Picture this: A glorious sunset paints the Pacific ocean in pretty pinks and fiery oranges. Birds wheel overhead, as you sip a mojito and lean back in a deck chair to listen to a cover band play the hits. Sounds pretty idyllic right? Okay, maybe we didn’t get all the details super correct, but that’s how we like to imagine the origin story. It’s probably not the place you’d expect to find a rising alt-soul pop band, on a cruise line sailing to the shores of Hawaii and West America, but that’s where The King’s Parade got their start.
Back home in London when I call, the four guys are chilling in the house they all share, getting ready to start on band stuff. The vibe is relaxed, worlds away from the voyage that marked their beginning, now just a slightly insane milestone in their remarkable journey to look back on and laugh over. They’re obviously comfortable just hanging out with each other—at one point, even knocking over a kettle and then apologising for it (isn’t that the most British sentence you’ve ever read?). They all take turns telling parts of their story, running off each other’s sentences. It’s clear from the start the quartet aren’t just bandmates; they’re friends.
“…people can choose to listen to you, or not, and just carry on walking. People stay if they like what they’re hearing.”
“Chris came up with the crazy idea of going on a cruise ship,” Olly laughs. Having met at university, they weren’t ready to part ways just yet, and needed to find a way to make enough money to move to London and pursue their career as a band. And that’s when Chris came up with an idea so out there you’d only hear it come out of the mouth of a student. He chimes in, “Some of my musician friends had told me about going on cruise ships and being part of what they call ‘the party band’ which is a horrible, horrible phrase [laughs]. But that’s what we did.” Playing multiple sets a day, seven days a week, the band used their time covering other people’s songs to hone their skills and learning how to gel as a performing group. “It was a really good learning experience,” Olly adds.
Photo credit: Marcus Valance
After getting back to dry land, they put down roots in London. Living together with a built-in rehearsal studio in their back garden has brought them closer together as a band, and kept the creativity flowing. “We can carry on discussing ideas, sit with the idea for a little bit, keep talking about it in and out of our rehearsal room,” Sam says. Of course, being in each other’s faces all the time has its ups and downs, but they cite being able to put up with each other as one of the most important things they’ve learned. “It’s for better or worse sometimes,” he jokes. “But for the most part it’s super gratifying and beneficial.”
To understand this band is to realise their dedication—they’re willing to do whatever it takes to make music and hone their skills as musicians, which is a vibe fans pick up and respect. In fact, the biggest thing you take away from talking to this band, is how focused they are on staying in touch with their audience. They constantly look for new ways to interact—including taking to the streets of London to busk. “It’s a great way to get your music out there,” Olly acknowledges. But just like any big city, it’s not without it’s crazy adventures. “We’ve had a few issues with it in the past. We got arrested in Leicester Square. It was pretty ridiculous because we’d just been voted London’s best busker or something like that, the week before, and then we got arrested.” They share their stories with a touch of humour and humility, all while taking something from each experience. Playing on the streets presents them with a different environment to shows, giving them a good sounding board to practise new songs. “I guess it’s totally organic, because people can choose to listen to you, or not, and just carry on walking. People stay if they like what they’re hearing.”
“It’s really nice to go overseas and people are singing the newer stuff, because it means they’re progressing with you and they’re totally understanding where your music’s going.”
And fans kept coming back. The band have become particularly popular in Germany, returning again and again to new and old fans. “We love to see when people come to gigs who’ve never seen us or heard of us before, but their friend told them to come,” Olly says. “And if they walk away loving us, then that is a win for us.” Seeing that instant reaction from fans is something the band live for. Chris adds, “If you can get them to cheer mid-song, you know that they’re really digging it.” Sam jokes, “We have really cool newspaper clipping reviews of us—we have no idea what they say, but we’ve kept them!” They all laugh, clearly appreciative of the reaction they’ve received from different parts of the world. Tom sums it up best: “It’s really nice to go overseas and people are singing the newer stuff, because it means they’re progressing with you and they’re totally understanding where your music’s going.”
Photo credit: Arie Van Der Poel
At the time we chatted, the band were gearing up for the release of their new Haze EP, and you could feel the mixture of nerves and excitement when the subject comes up. They’re eager yet slightly apprehensive, but have a great sense of faith that their fans are open-minded and supportive. “What’s been really nice is that, whenever we release new stuff… I mean, touch wood… it seems that all our fans are totally riding the same wavelength as us, seeing what level we’re going to next,” Tom says. “Our sound is constantly changing, and from one EP to the next you never know if the fans are going to hang on, or if they’re going to prefer the old stuff. But it seems that everyone’s seeing the vibe that we’re getting.” They hope this is the case with Haze, and judging from the music alone, they have absolutely nothing to worry about—the EP is a beautiful collection of songs that will speak to fans on a personal level in so many different ways. Every song means something different to each of them, and they’re excited to see if fans feel the same way. Olly says, “I wanna know what people’s favourites are, I wanna know which ones are the ones they put on in different situations. It’s more exciting to see their reactions.”
No matter where the band takes them—across Europe, across oceans, or across London—The King’s Parade know that it’s the fans that keep them coming back. For now, they’re excited to hear what fans think of the new EP, before deciding on what to release next, which Chris says is “Daunting and exciting at the same time. We’ll see what the reaction is.” If they’ve learned anything from their time together, it’s not to have every detail of their next steps mapped out, because life doesn’t always work out that way—but you can bet with this band, it’s going to be one hell of a journey.