[INTERVIEW] King John on All The Good Men That Did Ever Exist

Meet King John a rock ’n’ roller, that grew up listening to jazz, and as a bone or two of folk in him.

Photo by Bárbara Lago
King John is the musical project of António Alves, and a new Portuguese act that emanates what is probably the perfect combination of rock and roll, folk and jazz. Punchy for ages, and with a clear inner determination, his first ever LP was released today, and we can't get enough of it. All The Good Men That Did Ever Exist is one rare album that exemplifies how great new music can help us fight these troubled days. After working on it for more than a year, every single track on the record show King John dedication to music that speaks for itself lyrically and melodically. Making us head-bang a lot in the process. So, meet King John and is gorgeous new album:

Introducing King John

[Where the Music Meets] Who is King John?
[King John] King John is the alter-ego of António Alves. I was born and raised on the beautiful island of S.Miguel – Azores. The name, is an homage to my grandparent João (John) who was, and still is, a big influence for me and for my brother, growing up.

What inspired you to be a musician?
I guess what really inspired me, was the freedom of what creating music, represented. I wasn’t bound to anything and I was able to create something from nothing. It’s a beautiful thing to achieve. With all the other things that I did before in my life, in one way or another, I depended on someone else, but with music that was not the case.

Have you ever had a musical project before King John?
No, never. KJ was my first musical adventure. Since then I’ve played other instruments, in other projects, but all started with “the king”.

The Before

As King John all started in 2018 with DoppelgÄnger. Was that the song that was meant to start it all? What is the meaning behind the title?
Actually, that’s the first song I’ve released after moving to Lisbon, but not were all started. For almost two years, I played almost 100 songs (originals) live back in the Azores, and recorded a few singles and one EP. I had so much ideas, lyrics, rhythms, drum parts, guitar parts, etc, accumulated, that I just played them live to see if they would work.

Those 2 years were very important. I discovered my sound and who I was as an artist, free of any pressure and free of any barriers. The single DoppelgÄnger was my first “grown-up” experience as a musician. The first time I went to a proper studio – all of my previous recording, were made in my parent’s living room.

It kicked started my journey in the big city, far from everything and everyone that I knew, and it’s about me wanting to let go of the fears and doubts, that the Azorean António always had.

What are the main differences from that song to the 2019 single Am I Cool Enough?
The main difference I would say, is the fact that when I released Am I Cool Enough?, I was already adapted to my new lifestyle, and I was much more confident on who I was as an artist and as a person.

That gave the perspective to start writing about subjects, that involved, for example, me being put under the spotlight and having to call out on the music industry.

All The Good Man That Did Ever Exist

All The Good Man That Did Ever Exist – album cover

And how do you see this first album, is it the space for you to experiment all the facets of King John or is it focused more on one kind of sound and one kind of message?
For sure it’s an album where I’ve explored all the facets of King John. From songs like Whimsical with full on driven guitars, breaking drumbeats, old-school tape-recorded keys, to a striped down song like Short Dance, a True Story that was recorded in live take, with just me and an acoustic guitar.

Message wise, it’s a different story. I would not call it a concept album, but there’s a guideline subject: Human interaction. Not only with each other, but also with one’s mind, with the planet and other living beings.

The lack of respect for that now-a-days, is really sad to see. We can all make small changes, that will lead into big ones in the future. Not our future as individuals alone, but the next generation’s future,as well.

Have you consciously been inspired by any bands or sonority to build King John sonority?
For sure. I’m a self-made musician. I needed that and I still do. I don’t think you should be afraid of claiming that. We are all fundamentally influenced by others. Not only in music, but also in other areas of our life.

I can honestly say, that I’m happy if someone says my music sounds like an artist that I like. Even if I don’t particularly like the artist, it’s OK :).   

If you had to briefly describe King John sound to anyone that never heard it before, what would you say it sounds like?
It sounds like a rock ’n’ roller, that grew up listening to jazz, and as a bone or two of folk in him.

Natural Inspirations

What were the main bands that you feel related the most since you were very young? And who were your main inspirations?
Like I said before, I grew up listening to jazz. My father was/is crazy about it. Name it and probably, 9-year-old António, was listening to it. At the same time there was the Live at Wembley ‘86 double CD from Queen on rotation in the house, and that marked me. The first time I’ve done some air-guitar (ah ah), jumping from the sofa imagining there was a guitar amplifier, was to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Later on, during my teenage years, from Jimi Hendrix all the way to Incubus, would leave their mark on me.

Lyric-wise, is there a common theme or common inspiration in the several songs you’ve written and recorded as King John?
My lyrics are mostly based on my daily life, but not only! Sometimes I create fictional characters and stories.It helps on keeping things alive up here. I like to think that my life is a good source of inspirations, but to be honest, sometimes I have to “travel” to different places, in order to keep things flowing, inspiration wise.

When we listen to King John we immediately recall projects and sonorities like The Black Keys. Is that a comparison you heard before? What do you think of it?
I’ve heard that before and it makes me very happy. I love their work, the old stuff and the recent stuff alike. They were a big source of inspiration, when I was starting, and still are. I’m not at all, afraid of my inspirations, so keep the comparisons coming.

Pay It Forward

What would be the main advice you would give to new emerging artists, or artists who are yet to release their first song?
Find the balance between being original, but truth to yourself. I think nowadays, everyone tries so hard to stand out,that they become exactly the same as everyone else.

In the next two years, where do you see yourself? And with who and where you would like to play?
Genuinely, I have no clue. I’m on a step by step stage. I still want to grow as an artist. I still have a lot to learn. Let’s see what the future hold! I would not mind at all, to be opening for The Black Keys, so Dan give me a call!

As a way of “paying it forward” can you recommend at least three very new bands or acts that you feel should get more attention or that you feel are going to be huge?
I’ve came off a year and a half, all most, of not listening to a lot of music. But there are acts like IDLES (not new new, but new),or my fellow Azoreans We Sea, that I really like. Also, Arlo Parks and the Portuguese Polivalente and Grand Sun.

Music and Respect

We are living difficult times with the emergence of this new virus all over the world, and the music industry is among the ones that are suffering the most from it. Is there any message you’d like to give to people in these troubled days?
Don’t panic! Keep alert and ready, but calm. You need to be strong for your family and loved ones. This concerns us all. RESPECT ONE ANOTHER!

Where can we expect to hear or see King John in the coming times?
Sadly, with all that is going on, all the live appearances have been canceled, but as soon as I have some news, I’ll let you know!

For now, listen to the LP. IS OUT!!!!

Many thanks,

KJ

Facebook Instagram Spotify Website Youtube