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INTERVIEW – Andrew Higgs, King Of The North – April 2014

| 2 May 2014 | Reply

INTERVIEW – Andrew Higgs, King Of The North – April 2014
By Shane Pinnegar

There’s no rest for the wicked. Fresh from their national tour supporting psych garage stoners Monster Magnet, King Of The North are racking up even more frequent flyer points with a comprehensive lap around the country, this time for their own headlining tour.

King Of The North - Andrew Higgs (left), Danny Leo (right)

King Of The North – Andrew Higgs (left), Danny Leo (right)

Higgsy, as he is known to most, said he and drummer Danny Leo had a great time on the road with the New Jersey veterans.

“It was awesome. At first I thought, ‘oh okay, they’re not really the talkative sort of types’, [but] they were just really jetlagged, man, because by the end of it they were just hammered.

“It was so weird for them though,” Higgsy says, “they were just like, ‘Shit man, we’re just finding our legs and now the tour’s finished’, you know? Four shows and then its done,. For them it’s weird because they normally go on tour for a month, you know? They got in on Tuesday and then they left… they went on Monday, man. It’s a long way to go for four shows!”

Higgsy says he and Leo are very happy with the response KOTN received.

“I think really well. Yeah, really well. We done it on all levels, man. We played to a lot of people that have never even heard of us before, which is awesome. They gave us pretty good feedback, it was pretty hands on too. It was great because we’re doing our own tour and we’re doing shows in all those capitals a month later after the Monster Magnet show. As you probably saw, we were out the front handing out flyers to everyone at every show for the next one that was coming up in their city. The feedback was pretty hands on – like, as I’m handing out flyers, people are sharing with us. So, it went down really well.”

King Of The North Live Perth 3 April 2014 By Shane Pinnegar  (3)

Being self-managed and self-booked means wearing a lot of different hats, Higgsy tells us, and capitalising on opportunities is key.

“Big time. At the show as well,” he explains, “you’re a roadie, you’re a driver, you’re a tour manager, you’re a merch chick, you’re a promo person handing out flyers. It doesn’t stop, man. It’s full on. With something like that, for the Monster Magnet tour, you’ve just got to make the most out of it. We could just be sitting backstage thinking we’re pretty awesome and having a beer [and thinking], ‘okay, that’s great, we played with Monster Magnet.’

“We could be downstairs patting ourselves on the back, but it’s using that opportunity to then get something else out of it, which is basically to get people to the next fucking gig.”

There’s been a real buzz building up around the band quite steadily over the last year or so, but the singer and guitarist doesn’t always feel it from where he’s standing.

“Sometimes [you do], sometimes it’s just fucking ‘Rrrrrrrrrrrrrr’,” he says, “it feels like it’s all a bit of hard work. I guess it’s hard when you’re on the inside trying to look out: perception’s a funny thing. That’s great, if that’s the perception let’s go with that!”

Amongst the attention heaped on the band in the past twelve months has been getting a song used on a TV advertisement for BMW, and Higgsy being included in an Australian Guitar Magazine article on 25 Future Legends to watch out for. Heady stuff!

“That was pretty crazy.” He admits, but says he isn’t one to let it go to his head. “No, man. At the end of the day them calling me a 25 Future Legend of the guitar, that’s great, I’m flattered, because I know that I’m doing something with the guitar that I haven’t seen done before. I don’t think of myself as a fucking legend, you know? It’s nice to get accolades and shit but I don’t do stuff for personal accolades, I just want to play rock & roll.”

King Of The North Live Perth 3 April 2014 By Shane Pinnegar  (4)

The technique he’s talking about is something he calls the ‘three out of on’ guitar technique. Since I’m not a guitarist, let’s have Higgsy explain the technical and practical side of it himself.

“I guess a basic rundown for the three from one guitar technique is that it’s pulling sounds of… I shouldn’t say a normal band, but what is a normal band to me is what’s sonically balanced… A band like AC/DC is a prime example, they’ve got the drums in the middle [of the sound mix], the bass sitting in the middle, then you’ve got a guitar left and a guitar right, then vocals on the top. There’s a sonic balance with that.

“With some bands where there’s one guitar, there’s only a guitar panned to the middle or to left and there’s sort of a bit of a… not a gap but sometimes they’ll [use more] guitars to sort of fill that other sound or they’ll mic up the same guitar and then pan it left and right. There’s really that sonic balance there with the guitar left, the guitar right, bass in the middle.

