock music for the most part but its just got so much in there, you know? You hear all those little things and you can almost hear them in the percussion, or the vocal melodies or the drum beats and stuff, just little hints of things that I like, and the band like, and we just try and incorporate that into what we do.

Cool, cool. So what are your strongest influences both in and out of music?

In and out of music? Well, I mean, the world around me. Everybody should be their biggest influence. Musically, everything I just described previously. Obviously The Clash, Bruce Springsteen, they’re a really big inspiration being the fact that he’s in his mid 60’s and playing with far more passion and conviction, and energy than people that are half his age.

You know, things like that. That inspires me. But you know, there are too many to list. I love Johnny Cash, I like the guys that wear black, you know?

How and when did you realise that music was your calling? Did you have a defining moment?

I can’t remember when that defining moment actually happened, but I’m pretty sure it was the day I was born.

Hah hah, in your blood right there.

I don’t know anything else. I’ve just had this little itch in me since I can remember and I can’t do anything about it. I’ve thought about trying to do something else, you know, in the past. I thought what if I became a chef, or what if I  just got a job in a factory and moved down to the country or something, but I can’t, I don’t know, ever since I was born I’ve just had this thing that I love music, and I love performing and it just doesn’t go away. It’s just how it is.

And not a bad way to be, mate.

No, it’s fun and it keeps me out of trouble, you know?

Definitely. A lot of people say that, don’t they?


What’s the dynamic in the band? I mean, you come across as you’re the songwriter and the singer, and you come across as the band leader, I mean, is it a democracy?

Yeah, it’s a democracy but generally I will steer the ship, if you know what I mean. Obviously, you’ve got to take into account five other people’s lives and opinions and musical tastes, but I’m always open to everybody’s ideas and, you know, musical influences and things like that because that’s what helps make our sound and our vibe. It just happens that we’re all really good mates too, so it’s kind of an understanding but the band was my idea from the get go and it’s a ship that I steer, and will continue to steer until who knows, but yeah, that’s kind of how it is.

Cool. The music industry is doing it pretty hard right now. Can new bands, young bands, afford to rock as a full time career?

I don’t know. You can make it a full time career as long as you don’t expect any money out of it! If you love working for free then yeah, by all means, which is what we do fucking most of the time. There’s no… we’ve still all got forty hour week day jobs. I’ve had to take this week off work just to, you know, get through all the promo stuff and work on some new tunes and things like that. But for the most part all of us are all still at work and we’ve been in this band for the last five years and we’re signed to a major record label, you know. So you tell me.

This is it. There’s a lot of people asking this question. The industry has changed, but has the promotional potential of the digital age equalled the loss of revenue for bands, or is it an unfair imbalance?

It has all changed and in so many ways the internet is such a positive thing, with networking and communicating and gaining fans. Its like, from the outside nothing has changed. There’s still advertising, there’s still fame, you know flashy videos and flashy songs, and all that kind of stuff, but it’s behind the scenes that has changed. There’s this façade being made for bands and artists and stuff that make them look like, you know, oh yeah, we’re high rolling, we’re doing really well, all this success is happening, we’ve got records coming out and all that kind of stuff, but behind it it’s just a bunch of broke arse musicians. That whole front, oh you’re on the radio, oh you’re on the TV, wow everything must be going so well in your career, and its like yeah, it is, its fantastic, I love it, I love doing this shit and I’d do it for free anyway, but, you know, there’s no fucking income at this point, that’s for damn sure. I’m looking forward to the day that it might potentially change, but we’ll see how we go. Like I said, we’re going to keep doing it anyway but a bit of coin always helps.

Well it’s certainly finances the good stuff, doesn’t it?

Totally man, you know, it helps pay the rent, kids food on the table, all that.

What’s the best and worst gigs you’ve played?

I hate that question. I don’t want to answer that. I can never answer questions like that. All gigs are great in their own respect. You know, sometimes you have a shit one but I can’t remember, they all just blur together.

Fair enough dude. We haven’t seen you over in Perth since, I think it was The Living End tour, almost a year ago. So will you be making a trip out west?

I hope so, I hope so. Again it’s a financial thing. I’d love to be over to Perth every few months to do a gig, but its like, you know, we’re a seven piece travelling party at the bare minimum, and until we get that notion that we’re going to get enough people so that we can afford to get over there, then we can make that happen. But that’s just me being completely honest with you. I hope that we can, but still, I’d like to think it’s on the cards. I’m putting my foot down to try and make sure that happens.

If you could go back in time and be part of the recording of any song or album, what would it be?

Be part of the recording of any song or album? Far out. Questions like that are so hard man. I reckon, I don’t know, London Calling would be pretty good to be a part of. I don’t know… Jesus… yeah, I’ll just go with that. That’ll do.

No probs. Finally mate, what for you is the meaning of life?

I don’t know if there is a meaning of life, but I think as long as you’re alive you should try and enjoy yourself.

Damn right!

That’s all. That’s all, I don’t know, it sounds simple but I think enjoying your time while its borrowed is a good one.

Good luck with the tour, good luck with the album!

Awesome dude, hey thanks so much for taking the time to make the call, man.

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