EMQ’s with LITTLE KING
Hi everyone! Welcome to our new EMQ’s interview with US based Melodic Progressive Rock band, Little King. Huge thanks to vocalist/guitarist and founder Ryan Rosoff for taking part.
What is your name, what do you play, and can you tell us a little bit about the history of the band?
Hey there…Ryan here. I am the founder of Little King, a band that was born in El Paso, Texas in 1996. We have since produced 6 albums and are working on a 7th as we speak which will be titled “Amuse De Q”. The band also features Manny Tejeda on bass (he’s a Dominican Republic native who now lives in Delaware) and Eddy Garcia on drums (he’s also our engineer; and El Paso native, pretty much.)
I have been through a lot of different line-ups, so this is the first time I have ever kept the band intact from one release to the next. We released “Occam’s Foil” late in 2019, and the same unit is back for “Amuse De Q”.
How did you come up with your band name?
My first name means “Little King” in Gaelic. It seemed appropriate since I was sort of taking control of my own career. LK has always been a method for me to just play and produce music with my friends…and here we are, 23 years later!
Also…don’t let the Little King do the thinking for the Big King. Sage Advice.
What country are you from and what is the metal scene like there?
USA! It’s good, when it’s live, especially. Everywhere we go, I find a ton of metal fans. Little King is like “almost Metal,” but I find Metal fans to be the most open to other styles of just about any genre. We are generally accepted by them, even if I don’t always bang my head. In the southwest, where I live now, it’s particularly strong. But it really is everywhere…
What is your latest release (Album, EP, Single, Video)
“Occam’s Foil” was our EP that came out in late 2019, and it really took off. Charted in the top 150 on college-radio, generated over 100,000 streams and downloads, and generally put us on a road to…expectations. Ha! I’m not used to that.
We were planning a long and disastrous-but sure-to-be-fun tour, and then everything collapsed. So, instead of resting on our laurels and commiserating, I got back into the lab and wrote a new album! We are about 80% done, and the title is “Amuse De Q”. The subject matter is all things Quarantine, including isolation, sobriety, relationships or lack thereof, domestic violence, idiots’ rule, social media, and more. I think people will love it and relate well. I am super proud of what we have accomplished thus far…stay tuned for more. Release should be early 2021.
Who have been your greatest influences?
In no particular order: Rush, Steely Dan, Zeppelin, Floyd, Talking Heads, The Who, Grateful Dead, Mozart, Tupac, Peter Tosh, Midnight Oil, Hendrix, Van Halen, Mellencamp, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Megadeth, Metallica, Pantera, and so so so much more…
What first got you into music?
For most of my childhood, I was all sports all the time. Obsessed, really…and I still follow Football and Basketball religiously. But I was a really good athlete, and that competitive fire burned pretty hot. I stopped growing early, though, and a future in the NBA was bleak. I had to find another productive passion, and music was it.
My older brother steered me away from my mom and dad’s music and into Zeppelin, Maiden, Rush, Floyd, and more. I appreciate that to this day! So, having an older brother and some guitar players who made me wanna shred instead of dunk a basketball was big for me.
If you could collaborate with a current band or musician who would it be?
London Philharmonic, Snoop, or my friend Debbie Hafferman, who is a Berkeley-educated pianist and scores films. She and I met when we were 3 years old in preschool…we are still friends, and I just connected with her yesterday for the first time in many years. I put some lyrics out there on social media that resonated with her, and so she reached out and we had a pretty long conversation. She is awesome…smart, funny, and super-talented. Gotta make that happen soon.
If you could play any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?
There are SO MANY. But at this point, Firefly in Dover, Delaware would be great. I was living there for the last 7 years, and I just recently moved back to Arizona. But in all that time, I released a couple albums and built up a lot of friend/fans in southern Delaware who’ve never heard me play a live show. I think they’d be…supportive. Surprised. Firefly is a big deal down there, and while there are a ton of bigger festivals around the globe, that one would be a triumphant homecoming and a chance to show my homies what was up.
What’s the weirdest gift you have ever received from a fan?
Saliva. End of story.
If you had one message for your fans, what would it be?
This next Little King record will be the best yet! I am so excited to share it with you all. The train is rolling, and we have really hit our stride with “Amuse de Q”. And if you’re in Europe, reach out to our management or to your local venue and let them know that you want Little King in your hometown. We’ve never played a show in Europe, but we do quite well there. I want to make that happen and build our fanbase in the EU and UK.
If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?
Oh, without question it would be Neil Peart. He just died in January of 2020, and I am still crushed. He was my musical and philosophical and literary hero, and it was a shit start to an ultra-shit year. The man was a giant, and even though we never met (I did make a record with Rush’s producer called “Virus Divine”, though, back in 2003), he altered the course of my life. Lyrically, musically, and spiritually, Neil will always be my hero.
What do you enjoy the most about being a musician? And what do you hate?
