Somewhere in Fitzroy, Fergus Linacre and Alex Laska sit opposite me, eyeing off two bagels. Given that at this particular point in time, Kingswood were a little over a week off the release of their sophomore album, things are surprisingly chilled out. Catching the twosome ahead of what’s standing to be a hectic promo cycle for After Hours, Close to Dawn, I take the opportunity to check in before it all kicked off.
The last time I spoke with Laska, he was still in New York and the concept of the album’s reception with their longtime fans was one he was particularly excited for. Now the record has been out for a weekend, the ambitious nature of After Hours… has been brought to light. Kingswood have veered from the distorted, chunky guitar foundations laid down with Micro Wars and have instead chosen to explore a more soulful, texturally diverse musical territory.
“I’m probably more excited than I’ve ever been about anything.” Laska reiterates. “When the album comes out, people will be like, ‘What is this?’ – our record label thought we were playing a practical joke on them. They were like, ‘You should go back in and play super distorted guitar over everything’.”
“I think there’s going to be less controversy than I’d have expected,” Linacre adds. “I was kind of really hoping for it, you know? I want that conversation to happen.”
Returning to Australia from shows in Canada to reacquaint themselves with the Aussie circuit near the end of 2016, Linacre reflects on that period with slight reluctance.
“In a way, it’s almost been frustrating to come back after making the record and playing the old set.”
“It’s like Tony Hawk has developed this mega skateboard and it allows him to be completely free to do whatever he wants to do,” Laska adds, one of many perfected analogies doled out during our chat. “[But] he’s not allowed to put it out yet because of the pattern, or something. He has to skate on his old skateboard.”
Stilll, being able to tour Micro Wars out in North America gave Kingswood the opportunity to reconnect with the songs that gave them exposure in the first place and realise why people had connected with them so well the that time round.
“It’s fun playing the old stuff to people who’ve never heard it,” Laska says.
“It’s like putting on your favourite jumper that you can’t wear at home.” Linacre muses. “You know what it is? It’s my Britney Spears singlet that I wore for years and now can’t wear it around the boys or anyone I know, but if I went to Canada and put it on, it’d be on all over again. People would be like, ‘Cool singlet, man!’; it’s like that. Except in that analogy, when we play our old stuff here it’s like, ‘Oh not that fucking song again. Burn it.’”
“We actually had people writing to us on Facebook going, ‘Can you tell Ferg to change his clothes?’.” Laska laughs. “That’s how much he wore this singlet. You’ve probably seen it. It’s a great singlet.”
Britney Spears and well-worn clothing aside, there’s a refreshed excitement both Laska and Linacre speak about their new musical baby with. Set to embark on another national tour, sights firmly looking ahead to bringing this new music to life, they fill me in on how their new set is developing.
” We had this theory with the first record as well,” Linacre says. “You never, when you’re recording, think about how we’re going to do this live. You just make the best song you can and figure it out later.”
“That becomes the challenge.” Laska agrees.”You’re like, ‘Well we did it in the studio, let’s do it live’. You can, you just have to go to the next level.”
“There’s a certain adolescence to the first album, the first album’s like puberty. This album is like when you hit your early to mid-20s and you’re like, ‘I’m cool with knowing nothing about what’s going on’. When you’re a teenager you’re like, ‘Yeah! I’m invincible and I know everything’.”
“We’ve written a set list,” Linacre says. “Which is very hard to do. At the moment it’s combining about 19 songs, which might need to get cut down.”
“It’s going to be a big set.” Laska adds. “In the same way we put the album together, we want the live experience to take you on a real journey. We gotta keep em guessing and give ourselves the leeway to go any way we want. I think we’re very much about creative freedom and nothing being restricted, Ferg and I. We love so much music; if we love it, why can’t we make it? I’m listening to J. Cole a lot and Anderson .Paak. Local Natives and a bit of Beastie Boys. A lot of hip hop for me at the moment, I go through it waves for me though. Hip hop has a certain danger that rock and roll doesn’t have anymore. Modern rock feels tame. It used to be so dangerous, everything about it was so dangerous and now I feel like rap and hip hop has that.”
“The live show is the thing we’re pining for. We’re absolutely pining for it and we’re putting so much work into it. Not aimlessly. It’s very focused on delivering something great.”
KINGSWOOD AUSTRALIAN TOUR DATES
March 23rd | Sooki Lounge, BELGRAVE
March 24th | 170 Russell, MELBOURNE
March 25th | The Gov, ADELAIDE
March 29th | The Cambridge Hotel, NEWCASTLE
March 30th | Wollongong Uni, WOLLONGONG
March 31st | The Metro Theatre, SYDNEY
April 1st | ANU Bar, CANBERRA
April 6th | Miami Marketta, GOLD COAST
April 7th | The Triffid, BRISBANE
April 16th | The Torquay Hotel, TORQUAY
April 21st | Discovery, DARWIN
April 27th | Settlers Tavern, MARGARET RIVER
April 28th | The Prince of Wales, BUNBURY
April 29th | The Capitol, PERTH