Interview with Kings Never Die
KINGS NEVER DIE has been described as true to sonic form, drawing from each member’s deep-rooted musical history and writing styles from classic NYHC to true Crossover Punk Rock. While Kings Never Die’s members may seem familiar to many who have enjoyed and loved the scene, the reality is.... (In the bands words) “nobody really cares what you’ve done when listening to a new band, It’s all about what we’re doing. Of course we respect our personal history and the great people and bands we have been blessed to be apart of, but Kings Never Die is, and always will be meant to stand on its own two feet.
EP: How is the band and you holding up during this time?
Dan: Well, to be honest, at first it derailed everything we were doing because we just had the EP come out February 1 and when the EP came out, we went on the road like immediately and we had all these shows booked, so we ended up playing like maybe 10 to 12 of the shows before March 22 and then we had 11 shows canceled, you know, leading into this like, pandemic. So it really sucks, and the EP was doing really much better than we even hoped it would. April into May, I was like, completely in a tailspin, you know what I mean? And then about the middle of May, I just realized this was going to be like a lengthy thing You know, it was gonna be for a while. So, actually, I taught myself how to use GarageBand and I literally just continued writing. So, I didn't have much else to do other than the little bit of work that I had, my actual job was really affected by this because I do apparel so I spent about two months, really just continuing writing and working on all the songs that we had written. Our plan was to release a full-length album, like in September, or October. So it really changed the plan. Um, I just buckled down and I started to just get in the habit of writing, and once we realize that there was no way to rehearse there was no way to go in the studio. We couldn't record we kind of changed the plan. Does that make sense?
Dan: So we filmed a quarantine video for the third video for the EP which was a song called Never Know What You Might Find, just the five of us, we picked each other up. I don't know if you saw the video, But the plan changed. So what we did was, we filmed this video that was safe to film and really all of us put our heads together and tried to figure out how we can record and you know. So what we did was, we started to record individually, three new songs for a new EP, since it was obvious that we couldn't go forth with the plan of recording the album. So that's what we did. In fact, it's already recorded. We're just waiting to mix it. So it's three new songs, the EP is called Side by Side and one of the songs is called Side by Side but it's a three-song EP, because, you know, in September, we want to have some content, something new, and this was the only way that we could get something done.
EP: You guys released a new video, “Never know what you might find” tell me a bit about that.
Dan: Yeah, so what it was, it came out of one, You know, the whole Coronavirus and the song kind of fit that Never Know What you Might Find titles at least, and I had a concept for the video, you know, Jay lives down the shore, our bass player, and he has this Jeep that you could take the top down, So we arranged for a day that Jay drove up from down the shore, I met him actually at a rest stop on the Garden State Parkway, We drove to Dylan's house, picked him up, then drove to Jersey City picked up Larry, and then we drove to Queens, and picked up Steve and finished filming in Queens. So the concept of the video is just the band on like a pickup road trip.
EP: Oh, that’s so cool!
Dan: Yeah, it's funny because like the three videos we did for this video, even though it just came out like a week ago, it's by far out of the gate had the best response of anything that we've done and I think ultimately the song has something to do with that as well. ]It's just like a two minute and twenty-second, you know punk rock song and you know, believe it or not, it's the most downloaded most listened to song that we've had. So it was kind of even though it's shitty timing, it was really good timing for us.
EP: Yeah, that’s awesome! Good for you guys.
Dan: That's so was it and we did the entire video by ourselves. I filmed it while holding an iPhone and I edited it in iMovie. I taught myself how to use iMovie which I had no idea how to use and we literally filmed a video and two weeks later, released a video.
EP: How did Kings Never Die start in the first place?
