meet king leg feature

Meet King Leg – A NewsWhistle Introduction

New artists are a dime a dime a dozen, making it important to celebrate when something special comes around. King Leg (aka Bryan Joyce) is something special.

The music of King Leg is a hypnotic concoction of early rock and roll, soul, and classic country. It takes all that is worn-in and familiar, and makes it all feel fresh again without losing its comfortable nostalgia.

King Leg’s debut album, Meet King Leg, drops this Friday, October 20th, and NewsWhistle was lucky enough to catch up with the man behind King Leg.

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NewsWhistle: Thanks for making the time to talk with me. I have heard Meet King Leg, and I think it is fantastic.

King Leg: Thanks for listening to it!

NW: Oh, I will always listen to music, no problem. Not all music is necessarily worth the time, but I think Meet King Leg is something special, actually.

KL: That’s really great, thank you.

NW: This is one of those “just gotta get it out of the way” questions, but you’re King Leg, you’re also Bryan, is the band King Leg, or just you?

KL: I’ve been asked that question. Is it a band, or a man? Sometimes I just say it is a state of mind.

NW: What does that mean?!

KL: You know, when you’re just standing up there on your own two legs on a stage, and you just let the legs move you where they want to go. King Leg is an idea I had… It’s a lot to wrap my head around that this idea has come to fruition. The songs that came out of that idea as well being recorded here in L.A. at Capitol Records in Studio B with all the history there is a great honor.

NW: Speaking of the history of where you recorded, what is it like having people like Seymour Stein and Lenny Waronker say such nice things about you?

KL: It’s the ultimate validation as a songwriter and singer. It’s unreal.

NW: You don’t have to answer this, but how old are you?

KL: I’m 31. I’ve been writing songs since I was a late teenager. I moved to Nashville interested in songwriting, and nothing really happened after a couple years of trying, so I ended up going to college, and starting a life, and trying different things. I applied to med school, but didn’t get in, and in that failure King Leg was kind of born again. I had all these songs. I had never stopped writing and playing guitar. This opportunity came around to let it all out, so I moved out here to record and put together a band in L.A. That’s where we are now. Putting out this album.

NW: Were you in bands previously? As you said you were sort of stockpiling songs, but is there a history of your music out there?

KL: Well, there wouldn’t be any history that you would be able to find. In high school, I was in an Andrew W.K. cover band, and we played a few shows. When I moved to Nashville, there are songwriters everywhere, so I would get together with guys and jam. Finally, I had a friend who played drums, and we formed a Smiths cover band. We played a little bit. When I started introducing my songs to him, he really encouraged me.

NW: Your songs seem like a departure from the Smiths and Andrew W.K. Were you playing under protest before?

KL: [laughter] No! Just paying homage, in a way. The Andrew W.K. thing, it was all about partying and having fun. That was the atmosphere that I was excited about. I went to one of his shows, and he invited us up on stage, and everyone was just jumping around. It was wild and fun. That has always stayed with me, whether I was playing hard rock or not.

NW: Meet King Leg is very inspired by early rock and roll, soul, and country. It’s hard to do that well, I think. Can you talk about that?

KL: You know, when you write a song sitting on an acoustic guitar, you’re not thinking “this is going to be a rock song, or a country rock song” or anything like that, so I have to give a lot of credit to the band and Dwight Yoakam and Chris Lord-Alge who co-produced the album for helping sculpt the sound. I took these songs to Dwight, and he hand-picked the ones he wanted to record. He sprinkled some sort of special star dust, and made them just explode in the studio.

NW: Dwight was pretty involved in the album process, then?

KL: He produced it with Chris Lord-Alge, and mixed it as well. A lot of that in your face rock sound is due to them. Dwight also helped arrange, and think of different parts as producers do.

NW: We seem to be losing talented musicians at a rapid clip these days, and I know Roy Orbison died a long time ago (12.6.88), but is there anything you would like to say to him?

KL: In a way, I feel like I am continuing a conversation with him. He has kind of been an angel to me, and his music is as much alive as it has always been. I hope to meet his sons one day. They are really keeping his legacy alive. They unearthed an album that he recorded in the late 60s that had never been released before. They got it out of the vault, mixed and mastered it, and put it out a few years ago.

NW: “The Great Outdoors” (off of Meet King Leg) knocked me on my ass. It is weirdly forward-looking, yet very nostalgic. Is that what you were going for?

KL: Absolutely, the past is one of those things we can’t really escape, and that song came out of that. The intro guitar riff. I had just gotten off of a little road trip through the Smoky Mountains, and I was thinking about the land, and my grandparents and great grandparents settling in Nebraska, where I am from, and it felt like I was connecting with them.

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NW: The great outdoors and the open road are very iconic, American images. Are those places still available to us or is the song more a document about what we used to have?

KL: No, I think they are very available, and that is what I discovered on my road trip when I was standing on top of a mountain in east Tennessee. When I came out here, we drove through the Southwest on the way to California. It was a similar experience, seeing the change in scenery as you are driving. The world is changing right in front of your eyes.

NW: And that translates to music? Whether the music is in your head, or you are listening to the radio while you’re driving, the music becomes something more…

KL: Absolutely. That’s another thing about songs. I write something, and I might not have any succinct idea what that songs about, but it might make an impression on someone else that I never expected.

NW: You seem to work with a lot of open spaces (on Meet King Leg) like on “Cloud City” or “Your Picture”. Is that intentional, or part of the idea of the album?

KL: Those sort of dynamics came out while we were rehearsing, arranging, and recording, and it was intended to draw the listener in a little bit and be in the moment.

NW: It works really well in “Cloud City” because the song does eventually get loud.

KL: It kind of feels like you are in Cloud City.

NW: Where is Cloud City?

KL: I wrote the song after my grandpa died a few years back, so it was kind of that idea; a place you go after you die. I used to use that term when I lived in an apartment in downtown Nashville. I would say I lived up in Cloud City. Someone also mentioned Star Wars. I had forgotten that Lando Calrissian was from a place called Cloud City…

NW: I’m glad I am not the only one to think of Star Wars immediately. On the topic of touring, it appears that you are remaining in the West [shows in Nashville have since been added].

KL: Yeah, pretty much right now.

NW: Any plans on coming through Minneapolis?

KL: I hope so. They are playing me on (local NPR music channel) The Current out there. I was pretty excited to find out that (DJ) Bill DeVille was doing that. I do want to make it out that way.

NW: What is your idea of success at this point?

KL: As I was saying earlier, this has been a really validating experience for me, but just being able to record these songs has been an enormous success. Even before that, being able to play a show and open for Dwight was the limit that I thought I would reach. I was totally happy, but this opportunity kept growing and growing, and has really been amazing.

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NewsWhistle music contributor Chad Werner is “ahead of the curve, behind the times.” You can contact this rock n’ roll sphinx at chad@newswhistle.com (e-mail) or @scooternotmoped (Twitter).

PHOTO CREDITS

  • Album Cover and Logo Courtesy of King Leg, Sire Records and Warner Music Group