>> Kings of Spade have an inspirational story of overcoming struggles. We had the pleasure of talking to lead singer, KC, about fruits, that legendary mohawk, and opening for Bon Jovi. This interview will motivate you to chase your dreams!
Can you tell us the story behind the band name?
Slang for speaking spade is to speak bluntly or plainly and calling something out as it is. So I wanted the band name to be Queen of Spade but I got out-voted 3 to 1 when the boys opted for Kings of Spade.
How has Hawaii's culture influenced your music?
As far as our blues-rock genre, it hasn't. Hawaii is famous for Hawaiian language music, slack key guitar, ukulele, Reggae, and Jawaiian.... none of which are in our band. Like Hawaii though, our band is a melting pot of totally different influences and personalities trying to find the musical grooves we can all agree on. We got the white rocker guy, the Asian ska-loving surfer boy, the Irish red-head who's favorite band is Phish, and a Hawaiian soul singer. Somehow, we made it all work.
What inspired the Mohawk?
I used to rock a low maintenance buzz cut under my favorite newsboy hat. After 5 years the hat finally became tethered and unwearable. One day before getting ready to buzz cut my hair again I wondered what it would look like if I left the top long. 7 years later, it still looks pretty good to me. People come up to me everyday rattling off the names of iconic Punk bands and ask if I'm into them and I always say, "Sorry I'm not very familiar, I grew up listening to Oldies but Goodies and 60s Motown.
Please describe the feelings and experience you had opening for Bon Jovi on tour?
Crazy story - my drummer Matt and I had gotten tickets to see Elton John at Blaisdell Arena. We wondered out loud to each other how amazing it would be to play in that arena one day. A couple months later Bon Jovi announced they were running a band contest for the opener. I never heard the announcement. I was grabbing a coffee one morning and the barista mentioned to me how her band submitted a song for the contest. I ran out of the coffee shop and looked up the details. I had less than an hour to put a press kit and cd together and I hand-delivered it to the promoters downtown office within 5 minutes of the submission deadline. A few days later, we got the call. I was a huge Bon Jovi fan. Bon Jovi New Jersey was my jam. I can sing those songs backwards if I had to. I used to have a life-sized poster of him on my wall during middle-school. I brought it with me on stage on the day of the show. I told the crowd that no one was more excited than me to be at this concert and I unfolded my tattered poster - proof I was a legit crazed fan that would keep something like that for so long. They loved it! I don't remember being nervous. Once I heard my vocals ringing out in a sold-out arena I thought to myself, yeah I can totally get used to this. It all felt like it was meant to be. Had I not grabbed a coffee on that specific morning at that specific coffee shop and heard about the contest, none of that would have happened. It had to be destiny.
We saw you are releasing a new album on October 19th, please describe each song on the album as if it were a fruit and why that specific fruit.
This is an awesome question for a fruit lover!
"Way She Goes" - Kiwi - Delicious and tangy but if you try to eat it before its ripe its hard and has no flavor.
"Bottoms Up" - Watermelon - It can leave a big sloshy mess but it's still totally worth the cleanup.
"Strange Bird" - Star Fruit - Super weird-looking on the outside but awesome and sweet once you try it.
"Take Me" - Crushed Blueberries - This character has been battered and bruised and the event has left a long-lasting stain.
"Mess of Me" - Mango - It's my favorite. I crave it but it has such a short season. It's hardly around, its difficult to acquire, even when you have it you can't get enough. Still, its oh so good. You MUST have it.
"Sweet" - Coconut - This song is the closest thing we have to "island vibe" so that's all coconuts.
"This Child" - Apple - Apples are sturdy and solid. You can carelessly toss them in a bag and they'll be okay. They have a tough skin. Much like the character in "This Child"
"The Fight" - Banana - Who's got the biggest one? I do.
"Lost" - Sour Grapes - I went for it because I love grapes and they looked so sweet. Turns out they were sour but it's too late because I already went all in for a gigantic bag. Guess I'll be eating these sour grapes until they are gone.
You all have come a long way from literally selling your blood for money, what is the best advice you can give to someone who is struggling and at a really low point in their life?
I think of the most simple basic things that I DO have that people often take for granted, and I really focus in on it. For example, 10 fingers, both of my legs, the ability to breathe on my own, my eyesight - I remind myself there are even less fortunate people who don't have some of these things and still have to find their way. In that period of my life, I learned a great deal of humility. I took jobs that I once thought were beneath me and told myself to think of it as a small stepping stone. I imagine what life would be like if I wasn't pursuing my dream. I often conclude I would have been dead on the inside anyway. Just being broke is a huge step up from dead. I also learned a mantra from one of those self-help books that I still say to this day. "All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation, only good can come. And I am safe." Even when I feel like my world is collapsing around me I repeat this mantra and somehow it calms me and helps.
Please describe your first experience performing at Anna Bananas and how that experience ultimately changed your career path.
That day was a game-changer. I had no intentions of being in a band. I already had a college degree and contemplated going back to study law. I was working at a bar just trying to figure my next moves in life. I happened to be bartending at a dead open-mic one night. No one was in the bar so the house band randomly asked if I knew any songs. I said yeah, I know all the words to GnR's Sweet Child of Mine. I jumped on stage with them and started singing. Right there it just clicked for me. It sounded naturally raw and authentic. I felt like I had just been struck by lightning and it was never more clear what I was meant to do in life. From that day on, music and my band have been everything to me.
The LGBTQIA community has made major strides towards acceptance in society over the last year, what else would you like to see accomplished to make the world a safer place for those who happen to identify differently than "the norm"?
This will happen as soon as everybody realizes differences ARE THE NORM and should be celebrated! I truly believe this happens most with a personal connection. Like my mom..... she was so embarrassed and worried I was gonna burn in Hell for coming out. She refused to talk to me. Time passed and she missed me. She finally got over not talking to me but still didn't want to acknowledge my girlfriend. Eventually, more time passed and she realized, she actually kinda likes my girlfriend and started inviting her to family events. Now she's come so far around, my girlfriend gets way better Christmas gifts from my mom than I do! One personal connection at a time. Love wins, always.
Who was your first fan/believer and what would you like to say to them?
My mom. She's been saying to this day, "I'm praying for you, Precious. I know something big is gonna happen for you one day." I always joke back, "You need to pray harder, mom. It's still not working." HAHAHA!
What about Aretha Franklin and Janis Joplin specifically inspire you and your sound?
Aretha is just the undeniable soul sister number one! She got that church swagger in her voice. Janis' idol was Etta James who was also trained by a gospel choir director. With gospel, you are inspired and singing with purpose. Janis has that scratchy rasp-like, half singing, half primal scream. It's so raw with emotion. You can feel the pain when both of them sing. It's authentic and tangible. The emotion oozes out. I always sang in this way. From the gut, with feeling. <<