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Non-Prog Interviews

King's X

Interviewed by Josh Turner
Interview with Ty Tabor of King's X from 2005
MSJ: This interview is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2005 Year Book Volume 4 at

I've been listening to the album you just put out and I'm extremely impressed. I'd have to say, it's the best one you've put out so far.
Thank you man, I appreciate that. We feel really, really proud of it too. We feel, we honestly did feel like it was our best work in a very long time and we're very happy with it.
MSJ: I got to see you perform live a couple years ago when you came to Madison, Wisconsin and I really enjoyed seeing you guys live. Now with this new material out there, I'd like to see this performed live as well. What kind of plans do you have right now for touring, concerts, or those sorts of things?
Well, we're going out in mid-October on a US tour, headlining in clubs and small theaters and basically we're going to play for a couple of months and hit all the major markets pretty much and then we're going to take a little bit of time off for the holidays and then head over to Europe and do another tour over there. So, we're going to get out and support it for a good while.
MSJ: I'm kind of wondering, how did you come up with the name of that album, Ogre Tones?
It really is a joke, which is how almost every title we ever had has come about for the most part. We didn't have a title really and we were coming up with kind of just stupid names and Ogre Tones is just a play on overtones and we were in the studio and didn't have a title, but we had this big bulletin board thing with the songs we were recording. We would mark off if the guitars were done or the bass or whatever and we were keeping up with what we were doing and so as an album title, we just stuck Ogre Tones on it and several times we didn't have names for it either and so we were just making up ogre names for those too just as a joke and by the time we finished the record, we had all intentions of coming up with other names and we did come up with other names and nobody liked any of them, so we went back to Ogre Tones, because that sort of was the working title all the way through, so we just kept it.he fans have been totally insane. It's been awesome.
MSJ: I have to agree. I think it's really clever. When I was listening to the album, what came to mind to me was Ear Candy Part 2.
Cool. I like hearing that.
MSJ: It had a similar vibe, a little bit different, a little more innovative, but still along the same lines as those melodies and such.
Oh cool, thanks man. I appreciate it.
MSJ: Just talking about these songs, how do you put them together and come up with your ideas? Can you describe some of what your songwriting process entails?
Well, it happens in so many different ways, you know, it would probably be the whole interview. But, what we did at least for a large part on this newest record, there were a lot of songs, I mean, there were some songs written in the studio. A couple of songs brought in that were older and there were some songs that came from older parts in songs that we wanted to kind of re-work or try to come up with a different chorus or maybe try to come out with a different bridge or verse or whatever. Until we were all happy with them. So, I think what we did, a lot of times we had a partial idea we were really into that needed some work. So, we would all powwow together, including Michael Wagner, the producer and we just, it was a very creative time where everybody was pitching in and trying different ideas and melodies and stuff and then all of a sudden, we all knew when it was the thing that we all liked and we'd lay it down. So, that's basically how it went for most of the record and it was a lot of fun, because it was creative the whole time.
MSJ: One song that jumped out at me when I played the album was "Honesty", cause it just seemed kind of different for your band. I really enjoyed it. It's probably my favorite. Can you explain what the background on that might be? How that just came about? Why it might sound a little different?
Well, it's the only acoustic song on the record, so it probably sticks out like a sore thumb, but at the same time it does has some of the same vibe and feeling as the rest of the record, but portrayed in a different way and so that's why we decided to throw it on there, but it was just a song that actually I wrote in one afternoon while somebody was doing something else in the studio at that time and I don't know, sometimes when we go from one setup to another, there is a little bit of a lag period where, you know, a lot of micing and cord-running and whatever has to happen and there is a little time where we just sit around. So, it was during one of those times when there was an acoustic in the studio and I just picked it up and started playing around on it and came up with that tune and the only reason I even tried it actually was, because Doug has told me for many years that he would like for me to do something acoustic on a record that has a little bit of bluegrass picking type of stuff in it, because that's what I grew up playing and I've never really done that on any King's X stuff. So, this song kind of has just a little folksy, little picking section in the middle and that's kind of the only reason I even picked up the guitar and just wrote a song that would have something like that in it.
MSJ: Yeah, I really like it. Like I was saying, it was kind of unexpected cause it is the only acoustic one. For me, it was kind of when Green Day came out with "Time of Your Life". It just kind of throws people off guard. I think this will be a similar kind of a song, which I think people will be impressed with and I just think it works very well. I like every song on that album for the most part. We could take a lot of time going through each one, so I'll save you the trouble, but what would you say is your favorite song or the one that you're the most proud of off this album?
