Fri with Cityview and The Color of May at the Wreck Room, 3208 W 7th St, FW. 817-348-8303.
‘We’re unashamed about being blatant about being catchy.’
King Friday uses its mix of vets and a newbie to make rich, smart power pop.
By ANTHONY MARIANI
We all like for music to tell our stories. For a young person, power pop perfectly encapsulates her life. Alternately sad and happy, jangly and moody, the sound is, like its human inspiration, bittersweet.
You would expect the genre to be inhabited by ultra-young almost-pros, and it is largely. But local power-poppers King Friday destroy expectations by being ultra-experienced (not “old,” but “veteran”) yet hip. The quartet is like one big, oversized prodigy: youthfully exuberant in vibe and appearance, more mature musically than a Rolling Stone.
King Friday has been together for about four months and has already played a boatload of shows here and in Dallas. The band has just finished recording its first disc, an untitled four-song e.p. Steeped in early Cheap Trick and The Raspberries, King Friday lays on the Velveeta thick and creamy but adds some spice in the form of adult punk-ish ’tude and lyrical perspective. (OK, that may just be a fancy way of saying that the singer says “fuck” a couple of times.) The mix — dappled and punchy, with a bit of rusty metallica sprinkled on top — also looks back to the decade of decadence; it’s all loud guitars and rich, hefty vocals. Today’s aesthetic mentality says that it’s OK to reference anything you like, as long as you do it well. When King Friday squashes fresh Raspberries with Cheap Trick’s amps, the result is exceptionally tasteful.
The band is the brainchild of Aaron Harville, younger brother of famous rockers Michael Harville and Daniel Harville of defunct major-label casualty Sugarbomb. The 27-year-old was an original member of Nimbus the Great, whose claim to fame, according to Harville, was opening for the Toadies one night at The Hop. After a couple of years of treading the local boards with Nimbus, Harville got married and began spending more time at home. During his hiatus, he witnessed from the outside the fall of his brothers’ kick-ass power-pop group, about a year ago. “Being a part of that, seeing them go through all that,” he said, “I got the bug again.” (Harville played one of Sugarbomb’s last shows, at the Galaxy Club, in Deep Ellum.)
The whole time that Harville was living a non-rock existence, local jazz impresario/drummer and rocker Dave Karnes was keeping vigil. “I told him,” said Karnes, “You’ll be back. I’m just waiting.”
Karnes, former drummer for rockers Zac Maloy and alt-country crooner Collin Herring, was itching to do something fun. He knew Harville and his brothers from the scene and from Southwest High School, a hotbed of Fort Worth musicians past and present.
Harville had been writing throughout his time away from the bars and clubs, he said. When he was ready to share his naturally poppy music with somebody, big rock guitarist Noah Garcia had split with out-of-business power-punkers Soviet Space. The two songwriters got together and began working on the half-dozen tracks that make up the live show and part of the disc. Karnes was called in, then Adam Hull, 20-year-old younger brother of Herring bassist Jeremy Hull. “It’s fun,” said Karnes. “We go play bars, and Adam can’t even drink.”
The c.d., while decent in sound quality and superior in content, is chiefly a promotional tool. “We needed to get together and do something to help us promote ourselves and get more shows,” said Harville. “The c.d., for us, makes what we’re doing more real.”
It took eight months to record, according to Karnes, “and we’ve only been together for four months” — which is his way of saying that the month-long process was grueling. The results betray little consternation or indecision. It’s fun and, of course, brightly poppy. “After soundcheck at Club Clearview one night,” said Harville, “the singer from Radio Thursday heard our song ‘Another Drink,’ and he came up and asked me, ‘Is that a cover?’ He said he thought he heard it before. I said, ‘No, that’s ours.’ But we’re unashamed about being blatant about being catchy. Some people may not feel it’s artistic or artful, but I enjoy it. I’m not offended by something sticking in my head.”
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