The Metalist’s Cayden Nel caught up with the local progressive act that has been making waves in 2018. Kings Of Improg are set to perform at this year’s Krank’d Up Music Festival alongside international headliner’s SikTh and MISS MAY I. See what they had to say ahead of this weekend’s festivities.
Firstly, thank you guys for giving us your time.
The Metalist were fortunate enough to review your debut, “Henosis” back in 2017, how have things been coming along in the KOI camp since then?
Things have been good, we’ve played some amazing and memorable shows through 2017 and into 2018 promoting the album. We played our first weekend festival at Misty Waters in March earlier this year, and of course we’re super amped to be playing on the Krank’d Up main stage this year. Each show has been better than the last for us, and we’re now showcasing our latest offerings and are so keen for everyone to hear what we been working on behind the scenes.
You gents played the widely successful “Let there be Prog” back in June at Rumours, how was that experience for you?
One of our best gigs to date for sure, we had such an awesome gig jamming out with fellow prog heads, we showcased some of the new tracks we been working on and the overall response on the evening was great! We need more of these prog shows in the future, it was a fantastic success for all involved!
You’ve had a tonne of touring experience so far since the release of ‘Henosis’, are there any memorable moments you’d like to mention?
We’ve been privileged to join some super lineups at some brilliant venues throughout our gigging post Henosis release, playing on some awesome stages, Rumours gets a special mention here, and then playing back to back slots in November last year at Benrock in Benoni, and then Railways just after were two very memorable gigs, just because of the great responses that day, the crowds were on fire that night for both shows and it does really make all the difference.
But I think Misty Waters was probably the most memorable, playing to the hardcore partygoers at 1am following the likes of guitar greats Dan Patlansky and Albert Frost, both of whom we’re all big fans.
That gig stood out for sure, we closed out the Saturday evening, it was our first fest, by that stage of the night we were, cold, tired (still nursing hangovers from the party the night before). We were showcasing new songs for the first time, but when we got started and the crowd was with us, we ended up having a great gig, one of our best yet! And the perfect start to our festival appearances.
Your gents’ technical playing is mind boggling, who would you guys as musicians say inspires you to keep pushing the boundaries of your music and talent?
That’s a hard one to answer, cause we all draw inspiration from different sources. But there’s definitely crossover in some of our favourite bands and artists. Off the top of my head, some prog heavyweights come to mind, namely Animals as Leaders, Mastodon, Cloudkicker, David Maxim, Karnivool, Tesseract, Gojira, Opeth and of course Tool.
But we do fall back on a lot of the old school styles as well in our playing, Black Sabbath, Led Zepellin, King Crimson, Pink Floyd are all still huge influences, and some of the blues greats young and old, the likes of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughn etc., including as mentioned before our very own Blues maestros, Dan and Albert.
Have you gents performed at Krank’d up before? What have been your previous experiences with the festival?
We will be performing our first Krank’d up this year, and we cannot wait! We’ve been to all the previous festivals and have loved them all! The guys at Turning Tricks and Sundowners bring their A game for this fest every year, and it keeps getting bigger and better and will hopefully be one of the biggest fests this country has to offer in the coming years, there’s a huge gap that they’re filling and we would love to see it become SA’s premier Rock and Metal Fest, if it isn’t already!
Have you gents heard of the Prog legends Sikth? What are your thoughts on them gracing our shores?
We have indeed and are super excited to watch them in action! Sikth are prog legends and to have them here and play on the same stage is such an honour for us. It’s so awesome that these big Prog bands are making it down South to our little corner of the globe, and in the last few years alone we’ve seen some amazing prog acts thanks to Wayne and Duncan and the Turning tricks crew!
Similarly, are you familiar with the Metalcore heavyweights Miss May I?
We aren’t as familiar with Miss May I but since hearing of them being added as one of the international headliners we’ve delved a little deeper into their music and checked out some videos and footage online, they are sure to be one explosive act onstage so can’t wait to see that live and loud in action!
What are your impressions on the local line-up of Krank’d this year?
The lineup they’ve put together this year is great, a mixed bag of varying rock, prog and metal genres, which is sure to bring some diversity to the festival and an even broader range of rockers and metalheads, and gives fans a chance to listen to a bunch of bands that they might not have otherwise heard at a purely genre specific show.
The Prog genre in South Africa overall has been picking up as of late, which is phenomenal. What/who do you guys attribute this sudden, yet very welcome revival to?
Hard to say really, I think there’s always been an underground genre and local prog scene, it’s just never been in the spotlight, perhaps because bands before didn’t have the venues backing them. But with a global resurgence of prog/post rock and metal over the last decade or so it would make sense that it filters down to our own scene, cause where there’s more international prog bands making their mark in a big way worldwide on the rock and metal scene as a whole, it would have an effect on bands here not being shy to go the more experimental prog route, knowing that there is an audience out there that supports and listens to this genre (cause prog heads are die hard), locally and abroad.
When will The Metalist, along with the world, be graced with a follow up to ‘Henosis’?
We are right in the middle of pre-production on our follow up album, we have a solid set of songs that are ready to record, which we will start tracking next month in October.
We’ll release our first single probably end of November, with an aim to have the full album finished up before next year, and then finish the final mixing and mastering early next year, and a release by end of Feb/early March if all goes to plan.
Who in the scene do you guys consider when thinking of under-appreciated bands in the South African metal/alternative circuit right now?
Uhh, all of them? Haha, no I mean we are in a super small underground scene as it is in this country, with only so many shows and gigs to share, a handful of venues that will have us, and a small but dedicated contingent of fans to go around, so to pick out specific bands is tough cause we all in this together, slogging it out for the thing we all love.
If we had to pick some of our favourites in the scene who definitely deserve everyone’s praise, our instrumental prog brethren are all up there, Savage Lucy, Oh God and New Earth to name a few, Raptorbaby and Red Helen always leave it all out there on stage and have amazing performances every time.
In the alternative rock scene there’s so many great bands as well that are pulling out all the stops, the likes of Scarlotte Will, The Hellcats, Pollinator, Stones and Gold to name some, and also our fellow Benonians and Funk Rockers Strait Jackal have been making waves over the years and deserve some praise.
We love seeing fellow bands succeed and like to think of successes in the scene by certain bands as everyone’s successes, because that way the more people, locally and abroad get a taste of what we have to offer, and that sends ears our way and gives all bands a greater potential audience in the long run.
So we’ve all got to stick together and make it happen for ourselves, and something like Krank’d Up is a perfect example of how we can make those dreams a reality.
Thank you for your time and goodluck for what will be an quaking performance at Krank’d Up!
Krank’d Up is a one day annual music festival which takes place on the last Saturday of September (29th) in the south of Johannesburg, South Africa (Sundowners, Alberton). Geared towards the discerning music fan of alternative tastes and a desire for an unforgettable time, the festival boasts an astounding array of international and local rock and metal talent
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INTERVIEWED BY: CAYDEN NEL