aKING’s new album, The Red Blooded Years, has been dubbed their “musical evolution”. Was it the addition of Thieve’s Andrew Davenport and keyboard, or Hunter Kennedy’s bowing out that brought on this musical metamorphosis? Perdeby was at the Pretoria leg of their album launch to find out.

What sets the new album apart from your previous ones and why is it considered to be your “musical evolution”?

Well firstly, the most obvious thing is the fact that Andrew joined us on rhythm guitar and backing vocals after Hunter Kennedy left to do other projects. Also, we added a keyboard to the mix so that definitely made some kind of sonic change. aKING is constantly evolving anyway.

Tell us more about the title?

It [“The Red Blooded Years”] was the first song we wrote and the actual song sets the mood for the album. As we carried on writing we realised that most of the tunes are sort of based around youth.

The Red Blooded Years has been called your “coming-of-age” album. What’s the worst part of growing up?

The worst part of growing up is being seen as old. In the eyes of most 18-year-olds we’re like 200.

Favourite track on the new album?

Laudo: I think I’ll know what it is in a couple of months when we sort of work through it again. We’re still too close to the actual process to know.

Hennie:  I think it’s also because we haven’t started playing it live so we’re not sick of it yet. So every song still has a special place.

Laudo: A song gets a new life when you play it live. It’s a different song entirely, actually. 

Now that Hunter has left, what is the writing process like?

[It’s] a common misconception that Hunter wrote all the songs and that Hunter was the driving force behind the band. Laudo actually wrote most of the songs before Hunter had even joined the band on the first album. We all definitely had a contribution lyrically and musically.

What should aKING fans know about Andrew?

They should know that the only thing that he ever puts on his steak is blue cheese sauce.

What was the best part of working on the music video for “The Runaround” with Louis Minnaar?

Louis Minnaar. The fact that he made it so easy. We’ve shot music videos for like two days straight and this took like 6 or 7 hours. We rocked up there at 8 in the morning and wrapped up at quarter past 4.

Since the release of Dutch Courage in 2008 you’ve come out with two more albums, that’s three albums in less than four years. What’s the recipe for your ongoing success?

It’s more productivity than success. We’re all pretty much like workaholics when it comes to the music. We don’t want real jobs. We really really really want to do this. As soon as you start feeling that you’re losing speed or altitude or whatever, it gets you fired up to write more songs, write new albums, play more shows, that kind of thing. The longevity of albums is really not long. You have to keep on going and we’ve learnt our lesson that if you break your momentum it’s difficult to get back into your stride.

What kind of response have you received to The Red Blooded Years thus far?

We’ve had a pretty positive response. Well, people wouldn’t say it to our faces if they didn’t like it. The only kind of half-negative thing would be that people are finding it a bit hard to get used to the keyboard, but I think that’s only people who don’t like keyboard. The rock reviewers say the ballads cause us to lose momentum on the album. But our most successful songs have been the ballads, like “You and I”. All good rock bands always have great ballads. It should be a journey instead of a monotonous ride.

The launch of the album has seen you perform and promote it in various venues throughout the country. What is the one thing you always take with you on the road?

Our instruments? Eye drops? We always bring our cameras. And we always try to bring comfortable pants. They make you feel at home. You gain and lose weight on tour as well, so they must be stretchy.

What’s on the cards for aKING for the rest of the year?

We have a bunch of friends who are producers, DJs and musicians and we’re going to basically supply them with the separates of our recordings and then they’re going to remix them. We’re very excited about that. They’re people that we sort of admire and look up to. They’ll play around with our tracks and we’ll see what comes out of it. That’ll kind of determine what direction we go production-wise. We’ll move along to a different kind of production – we’ve done the standard rock thing. Our song writing approach will always stay like that, but the production part of it might change.

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