It's hard to say. For me, it's one of those rare albums of ours where I have several that I truly feel strong about and it's only one or two that I feel "real" strong about and then a bunch of others that I like, but, you know, that's about the best I can hope for. I very rarely like every song on anybody's album. It's hard to come up with a whole record of things that you feel are the best thing you've ever done, every single one of them, you know what I mean?
MSJ: Yeah, exactly.
This time around we actually come out with several songs that I got just very excited about and really believed they were stronger than usual for us and, you know, that's for other people to say, but between us, we just felt really good about the tunes and so I have about seven of them that probably are equal that I really love on this one and that's like a record-breaker for me.
MSJ: I'd have to agree. There are a lot of winners on this one. We talked about "Honesty", but I also like that song "Bebop" and that song as well is kind of different and the dichotomy between "Bebop" and "Honesty" and just how those work so well together, that's my favorite part of the album going from one to the next. It's just a really good album… One of things I was kind of curious about is that you finish on this very strange monologue. What is that exactly?
It's the first recorded commercial. Is what it's supposed to be. At least that's what it's listed as on this sound thing that we got it off of. It claimed to be the very first recorded commercial and it just so happens that the very first recorded commercial was for a record player. So, it was interesting that that was the very beginning of the musical revolution, really, when you think about it, when the record player happened, so we thought it was kind of an appropriate and cool thing to throw in a record.
MSJ: Why do you call that "Bam?"
Just because it comes in with a bam.
MSJ: I kind of see a little bit of a theme in your titles. Is there a concept you're trying to follow with this album?
Well, it wasn't like a concept record or anything like that as far as, I mean, we didn't really have any idea what the record was going to end up being. It's just how we tend to be when we go into the studio. We always kind of can't wait to see what it's going to become, because we have no idea and we're just trying to stay open-ended. So, no, there wasn't really any thought about titles or themes or whatever, but usually you write about what's current to you, so it kind of helps, at least for the most part, keeps things somewhat in the ballpark or consistent together, you know.
MSJ: Yeah… I'm also curious how you came up with the name King's X cause I did talk to Jerry at one point and I think he said he had to refer that one to you. Can you give me a little bit more of any explanation of where the name of the band comes from?
Well, it was suggested by our old manager, Sam Taylor, as a name that was a band, I hope I get this right, but I think it was a band his brother was in many years ago and they split up and they weren't using the name and so we asked them if we could use it and they said sure, no problem, and so basically at the time we started calling ourselves King's X. It wasn't really the decided name of the band yet. We were still open to suggestions and open to other whatever, because we were rehearsing and trying to come up with a demo tape and we had some time before we were going to go out and play and so we had a little time to come up with a name and we probably discussed a lot of different names, but the one that sort of kept coming back to us was King's X and it just sort of over time grew on us and became the name, you know, it was funny, because we were rehearsing and I remember it being said, well, are we King's X now, and everybody nodding their heads and that was that.
MSJ: I think the name works very well for your band. The artwork on top of this album is really great too. This could be your icon going ahead now. I kind of like how that came out with your graphic and everything.
Cool, I love the cover too. A guy named Jeff Wood did the cover and he's just a very talented artist I think and he's doing some really cool stuff and we wanted him to do our cover very badly and very lucky for us, he was able to and we love it too. It's just visually something, you know, you can get sucked into more and more, the longer you look at it and we love that kind of stuff.
MSJ: I'd have to say that the King's X sound is instantly recognizable. It's kind of hard to copy. Other bands take you as an influence, but your band is original. Who would you say are your musical influences?
Well, as a band, they would be too numerous to name really, because us three as individuals have a whole lot of different ones that are different from each other. And, I think that's kind of what helps make King's X whatever it is, you know, the fact that we all kind of like, there is of course some music that we have all in common, yes, and that we all love, but there is a lot of music that each of us love that the others didn't necessarily care as much for. So, it's so varied, it would just be ridiculous. For me personally, I was a huge Beatles fan. I've loved a whole lot of stuff that happened late sixties, early seventies. That was just when every band had their own sound and all you had to hear was one note on the radio to know who it was. It was a different world of music back then, so creative and awesome and just pretty much that whole time period was the biggest influence on all of us, I think.
MSJ: Kind of going back in time, when did your involvement in music actually begin?
Oh, since I was born. I don't really remember an age, cause I came from a musical family. My dad used to play acoustic and sing to me. My mom used to sing in church and always was singing around the house and my dad was always, you know, he was teaching me to sing harmony when I was really young and things like that so it's sort always been there since I was born.
MSJ: How did you decide you wanted to become a guitarist?