Dan: Well, you know, I was writing a couple of songs with Eddie, with Leeway and I was playing not all the shows, but I was playing a lot of shows with them and I just started to get back into writing, and as I was writing these songs, I realized like these are not Leeway songs. They don't sound like Leeway, you know when I did the two songs for Leeway I wanted to, like, write music for Eddie to put his lyrics on and I wanted them to sound like Leeway. Like, do the name Leeway, some justice. So as I was writing, I really started to write music and lyrics that were, you know, unlike other stuff that I have done in the past. I don't know how familiar you are with like, you know, whatever like my history from, Mucky Pup and Dog Eat Dog all that but, you know, just this style that I was writing was very different from those band, it has obviously some metal influences, but basically it's just a punk rock hardcore band. You know what I mean, there is some hope, achieving memorable choruses, lyrics and as I'm writing all these new songs, I was like a flourish, I wrote like 10 new songs, like, within a month. It just so happened that Larry, the hunter, called me one day out of the blue just to say, Hey, what's up? What do you been doing? How’s the Leeway stuff coming out?, and we just got into a conversation and I said, you know, I'm writing songs like crazy but they sound nothing like Leeway and he was like, yeah, you know, I've been working on -- He was working on a bunch of stuff and so we just decided I said, Well, if you want to hear some of the stuff that I've been writing, let's get together and he was like, Yeah Absolutely. So I went over to Larry's house one night in Jersey City and by the time we left that night, it was almost like we just formed the band, the two of us, you know, like that night getting together one day. And you know, that was it. And then within a few weeks, I had a friend of mine that had always offered. -- Dave owns a studio out in Pennsylvania called Rock Hard Studios and he had offered if I ever had anything I wanted to record that he'd be happy to do it. So basically, I took him up on his offer, and within like a few weeks, we were out in Pennsylvania recording. I think we recorded like 14 songs when we went out there. But of them, Only four of them actually made the EP. You know the First Raise A Glass EP.
EP: How was the name decided upon?
Dan: Well, I own an Athletic Apparel company called King's Clothing Company and for the last 10 years, my company slogan, let's say like on the stickers when, you know when, we deliver orders or whatever, and we do primarily athletic apparel, But the slogan for my company has always been Kings Never Die. You know Kings' Clothing Company, Kings Never Die. So I just saw it on the sticker and I was like, well, that'd be a cool name for a band and that was it. I was like, Larry, what do you think about Kings Never Die. He's like, yeah, that sounds cool. Okay, that was it. You know? So it just, it just fell into place. It just happened.
EP: Are there plans for any Kings Never Die to tour once this lockdown is all over?
Dan: Yeah, of course, we were off to a great start, we had like 20 shows within the first 60 days after the EP came out. Some of them were like four or five days runs somewhere, You know, we had two weekends planned and obviously all that got derailed. So, we had just started talking to one booking agent in Europe and we were talking about doing a tour in October but obviously everything has come to a halt. So it's really about like reloading like we're gonna release on another three songs, another EP, and then as soon as or when we get the opportunity, of course, I mean, we have to, you have to tour like, you can't, you can't release music and think you're gonna advance if you're not out on the road to back it up. So the answer is yes, of course.
EP: What was the New Jersey hardcore scene like when you were coming up?
