With their huge wall of sound, you would think that King of the North (otherwise known as KOTN) is a five piece rock outfit, with several guitarists, a bass player and a drummer but the truth is that all that rock emenates from just two musicians: one guitarist, Andrew Higgs and one drummer, Danny Leo. I caught up with Andrew recently to talk about how it all began, the new album, the upcoming tour and more.
Danny and Andrew met through a friend who had to put a band together when he was attending music college. “He asked me to sing and Danny to play drums,” Andrew explained. “And we actually met on stage. I didn’t rock up to the rehearsal because I was just an arrogant singer. I pretty much just rocked up for the sound check and just said to everyone ‘Hey, how you goin’?’ so I met Danny there.” The two musicians then played in a band together for a couple of years before forming King of the North. “I had an idea of how to make one guitar sound like two guitars and a bass and I just needed the technology to pull it off. I happened to be back in Adelaide to visit my mum and Danny’s new band was jamming around at my mum’s studio and I just realised that all this technology is actually here so we thought we’d try this idea out to see if it actually worked and it did. We sat there laughing because it worked so well and then we sort of just very slowly progressed from that.”
“It wasn’t about putting a two piece together,” he points out. “It was about still pulling off what we both feel is a proper band sound with two people.”
The guys are currently touring the country and following from their own tour, they will be supporting American heavy rock outfit, Monster Magnet. It was Monster Magnet who approached them to be their support on the tour. “Same as all our gigs with Cold Chisel, Baby Animals.. they’ve all asked us to play and we just said ‘Hell, yeah!’ It’s great.”
The band has been getting quite a bit of exposure of late. It certainly hasn’t hurt that their single ‘Wanted‘ features in BMW’s latest ad campaign on television. When the prestige car manufacturer approached the guys to use the song in their commercials, Andrew said that it felt ‘pretty surreal’. And with the campaign launching in March, plans for a tour were stepped up to take full advantage of the exposure. Last week, the album featured as Triple M’s Album of the Week, and the single is part of their night time playlist. It has now also been added to Rebel Air’s playlist.
Lyrically, says Andrew, all his songs are about life experiences; his own and other people’s. “Sometimes,” he explains, “I’ll write a story from someone else’s point of view and put myself in their shoes, so to speak. Or I’ll write a scenario that comes from dreams or things that I’ve read or seen on the news and then I’ll just make a story about it and turn it into a song.” Musically, he draws his inspiration from a variety of genres and styles. “Basically anything that has a powerful hook or a powerful groove, which could be anything from hard rock to R and B to Motown and real bluesy type stuff. I’m a big fan of the blues and most of my riffs are pretty bluesy riffs. Anything with a lot of soul in it. I like songs that will move me, not just make my head bop but sort of grab your heart, you know.”
Andrew was recently mentioned in a list of the ‘Top 25 Future Legends of Guitar’ in Australian Guitar Magazine and he was totally blown away by the honour. “Yeah, that was really crazy because I didn’t know they’d done that,” he admits. “I had friends sending me texts and putting things on Facebook saying ‘That’s awesome!’ and I thought ‘What are they talking about?’ and it wasn’t until someone put the actual article on Facebook, I was like ‘Oh’ and I contacted the magazine and asked if I could get a copy and eventually the editor sent me three and I thought ‘Well, there I am!’ but it came as a surprise. They used an old interview from The Beat magazine so when I said to people that I didn’t know it had happened, I think they thought I was full of crap. But it was an old interview they used and then elaborated on it a little bit.” The guitarist felt honoured to be mentioned in the company of other musicians who he admired. “I don’t do anything I do to get personal accolades. I just had a cool idea to make the band sound like a five piece and then they’re sort of saying that I’m a pioneer of this and that and that’s pretty nice but at the end of the day, it’s about the band.”
And that is where all of Andrew’s time and energy is channelled these days. “We love what we do,” he says. “The goal is to keep playing live and expand our fan base. Hopefully, we can get overseas this year, basically just playing more and touring more. I manage the band as well and it’s been really hectic. I can bury my head in my laptop and not really know what’s going on in the outside world.”
by Sharyn Hamey
Copyright © 2014 Sharyn Hamey. All Rights Reserved
For King of the North’s full tour dates, venues and how to book, please click here