I don't think I ever really decided. I think I grew up assuming that's the only thing I'm going to do. I mean, I loved it from such an early age I don't think I ever seriously considered doing anything else, but playing music for a living. I was just determined to, you know.
MSJ: How did you actually meet your band mates with King's X?
Well, I moved up to Missouri in 1980 and was going to college actually at the time and, um, at the college there were two things that happened where I sort of met the guys. There was a show at the school that was a pretty big show and the Phil Keaggy band was coming through as one of the main acts that night, which was a huge deal for me. I was just a massive, massive fan of Phil Keaggy in those days and Doug and Jerry happened to actually be in his band at that time and I was in the band that was actually opening right before them at the time and my band, we had lost our drummer a few days before the show and so I opted to play drums instead of guitar just so we could do the show and we had another guitarist who filled in, you know, everything instead of both of us playing. I switched over, but I didn't even have a drum kit, so we just showed up at the show and I just asked Jerry if I could use his drums, you know, so he let them setup for the Keaggy show and he was so nice to actually let me use them for our show and that's how I met Jerry and then about a month after that, I didn't actually meet Doug that night, I just saw him play, saw him sing and stuff and just loved it. I thought it was the best Keaggy band ever cause I'd seen several bands, times that Keaggy had toured around and this was a band that really rocked. It just had something very real about it. I just freaked on them. I thought it was awesome. Since there was an opening in my band at drums, we started looking for a drummer and we were working with Greg Volz, who was in Petra, who was helping us to record a demo. And, Greg happened to be a friend of Jerry's, so he invited Jerry in and Jerry ended up joining our band and doing shows together and stuff and that was how I got to know Jerry and at the same time, Jerry was still doing some gigs with Phil Keaggy with Doug and so he was in a band with Doug at the same time and then there was a show at my college that I played at, that was a different show altogether and I was playing guitar at this show and Doug happened to be in the audience and see me play guitar and he was like asking everybody who I was until he figured out who I was and he gave me a call and said, "hey, my name is Doug, I play bass with Phil Keaggy" and I was like, "hey man, I just saw you guys play, I love you guys" and he's like, let's get together and jam and he said I live in Springfield, where do you live and I said, no kidding and Jerry did too by the way and I had no idea those guys lived in the same town and so I started jamming around with Doug some and I was playing with Jerry in another band and we all knew each other obviously through doing the different bands we played in together and one day Doug just called us both and said, why don't we make our own band and do something and we all just thought, yeah, that would be awesome, so that's kind of how it all started.was born.
MSJ: You also had a song that was getting a lot of airtime on MTV and on the radio. Anytime I mention the name of your band to somebody who may not even know that much about music, they recognize your name and talk about that song, "It's Love." What was it like having a song that was getting so much exposure?
It was pretty exciting, I'd have to say. When you're walking through a mall and see yourself on TV and you know it's really getting hammered on radio all over the country and all of a sudden you start selling records and, you know, things change over night and it's pretty exciting. It definitely was something that I think takes awhile to sink in and while it's happening, you don't realize it quite as much. It's sort of afterwards that you look back and realize how exciting it really was and you're just sort of caught up in it when it's happening, but it is pretty awesome.
MSJ: That's cool. I'm hoping with this new album, you could potentially do that again cause I think you've got a lot of winners on here.
I won't argue if it sells, that's for sure.
MSJ: To change gears and not talk about King's X for a moment, you've also been in some other bands that I'm really interested in. How did Platypus come about?
Well, the way that I was brought in was through a phone call from a good friend of mine, who happened to know the other guys in the band that were planning on putting it together. A guy named Mark Schneider called me and he called me for John Myung cause we had never actually met before. I had met other members of Dream Theater, but I had never met John before…So, John wanted Mark to give me a call and just see if I'd be interested and then he put me on the phone with John and we talked about it. When he told me who all was involved, you know, Derek and also Rod Morgenstein, I absolutely had to do it. It was just a must. So, that was how I was brought in. It was through John. He was sort of the one putting it together and he asked if I would be interested.
MSJ: That also spun off into Jughead and Jelly Jam. How did that come about?
Well, basically, Derek at one point left Platypus and he was doing his thing with Planet X. He's always doing stuff with lots of great musicians. He's such a prolific player and he played in so many bands. He's just an awesome musician. And, he's doing his thing, but he gave me a call one day and said, hey, why don't we do something on the side even different. So, that's how the Jughead thing happened and one of the guys at the record company mentioned Gregg and Matt Bissonette and I just was like, oh, that would be amazing. I absolutely love those guys, you know, they're just both awesomely talented and they love The Beatles. And, I thought, yeah, that would just be killer to get to do something with them and that started, you know, like I said, from a phone call from Derek. So, he was responsible really for my involvement in Jughead and Jelly Jam is just basically what we, we decided to change the name of Platypus after Derek left, because it really wasn't the same without him and so we just changed the whole name and everything.