Dan: You know, I've been asked that a lot and I got to be honest, the scene, the hardcore scene was not really a hardcore scene because you got to remember, Mucky Pup formed in 1986 and everything was Thrash Metal or Hair Metal. I'd like to think, Mucky Pup wasn't really a hardcore band, but it was more like, -- I called it Comedy Core it was light-hearted, It was meant to be funny. Mucky Pup essentially was, you know, silly songs, I wrote a lot of those silly songs. Chris Mills also wrote songs for Mucky Pup, but it was really like a product of the times, like what does a 16 year old? That is? I wouldn't say I was troubled, but I had issues. Like what does a 16-year-old? Think about? Just learn how to play guitar. Love it, I heard Metallica, Anthrax, and we were influenced by them, you know, what we knew? Once I heard the Dead Kennedys that was it, like The Dead Kennedys was a huge influence on myself as a writer as I was learning how to write and the Dead Kennedys was a huge influence on Mucky Pup and a lot of people have said, you know, it's like, it's satire, like, you know, the lyrics are off-kilter a little bit or, you know, take a 16-year-old, what is the 16-year-old think about writing, you know, it's immaturity. I'm grateful that I was a part of it, but as far as the scene is concerned, I think Mucky Pup had a big part of forming what became the hardcore scene in New Jersey because there weren't a lot of bands like us in New Jersey at least at that time. Obviously in New York, there was the New York hardcore scene that the Bad Brains influenced, which created bands like Agnostic Front & Murphy's Law, like, to me, Agnostic Front and Murphy's law are like the beginning of New York hardcore and then so many great bands right after them. Leeway was more of a metal-influenced hardcore band, Sick of It All, who is absolutely my favorite band of all time. Once I heard their second record, it changed everything for me. Just like when I heard the first Leeway album that changed everything. Not just for me, but for everybody in the scene. It was innovative. It was incredible. In New Jersey, There weren't many bands like that were doing that. So Mucky Pup is like, you know the comedy based version of that and from 86, 87, 88 we played tons of shows with Sick of it All, Leeway,Murphy's Law, the Red Hot Chili Peppers when they were you know, back then they were like a club band. So it was really a different time, a lot of different styles or a lot of different kinds of bands musically played together. You could have a funny band, like, Mucky Pup play with Nuclear Assault, and Sick of it All who was a straight-up New York hardcore band on the same bill. Do you know what I mean? Mucky pup could play with Murphy's Law. People were a lot more open-minded between 85 and 95 you know what I mean? After Mucky pup, Dog Eat Dog which formed in like 91, 90 really formed in 91 that was like the other phase of like, hardcore band, kind of hip hop each little bit of metal influence hardcore influence. You know Dog Eat DDog was really the first time that I started to write songs and purposely want to write songs that had more meaning, that had more structure, a chorus, a verse like much more well thought out.
EP: Do you have fond memories of your time with Mucky Pup?
Dan: Yeah, of course. I mean, John Mills is still my best friend in the world to this day. John was the drummer of Mucky Pup, all those years. Um, and Chris, his brother Chris Mills, really was the leader of the band without Chris Mills there be no Mucky Pup. He really drove like the bus. He was like, three, four years older than us. Far more intelligent, far more mature and Chris really is the band Mucky Pup. You know, there is no Mucky Pup without Chris Mills. You know, I mean, as far as the first three, four albums, you know, my job was basically more of, let's say the writer, especially at first, then Chris really started writing more, because the band was his own. You know, I did the first two albums and I left the band, and I joined Murphy's Law. I played in Murphy's law for a year, then I didn't feel like Murphy's Law was really mine. Like, you know, I was just a guest, it's hard to explain, but I always felt like Mucky Pup was mine, like something that I helped created and then I went back to Mucky Pup when we did the third album, which is called “Now” around 1919, late 1991 that's when I met my wife, I really just felt like, okay, I'm done with this. Do you know what I mean? Like, I'm gonna have to get a job. I have to make money and at that time I didn't leave Mucky Pup, but I started to play with the guys from Dog Eat Dog at the same time. So with Mucky Pup, we were recording the Act of Faith album, which was the fourth album, and I helped write some songs for that album, I played on some of it while we were really starting Dog Eat Dog at the same time. I really felt it was good. It was like, this side project type thing that I could do like nobody ever thought it would turn into what it turned into, you know? Um, so you know that was really in terms of like recording records with Mucky Pup or whatever that was really the end of it for me. Chris continued to tour, they made another Mucky Pup album and two more after Act of faith. Act of faith was the last album that I was involved with, other than a live album that we did like 10 years ago or whatever.
EP: So did you join dog eat dog after mucky pup?
