Welcome Ryan and Little King! It has been a while since we have caught up, fill us in on what 2020 has been for you?
Hello, TMI! Nice to speak with you again, and thanks for your support and interest in Little King.
It’s been a whirlwind, really. COVID has of course disrupted the lives of everyone, and yours truly is no exception. I took the time in March and April to focus on my health, my work and living situation, and to create new music.
My philosophy is to always try and control as best as possible the things under my purview and leave the other things to the Fates. 2020 has thrown an infinite number of curveballs, to be sure. My response was to revamp my business, write a new album, sell my house and most of my stuff, move from Delaware to Arizona, lose 30 pounds, commit to a life of sobriety, and to homeschool my teenage son as a full-time single dad living 2000 miles away from his mother. It’s been A LOT to handle, but I am very happy and centered, and he is too.
Focus is tough in a busy world. Sometimes, I think it takes crisis to bring into focus the things that are truly important and to slow down the world and block out the noise. Fortunately, I try to practice mindfulness at a higher level as I get older, and that practice has clearly paid off in the form of handling a crisis with grace and calm.
What has the pandemic been like for you and the band?
Little King was SO GRATEFUL for the amazing response that the release of the last album, Occam’s Foil, generated at the beginning of this year. I came out of those sessions feeling good, but it certainly went further in touching a nerve with our expanding audience at a level that I hadn’t anticipated.
The goal for 2020 was to build on that momentum, and with any respectable rock and roll band, that means to tour and get the word out live. I am an entertainer as much as I am a writer, and I ache for the chance to show that side of myself to a new generation of Little King fans. Even though I have been releasing albums since 1997, a good deal of the last 23 years have kept me off the road for various reasons. When COVID hit, though, all of the festival and club dates we were lining up evaporated. We were SCREWED! So, rather than sulk, I sat on my bed with my guitar and watched the world disintegrate on TV…and wrote and wrote and wrote.
You have been working on new music – what has that process looked like during this time?
My process has essentially remained the same since my first record, Transmountain, which I released in 1997. I am BETTER, certainly, but the process itself has stayed the same.
I have a degree in Creative Writing, so I am a “trained” writer, I suppose. Having said that, I am first and last a guitar player. Words are an extension of my heart and mind, but my guitar is an extension of my SOUL! As such, the music is always written first. As I said, I spent an inordinate amount of time playing guitar in March and April, and with all of the madness around me, I took solace in the creative process. And it just flowed so easily this time. I am positive that our audience will feel that.
In 2020, Little King always rehearses and record the basic drums, bass, and then guitars first. Once I have those recording, I fit my lyrics and vocal melodies to what has been written. Also, we have a string section and a couple other guests (more about that in a minute) who use those recording to compose their parts. So, as I sit here talking to you, that is where we are. Music is almost done, mostly recorded, and I am knee deep in my feelings and the lyrics.
What is the title of the album and how did you land on it?
YES! The title is Amuse de Q and is based on all of the things I have witnessed and been inspired by during the Q…Quarantine, Questions, Quality, etc. All The Q!
The themes of these new songs are inspired by the Muse Melpomene, who is the muse of tragedy and chorus. She is a fickle Muse! She makes a couple appearances on this album both as a song title and as part of the album cover. Get it? A Muse de Q? I crack myself up!
Lyrical topics include the isolation of the quarantine and the sadness and mood swings associated with it, sobriety, the BLM movement, domestic violence, physical and mental health and how relationships have frayed during the last 6 months, and more. Heady stuff, and I think all of these topics will be easily relatable. I have said many times that if an artist cannot find inspiration from the craziness of the last year, then they need to dig deeper or find something else to do.
Now, tell us one thing about the band that most people don’t know.
Little King has always been a way for me to make music with my friends. That has never and will never change. I am beyond grateful for the friendship I share with almost all of the men and women who I have recorded and performed with over the years. And I want people to know that Manny, Eddy, and I are as close personally as we are musically. We may not always see each other, but that bond is deep and strong, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love my band.
Amuse de Q will also, for the first time, realize my dream of having one of my children on the recording! My teenage son, Asher, has composed an amazing piano part for a song called “Set It Down.” I am so proud of him, as he has worked diligently writing and rehearsing his lines. He knows darn well that I wouldn’t let him on my record unless he could make it better, though. This is NOT gratuitous…but he will clearly make that song better, and the act of listening to the song in 5 or 10 or 30 years will enrich both of us forever.
Anything else you would like to share?
Please do not despair. If you are feeling isolated, sad, or lonely, there are people who love you. We are all going through it, and this is a test for all of us. Do not feel it is weakness to ask for help, and while you can certainly take solace in your favorite music and movies and games, there is no substitute for human interaction.
I fell into the trap of thinking I could create and work my way out of the funk I was in. I made a lot of life changes, and they were all positive and helped. But there was something missing. I still feel it, to be honest. I am trying to come to terms with it, and I think being around my mom and my son all the time helps. The goal is to be whole, right? I am working on it, and I hope that my vulnerability and ultimately, my positivity, can give your readers some sense of commonality that helps to give them the strength to fight on. In Love!