Q&A: “Pick Your Poison” as You Get Ready for King Shelter's Debut Album, ‘$hame’

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With flowing blond hair, a beach boy vibe, and music that’s perfectly suited for surfing the waves at Manhattan Beach, King Shelter certainly fits the image of a Southern California based rock-and-roll band. They’ve been a rising name on the strength of their Failure EP as well as a stretch of singles, and now their highly anticipated debut album $hame is slated to arrive on March 30.

“Pick Your Poison,” the first single to be released ahead of the album, opens with the stark declaration “I cannot sleep / cause I cannot eat.” Frontman Taylor Hecocks’ voice is earnest and genuine as he proceeds to lash out against the “safe,” mechanical way of life. Instead expressing instead his desire for personal freedom, he thanks God “for his mind” after he wakes up in the second verse, the same mind that refuses to live a simpler life without fulfillment.

Sonically, whirling guitars add to the emotion in Hecocks’ lyrics and create an overwhelming soundscape that’s best enjoyed at full volume. With a sound that is laidback yet urgent, King Shelter endears you with their authenticity while compelling you to take notice at the same time. The title song, “Failure,” from their previous EP is a perfect representation of this, drawing the listener in with a soaring melody that’s sung in a melancholy tone. The pounding drums that enter the atmosphere in the second verse give the song weight just as it’s about to float away, while the screaming vocal riffs ratchet the intensity up a notch and burrow their way into the eardrums.

We had a chance to catch up with King Shelter following the release of their new song “Pick Your Poison,” and took the opportunity to pick their brains about the upcoming album and their mentality toward performing shows, as well as hear a few upcoming artists that they’re excited about. Give the song a listen while you read what they had to say!

OTW: What made you decide that “Pick Your Poison” was the single?

The record flows song into song, so after we thought about it, it made more sense to just start from the top.

OTW: Originally you announced it would come on February 2 and then it dropped a few days earlier instead - any reason why?

No specific reason, The Alternative wanted to do a SoundCloud premiere.

OTW: Conceptually, how does “Pick your Poison” fit into the upcoming album?

It’s a good kick off to the album. The record is less personal and more observational, so that song talks about a handful of ideas that get broken down more later in the album.

OTW: Should we expect to hear similar sounds on the project?

Actually, only kind of. Definitely the same sound, since it was all done together, but that track is probably the most expected of us. But there are indeed good amounts of instrumentals. We took our time on each song, I wasn’t concerned with the minute count for these.

OTW: What message are you trying to convey on this album?

Oh, man. Essentially, to try and state all my observations from an unbiased perspective, then even analyzing myself at the end. I guess as a whole - analyze and make up your mind. Either way, YOU’RE DOOMED.

OTW: This is your debut album - did the recording process feel any different than working on previous EPs? 

It was the greatest experience I’ve had making an album. I worked with two of my great friends Trevor Brown and Keith Sorrell, and I was allowed to do the production and sound design, all my weird edits. I basically got to try whatever I wanted and so did they. We took our time until everyone was happy. We’re all at the point of not stressing on the reception, cuz now we all have a kick ass album to listen to on our drives to work. And the album is going to do exactly what we want it to do when we press play.

OTW: How has LA influenced your rock & roll sound?  Do you find any songwriting inspiration from being out and about in the city, since there’s such a great history of punk rock?

I did for the writing of this album, only because I was working there so much at the time. It honestly just depresses me. I picture it as an ant hill and I’m just watching everyone stress and run around, just waiting to be stepped on.

OTW: You’ll be on tour for the next few months - will you be playing material from the upcoming album or a collection of your previous releases?

Yes, we’ll be playing the entire record and will be playing with an additional member for fun.

OTW: What’s the atmosphere you look to create for the crowd?

I just want them to enjoy themselves. I’m consistently put in the opener slot, which forces me to have to win over every crowd. And now that’s how I feel every time I walk out, they don’t care about me, and I need to convince them to. But, I want people to just feel happy that they are there.

OTW: What are some of your on-the-road essentials when you’re out on tour?

Mmmmm definitely my Nillow, essential oils, PB & J and a whole lotta Outkast on the stereo.

OTW: Who are some of your Ones to Watch artists?

RoyalJag, On Drugs, Heyrocco and Creepseed!

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