Dan: Yes, we formed Dog Eat Dog. You see when I left Mucky Pup to join Murphy's Law. My best friends, Dave and Shawn, Shawn replaced me playing guitar in Mucky Pupand Dave was the bass player in Boy in a man's World. So when I came back to do the third Mucky Pupalbum, Dave and Shawn, both quit and they started to jam with John Connor and they really started Dog Eat Dog, and of the three of them and it was called F Troops at the time. That was the original name of the band, F Troops. After I got done with, you know, all the Mucky Puptouring and everything when I went back home, uh, I think it was Dave or Shawn or John was like, Hey, you got to come down and hear, we wrote a couple of songs, you got to hear what we did. So I went to Dave's house, and they played Funnel King and it was like played 1000 miles an hour. They played it really fast. But I was like, Yeah, man, I like that. That's cool. I just started to just like, jam with them, and the next thing you knew we were writing songs and, and that was really the time when as a songwriter, you know, and I had always been like, you know, usually like the songwriter type guy. What they originally played me kinda like, inspired me or influenced me to write, you know, to really start writing a different way and wanted to play more structure, hardcore kind of metal. I was very into hip hop at the time. I was a huge Ice Cube fan and it was really just like,Dog Eat Dog became four guys and what we created together, you know what I mean? And then as we really got into it, like, we put it out in the EP was the first thing we did on Roadrunner Records, and Howie Abrams, whom everybody knows, signed, Dog Eat Dog pretty quick after we started playing and within a few months, we were recording the first EP, the Warren EP, and at that time, it was actually similar to what I'm doing with Kings Never Die now is we were really figuring out who we were, we were creating the sound of the band. And that's exactly what Kings Never Die has been doing over the last year. We've been creating the sound of the band and We put out the EP and really had no idea, kind of like the impact it would have. And, you know, we just continued to work our ass off to write new songs.
EP: You also played with Leeway, How was that experience? Also, I know you were involved in the writing and recording of “I’m Not Your Pusher.” What was your influence and how did that project go?
Dan: Well, I mean, I said before, anybody was coming up in the music scene or industry between 85 and 95 Leeway was it. I mean, In my opinion, the most influential album was Born to Expire. It changed everything. Leeway influenced so many bands. It's unreal. I mean, it's incredible. The influence that Leeway had on the hardcore scene and on the music scene in general so to speak. I've always been a huge Leeway fan, I always loved Eddie (Eddie Sutton), absolutely fascinated by AJ Novello, and those songs that he wrote and his style of playing guitar totally influenced me. Leeway absolutely had an influence on Dog eat Dog. I mean, it's pretty obvious I think, you know, so all these years later you know I knew Eddie was playing a version of Leeway and he actually has Maddie playing guitar for him who is just I don't know if you know Maddie Pasta but incredible guitar player. Great, great rhythm guitar player. I went to go see them play at a gig out in West Jersey in a place called The Stanhope House and I just saw Eddie, we got into a conversation started talking about old times, whatever a bunch of shit. And I, you know, and in the conversation, we were talking and the subject of like, writing new music. I mean, I think Eddie was pretty familiar that, you know, I was, you know, that I've written a lot of songs between Mucky Pup andDog Eat Dog obviously, and the conversation of new music came up and, and within the conversation I was like, hey, if you ever want to get together I have tons of stuff, you know, I mean, I, I'd love to, you know, he's like, yeah, you know, you think you'd be interested in maybe working on a couple of songs? I was like, yeah, hell yeah. I mean, I'm a leeway fan. You know what I mean from my youth. So the opportunity to write some songs with Eddie, and you know, for what is now leeway NYC like, of course, I jumped at the opportunity, you know, As I said before, like anything I did, or we did, I wanted to do the leeway name some justice and I think on I’m your Pusher, especially that song really does the Leeway name some justice. Like, you know, I love it. I think it's a great song. I'm proud of the song that I wrote and I'm unbelievably proud of how good of a job Eddie did with the lyrics and performing it and, you know, It was like, a notch off my bucket list. Like it was something incredible to do.
EP: Yeah i agree, it’s a great song.
Dan: Yeah, it’s a great song. Thank You!
EP: What have been some of the biggest moments of your career so far?