MSJ: Do you have any plans for additional releases with either of these bands?
I sure hope so, but I can't possibly tell you when, because the plate is so full for so long that other things like that are sort of on hold at the moment.
MSJ: What other projects do you have in the queue right now?
Well, the main thing is King's X. We're about to do touring for months and months. And, really promoting this record with all our energy. We're already doing it as you know. We're doing days and days and days of press, which we're amazingly thankful for. It's just been amazing, the kind of support and interviews and just coverage and everything on this one compared to normal records for us. The difference has just been astronomical. So, we're already busy in that mode of promoting at this point to promote ahead of time before you have to hit the road and at the same time, I'm working on a new solo record, which I've had all year to work on and just take my time with and I've been enjoying working on that too and that should be out around April next year.
MSJ: I was trying to work out a time to talk with you and I think we came up with this 6 o' clock time. I asked your publicist. I said, you know, is he going to be too tired to talk around this time and what I heard back was, oh no, "Ty, he's always got energy. " Where do you find all this energy?
Well, you know, I ran out of energy earlier this year I have to admit and had to take some time off. I was so glad that we finished the record in January and I was really glad that we weren't going on the road until the end of September or mid-October cause I had so needed to rest. To be honest with you, I was out of gas, but I've had a good year at home now to where I've had a chance to rest and I'm not burned out anymore and I feel good and I'm ready to do it again. So, we're all excited cause we believe in this record so much and we're so happy with it. We've got good riffs and we're ready to go.
MSJ: I'm curious about this as well. I ask this to musicians and I get a lot of interesting answers, but you've done a lot of touring, a lot of live acts, you've come up with a lot of records. I'm wondering, do you recall any Spinal Tap moments during your career?
Heck yeah. I mean, we had Spinal Tap moments that are unmentionable, you know, because I wouldn't want to get hordes of hate mail. We toured with some bands that were, there were some absolute classic Spinal Tap moments and then ourselves. We found ourselves in some really classic Spinal Tap moments, I mean, perfectly out of the movie. We lived it for real like going to a record-signing where nobody shows up, you know, that kind of thing and those things do happen to bands and that's why I think we all love that movie so much cause it's too real to all of us. It cracks us up, because we've all lived countless Spinal Tap moments.
MSJ: Yeah, it's too real and it's too funny at the same time.
Yeah and we certainly have a whole lot more to go.
MSJ: What's the last CD that you purchased?
The last one that I actually purchased was just recently I bought, um, and I'm blanking, I don't know the name of it now. It's, uh, crap, what's the name of this record? I downloaded it legally. I paid for it and downloaded it from MusicMath. Let me go look on my computer and I'll tell you. I'm totally blanking on the name right now. I cannot believe I'm blanking on the name. {I laugh} But, it's an album that I always wanted that I never bought before and just finally I ran across it and said I might as well get this thing, um, and you're going to laugh when I tell you… Okay, let me pull it up here… Canned Heat. I couldn't think of Canned Heat to save my life, but that's the last album I actually purchased and that was just here recently, but I haven't bought any CD's in over a year, pretty much, other than this one, believe it or not, not a single CD. I've not been buying music at all. I just haven't. I haven't been into anything. The last thing that I was into was over a year ago and that was Billy Talent and I love the last album they did. That was fantastic. It just freaked me out. I loved that record, but I've been mostly listening, I mean, I'm listening to music, don't get me wrong. I just haven't been buying new music. I've been listening mostly to really old stuff lately and only really old stuff lately. I even have a jukebox in my living room of 45's of stuff from like the sixties and seventies and that's pretty much it and just some of my favorite music from then and that's really almost all I've been listening to for awhile. Neil Young. I've been having a Neil Young revival, listening to some of his more obscure stuff. The Night record, which is kind of a, it's just a different record from anything else of his in my opinion and it's either one you love or hate, but I've been really getting into it lately.
MSJ: What's the last concert that you attended as a fan?
Hmm… Last show I went to was to see some friends of mine play here in town a couple months ago and it was a couple of different bands that are local bands just that a couple of our friends play in that don't have albums or anything, but that was the last show I went to.
MSJ: What would you say is your favorite album?
Of all-time?
MSJ: Yeah.
