King Of The Slums
House of Dolls, issue 24, Nov / Dec 1989.
Napoleon Solo mixes with the ROGUES OF ROYALTY.
Despite hailing from England's capital of trend, Manchester, King Of The Slums may not be as familiar as their host of peers. But despite hot competition from upstarts Happy Mondays, Stone Roses and the Godlike Frank Sidebottom, King Of The Slums have been producing distinctive and spasmodically brilliant singles since 1988.
Charlie Keigher (vox), Curtis (violin), Gary Spances (guitar), James Cashan (bass) and Gary Burke (drums) are Kings Of The Slums, and are ready to spread themselves before you, with the debut album 'Dandelions', and new single, 'Once A Prefect'. Mancunian to the core, Charlie is a little unsettled by the unfashionable streets of London.
"We just came down to sort a few things out, see a few people. . . pretty boring stuff really; about the video and things like that. We've plumped to do a fluorescent video for 'Once A Prefect', whatever one of them is. It'll be nice and colourful, anyway. We'll probably do it in a rehearsal room or something and just cover the place with fluorescents. Should be quite fun, we've never done anything that that before."
Why don't you all look anything like I thought you'd look?
"Lots of people have said that," Charlie laughs, "Your photographer thought we'd have long hair down to our bums and speak with American accents. Maybe he got mixed up with 'Kings Of The Sun' or something like that. Do we sound quite 'rockish', or something?"
Umm... yeah... sometimes... I think the new single is quite 'rockish'...
"I think it's more funky or dancey than rockish. I think the stuff on the LP is probably a bit more considered, lyrically, but what's being said on the single is a little more off the cuff, and maybe a bit more immediate. We've got new people in the band, and the bass, drums and guitar are a lot tighter than in the past, so there's a lot more room to mess about. Before, the violin used to do everything, all the rhythm, and that could get a bit tedious; but now the foundation of the band is a lot stronger, and leaves things a lot freer to go over the top."
What would you like people to do after hearing your LP?
"Just be happy, really! Go out and have fun... I don't want people to go home and analyse the thing. I hope it doesn't need loads of listens to see what's going on or anything: I think it's immediate. The aim of all records should be to make you feel good, one way or the other. I'd rather people feel good than start thinking."
But don't you think the lyrics lean towards the darker side of human nature?
"Perhaps, but they do it in a sarcastic way, or an ironic way. But there is humour in it. To me the humour is obvious, but I suppose everybody's interpretation is going to be a little bit different. I dunno about 'dark', or anything... 'realistic' perhaps..."
Does it wow them in the aisles, Charlie?
"The last eight or nine gigs have gone down really well; loads of people throwing themselves around, which is good for a band! I don't know if they enjoy it or what, but hopefully they jump around with exhilaration and pure joy! The reception we get is good and getting better all the time. A couple of years ago nobody seemed to know what to do, but this latest stuff is a bit more... dancey, so people do tend to end up gently swaying or throwing themselves around."
No half measures with this one, then. I like the violin.
"It's a bit of a twat, though, it keeps feeding back and everything. Sarah's dad made it for her, and it's as good as a Stradivarius! It's all covered in leather so no-one can harm it."
So that's why people wear those strange trousers!
Charlie, I have to ask. "King Of The Slums" - may we not here be romanticising something that is essentially a national disgrace, i.e., "slums"? Cough...
"Ermm... well hopefully people don't really think that deeply about it. That's other peoples problems. I don't think there's any relevance: I don't analyse my name all the time, you know, as a person, it's just a name. If the band was called Kellogs Corn Flakes, it wouldn't change what we sounded like or anything... it's a means of identification, really, no more no less... the old names were really embarrassing. We were Slum Cathedral User once; Slum Deliria, silly little names like that."
Are you working people?
"No, I couldn't be doing a job or anything like that; every day for the last eighteen months or so we've had to devote a lot of time to the band. Being in the band leaves no time for anything else. We're all on the Enterprise Allowance thing. If you went on the scheme as a band you'd only get forty quid a week or something, so we're all down as 'session musicians'... it's a good lark! But I mean you don't get a lot of money from the band, so it's good to have a little bit of help to keep it all going..."
So how is it all going?
"Well, everybody's pretty excited about doing a string of dates, cos up til now they've been a bit sporadic. Everybody's pleased with the recording, cos we only did it in August, and we didn't have a record company at that time, so we're glad that everything came together really quickly..."
And so you should be! 'Dandelions' is out on Midnight Music (Chime 01.04), and yep, you might find it refreshing, you may feel that you want to soar away with the rush of these songs just a little bit; you may even want to coat yourself with fluorescent paint...
House of Dolls, issue 24, Nov / Dec 1989.
King of the Slums, 1989
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