King Nun are one of the few bands signed to the independent record label ‘Dirty Hit’. Renowned for signing artists like The 1975, Wolf Alice, and Pale Wales, King Nun find themselves in good company. I caught up with front man Theo Polyzoides backstage to talk about King Nun’s upcoming tour and much more.
Sat backstage in the comfort of Rock City, I ask Theo how the tour is going and if they’ve played Nottingham before. “I think we’ve played Nottingham once or twice on different tours. Actually, quite a few times with Pale Waves, because we’ve toured with them for quite a long time,” he tells me. He pauses then asks for the question again. I ask how the tour is going and he replies enthusiastically. “Oh, fantastic! So, we’re, basically, reasonably unharmed except I’ve ruined my eye on a bass guitar and ruined my ankle,” he laughs. When asked how he got injured, Theo willingly explains what happened. “We were just rocking out too hard and a bass guitar comes out of nowhere and cocks me right in the eyes. So, apart from that the tour is going wonderfully, except for these two injuries.” Hopefully, now a couple weeks later, Theo’s injuries are all healed!
If you listen to King Nun you can tell a lot of heart goes into their music. They’re a band with a lot of energy, and just speaking to Theo you can tell that they’re passionate about what they create. As our conversation casually shifts in the direction of music and labels, I take the opportunity to ask Theo if he and the band like to mark their music as a particular genre or if they allow it to have a more fluid, abstract meaning. After a short pause, Theo launches into, what I can only call a passionate ramble, about genres and labels. “I think it’s kind of hard to diagnose a genre because when we’re writing songs, we only know what’s coming out,” he explains, “when we try and put a genre on it, it sounds really pretentious like “ah, dude, we’re a punk band!” It’s like I don’t know if that fits.” Just as I’m about to ask the next question Theo shakes his head and continues where he left off. “We’re definitely a rock band of sort, but of what category that is so wide and so ridiculous. I would just call us an aggressive, emotional band with a punk influence, and a pop influence. I don’t know, it’s hard to diagnose a genre. I’ve been trying for a long time, but we definitely do stand out from the other acts,” he says referring to the other artists signed to Dirty Hit, “I think we share similar inspiration from what I’ve heard. It just so happens that we carry ourselves, as musicians, in a radically different way.” I must admit after the answer, I was quite taken aback with the extent Theo had clearly thought out the topic and question alike. He noticed my impressed expression and jokingly remarks “not bad for a man with one eye!”.
With such an interesting summary of the band’s genre, I’m intrigued to see how Theo will handle the next question about his involvement with the band, King Nun. “I honestly think people that end up being artistic… you just grow up thinking there is something that you’re not communicating or there’s something that you want to be able to share that you can’t do in words, so you end up turning to writing, painting, or making music, or whatever, “ he begins, “when we’re talking about inspiration, whatever we came across when we were young that made us try and express that thing that we can’t say is definitely… I think we just grew up as artists and we orientated ourselves around the music of the early 70’s New York punk rock. We were very, very into Richard Hell, Blondie, The Ramones and all this, so it ended up with the way we’re expressing ourselves was in the vain of that, and it’s inspired our fashion sense. We are always very heavily ventilated and think that about covers it for inspirations. I think we just grew up to do this and we all found Rock and Roll.”
Just like any artist or creative, it’s rather extraordinary to hear Theo talk about finding his career path but especially as the band are on the brink of releasing new music. With King Nun frequently releasing singles for their upcoming EP, I ask about the meaning of one of their newly debuted songs, ‘Portrait’. “It’s a loving message born out of anger. It’s just steering the anger and the need to communicate in a kind of vicious way into something constructive and more loving. So, it’s a punk song with a loving message.” While the band are building toward an EP, I decided to ask ahead about the new album. Now if you thought Theo’s answer about King Nun’s genre was well thought out, prepare yourself for his creative concept behind the new album. “We’ve been talking a lot about it on tour and I have massive ideas for it. This EP was kind of to create a contrast in rock,” he begins. “I started realising when you’re playing aggressive music if you don’t put in the contrast then it doesn’t add the emotional effects that of a punk song coming out an industry that was orientated on pop, because I think even mainstream artists now have a punk influence, like everyone in the charts right now is still rebellious and is still “fuck politics” and all this and it’s very sexualized so it has punk.” Theo continues to point out how the new wave of pop music has shaped their current music. “How are we going to rebel against something which is all around us?” he openly questions, “I think the answer to that was use very clean and very beautiful visuals like these big wide-open skies and use this very surrealist imagery and sort of put these loving messages into the songs and still have them be communicated angrily so there’s a contrast there.” It’s quite profound to listen to Theo quite eloquently, yet excitedly, rush through details of King Nun’s upcoming music.
With art and sound working together in harmony, Theo furthers his elaboration on their new music by breaking down the difference between the EP and album. “Now that I think we have that as an EP, when we move on to the album, the contrast will already present if we go full on, full fucked up, right. So it’s just like I’ve done my loving part and its always going to be there because that’s always who we are but when we go into the album I want to go messy, I want to go heavy, I want to make it depressing, I want to make it beautiful, I want to make it violent, and uplifting. I just want to make it really, really, really violent in a really beautiful way, so that’s what my idea for the album is. We have a title for it and everything. I think there’s something in the air. It’s more provoking for us now to make an album that’s just fucked up and I’m very excited for it.”
While Theo’s passion for the band’s new music is undeniable, it didn’t mean all cards were on the table. Despite my efforts to persuade him to drop the album title he politely declines. “My enthusiasm just means I want to tell everybody, but I’ll get a slap on the wrist for that!” Although we couldn’t get the album’s title, I’m interested to know of any artists Theo considers standout artists for us to check out. When asked about artists he’d recommend, he finds it quite ironic he’s in a band but admits “I’m really not caught up with modern music, so it really happens that the bands that I tour with are the bands I get really into. I’m very, very stuck in the past.” Despite being stuck in the past so to speak, he considers Death Grips “fucking amazing”, but also the band Swimming Girls. “When I saw them live, I started seeing like a pop shoegaze thing that’s wonderful and Vanessa, the singer, has a fantastic voice. Max is an incredible drummer. I think Idols are an amazing rock band who are really inspiring in how formidable they are in their sound,” he tells me, “Death Grips, Swimming Girls, Idols. Dream Wife are fucking brilliant in how hilariously to the fucking wall they are, consistently. They’re fantastic. Those are the modern bands – oh, and Husky Loops!”
Last of all, our conversation takes a full shift in direction as we close up talking about artists and personal responsibility. “I think artists start doing what they’re doing because they want to express, along the way if you start to develop strong ideals about things that’s going to spill into your music because you have to voice, and you’re constantly voicing things and going to expose things about yourself to connect with people. I think politics is of course is going to come into that, but then again there’s a responsibility with reach. I don’t really know how to handle the argument between what is right and wrong... this is deep,” he laughs, “if you should express difficult views about things as a very public figure, I don’t know. The truth is I don’t really know how to answer it outside of you have a responsibility as an artist and a public figure. I hope I answered any of that!” It’s an interesting note to close the interview on, but in the age where the line between artist, advocate and politician are seeming to blur it’s insightful to hear a different perspective.
King Nun are kicking off their UK headliner tour this November. You can get your tickets here!