Still Dreaming Of Escape

New album, new mission, The Kings of Outer Space is still looking to the stars.

Cut-off from the rest of society, these periods of isolation can often leave one to ponder the very meaning of life. For The Kings of Outer Space, such moments appear to conjure up notions of escape, where a better life is imagined and one that is far, far away on a distant planet somewhere.

The seeds of such ideas were planted way back when ‘Ghost Town’ was pounding out its rhythm at a frantic pace; a thick black cloud was persistently following ‘My Black Heart’, and life was somehow brighter with an ‘Imaginary Friend’ and tripping the light fantastic as a ‘Kosmik Kasanova’.

Fast-forward to the present and such ideas remain a recurring theme for Bristol’s The Kings of Outer Space and the band’s current album ‘Space Invaders’. But where this latest addition to these intergalactic obsessives’ catalogue of music differs is a fighting spirit if you like, that is not necessarily visible in any shape or form yet becomes apparent once the story of these comeback kings is out in the open.

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FLW uses the word ‘comeback’ because that is exactly what this is, as founding member, and sole survivor, Giggsy, made a decision to pull off the covers and fire up the old space rocket, otherwise known as The Kings of Outer Space, for a brand new adventure, and one that is backed by a new supporter in Greystone Records.

Such a decision was not only a wise manoeuvre considering that ‘Space Invaders’ is the band’s strongest musical statement to date, it was, however, touch and go as to whether a new Kings of Outer Space record was ever going to materialise considering the departures of nearly all the original band members.

With Famous Last Words (FLW) interested to hear how the rest of The Kings of Outer Space story pans out, frontman Giggsy of the band was the elected member to speak with FLW over a beverage or two in the Mos Eisley Cantina in order to explain the reasons why The Kings of Outer Space decided to continue with their musical mission.

“We split up in 2015 when Greggsy (bass player) announced he was leaving the band. Steve and Matt (former members of Kings of Outer Space) both had said they weren’t up for any gigs too far afield due to both having young families. Therefore, it felt that we’d come up against a wall. But then Scott [Milsom] from the Coffin Nails joined on bass, and things took off a bit. The gigs we weren’t able to do, until we started with the second line-up. We had Scott on bass, KO [Ristolainen] (Coffin Nails) on drums and Gav [Lusby] (ex-Cheaterslicks, Kill Van Helsing, Shakin Quiffs) on guitar. This was all good and we played some great gigs like Pineda. But having two line ups, one for Bristol gigs and another for the others was too much, so our last Kings of Outer Space MKI gig was at a festival down south this summer.”

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Truth be told however, Giggsy has his feet firmly planted on planet Earth as he runs a successful barber shop in the Cotham area of Bristol when not actively busy with The Kings of Outer Space. It was in fact this very barber shop that record label owner Alan Wilson of Western Star offered the band a recording slot at his studio after hearing the band’s rather excellent ‘Ghost Town’. “I wrote a tune called ‘Ghost Town’ and got together with Mikey (former guitarist) to record it,” says Giggsy. “I played it to Alan Wilson who was sat in my barber’s chair at the time, so he couldn’t escape! He liked it and asked us to come down and record it. And that was that.”

With that same desire rediscovered in 2015/16 to seek pastures new through their music, and the belief remaining intact of life outside the four corners of planet Earth –  albeit with tongue planted firmly in cheek – The Kings of Outer Space continue their intergalactic journey via new album ‘Space Invaders’, which Giggsy explained to FLW.

“The new album was recorded in 2015. We decided to record the album on Greystone Records simply because it’s Scott’s label. He lives near me and we hang out sometimes, so it just made sense. Also, because we live near each other, I could pop over quite easily whenever he was in the studio and muck about with the songs. Because of line-up changes, there were a few gaps between sessions and an array of musicians drinking tea round Scott’s gaff. KO plays drums on some tracks and Jason Cook plays on the rest. KO was always a stand in drummer and wasn’t always available, so Jason stepped up and knocked us dead with his drumming. He plays the drums on ‘Zombie Walk’ and was wearing a rubber ant’s head for the recording. I’ve no idea why. I think half the reason it’s quite a diverse album is that everyone wanted to contribute ideas, usually whilst drunk!”

Do you remember what the inspirations were for you when you started out writing songs for The Kings of Outer Space?

“When it came to writing lyrics and tunes, I used to like Mark Harman’s (Restless) lyrics as a kid, and Paul Roman’s (The Quakes) stuff too. I think having broad tastes helps as well. Catchy riffs and lyrics is what we’re all about. I like seeing smiley people in the audience who are dancing about and having a ball.”

Kings of Outer Space songs are often driven by frenetic tempos filled with a combined set of ingredients consisting of rockabilly, psychobilly and small smatterings of post-punk and indie. However, where new album ‘Space Invaders’ stands apart from what has gone before is that the foot is taken off the gas momentarily to offer variety in their set, but also the narratives appear to be focused more on the personal side of life rather than beings from another planet with more than a hint of green when it comes to their skin complexions.

