An Interview With Kingdom Keys: “We all have so many different influences and backgrounds, it allows us to branch out and make something special”

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Kingdom Keys Band Promo Photo

One of my favourite things about Rock Sins is that we promote new talent. Now, there’s a new super group making their way onto the music scene and their ones to watch out for. Allow me to introduce you to Kingdom Keys! Ahead of their Cambridge gig, part of The Monday Rock Hour Presents shows, I got to meet the guys and question them on the nitty gritty of it all.

Kingdom Keys, for those who don’t know them are:

Sam Cook – Vocals, acoustic guitar
Simon Benefer – Piano, backing vocals
Danny de Ara Torres – Rhythm guitar, backing vocals
Jake Graham – Drums
Jay Harrison – Bass, backing vocals
Daniel (Boff) Bareford – Guitar, backing vocals

Who are you and how did the band get together?

Sam: We are Kingdom Keys. It’s been a long time coming really. We’ve all been playing in various bands together over the years. It was just getting to a point where we all wanted to progress, doing something new. For me personally, I always wanted to do something original. We’ve done it so many times and failed and thought maybe we’re doing it with the wrong people? It made more sense to do it with your friends who are good at what they do.

How did it all start?

Danny: We had a conversation at the end of December around Christmas. We talked about doing it and then we got together in the first part of January. We just had a beer, well not one, we had many beers

Sam: And a free carvery.

Danny: (laughs) Oh yeah, and a free carvery. We spoke about what went wrong with other projects, we didn’t even discuss what we wanted to do, and then we got together for a jam and it went from there really quickly.

Who started it?

Jake: Sam pretty much got in touch with everyone in the band, picked his A team. (laughs)

Jay: We all know each other from the touring circuit around Kings Lynn. We know each other’s capabilities and involvement in other bands. When the conversations were had about putting his band together, Sam knew who he wanted in this band and who was going to do what. We all have mutual respect for each other so everybody was keen. Everyone stepped in and here we are.

Any of you work together before Kingdom Keys?

Everyone: Yes!

Sam: Me and Boff are in a classic rock covers band. Me and Jake are in a hip-hop funk band.

Danny: I think I’m the only one not in another band right now.

Jay: I’m not in any other band now too!

Sam: Danny used to work at Topman so that’s pretty cool.

Everyone: (laughs)

With your varied musical backgrounds, how does your music happen?

Jay: We didn’t actually have a conversation about the direction we wanted to go in or how we wanted to sound. It was like, we got in the room and that’s how things flowed.

Daniel (Boff): We just turned up and turned up! (laughs)

Sam: We’ve only had five practices as a band, and two gigs. We achieved so much so quickly, we wrote two full songs in our first practice! So far there’s been a lot of old material used from music I had written and we’ve all just collaborated with it really. At the moment, we haven’t quite hit our sound yet, we’re still very much experimenting.
Every time we write a song the style changes. You’ll see when we play later, we’re mostly playing them in the order that they were written. They’re all very different; the first song we play is the only song we’ve written completely together. We had our debut show at the Norwich Waterfront a little while ago, and we only had a month before we were due to play with the two songs we had written. So we had to throw a set together very quickly.

Jake: As much as the songs are all very different, there are common themes. There is quite a cohesive sound.

Jay: It’s good to have difference between those songs because a lot of bands out there at the moment, are great bands, but their stuff tends to sound quite similar, which is where I think we’re ahead of the curve a little bit. The way we’ve approached writing, the fact that there are ideas there already. Sam has got a specific way of writing, if it’s an idea that he’s had and we’ve come together to pitch in, it may not go in the direction that originally would have done otherwise. We all have so many different influences and backgrounds, it allows us to branch out and make something special.

You’re all bringing something different to the table, where do your influences come from?

Sam: I don’t know where to start, oh no I know exactly who influences me. It’s Jay! (laughs) No I’ve listened to Incubus since I first started playing and they will always be one of my biggest influences. More now so with the style I write – John Mayer is a huge influence. I am a huge fan of his, which some people will think is great, some people won’t, but I love him. I’m gonna marry him one day.

Simon: I’m actually a guitarist, I only play piano in this band. I’ve never really performed on a piano before. But my piano influences come from a classical background. I play a lot of Chopin, List, and stuff like that. I’m very heavily influenced by John Mayer as well, a lot of finger style guitarists like Andy McKee and Don Ross, but in regards to piano it’s definitely more classical.

