Kingswood: ‘Everyone needs to organise 15 grand, from their families, friends – whoever the fuck it is’

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Kingswood: ‘Everyone needs to organise 15 grand, from their families, friends – whoever the fuck it is’

Words by Tyler Jenke

When Melbourne rockers Kingswood first got together back in 2007, they didn’t have grand plans of massive success.

Maybe they make some music, get some gigs and perhaps one day play a mighty venue like The Forum.

“The initial goal was just to play somewhere in Melbourne,” remembers guitarist Alex Laska. “I remember going to see Metallica when I was 16 and going, ‘Yeah, this is great, I wonder if this sort of thing is possible for me?’

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“Then seeing Jet at The Forum doing Get Born, it started to manifest as, ‘Maybe a tangible goal would be to see my own band playing at The Forum?’,” he adds. “I remember that was one of the first cemented considerations we had as a band.”

Founded by Laska on guitar, Fergus Linacre on vocals, Jeremy Hunter on bass and Justin Debrincat on drums, Kingswood emerged onto the Melbourne music scene as a rock band who weren’t afraid of slick tracks that paired big choruses and gritty instrumentation. 

As live shows proved their worth as ferocious contenders on the scene, it took only a couple of years for Kingswood to share their own music thanks to a self-titled EP, 2012’s Change Of Heart and singles like Ohio, She’s My Baby and more.

Before long, they’d managed to receive wider attention thanks to consistent airplay on stations such as triple j and their Unearthed program and appearances on major festivals like Splendour In The Grass. By 2014, this success had put Kingswood in a position where it was time to make a full album.

“It was like winning the golden ticket to the Olympics that year,” Laska remembers. “It was like Charlie in Willy Wonka giving up when that gift ticket gets announced and then it’s a hoax.

“Could you imagine the excitement and the potential he walks into the chocolate store, grabs that one last bar and bam, sees that flash of gold? Whatever that flash of gold feeling is, that’s what doing your first album was like.”

Kingswood grabbed that proverbial golden ticket and ran with it, all the way to Nashville, where they worked with Grammy Award-winning producer Vance Powell (The White Stripes, Arctic Monkeys) at the likes of Blackbird Studio. Their connection with Powell came by chance after someone in America passed their EP onto the producer and they realised they had to take that chance.

“We were totally independent, so I was like, everyone needs to organise borrowing 15 grand, from their families, friends – whoever the fuck it is,” Laska remembers. “To everyone’s credit, we did it. 

“The band was building from triple j at this point and we’ve sold out The Corner twice in a row, the Oxford Arts Factory,” he adds. “We were selling out decent 500 to 700 cap rooms multiple times over and we’re going, ‘Fuck yeah, maybe this could happen’.”

After returning from Nashville, Kingswood returned with the album Micro Wars. Hitting number six on the Aussie charts, nabbing an ARIA Award nomination for Best Rock Album and boasting singles like Sucker Punch, ICFTYDLM  and its title track, the record was a monster.  To add to the glory, Kingswood even got to live their dream by playing a headline show at The Forum in Melbourne.

Now, ten years on, Kingswood are hitting the road to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the album which put them on their path to success. Kicking off in Melbourne on August 2nd, the group will hit up Brisbane, Newcastle, Bunbury, Gold Coast, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, playing the album in full.

For Laska, these shows and the anniversary are a way to look back at such a pivotal moment in the band’s life. 

“We were just kids, everything was new and everything was exciting,” he explains. There’s a beauty to that and there’s obviously a sadness to that being lost, but there’s been a great progression since then.

“But the album, that’s what we did and we had so much fun making it,” he adds. “And it’s a great marker of a period of time of how we were, what our spirit was, what we wanted to achieve and how we did it – we did it all.”

While it’ll also serve as a chance to revisit songs that haven’t been played in years, to connect with fans who themselves view Micro Wars as a crucial part of their lives and to share in ten years of glory, it’ll also be an opportunity to reinvent songs, rediscover meaning and reflect on such a huge achievement.

“It’s obviously going to be a nostalgia trip and it will conjure memories of the time,” Laska explains. “We’re actually in discussions of bringing some very special guests onto the stage with certain songs to invoke the spirit of the album and the spirit of the band at the time. 

“It also injects a wealth of knowledge that the band has amassed in 10 years, so we’ll be delivering it in a way that would make our younger selves say, ‘Holy shit, look at those dudes!’” he adds. “It’s about making our younger selves proud, honouring their intention at the time and celebrating the album.”

Grab tickets to see Kingswood perform at The Forum on August 2 here.