In a relatively short period King King seen an almost meteoric rise in popularity. They have wiped the board at the British Blues Awards for the past three years, supported Thunder on a sell out arena tour and played major festivals from Canada to India and most places in between. The band have now embarked on another European tour and contactmusic.com caught up with front man Alan Nimmo in Bielefeld, Germany.
From an outsiders point of view It's been quite an eventful 12 months for King King, how has it been from your perspective?
It's been very exciting. To be able to spread the King King word and travel to all the places we have been to is just fantastic. It's probably fair to say that it's been our best year I think, I mean when you are immersed in something, it can sometimes be difficult to notice any real progress. This time though, we have all noticed a difference. The awards have helped us and it's always great when you are acknowledged, particularly by your fans.
To be honest I haven't had a chance to sit back and think about it, it's all been incredible. I even got to play the Barrowlands in Glasgow at the end of last year. That was a boyhood dream come true. Touring with my heroes Thunder and playing Wembley Arena was huge highlight.
What makes you come back for more, what makes Alan Nimmo tick?
I love it. You know, this is not what I do, it's who I am. Each one of the band members will agree that we probably couldn't do without this. We all whinge and whine about life on the road, the hotel rooms, sitting in a van for hours, wishing for some time at home. Then we get home and it lasts maybe a week before we are back on the phone to each other planning the next tour. It's the passion for music and performing. Fortunately we all feel the same, which makes it easier when we are on the road. I guess we are like a band of brothers.
Blues music at a basic level seems to go through peaks and troughs. Is it in a good place at the moment?
In my experience Blues always has peaked at a certain level before dipping, although, in the last 10 years or so I have seen it go from strength to strength. It's probably no longer as popular as it was in it's heyday in the sixties but its popularity is definitely on the rise. We were in India a few weeks back when I was asked a similar question. We were sat in Mumbai, playing the biggest Blues festival in Asia with artists like Keb Mo and Joss Stone, it just goes to show how far it's spread. Whether it remains at this level of popularity or takes another dip I don't think matters. There will always be an audience for this kind of music.
We've had an influx of fantastic young musicians in over the past few years. Folk like Ollie Brown, Laurence Jones and Ben Poole. As long as we have the young blood following in our footsteps blues will always be safe. My hope is that the standard of musicianship and songwriting will also be maintained. There is an argument as to whether anyone really plays blues anymore. King King have been challenged as to whether we are really still a Blues band, which is fine. I don't have an issue with anyone having an opinion on that. However, I like to think I may be a bit of an authority when it comes to deciding what Blues is and what it's not. You don't have to play 12 bar boogies to be a Blues band, you know. What matters is that it comes from inside you. As long as people are proud of the music and strive to keep it going, we'll be fine.
What advice would you give to someone who has just been introduced to Blues and decides they want to take it up?
It would be easy for me to say Start at the Beginning or go listen to BB King, but I didn't do that. I started with bands like Free and Gary Moore then worked my way back. I would look at the album covers and think to myself "that doesn't say Gary Moore wrote that" or "Who is John Mayall? Who is Otis Rush?" For a long time I couldn't understand Blues, but as I got older I kind of grew an ear for it. That's what I would say to anyone just starting out, listen to the music that moves you. There is no standard or magic formula, Blues means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.
Reaching for the Light was released last year to critical acclaim. Were you surprised by how well it was received?
We have been very lucky with the way the album was received. The way King King have moved into a more classic rock style and, dare I say, more of a mainstream market, we have kind of taken our life in our hands. To have reached the top of the Blues world is great, It's a fantastic achievement and we could have stayed where we were and collected the accolades every year, but that's not what it's about. Do we want to push ourselves to go further? Of course we do. The downside is we are now open to more criticism, the more mainstream you become the tougher the music industry gets. So far we have had nothing negative and feel quite blown away by the praise that has been heaped on us. The fantastic people at Planet Rock and Classic rock have really gotten behind us which has resulted in a wider audience getting on board.
Is there anything new in the pipeline?
Yes, there are plans for a new releases, well it's kind of an ongoing process. It can be difficult to write when you're touring a lot but we find moments here and there and try to make it work. This year we will try and get ahead of the game. We don't tend to put a timeframe on recording, the record label does that, but that normally ends up in it being ignored and us producing and album 3 or 4 months after it was due [laughs]. We would rather get it right and be happy with it than rush to get an album out.
What else should we be looking out for in 2016?
The year started with such a bang, going to Mumbai, jamming with Joss Stone and Keb Mo and then touring with Thunder, 2016 is really going to have to pull its finger out to get any better! We're playing Rambling Man Festival later this year with whole bunch of my favourite bands, there will no doubt be a few more highlights. A big event is my brother's [Stevie Nimmo] album that being released today. It's fantastic and has already received ridiculously good reviews.
One final question, if you could pick one memory from your time making music, what would it be?
Oh man..there are so many. It probably sounds cliched, but every day we get to do this is a blessing it, really is. I remember at Wembley I looked up at the crowd and I could feel my jaw drop. The size of the place, the amount of people in front of us and just being where we were. I had a look over at Bob [Fridzema] who must have been thinking the same as me. We kind of nodded at each other in a "can you believe this" kind of way. That moment will be with me forever.
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