Young, raw and armed with some dutty indie-punk riffs, KONG have made their stamp on the Sheffield scene over the last 12 months culminating in the four-piece picking up ‘Best Unsigned Band’ at this year’s Exposed Awards. With all this in mind, it would be mighty bad form for us not to grab them for a session this month. And with their latest EP ‘8 Ball Pool’ recently released plus a number of mahoosive live shows to announce this month, the timing couldn’t have been much better…
KONG, introduce yourselves to the Exposed readership with an interesting fact about each member.
Henry: I’m the drummer and I don’t really like indie music.
You’re kind of in the wrong band here, mate.
Henry: I just love playing drums. I used to listen to loads of guitar bands, but now I’m more into garage and underground house music.
That’ll do. What about the rest?
Liam: Me and Niall are brothers. Does that count an interesting fact?
It’s definitely a fact, not so much interesting, but you can have that one. Conor, what about you?
Conor: Well, I’m a nurse and I’m also really into dinosaurs.
Can you elaborate on the dinosaur bit please?
Conor: Like, I’m weirdly obsessed with them. Ever since I was little I’ve had this massive interest, I had all the toys and could probably tell you something about any dinosaur you could name – size, wing-span, etc.
Now this is interesting. What’s your favourite dinosaur?
Conor: It has to be an Allosaurus because they were basically the T-Rex of the Jurassic Period.
Henry: I can’t believe we’re going into this.
Conor: In fact, they were even cooler the T-Rex. An Allosaurus is a bit smaller, granted, but they had longer arms and were much more mobile.
So what’s your least favourite dinosaur?
Conor: Velociraptors are overrated. People watch Jurassic Park and see the six-foot tall things running around and eating people, but in reality they were turkey-sized. Spielberg completely made it up for effect.
The bastard. Anyway, I guess we should talk a bit about your music now. Let’s start with the ‘8 Ball Pool EP’, which features plenty of big riffs and has a bit of a punkier edge to it compared to your first record.
Liam: Yeah, before writing the title-track I’d been listening to a lot of Wet Nuns and I guess that influenced the riff a bit. It’s a bit different to what we’ve done before, and I think Conor’s vocals help with giving it that raw, punky edge.
Yeah, it’s certainly a distinctive vocal sound and Conor seems to enjoy elongating his vowels at every opportunity. Where did that come from?
Conor: Possibly because I grew up listening to a lot of Oasis, and Liam Gallagher is the expert at dragging out a word. It’s not very sing-song because I can’t really sing – so I have to find a way around it somehow!
Liam: We’ve definitely changed how we approach writing songs, and we had the opportunity to jig things around with this EP.
Conor: The progression is the main thing for any band. Whereas our old stuff was quite standard ‘verse-chorus-verse-chorus’ songs, we’ve played around a bit with things on this record.
There’s a big energy to the music as well, and your gigs have been getting a rep for being lively affairs. I heard that a guy in a gorilla suit joined you onstage at the last gig…
Conor: That was at the O2 gig. We’re actually going to take things to the next level and get somebody in a dinosaur suit to join us for the next gig so they can have a massive fight, you know, like King Kong vs Godzilla.
It’s obviously been a big 12 months for the band; you’ve sold out a few of the big Sheffield venues and your graft has been recognised with the Exposed Award. How do you aim to build on the recent success?
Liam: We’ve got a steady run of gigs now until August, so I guess it’s about continuing with what we’ve been working on.
Conor: Yeah, we’ve got some massive gigs lined up. We’ve got a slot on the Main Stage at Tramlines, which we’re obviously really excited about, plus we’ll be playing the Crystal Stage on the Sunday. In May we’ve got Birmingham Gay Pride and Peace in the Park back in Sheffield, so we’ll be keeping busy.
Liam: I guess it’s just a case of branching out a bit and keeping the graft going.
And we’ll finish with a quick-fire round. Question number one: Who has the worst music taste in the band?
*Conor, Niall and Liam all look at Henry*
Henry: Me? Conor, you like Taylor Swift!
Liam: Yeah, that’s a good point actually.
Conor: I am not ashamed of it. I’ve always said that I’d love us to do a cover of ‘Shake It Off’.
Ok, that’s settled then. Next question: If KONG could record a soundtrack for any film, what would you choose?
Conor: Jurassic World. It would also be cool to do a soundtrack for a Warp film, like a present-day This Is England or something. Or a film like ‘Safety Not Guaranteed’ – that has a great soundtrack.
Liam: I’d imagine it would be some sort of action/thriller, something with plenty of tension.
Henry: Frozen 2.
Finally, where would you like KONG to be in five years’ time?
Henry: I’d think we’d all settle for living as musicians.
Conor: Yeah, being able to have a stable financial income from music and have a job from it is what you aim for.
Niall: I’m not fussed about making loads of money from it, but if we can consistently tour places like The Leadmill in five years I think we’d all be happy.