It’s midday when Kingswood frontman Fergus Linacre calls in from a sunny and warm Melbourne. He’s contemplating this past year of national touring in support of second album After Hours, Close to Dawn, and the final string of dates about to come.
“When you make a record and put it out there,” he begins, “you don’t really know how a song or album’s connecting until you’re playing in front of people and they’re singing it back to you… Especially at Splendour, when the album had been out and we hadn’t played for a while. Hearing everyone sing songs that weren’t even singles was pretty special.
“When you play in a big city, it’s great, but there’s a little detachment from everyone,” Linacre continues, leaning into the importance of coming back for one more run of regional dates to finish the year. “Say you’re in Melbourne or Sydney, people have already seen three bands that week and it’s a big deal, but it’s not the highlight of their year. We’re spoilt for choice. But when you play Airlie Beach or Cairns, these places don’t have a lot of bands come out there. So they really get pumped up and it can be a pretty special night.”
It didn’t work out as amazingly as we hoped, but we got close
There’s certainly been excitement around the band’s second release, an album which is part rock, part reggae, and inflected with country vibes from Nashville, where it was recorded. Sung from two distinct perspectives and with overlapping vocals, ‘Alabama White’ features in the group’s latest documentary on the album, and of the track Linacre says, “I think you can hear us getting really excited by that.”
“We did have an idea with ‘Alabama White’ to have it so you could split the left and right speakers, and you could just listen to the girls’ part by itself and it would be its own song. It didn’t work out as amazingly as we hoped, but we got close,” he chuckles.
“When we’re making music, we want it to be fun and interesting. That’s how we write.”
However, this approach has polarised some Kingswood fans, particularly those who fell in love with their first album Microscopic Wars (2014), and its supposedly more cohesive and hard-hitting rock sound.
Of the record, the singer says, “We had one song that was just a banjo and a synth, and there was a big piano ballad… and in the past, we’ve given out an acoustic CD at gigs that just has five songs that were never released before. It’s not like we used to be a straight rock and roll band, I think we just got that image because the singles were heavy rock songs.”
Referring back to After Hours, Close to Dawn, Linacre continues, “But we’ve always been pretty experimental, it’s just that this album really shows it. We love the Beatles, Arcade Fire, and bands that do change their sound. They inspire us more than, say, AC/DC would.”
“If you look at Beyoncé’s latest record Lemonade (2016), it’s super diverse, and if you go back to the later Beatles records it’s the same thing. I’m not going to make a comment that music these days is one-track, I mean Tame Impala have grown and had different sounds. But certainly on one album, it’s rare to see an artist or band spread out across different genres as much as our record did. We didn’t intend to do it deliberately, it just happened.”
We love the Beatles, Arcade Fire, and bands that do change their sound. They inspire us more than, say, AC/DC would
“If we’re working on one song, we want it to be the best version of that song…” he continues. “We don’t worry about how we’re going to do it live or how it’s going to pair with the other songs on the album. There were a few in the extended Kingswood family that were popping their heads up as we were recording and said, ‘You guys are going to really polarise here’, and we kind of like that. I always love when a band comes out and they’ve got something new and interesting. Those are my favourite kinds of bands.
“There’s that voice of like, ‘Is radio going to play it?’ and ‘Are people going to like it?’, and everyone has that voice in there. If you listen to it too much, I think you can make music that doesn’t excite people, because it’s designed for the masses. The best thing you can do is follow whatever music you want to make.”
New singles like ‘Golden’ were a departure from the band’s perceived ‘heavy rock’ sound
The increased prevalence of radio play and hit singles has changed how we listen to music, yet that hasn’t stopped the group from creating albums for fans to experience from start to finish. Considering whether that album-based approach will ever come back to the forefront, Linacre replies, “I hope so – I’m not sure it will.”
“There’ll always be that small group of people that do that, but it’s about listening to the whole thing with your headphones on by yourself, rather than a couple of singles… People don’t really sit down as much as they used to unless they’re a really big fan of the band.
“A lot of people will buy a ticket to go see a band, but they’ve only heard one or two songs. Maybe it’ll turn around, but we’ll just keep doing what we’re doing. We know we’ve got a great fanbase that’ll listen to the albums the way we want them to.”
I’d put Magical Mystery Tour on vinyl with headphones… it literally took me to another place
It’s an experience that Linacre himself was immersed in as a kid, and he reflects, “I still remember coming home from school, and on Thursdays I’d be the first person home, so I had an hour to myself.”
“For a month straight, every Thursday I’d put Magical Mystery Tour on vinyl with headphones, lie down and listen to it. It literally took me to another place, even more so than it can now because I’m kind of grown up. But when you’re a kid, you can get taken into a dream world, and that album’s obviously pretty trippy. I have fond memories of that.”
An album that stuck with the musician more recently was Tame Impala’s second album Lonerism (2012), one which he admits, “really affected me.”
“I think I was cutting lawns at a school, which was a job I had, and it just came out. I was a Tame Impala fan, but I wasn’t a mega one. I just remember listening to it from start to finish, and it blew me away. I called Alex (Laska, lead guitar) and everyone and was like, ‘Have you listened to the new Tame Impala record?’… I remember that one changing me quite a lot.”
Kingswood appreciate when bands like The Beatles took risks with their music
As for what’s changed the most for Kingswood over the past few years, Linacre says, “Now we’re just going at our own pace, really focusing on writing and recording new music. We’ve already started that for the new album, and hopefully we get that done next year.”
“But Kingswood’s much bigger than the three of us, we’re going to have nine people on stage for most of this tour,” the musician considers their upcoming national run. “It’s heaps of fun, and we have our little house where we have parties and play basketball, we have a skate ramp… We just do our own thing now.
Now we’re just going at our own pace, really focusing on writing and recording new music
“Al was just in Nashville very recently, and Justin (Debrincat, drums) was in Spain, and we had a month where we didn’t see each other. We had our little WhatsApp group and were talking every day, saying how much we miss each other… We really are like a family.
That extends to Debrincat having a baby next month and needing to step back from the tour, with Sticky Fingers’ Beaker Best to lend a hand behind the kit.
“Justin was worried about not being there and it not being the same, but Kingswood is forever. We’re in a really good place altogether.”
Catch Kingswood when they close out massive year of touring with their latest run, starting this Friday October 6 in Fremantle – dates below.
Kingswood’s latest single, ‘Atmosphere’, taken from After Hours, Close To Dawn
Kingswood 2017 Australian tour dates
supported by Dear Seattle and The Vanns
Friday, 6th October
Saturday, 7th October
Dunsborough Tavern, Dunsborough
Thursday, 12th October
Edge Hill Tavern, Cairns
Friday, 13th October
Dalrymple Hotel, Townsville
Saturday, 14th October
Magnums, Airlie Beach
Sunday, 15th October
Mount Pleasant Hotel, Mackay
Friday, 20th October
The Met, Brisbane
Saturday, 21st October
Night Quarter, Gold Coast
Sunday, 22nd October
The Northern, Byron Bay
Thursday, 26th October
Coffs Hotel, Coffs Harbour
Friday, 27th October
Metro Theatre, Sydney
Saturday, 28th October
The Long Jetty Hotel, Central Coast
Friday, 10th November
Saturday, 11th November
Fat Controller, Adelaide
Friday, 17th November
Karova Lounge, Ballarat
Saturday, 18th November
Forum Theatre, Melbourne