One of the most celebrated underground acts in rock, Kings X never quite achieved the commercial success that many believed they were destined for. Formed in Missouri in 1979, they released their debut ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ via the Megaforce label a decade later, and signed to major label Atlantic a few years after that. Prolific in the early part of their career, the three piece – Doug Pinnick, [bass, vocals] Jerry Gaskill [drums, vocals], and Ty Tabor [guitar, vocals] – returned in 2022 with their thirteenth studio album ‘Three Sides of One’. We caught up with Doug at the Metal Hall of Fame in California, for a quick chat about their career. Mr. Bulbous; Eamon O’Neill.
Hi Doug, you released your first album in fourteen years in 2022; what took you so long?!
We just didn’t feel like we had anything good enough to give to the people. Our fans are very picky and particular, and we didn’t want to just put out a record. So we really just didn’t get anything done for like, fourteen years. Finally we did do something we thought they would they’d like, and we hoped they did, and they obviously do, as far as we know.
In the band’s early days you had an album out every single year, hadn't you? It must be nice not to have that pressure on.
No, there’s never pressure for me; I love it when we put records out! It’s the other guys who don’t want to do it. Me, I’m a dumbass; I’ll put a record out every year, I don’t care! I mean, just making music; I’ve done it most of my life, and you know, I’m going to keep doing it.
What were those early years, like? I mean, you had a lot of support in the U.K. especially during those first two albums ‘Out of the Silent Planet’ , and ‘Gretchen Goes To Nebraska’, .
You know, it was exciting; come on, it was very exciting! You know, it changed our lives. We really felt welcome. It’s a good feeling when a loves you like that.
From there you signed to Atlantic for a number of albums; what was it like to be a major label act?
Well, it was just we were little fish in a big pond! We fought our way through, and we’re still here!
One of my favourite King's X songs is ‘Junior’s Gone Wild’, which featured on the ‘Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey’ soundtrack. Where did that song come from, and how did it end up in the film?
Yeah! I wish it could have been on the ‘Gretchen’ record. It was supposed to be on the ‘Gretchen’ record and they didn’t put it on, and it broke my heart. So, we put it on that one instead. It’s what it is; we don’t do it live, and you know, it’s one of my favourite songs. I don’t have too many favourite songs of King’s X.
I love how you sing it; you sound really exasperated by the end!
Well, we were on tour with AC/DC [in Europe, 1991], and I didn't have a voice, so I was screaming my way through the lyrics. We did the song in Paris, and we had a day off on the AC/DC tour, and so our manager just said; “let’s go and record this song”. We did it all in one day, and I didn't have a voice, and I was mad. At the end, that scream was because I was mad because I couldn't get the song. I thought I wasn't singing it well.
So do you look at it critically?
Always critical. I just remember how hard it was to sing; every fibre in me was trying to hit those notes.
After that major label era, you went into an indie period where you had the ‘Please Come Home... Mr. Bulbous’  album, among others.
Yeah, we just wanted to make something that we thought was fucked up [laughing]! Completely, you know, screw it! You know, if we're not ever going ever had a hit record, let’s make the record that we want to make, and make something that’s really hard to like!
The band still has a real hard core following, with the likes of Charlie Benante from Anthrax, and Pantera's Rex Brown a big fan.
Yeah, lots of people. It’s really cool. I think it’s a dream come true; we’re a musician’s musician band, so that’s a good thing.
So what's next for you? I mean, you were meant to come to the U.K. a couple of years ago, but that got cancelled.
Yeah, I got sick. You know, we’ll come to the U.K. whenever we can. I hope it works out. We're doing some shows in the U. S., and we’re doing a new Grinder Blues record, and a new solo record, and I'm just going to keep doing what I do, you know? I’ll have fun doing it before I die.
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