EXCLUSIVE: KINGDOM OF GIANTS INTERVIEW “NOT JUST KOG, THE INVOGUE RECORDS BAND ANYMORE”
With the release of their latest single “Sync,” the world will welcome in the next era of Kingdom of Giants; an era the band describes as outliving their past selves and welcoming true progression.
Kingdom of Giants are a constantly moving musical force. When the likes of COVID-19 struck as the band were planning their upcoming album release, the California metalcore outfit were quick on their feet wasting no time in developing a new plan that still allowed their body of work to release in 2020.
Check out our interview with Dana Willax and Jonny Reeves of Kingdom of Giants where we discuss “Sync,” the newly announced PASSENGER, and the inspiration that helped shape the album.
1. Two Suns
2. Night Shift
4. Side Effect
8. Blue Dream (feat. Michael Barr)
10. Lost Hills
12. The Ride (feat. Courtney LaPlante)
Hi Dana, Jonny, it’s great to be talking to you guys. I hope that you guys are safe and well with everything going on in the world. I really appreciate you guys doing this interview ahead of the release of your new single, “Sync”.
Dana: Hey man, it’s so great to be here and I appreciate you reaching out and letting us be a part of this.
Oh for sure! I really dig the music and I’m excited to hear this new single. So something that crossed my mind while I saw the name of this single, I was like, “I wonder what kind of copyright law prevented them from putting “N” in front of “Sync”.
Dana: Oh my GOD. That would been the move for sure. I don’t know why we didn’t do it haha.
I mean it’s completely understandable that you’d be afraid of Justin and The Boys saying “bye bye bye” to you guys haha. But for real, I kind of want to bring up “No Faith No Space” and highlight the idea that your music is very purposeful, especially when it comes to the lyrics and the emotion. You really dialed in on the melodic and emotion aspects of your music. And that song is a great example because it really kind of calls out to the idea of art and what it has to say. And I was very curious, what does “Sync” have to say? Is it more purposeful song for you guys?
Dana: Having meaning in our words is definitely something that has always been important to Kingdom. We have this platform (as small as it may be) and it seems selfish to not use it to try and shed light on important issues, or just life experiences in general. I think every song will always have that, (N)Sync included haha.
I really have always liked to let our listeners feel out the meaning of our songs for themselves because part time, they end up having a more meaningful connection to the song by letting it speak directly to them.
I want to shed some light on the fact that you’ve really dialed in your sound. I can really hear some aspects as far as the emotion side of things go that remind me of, say, Dayseeker. But then you have these really melodic, but heavy breakdowns- kind of like ERRA or Invent, Animate so you’re drawing metalcore fans from several sides of the spectrum.
What would you say, to you personally, that “Sync” means? I know you just stated you like the lyrics to kind of remain ambiguous, but, I do like to know what the lyrics mean to the lyricist and what their head space WAS whenever they were writing it.
Dana: You’re naming all the boy haha! I love finding influence from people we truly look up to and can call our friend.
Jonny: For me, the lyrics spoke on events in my past and how they’ve shaped me and just how persevering through them is really what life is about. I, among other members of the band, have experienced all the ups and downs of life that you can imagine. From hitting rock bottom, to losing everything you’ve worked for, or losing a loved one. It can be immobilizing. You can feel lost. You’re struggling to keep the light in front of you but through all of the mess in it, you somehow find your way through it.
Now, is “Sync” a stand alone single release? Or is it part of a larger project? Are we looking at an album? An EP? A set of singles leading up to an album? The way music is consumed has changed so much even since “No Faith No Space” and “Damaged Goods” were released, so I’m very curious to see what “Sync” will be a part of.
Dana: We are looking at a decently long roll out to a well overdue BRAND NEW ALBUM.
We feel like that in our current climate of not being able to play shows, we want to take our time rolling out singles until the album finally drops in full. We want to give people something to look forward to each month for the next few months.
Why is “Sync” the lead single and how does it correspond?
Dana: “Sync” is the first single becasue it has a bit of everything. It’s far and away not my favorite song on the album, but it comes in strong, has a digestible structure, the chorus slaps, and the breakdown slaps.
I cannot wait to hear what exactly you guys have been up to for this record. As far as the sound goes, is there type of hint that you want to drop for me, as well as for anyone who is going to be reading this interview?
Dana: I think the best thing to say is that Kingdom is always evolving our sound. Every album has felt more mature (to us) as we grow as musicians/songwriters- as we grow as fans of music in general. Our tastes change, but our roots remain. This album is just exactly what we wanted to make and exactly what we wanted to hear.
You sound very confident in it. I definitely like to hear that. I do, however, want to point that I feel that your music has always been true to YOUR identity, and that’s what makes me very excited to hear new material from you guys. What would you say that your identity IS at the moment? Would you say that you’re going for something that’s MORE than metalcore? Also, the ever important, who and what were you listening to while making this album?