The chicks, for sure. They’re everywhere! It’s so gratifying to get laid whenever I want. Wait…is this question about being an egg farmer or a musician? My bad.
I don’t let hate creep into my life very often. Maybe certain occupants of certain public offices in the USA come close, but that’s a rough word. I do hate begging people to listen to my music lol. Just play the fucking song and THEN ignore us!
If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?
Royalties from streaming, FOR SURE. I don’t know how the macro-economics break down with subscriptions to Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, YouTube, etc. No idea. But I DO KNOW that our last album has well over 100,000 spins on Spotify alone. And I DO KNOW that I just got a check from our distributor for $104 and change. That is fucked up.
It’s not cheap to make a record. And we try really hard to produce a quality product that we can be proud of and that can bring some happiness to our fans. It should be worth more than $.0006 or whatever. I mean, even radio paid 6-12 cents per spin. What the actual fuck is $100 for 100,000 spins?
Name one of your all-time favourite albums?
Wow. One? Okay…let’s go with TODAY’s fave, shall we?
I love “Countdown to Ecstasy” by Steely Dan. My brother tried to get me into them as a kid, and I resisted. Growing up in the late 70’s and into the 80’s the Dan was EVERYWHERE. Before I was a musician and a voracious consumer of lyrics, they just didn’t appeal to me. Donald Fagan’s voice was odd, and I was into METAL. Steely Dan ain’t metal.
Matt sent me that CD in about 1990 when I got to college, and in some sort of altered state wandering around downtown Tucson with a Discman, I GOT IT! Musicianship, clever as hell lyrics, ebb and flow of moods, and production even in the early 1970’s. The guitar solos on ‘Bohdisattva’ and ‘Show Biz Kids’ and definitely on ‘My Old School’, the lyrics throughout. I just fucking love that record and I will never tire of it.
Just wanted to mention that this week’s top albums also come from a Baltimore metal band called Trapped Under Ice, and also listening to “Earth and Sun and Moon” by Midnight Oil. Fantastic production and songs on that one. Love the Oils. Just also finished revisiting some old Megadeth, too. ‘Hangar 18’ and ‘Holy Wars’ kick my ass!
What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?
Oh, I think Vinyl, for sure. I grew up with it. CD’s are good, too. The compression level on downloads render a lot of careful production entirely moot. It’s brutal. Nuance and dynamics are lost.
When I was growing up, the artwork and the physical act of dropping a needle on the record is instantly nostalgic. My son has a nice vinyl collection now, and I am so proud of the fact that he Gets It. Kid is an old soul.
What’s the best gig that you have played to date?
We were on tour in support of our album “Virus Divine” in 2005 and 2006. I had just signed a nice little record deal with a company who shall remain nameless (fuck those guys) in LA, and we had a little money to tour and buy gear, hire a crew. It was small but it was awesome.
So about 2 weeks into a 3-week tour, we had a show at the Viper Room on Sunset in Hollywood. Very exciting…legendary venue, awesome sound system, a good bill, and we had a lot of scouts supposedly lined up to come see us. Just needed a manager and booking agent who knew what they were doing.
Our label flaked. Didn’t call anyone, didn’t even bother to show up themselves. We were KILLING ourselves on the road and were so broke. And those fucks didn’t even come to the venue. So, we knew what the deal was by the time we took the stage in front of maybe 50 people. We had played 8 days in a row and couldn’t have been tighter…
We BURNED THAT PLACE DOWN. It was awesome…channelled a huge amount of anger and fear and practice into the best show Little King ever played. Will never forget it…but I hope to top it, some day.
If you weren’t a musician, what else would you be doing?
I own a corporate team building company called TeamBuilding ROI based in Silicon Valley. We have pivoted to all-virtual and have actually now facilitated 130 virtual events since April in over 10 countries. It’s been a helluva 6 months. But that’s my career outside my career, and I love it.
When it’s done, I will make movies and operate a charity. Dogs and kids, kids and dogs…those things are near and dear to me.
Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?
Barack Obama, David Byrne, Daniel Day Lewis, my son, and my dad.
What’s next for the band?
Just finishing up “Amuse De Q” in the next couple months. The bass, drums, and rhythm guitars are done…so I am working on finishing the vocal melodies and words (almost done), writing some guitar solos (not almost done…will probably wing it like usual) and also some string arrangements for a couple tunes. Also, my son is playing piano on this record, which is a lifelong dream of mine. He has worked hard at it, and the part is awesome! It’s for a song called ‘Set It Down’ and it relates to my ongoing sobriety. I thought it would be appropriate. It’s an odd little tune…I love it, so far.
What Social Media/Website links do you use to get your music out to people?
Our web site at www.littlekingtunes.com is the best place to start. It has links to our social media, streaming and download links (including all of the last five albums ready to stream on YouTube), a long bio and history, and some funny interviews from the last album. Merch, too! Please check it out.
Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?
Absolutely a COOKIE lol! But I can’t tolerate ruining chocolate with orange, so it’s irrelevant in my world
Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?
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