Dan: Well, I mean, I've given away a lot of the biggest moments of my career. The Dog Eat Dog situation is obviously number one. We put out an EP, we put out the album, you know, the album came out. I don't think anybody expected the album to do as well as it did. It was really again, like a sign of the times you know that, that genre of music was kind of taking off and right at that time whenDog Eat Dog was really starting to expand and tour heavily, was literally at the same time was already engaged to be married. My wedding day came, had plans of starting a family and you know, it was just the greatest. I had to walk away from what was the greatest musical accomplishment I had to date. You know, I mean, I couldn't cancel my wedding to go on tour. When Dog Eat Dog opened up for Biohazard in Europe, in 1993, right after the All Boro Kings album came out, my wedding date was April 30, 1994, and the tour started on April 3, like, I couldn't go on the tour, the band did not go to my wedding, because that tour was an opportunity of a lifetime, So we asked Parris Matthew to fill in and play guitar for me on the tour. And you know, the rest is kind of history. The album just started to take off, the popularity of the band, especially in Europe really started to take off and, there was kind of no looking back. Like, I was still kind of in the band, but you know eventually it got to the point where it's like, I just got married. We had a baby on the way. My son was just born. This was all happening right as the band was like taking off. And of course, it's like, the biggest missed opportunity of my musical life, but I made a commitment to my soon to be wife and I made a commitment to start a family and we had babies on the way. And I, I kind of look at it, like I fulfilled the commitment I made, like, what kind of a person would I have been to cancel my wedding? You know, to not be there when my son was born. Like what kind of person would do that? So it sucks and parts of me regrets it. No, I shouldn't say that. I don't regret it. But I missed it. Does that make sense?
Dan: That would be the quote. I don't, I certainly don't regret it because my family and my children are the most important thing to me in my life. But as far as accomplishments, I mean, I feel like I'm blessed. I mean, I've recorded 11 or 12 albums. I recorded Mucky Pup albums that made an impact. I've toured, you know, God knows how many times I've gotten to see the world. there are shows that stick out in my mind like the first big Dog Eat Dog show was opening up for Biohazard and Onyx at The Academy Theater in 1992 and it was the moment where I was like, holy shit, like, people like this, you know, it wasn't the biggest show I've ever played, obviously, but it had an impact. I've done some great tours. I've gotten to play and make music with some great people and all the people that I've been able to make music with are still all amongst my closes best friends in my life. So I'm blessed. I've gotten to do a lot of things, Mucky Pup albums, Dog Eat Dog albums, um, you know, I did a couple of albums on my own. I've done side projects, and everything that I'm doing with Kings Never Die now is like, I feel a little bit like we're born, you know, I'm getting to write and play music with great people, that I really care about and, I feel blessed, I got to do songs with Leeway, I've done songs with Vinnie Stigma, Mike Gallo did a song with us like that's a huge thing you know, to me, that was like, incredible. I was just in the last Sick of It All video for like, 8 seconds. That's like a huge check off my bucket list. You know, my favorite band in the world. I was able to be in their video. I feel blessed.
EP: Certainly have accomplished a lot then and now still accomplishing more, Good for you!
EP: What advice would you give to upcoming musicians today?
Dan: Well, I am an upcoming musician right now. So the advice and this is clear advice cause I'm starting from scratch again. If you believe in what you're doing, if you believe in what you're creating, don't let anything or anybody derail you. Nobody ever accomplished anything without hard work. I mean, you know, we are working our asses off on Kings Never Die, and I enjoy it. Like it is enjoyable, that I am putting so much effort into something that I believe in. I think Kings Never Die is the situation in a band that people just need to hear it, You know, I believe in it, so nobody's going to tell me otherwise. So if you believe in what you're doing, don't let anybody derail you, don't change what you are creating, to try to fit in with a certain, group of people. Don't be fake, like, you know, everybody sees through fake, right. So, Be Yourself, in whatever it is.
Watch "Never Know What You Might Find" here