Rock royalty

King’s X rocks the throne

By Gary Spencer

Photo: Doug Pinnick of King’s X belts out for loyal followers Sept. 29; photo: Jimmy Fuson

Music can be therapeutic. For many, music is a conduit for hope, a way to cope with life. One band that many diehard fans believe in, almost like a higher power, is veteran hard rock trio King’s X. Decades into their career, King’s X still has a dedicated, loyal, hardcore following despite being long past their days of mainstream success.

“Everyone by now knows who we are,” says King’s X bassist and vocalist Doug Pinnick. “We’ve been around for 40 years with all three same members. We just keep going.”

The band’s beginnings can be traced back to Springfield, Missouri, in 1979; they starting out playing covers on the bar circuit. In the mid-1980s, the now solid trio moved to Houston and began writing original material. In 1988, as King’s X, they released their first LP, Out of the Silent Planet, on Megaforce Records. Even at this early stage, King’s X proved they were more than your average hard rock or metal band, weaving together elements of prog rock, pop, funk, soul, and even gospel music into a fresh brew that wasn’t easy to pigeonhole.

“When we came out, no one knew what to do with us,” Pinnick says. “We weren’t a glam band, even though we had hair all over the place. We weren’t a metal band, even though we were on a metal label. No one’s ever been able to categorize us, and that’s always been a downfall for us. We’re a different kind of band.”

There were other factors that set the band apart from the run-of-the-mill hard rock/metal acts of the time, as well. With their introspective and spiritual-esque lyrics, the band inadvertently got slapped with the tag “Christian rock band” by some music journalists, a label King’s X has always bristled at.

“They called it the Christian metal rock alternative band, led by a gay singer,” Pinnick explains. “Fuck that. We just wanted to be known as a rock band. I could never understand the categorization. Tags chase people away; they don’t bring people to it.”

Despite the labeling, the more records the band continued to make in the late ’80s and early ’90s, the more critical acclaim King’s X received – and the more the fan base swelled. During this time period, the band got into rotation on MTV and was featured in high profile tours with Iron Maiden, Scorpions, Pearl Jam, Motley Crue, Anthrax, Suicidal Tendencies, Living Colour, Billy Squier, and AC/DC. King’s X even landed a spot playing at Woodstock ’94 in front of 300,000 people. And while their years of flirting with commercial, mainstream success have faded, the trio has remained active and strong due to the power of the music they create.

“We just say it’s like a marriage – you commit and you stick it out,” Pinnick explains. “We know that when we get on stage something magical happens. That is more important than whatever petty little grievances we have.”

That power is felt not just by the members of King’s X but by its still strong legion of diehard fans. Pinnick believes a lot of the devotion to the band is due to its dedication to writing songs about things that affect people on a very personal level.

“I like to write about anything real, psychological, or honest – things people don’t like to talk about,” he explains. “People seem to be afraid to talk about things they might be embarrassed or ashamed about. I sing about lot of negative things, but I try to see the light at the end of the tunnel. That’s what I like to talk about – things that have depth and give people life and finding ways to create peace.”

This personal connection and devotion to the music of King’s X manifests itself at every show they play, on every tour, in any given town.

“People say, when they go see King’s X, it’s like going to church,” Pinnick explains. “You let your spirit go and feel like you’re not alone. You’ll find fans singing and crying and laughing and loving each other. People have become friends because of King’s X. People have gotten married at King’s X shows. They go come away with something positive, and they tell us that. People who become King’s X fans stay King’s X fans. No one comes away from a King’s X show and doesn’t enjoy it.”

This spirit of deep, emotional connection to fans through music is ultimately at the base of Pinnick’s beliefs and message to all those willing to see and listen to King’s X.

“My thing is always be yourself, love yourself, love everyone,” he says. “It’s all about being positive.”

And if that’s a bit too lovey-dovey for you, Pinnick also has a message even the most hardened of souls can connect with:

“I always tell people who come to see us to remember one thing: don’t take shit from no one. That’s our motto.”

King’s X performs Thursday, Sept. 29 at Rockstar Pro Arena, 1106 E. Third St. in Dayton. Kings of Speed, ThunderTaker, and Risen from the Fall are also on the bill. Tickets are $20 in advance and the show is all ages. For more information, please visit KingsXRocks.com.
Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Gary Spencer is a graduate of Miami University and works in the performing arts, and believes that music is the best. Contact him at GarySpencer@DaytonCityPaper.com

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