Dana: We were listening to music from a wiiiiide variety of artists. Some of us were influenced by bands like Spiritbox and Northlane, others by The Midnight and The Bad Dreamers, others by Architects, Bring Me The Horizon, Wage War.
Ahh The Midnight! I love that namedrop. You know, ever since that movie Drive came out that had that synthwave soundtrack, I feel that synthwave has been coming back. Now, I would probably go ahead and throw out that I don’t FEEL like you guys MADE a synthwave album; I don’t feel like that’s what you’d do necessarily, but I feel that maybe you’d mix that WITH metalcore, and if you did, oh man this is going to be my favorite album of the year.
Dana: We absolutely did not make a synthwave album haha. BUT we were HEAVILY influenced by its sound. And it may play a particular role in the vibe of the record.
Do you feel that this album breaks boundaries for you as a band? Do you feel that it breaks boundaries for metalcore?
Dana: Yes, I absolutely do. It’s easily the best album we’ve ever made (in our opinion, I’m sure there will be plenty of people that say ‘Abominable’ is the best thing we’ve ever done).
Jonny: It’s definitely touching on some new territory for the Kingdom of Giants catalog. Also, we can’t ever please the ‘Abominable’ fans lol).
Would you care to reveal the title of the new album as well as the timeline for when it might release? And how does the title of the album correspond to your personal experiences?
Dana: The album is called ‘Passenger’, and will be released in October. And it’s simple, we are all passengers. BOOOOOOM.
I definitely heard some Deftones influence on “No Faith No Space.” Is there going to be more of that on this new record?
Dana: Yeah there may be some Deftones vibes sprinkled throughout. I think people already have preconceived notions about what the album will sound like based off the last 2 singles. So they will be surprised.
The idea that there are synthwave influences on this album has me thoroughly excited because that’s definitely a left turn from where things where headed. I kind of felt a more ambient direction coming along but I would have never expected 80s synthwave/new wave type stuff.
Jonny: We just all vibe with synthwave so hard.
Dana: Totally, and it’s not like a basis for the songs or anything. It’s more of a supporting vibe.
A synthwave breakdown, I’ve been waiting for that since Dream Theater have been a band.
Jonny: You may be in luck.
Dana: You would not believe how well synthwave and breakdowns go together haha.
Did any books, movies, any particular artist influence Passengers? I always find it interesting whenever a band is drawn to outside influences.
Dana: Not lyrically, but movies like Blade Runner definitely influenced the visual vibe.
Jonny: I feel like a lot of cinema influenced the record., The feel, the vibe. We all saw Blade Runner 2049 in the UK together and were blown away by the score, the color grading of the movie. And also movies like Tron.
How have you guys grown as songwriters since say, Ground Culture? I’m really interested what the songwriting process was like for this album and what the production side of things has offered for it as well.
Dana: We gotta give a shout out to our boy Matt Thomas (Ashtone Audio). One huge difference with this album compared to albums like ‘Ground Culture’ is now we have this mad dog named Jonny Reeves in the band who, not only has crazy pipes, but realllly helped shape this album to what it is musically. We wanted to focus on making sure songs translated live because that’s a downfall for some of our tunes in the past. They feel good on record, but then you go play it live and it just doesn’t work out the way you thought it would.
Jonny: HUGE shout out to the boy Matt Thomas. Songwriting with these guys was a blast. We all had collective input on the tracks and all cared so much about nurturing them. I can’t wait to make more with them.
Was Matt Thomas the producer of this album?
Dana: Yeah. When we brought these songs to him, they were “done” in our eyes, but he heavily had an influence on overall structures. We would come to the studio some days and a new part would be there and a part would be taken out. He truly cared about making our record the best it could be.
It’s good to hear that he as a producer that didn’t steer you guys in a direction that you didn’t want to go in. He worked WITH you and worked with what your band wanted as well as what your sound is doing.
Dana: I do feel it is important to round out your sound, but we reallllllly did that with ‘All The Hell You’ve Got To Spare’ and the only songs people ever remember are “Cash Out” and “Damaged Goods” haha. We kinda went into it thinking, “lets write an entire album full of those, and then we accidentally kinda rounded it out anyway. I’d also say for sure there are way more single style songs on this record than the last, but it’s got everything- to me at least.
Jonny: Yeah, I’d have to agree. It was hard choosing which singles we would go with cause all of them felt like contenders.
I really appreciate both of your time. The last question I’m going to ask is what do you feel Kingdom of Giants is going to accomplish in 2021?
Dana: I said this in our press release, but i’ll say it here: “the last few years has felt like our friend bands invited KOG to a party, but the boss made us work late, and now we are finally off, get to kick in the door, and turn the music up.” Hahaha.
Jonny: I think we’re gonna make our official stamp in the industry in 2021 with the release of this record. It’s not just KOG: the Invogue Records band anymore.