“I’ve stumbled across a way to do that with one guitar so that then a two-piece can… with a guitar, if they can sing and play guitar and a drummer can actually sing and do harmonies then you’re fulfilling six roles with two people.

“So I’m covering the vocals, the lead guitar, the rhythm guitar and the bass guitar. That’s four roles and then Danny’s doing the drums and the other vocals so he’s doing the other two roles. It’s basically that, that’s the theory of it but in practice it’s about putting a guitar into a bunch of pedals and splitting the signal three different ways. It literally does go to two guitar amps and a bass rig.

“The signal will go into my pedals and then there’s a splitter and then it’ll run through, split through line A, that’ll go through a bunch of pedals to amp A. Then it’ll go line B and that will run through a bunch of pedals to amp B. Then the signal will go through C, through a bunch of pedals to amp C. Sonically up there it’s like having three dudes all play the same riff at the same time but then I run loops which would be exactly like if the other two guys with the rhythm – the rhythm guitarist and bass player – were just chugging away on the progression that I’ve recorded while the lead guitarist plays over the top.

“Does that makes any sense?” he asks, finally.

Even for a non-techhead like this writer, that makes abundant sense.

“Yeah, that’s what it is,” he laughs. “A lot of people think, ‘How come you guys made a two-piece?’ It’s like, we didn’t have the idea to make a two piece, I just sort of stumbled across this [guitar] idea and I just went, ‘hang on…’ Because we both come from normal bands – and when I say normal bands, [I mean] people all just playing one thing – and I just went, ‘hang on, if you can do this… now you just pull this monster sound from one guitar and with a drummer you’d have the sound of a full band.’

“So, that was the theory of King Of The North, and that’s what it’s based around, that premise.”

Another advantage of course, is that it keeps financial overheads down if there’s only a two person touring party rather than 5 or 6.

“It does,” Higgsy agrees, before continuing, “The best thing about it is when I fuck up, [the other guitars] just follow me!”

I suggest that in a case like that, it would then sound like you meant to do it.

“Yeah, exactly,” he chuckles.

Having seen the band support Monster Magnet I can definitely give them the 100% ROCK MAGAZINE stamp of approval. You can’t believe it’s a two man show – the sound is immense, and Danny Leo’s drumming is from another world, he’s a powerhouse who hits like John Bonham.

“That’s the other thing,” interjects Higgsy, “is that then you’ve got a drummer like Danny who’s second to none really in the field of rock, there’s a really good match up. It’s well suited. It definitely works, like the first time we jammed when I had the idea…

“We were living in different cities at the time because I went back to Adelaide and the band that Danny was in was with one of my best mates, and he said, ‘oh, I’ll come around to your mum’s place and we’ll have a jam there,’ because I’ve got a studio at my mum’s place in Adelaide where you can do some vocal stuff.

“They came round to get their stuff the next day, before they all packed up I said to Danny, ‘let me just hook all this stuff up,’ because they had the technology there for me to facilitate this idea that I had. Because I had the idea, but I thought, ‘oh shit, I can’t go and spend 1000 bucks on that pedal, a bass amp and all this sort of stuff to see if it will work!’

“Then it was just all there in front of me, so I hooked it all up and me and Danny had a quick jam and we just sat there laughing about how massive it sounded. We were just like, ‘this is sick!’”

King Of The North - Sound Of The Underground cover

When asked to define King Of The North’s sound, Higgsy doesn’t even try.

“We don’t think of ourselves as any type of genre,” he says laconically. “I’m really bad with genres to be honest. People say, ‘what are you guys?’ I just say, ‘man, we’re just rock.’ In this day and age I probably did us a disservice because you’ve probably got to run with the whole marketing idea that you’ve created your own genre. I probably should’ve said that we’re post-rock or some shit like that…

“[But] they’re all just marketing labels,” he continues, “that’s all they are, because what’s a better way to make a band sound like they’re doing something that no-one else has done, when they’ve created their own genre? Like Grunge, that was fucking… Grunge was still rock to me.

“I just write songs, man, and however they come out is however they come out. Our songs are going to sound like sort of guitar driven riffs with drums and vocals over the top. Whatever pigeonhole people want to put that in to make themselves understand it and be comfortable with it, fine with me.”

Free of genre pigeonholing, King Of The North have picked up a sweet cross-section of support slots. On top of Monster Magnet there’s been the likes of Cold Chisel, Cosmic Psychos, Baby Animals and plenty more.

