No Escape For The King
No Escape for the King are a local quintet with an international flavour, with members hailing from the UK, Ireland, and South Africa, travelling Down Under via the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Canada. This heady cultural mix has brought hidden depths to their music, according to front man Matthew Cheetham. With their debut album, 13 Fjords, launching at the Grace Darling this weekend, Beat took a moment to learn about the rich history behind No Escape For The King.
What brought you guys together?
Hutcho, the guitarist in my old band Corporation Clink decided to move to Singapore, just as we'd finished recording our debut EP. He also played in Cor'Delle, who had just finished recording their debut album. Impeccable timing, eh? We still love him though! It was at his leaving party that the remaining members of the two bands discussed the idea of a unification, blending the differing styles of each band. And to quote the Spice Girls (sort of), 2 Became 1.
What does it mean, musically, that you hail from different corners of the globe?
We've all been influenced by the musical landscapes of the places in which we grew up and have subsequently lived. In my case it was ‘80s Manchester. The distinctive Manchester sound is intrinsic to a lot of what I do – Joy Division, Buzzcocks, The Smiths, James and so on. I also spend a lot of time in Sweden, and living amongst the Swedish community in London, and developed a love of bands like The Hives, Hellacopters, Sahara Hotnights. What's been most important is the compatibility of these influences and the way in which they've come together. Hopefully it's worked well.
What do you think of the Melbourne music scene?
I must admit, even after five years, I still struggle with the concept of venues having "bookers" rather than "promoters". Standard practise in the UK is for bands to pitch themselves to promoters. The promoters not only put lineups together but run the door, provide the mixer, posters and flyers, and actively promote the show to local press – inevitably some do a better job than others. Of course, the onus is still on the bands to actively promote their gigs as well, but it's great having someone else to do most of the leg work. The trade off is a financial one, with the promoter taking the lion’s share of the door money for their troubles – few things in life are free! It's certainly nice to leave gigs in Melbourne with a few dollars in my pocket but I do miss having someone else to take care of everything. As for the bands, I think there's a pretty decent level of musicianship and some really great venues.
What is the significance of your band name?
We were really struggling for a name so we just bit the bullet and went to the Union Club Hotel in Fitzroy with some friends and had a lock-in vowing not to leave till the band had a name. After many hours and beers we noticed someone had scrawled 'no escape from the kingdom of fear' in the gent's toilets (I presume it is still there somewhere) but we thought it sounded just a little metal so it got shortened to No Escape For The King. After which, we went home happy... and drunk.
What are the major themes of the record?
We describe our sound as "snowflakes, magma and mountains of delay" which seems to sum up the themes quite succinctly. Lyrically, the songs are about the inter-relationship between people and place or, more specifically, human emotions and the natural environment – glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, outer space, sometimes familiar, sometimes fantastical. These themes are manifest musically as a melodic journey with a sense of the epic.