Danny: We all listen to such a variety of different genres for example I’m hugely into hip hop at the moment, which obviously doesn’t translate into this project. I can’t really specify one major influence to me currently. What I tend to do naturally when I write music is keep things raw in terms of the rock side of it. There’s a heavy undertone to our music which comes through my past of playing in metal and punk bands and what I grew up on. So I don’t have one band in particular that influences my sound. If I had to say one band it’s probably going to be Thrice. Me and Boff gel well together as guitarists and have many similar favorite bands, so he’s probably going to say the same (laughs)

Jake: I guess from an early age I played in a lot of blues rock bands, my dad’s blues rock band in particular. That was the start of it all. I didn’t really care too much about my instrument until I went to college and was surrounded by brilliant musicians. I listen to all sorts. I do like to mix all the things I listen to and try to put a little bit of everything into what I do. But really it’s just hitting skins and bits of wood aint it? (laughs)

Jay: I started out as a drummer also. Bass is my main instrument now though. In terms of music in general, I think I started with Linkin Park, Slipknot and Papa Roach. My dad’s a massive classic rock fan, which got me into one of the bands that inspired me to play, a 70’s prog band called Rush. From there I listened to different things using streaming services like Spotify and discovering new artists, branching out and going on a musical journey. I try to take notes of little tricks and ideas that I hear and bring those to the table.

Daniel (Boff): There’s no end of stuff, obviously Incubus like Sam, Thrice like Danny,

Jay: Chopin like Simon. (laughs)

Daniel (Boff): There’s so much stuff that I listen to nowadays, I listen to a lot of heavy music; certain techniques that I’ve learned from that will sometimes be incorporated in what we do in this band.

What do you want to accomplish as a band?

Sam: I just want to be creative and get other people to experience that. I’d describe as our music as being emotive. It’s what I try to do; make someone feel something similar to how I felt when I wrote the lyrics. I obviously want to tour the world, any musician wants that; I’ve been playing for years now but I just want to be seen and appreciated a bit and see where we can take it.

Jay: I hope people will enjoy it and feel something because the songs are relatable. Our hearts are really in this, probably more so than anything else we’ve ever done. We’re more enthusiastic about this and we’re trying harder; we’re 100 billion percent committed to this.

Jake: For me, personally, I would like to live off of what I do. A nice standard of living whilst being able to be creative and all the nice stuff that comes with it. At the end of the day, I don’t want to be stuck doing something I don’t enjoy. I don’t really know how to do anything else.

Daniel (Boff): For me, there’s nothing better than walking out of a studio, or of a rehearsal room, or one of our bedrooms after we’ve been writing together and come out with something that all of us are so proud of. It’s just a really nice feeling to do it with your five good mates.

Jake: The first rehearsal we had was epic. Beyond the music that we created; the feeling and the atmosphere in the room that day was amazing.

Danny: For me, I’ve been away from the gigging scene the longest out of everyone. As much as we want to make big plans and go far, For now I just want to express what a blessing it is to be a part of something where everyone is so enthusiastic; I’ve not seen these guys get so excited to get up and play a show since we were kids to be honest. Even if we’re playing to empty rooms for a while, I don’t mind because I love this.

What can we expect from Kingdom Keys this year?

Sam: A mini album..or is it a large EP..? We intend to release more music over Summer. We’ve been quite busy, trying to get another practice in but we’ve got gigs. We’re gigging with all we’ve got at the moment so it’d be nice to write some new songs.

Danny: I think we’ll take more time writing new material over the stuff we’ve done already because we did put together our set quite quickly, so it will be exciting to see what that process looks like. We want to be as busy as we can this year and get the name out there. We’ve all been in bands that haven’t ventured too far from our local area for the most part and I think this is first project that we all believe has quite a wide appeal.

Jay: Yeah whilst we’ve all played quite a few different areas, we want to push this and not be land locked to King’s Lynn (laughs)

Would you rather eat your instrument bit by bit or have it thrown at you from the top of a building?

Danny: Off a building? Well that’s just death isn’t it?

Daniel (Boff): If I had to eat my Telecaster that’d be death as well.

Sam: Either way you’re going to die, it’s just which way you want to.
Do I want to die via internal bleeding by eating wood and metal, or do I want to get crushed from above? Is there a lot of people watching? I think eating it would be horrible, but being crushed would be look pretty cool.

Jay: Simon you need to have a piano dropped on you proper cartoon style!

Simon: You see, the thing is, my instrument is pretty big…

Everyone: (laughs)

Danny: You know what I’d do, I’d melt it down into a sauce and make a lovely paella out of it.

Jake: I’d have it dropped on me because it’d make a really loud noise.

Boff: I would have it dropped. I’d cry all the way through eating it. I wouldn’t want to do that to myself, that’d be worse than death.

Jay: I’m the fat member of the band, you do the math. I would obviously eat the whole band’s worth of instruments and be looking for desert. That’s how that’s gonna go.

Kingdom Keys can be found in the world of social media on the following links:

facebook.com/kingdomkeysband
twitter.com/kingdomkeysband
Instagram: @KingdomKeysband

Their single ‘You Are Not Alone’ is out now! Find it on iTunes, Spotify, Soundcloud and Bandcamp.

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