“Yeah, all across the board isn’t it?” he chuckles. “It’s bizarre, man. I remember sitting backstage at a Chisel show at Rod Laver Arena and Mossy [Ian Moss] going, ‘you guys would’ve sounded good tonight.’ I’m like, ‘what? us play with you guys?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, well can you imagine your sound coming through that PA system?’

“I’m like, ‘yeah, well let’s talk!’ Then when the opportunity came up, I hit him up and said, ‘hey…” because I’d toured with them when I played solo years before, I said to him, ‘you know…’ because I didn’t think… King Of The North playing with Cold Chisel? I was like, ‘yeah, as if that’s going to work.’ Yeah, he brought it up man. I just said, ‘since you brought it up, what do you reckon? You’ve got that show coming up at Festival Hall, how about we jump on that.’ So yeah, we did.

“Like you said, we played with Chisel, we played with the Cosmic Psychos where it’s just full of Punk heads. We’ve played at Folk festivals, we’ve played at Blues festivals, we’ve done Metal nights, we’ve done rock nights. It really does blow my mind how we just seem to slide through the cracks of the genres.”

And right there, Higgsy has nailed part of the appeal of King Of The North. That they play like demons and deliver a sound that’s like a physical presence in the room is great for catching attention and giving people a great night out. That they can do that for any audience, and entertain listeners who prefer punk, blues, metal, rock – that’s the glue that’s hold it all together.

“Yeah. Like I said, we’ve played at folk festivals and shit, just going up there and I’m like, ‘maybe we should tone it down,’ but I learned my lesson – nah, nah, nah, you’ve just got to go up there and do what you do. If people are going to like it then… if they don’t they don’t, if they do that’s great. We do what we do, we found that wherever we do it there are people that will dig it. You can’t ask for more than that.”

Again, he’s hit the nail on the head – because the best rock n’ roll is always about playing true to yourself. As soon as you try to start catering to specific crowd you’re going to lose anything that’s too far out of that crowd.

“Yeah,” concurs Higgsy. “I play music because it’s my art. When I picked up the guitar – I don’t want to give you my life story, but I picked up the guitar and I put down a paintbrush, you know? I never used to play music, I used to paint and I used to draw. To me music is like… it was the deeper form of expression for me so if I’m using that to express a certain thing, I can’t then just start catering it so someone else kind of likes it, that’s not art. That’s marketing.”

King Of The North 02

With our allotted time up, I just want to know which album Higgsy would be a part of making if he could magically choose any throughout all of rock history.

“Shit… be a part of any recording? I don’t know, off the top of my head… Oh fuck, I don’t know. There’s so many, Back In Black comes to mind, I just think because it was recorded in the Bahamas as well.

“Yeah, because I’m a sucker for tropical islands. Yeah, Back In Black is one because that just would’ve been a really interesting time too. I think it would’ve been really interesting because they all would’ve been a bit nervous, Brian Johnson would’ve been nervous but the other guys would’ve been like, ‘oh okay, how is this all going to go?’ It’s a bit tense and it’s a bit weird and they’re on this beautiful tropical island but at the same time they’re about to record the greatest rock album of all time, and they don’t even know it…”

KING OF THE NORTH’s tour rolls on through May.

Sound Of The Underground is out now.

Fri 2nd May Rocket Room Perth WA

Sat 3rd May Prince of Wales, Bunbury W.A

Sun 4th May Mojo’s, Fremantle W.A

Thu 8th May Transit Bar, Canberra ACT

Fri 9th May Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle NSW

Sat 10th May Spectrum Sydney NSW

Wed 14th May The Pier Port Macquarie NSW

Thu 15th May Tattersalls Hotel Lismore NSW

Fri 16th May Great Northern Hotel, Byron NSW

Sat 17th May Tempo Hotel Brisbane QLD

Fri 23rd May Club Hotel Bundaberg QLD

Sat 24th May Sol Bar Maroochydore QLD

Sun 25th May Cherry Rock Festival Melbourne VIC

Thu 29th May Coolangatta Hotel Gold Coast QLD

Fri 30th May Hoey Moey, Coff Harbour NSW

Sat 31/05/14 Cherry Rock Festival, Sydney NSW
Visit KING OF THE NORTH online at:

Category: Interviews

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Editor, 100% ROCK MAGAZINE

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