Artists in Quarantine: Little King

The quarantine was a really hard period for bands and artist. We talked to some bands from all over the world to see the real effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic in music.

Today, we talk to Little King. Little King was formed in November of 1996 by guitarist/singer/songwriter Ryan Rosoff in El Paso, Texas.

How can you describe the changes generated by the pandemic in the band’s activity?

Good morning…and thanks for the chat!

Little King was READY FOR THE ROAD. Our last album, Occam’s Foil, was released late last year and really started to buzz in early 2020. Press, radio, and fans took to it. That was incredibly gratifying – I don’t make music for anyone but myself and our fans, but still…nice to be appreciated. So, the demand was there for us to tour, and we were lining up a host of festival dates and club gigs. And then, POOF. Done.

That was a shock to the system, especially since we hadn’t toured in a long time and I was so excited to bring it on the road. Manny (Tejeda, bass and backing vox and designated trailer-parker) and I worked really hard at refining all 6 Little King albums into a cohesive setlist. That was fun and hard…choosing songs is like choosing my children. But I went with what still resonated with me as a singer, what was fun to play, and what would create a dynamic set.

So the disappointment of not being able to play out lasted for about a week. Then, as I started to fidget with my guitar while locked down, the ideas started flowing. I called Manny and Eddy (Garcia, drummer and engineer and Diablo) and floated the idea of making another record. I mean, we had JUST finished the last one, but I was on fire. They agreed, and I wrote and wrote and edited and wrote. As such, Amuse de Q was born. Or WILL be born, soon enough!

What daily activity did you miss the most during quarantine?

I missed live music, just like everyone else! But short of that, I think I just missed taking my son to soccer games and being able to travel. I have major wanderlust, and living in southern Delaware for the last 6 years, it got even worse. I mean, it’s nice there and all (beautiful beaches), but not much going on. DC, Philly, Baltimore and NYC are close. But the Q shut that down. Just loved the freedom of being 2 or 3 hours from those great cities, and it was stifling not to take advantage of that.

Were there any pluses for this period without concerts?

Absolutely…it drove me to write music and create what I think will be the greatest Little King album ever. We just finished tracking bass, drums, and about 90% of the guitars for the new record, and I am thrilled.

I felt compelled to move forward with the momentum from the last album, and since we couldn’t tour, it was record or die. Amuse de Q is the culmination of all that we went through as a society, species, and personally as a single dad/business owner/musician over the last 5 months. Honestly, what I am still going through, really. Recently relocated back to Arizona with my son and into mom’s, and that’s influencing the last of the lyrics. But Amuse focuses on the Q – Quarantine, Questions, KLAQ radio in El Paso, Qrazy Qonspiracies, and more. The themes of isolation and missing family, sobriety, sickness (both mental and physical), domestic violence, and civil unrest are all addressed. I think most every human will relate.

How does it feel to return to some normalcy?

I’ll let you know when I find it! Seriously, nothing about my life has been normal for a very long time. I am the consummate juggler…fatherhood and corporate team building and fake rock starring is a helluva life-cocktail. It is and has been a high-wire act for the last 23 years and 6 records, and quite honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We drove from Delaware to Arizona (Manny, my son Asher, and I) recently, and it was fascinating to see the differences in each state’s approach. We stopped at Graceland in Memphis to take some pictures and you still couldn’t eat in a restaurant. When we got to El Paso to visit my daughter and make a racket, they were fresh off of a big spike, so that vibe was totally different. Delaware had flattened the curve earlier, so that felt open. Arizona…very much like Texas. Shell-shocked. Fresh smell of fear. It’s been a trip!

What plans have you got for the rest of 2020?

I am finishing the vocal melodies and lyrics for Amuse de Q, and in the meantime I am also tweaking some last little guitar things and getting ready to record a few string arrangements. My son is also going to play piano on a song called “Set It Down” and that is a thrill for me. Having my kiddo on a Little King album is like a dream come true, but it’s not gratutious. Ash has worked hard on his parts and he takes it very seriously. Super proud of him and looking forward to unleashing that on the fans.

When the music is done, I will woodshed the vocals hard for a couple months and then fly Manny back down from Philly to EPTX to sing with me. I love singing with that dude…we have a lot of different influences, for sure, but we both love a lot of the same bands like Alice In Chains etc. Our vocals fit nicely together, and he brings a ton of attitude. He and Eddy just make Little King so much better…I think I’ve found my forever band hahaha!

Do you have any message for the bands or artists who are still in lockdown/quarantine?

If you call yourself an artist or a creative musician, I would hope that you have found your muse during this unprecedented time. If you can’t find inspiration from the madness of 2020, what are you waiting for? There are so many universal themes, and art is critical in these times. Help yourselves, connect with other, and use your voice for love and change and hope. Share you experiences. I guarantee there is an audience that can relate and you will be able to reach an audience that craves that bond. Go for it.

What message do you have for the people who are going to read this interview?

We are so proud of the new music and the last few albums, and if you haven’t checked us out, spend a few minutes at http://www.littlekingtunes.com and poke around. It’s comprehensive, and I would love for you to pick a few songs and listen along (stream them from the Music tab on YouTube) and maybe read the lyrics as well. They’re all there and I think you’ll find that we try hard to make music that speaks to your heart and mind. Our social media links are there as well, and we are active.

It’s been a helluva swim over the last 23 years, and the pool is full again. Please dive in!

Interview by Radu Mihai

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