Q&A: ITCH (THE KING BLUES)

Earlier this year there was a very memorable gig here at the Café. Well, they’re ALL memorable. But this one was particularly buzzing… THE KING BLUES properly rocked da house… This Friday (10th November) THE KING BLUES frontman ITCH returns – this time for a special solo show to celebrate the publication of his new poetry and lyric book ONE HUNDRED AND ONE HAIKUS. So Our Steve asked ITCH a few questions, ahead of the show…

WHAT ARE YOUR MEMORIES OF WHEN THE KING BLUES PLAYED AT CAFÉ INDIEPENDENT EARLIER IN 2017?
It was the last show of a great headline tour in somewhere we’d never been before so I had no idea what to expect.. It had sold out quickly so I was excited but I didn’t expect the reaction we had. The crowd were really rowdy and up for it. It was a great way to end the tour – and we vowed to return.

WHAT DO YOU THINK OF THE IDEA OF COMMUNITY-LED VENUES, SUCH AS CAFÉ INDIEPENDENT? DO YOU THINK THERE IS NOW A NEED FOR VENTURES SUCH AS THIS?
Venues are closing at an incredible rate, historic places that birthed sub-cultures that have influenced the world. The government celebrates the legacy the venues created whilst not protecting the grassroots scenes that are happening right now. When everything comes down to monetary value we’re left with another Starbucks or another Tesco and culture – which allows us to come together, to question things, to improve our quality of life – gets pushed to the sidelines. To see a community led venue such as your Café is not only important and vital but inspiring and a glimpse of how culture can exist in the future and present day.

HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE STATE OF THE ARTS, IN GENERAL, AND MUSIC IN PARTICULAR IN 2017?
I suppose we’re known as a fairly political band but I don’t think all music needs to be overtly political. A 3 minute love song that allows people to dance and escape the boredom and routine of a 9-5 is in itself inherently political. Music has a way of bringing people together, it’s a great levelling field. The internet has blown the doors wide open so now we have much more choice than just what is broadcast by the gatekeepers on mainstream radio. Technology has become cheaper and more widely available allowing just about anyone to record, produce and distribute music. Whilst it’s true that it’s harder to make a living from purely record sales, the opportunities are there for those willing to adapt, the old ways have become fossilised.

HOW HAS 2017 BEEN FOR YOU – POLITICALLY AND PERSONALLY…
Politically I worry about where we’re heading, the sheer amount of misinformation on display at all levels is staggering. On a personal level, it’s been far more enjoyable than 2016. I’m full of gratitude that I still get to do this as my job all these years later.

THIS TIME ROUND YOU’RE PERFORMING SOLO… SO WHAT CAN FANS EXPECT? WILL THERE BE SPOKEN WORD SECTIONS?
The show is a retrospective of the past 13 years of my career. It’s mainly story telling with songs and poems thrown in for colour and context. I like to do things that are new for me and keep me excited and slightly fearful, it brings out the best in me to push myself. The first night of tour I was terrified and maybe over prepared as I’ve been working on this brand new show for a long time. I’ve settled into it a bit now and I’m massively enjoying it. I love how no one coming through the doors really knows what to expect from a show called “101 Haikus” and they’re right to not have expectations as it’s totally different that anything I’ve ever done before.. The reaction has been humbling and beautiful so far.

HOW DO YOUR SOLO SHOWS DIFFER FROM THE KING BLUES SHOWS?
The solo shows have taken many guises over the years, when I was touring America a few years back I had a full band, in Europe it was a more hip hop set up with me and a DJ, this time it’s just me, a ukulele, a guitar, a keyboard and a lot of stories.

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK… DO YOU PREFER SEEING LYRICS WRITTEN DOWN ‘AS POETRY’, OR DO YOU PREFER TO HEAR THEM SPOKEN OR SUNG OUT LOUD?
I think there’s two types of poetry. There is poetry written specifically for the page and poetry written specifically for the stage. I think that has to be the case as they’re really two different beasts. As a performance poet this was my first foray into writing for the page. It’s obviously 101 Haikus but it’s also an art and photography book done in collaboration with an amazing photographer called Becky Lightbody. We worked intensely closely on this project for over a year and we’re so proud of it. There are also a collection of essays, interviews and articles I’ve written specifically for the book. The reaction so far has really blown me away. When I make a record I hear it so many hundreds of times in the studio that by the end I lose all perspective and don’t know if it’s good or not – but I can stand by this book til the day I die…

LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING YOU, ITCH… ANY MESSAGES FOR THE PEOPLE OF SCUNTHORPE BEFORE THE SHOW?
Thank you for having me in your home! I can’t wait to return to Café Indie and do something a bit different for you all…

 

Also on the bill at ITCH’s gig are upcoming punka LOUISE DISTRAS and longtime INDIE friend JOE SOLO. A fantastic night beckons… You can get tickets in person from the Café, or you can go online here: http://bit.ly/2ttsQ0h. There’s a Facebook event page here: goo.gl/Pak4WY

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