“I think my favourite track on the album was the least favourite of some of the guys in the band,” says Giggsy when thinking about one of his favourite tracks from ‘Space Invaders’. “I wrote ‘Crocodiles’ and it was a song that I wanted to sound right. The lyrics are quite personal. When we recorded it, something was missing because it sounded like a children’s theme tune, although there’s nothing wrong with children’s theme tunes! But Scott asked his friend Nasser Bouzida from Big Boss Man to add a bit of organ, and we redid the vocals and it sounded just how I wanted it. I’m really pleased with it.”

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In fact there is much to pore over when it comes to ‘Space Invaders’ with the near-Western film score of ‘Remainder Men’ with its intriguing line, “When the sun goes down for the very last time, You’ll never see me again”, to the sparring duet featuring guest vocals from Lula D during (and we never saw it coming!) the cover of former shoegazers LUSH and their song ‘Ciao!’ that sees The Kings of Outer Space enter new creative territory as far as the inspiration goes.

“The duet ‘Ciao!’ features Lula D on vocals,” Giggsy confirms regarding the aforementioned cover song. “She’s an old friend who’s the lead singer in The Hot Tin Roofs. It’s a cover of a 90’s track by LUSH that I’d always liked. Lula was amazing during this particular recording. She came in, heard the song properly and laid it down. Her vocals on it are mad and quite nasty, which is just perfect!

The other song you mentioned there, ‘Remainder Men’ is a tune about a poor deluded man who’s convinced the end is nigh. I quite like him, he talks sense. But I also like the song ‘Lucky Escape’, featuring Jez Butler (Groove Farm) on keyboards, because that’s our ‘Kings of Outer Space’ moment. It’s all about getting the f*** out of Dodge to somewhere better.” And there goes the suggestion of escape once again.

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With the new line-up in place and the album ‘Space Invaders’ picking up a variety of interest, not least from this very online music paper, the future is certainly looking bright for these rockin’ space cats who never forget where this whole adventure started.

“Bristol has a great live music scene,” Giggsy enthuses before continuing. “We seem to go down well wherever we play. Recently, we played as part of a five band night at The Fleece [music venue in Bristol]. We were the only band on the bill with a double bass, and all dressed up as Spacemen! Everyone danced and had a great time. We try and make it pretty easy to like us (It’s not difficult when you have such quality as ‘Ghost Town’ and Zombie Walk’ in your repertoire, FLW). More often than not we play eclectic nights, meaning that we often end up with a mixed fan base. We love playing live. In addition to that, The Kings of Outer Space probably wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t a barber, and for the fact that Alan Wilson (see above) was a customer.”

Where next for The Kings of Outer Space?

“We’ve got more songs that we want to record,” replies Giggsy. “Gav has written some Kings of Outer Space style tunes, and another video would be good. We are pretty much up for gigging anywhere. Next year is the year of the Spaceman! We’re going to get out there and force you earthlings to dance. And more stickers, I love a sticker!” finishes Giggsy grinning from ear to ear and rightly so as it will be the year of the Spaceman if this quartet can continue with the positive momentum that ‘Space Invaders’ has been building; something of which Giggsy confidently reinforces before firing up The Kings of Outer Space vessel once more ready for that next (space) adventure.

“I think the new shape regarding Kings of Outer Space has a different edge to it. What I mean is that everyone’s up for it, and wants to put on a good show. For example, we played Spain recently and had more fun than anyone should be allowed! The crowd at Santi’s Beach Bar had a blast. Without sounding corny, we just want to play seriously good rock n roll, drink beer and have a darn good time and hopefully meet more strange people who love what we do. Sounds like a plan.”

The new album ‘Space Invaders’ by The Kings of Outer Space is out now!

(Photography courtesy of Greystone Records)

FLW - From the Tapes

When not performing vocal duties as the frontman for The Kings of Outer Space, life for Giggsy by day is that of a barber, which certainly provides its own moments of inspiration for new songs and promotional videos. In fact, the band’s video to first single ‘Zombie Walk’ from the new album, ‘Space Invaders’, was inspired by a visiting customer in need of a haircut.

“Having the barber shop means a lot of cool people breeze in and out every day. It just so happened that one of the organisers of the Bristol Zombie Walk, Joe, was chatting about the Zombie Walk he was organising for 2015, as Bristol puts on a Zombie Walk every year. I had written the song ‘Zombie Walk’ the year before, after seeing hundreds of zombies walk through town one Halloween. Therefore, it would have been pretty stupid not to shoot the video for our single on the actual Zombie Walk in Bristol. So, with 1500 zombies and lots of help from the Zombie Walk organisers, plus the genius and enthusiasm that is Marcus Way Photography, it all turned out pretty well I think. In fact, the ‘Zombie Walk’ video was just so much fun to do.”

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