Shoot, that would be tough. That would be very tough, but if was stuck on a deserted island and only could have one record, I'm sure it would be a Beatles album. I just not sure which one yet.
MSJ: Yeah, that's kind of what I figured. So, I think I can figure this out with pretty good certainty, but what would you say is your favorite band?
Well, that's tough, because there are, well, favorite band of all-time is obviously for me is The Beatles, but I have a lot of favorite bands that are right up there. The original Alice Cooper Band is one of them that really had an impact on me for a little bit shorter time, but they at one point, they had just as big an influence on me as The Beatles. And so, those two bands are neck and neck, the original Cooper band and The Beatles.
MSJ: I also like to ask some favorites that aren't necessarily music-related just to kind of get an idea of where you influences might be coming from outside of music, but like what would you say is your favorite movie?
I don't even know if I could answer that honestly cause there have been so many movies throughout time that have meant a lot to me at that time and then something else comes along and it means a lot to me. Or, just really knocks my socks off. I think that things keep progressing. People keep getting more artistic and growing and you have to sift through mostly a bunch of mediocre crap to get to it, but there's still some really great stuff going on out there. So, that one I really don't know if I could answer. There's just too many different types of movies that are almost not even in the same category, you know, it's hard to say.
MSJ: Yeah… Just to narrow it down, what would you say was the best movie you've seen this year?
Probably Napolean Dynamite.
MSJ: Yeah, that was pretty funny.
Yeah, I definitely cracked, but also I really liked Shaun of the Dead too.
MSJ: What would you say is your favorite TV show?
You're going to laugh at this one, but probably my favorite TV show of all-time is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I think it's ingenious, I honestly do. I felt like it was a show that I didn't give a chance until it was almost over. It lasted seven years and for seven years I could have cared less about that show and anytime I saw it on TV, I thought it was the most corny, you know, just stupid thing I had ever seen and I would change the channel and, um, what happened is one day I was really sick and just laying in bed and literally couldn't move and the only thing on TV one afternoon was like this two-hour special where they were going to play the last two shows of the season of the sixth season of Buffy. And I thought, you know, for six years I've had people telling me that this is the greatest show on TV and for six years I've been thinking it's the stupidest thing, so I'm going to just for once make myself watch a full episode and I watched those two episodes, the last two episodes of season six and completely freaked out, because I promise you it was better than any movie I had seen in the whole year by far. Way better than any movie I had seen the whole year, so I thought okay, I'll give this thing a try and then I started watching it, you know, you have to go through a few shows here and there where you're just aw come on, you know, groan, but in general, the show was a lot smarter than I realized it was and it dealt with a lot of heavier issues than I thought it did including some really serious stuff later on to where it actually had some significance to a lot of people and I realized why it was so important for a lot of people. It was just such a, it's like an underground cult thing that only a few people got crazy into, but it caught me up after I actually finally saw it and I thought it was amazing.  

MSJ: Yeah, I might have to check it out with that kind of backing. I don't know if you ever saw the show Firefly, but that's actually a show…
Yes, I love Firefly. I saw it all, yeah.
MSJ: That went off the air and then the fans pushed for that so badly that they're now making a movie of it.
MSJ: So, maybe…
Well, Joss Whedon, who is, you know, the creator of Firefly, he's also the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer. He's the creator behind that show. He is the talent behind it all in a big way I think cause everything I see him do has been really good and Firefly, we saw it, because it was never shown completely on TV at first, we bought the DVD box set and watched it, so we could see the whole thing and it was awesome. We loved it.
MSJ: Actually, when I brought that up, I forgot it was the same guy making both of them. That's funny.
He's like the underground genius of TV in my opinion and he's not so underground, I mean, Buffy did become a big phenomenon, it really did and I guess it was a lot bigger than I realized after I got into it. I mean, any show that goes seven years is pretty successful and at the time they went out from what I understand, they were still hugely successfully.
MSJ: I have a goofy question that I ask, but I've asked everybody, so just for consensus, do you have any pets?
Yeah. I'm a dog lover. I always have dogs and they're my favorite and I don't know what I'd do without my dogs.
MSJ: Is there anything that you'd like to say to your fans at this time?
Anytime I have a chance to say anything to fans, I just like to say thank you. I like to just give a huge heartfelt real thank you to anybody out there that has listened to us and liked it in any way and so many of the most awesome people come to the shows and that we meet. They're just such a good group of people. The vibe at the shows is different than other shows that I've been to and that says a lot for those people that are out there. Just for some reason, the fans, they're really, really special, the King's X fans and every time I get to play in a roomful of them, it's beyond words. It's truly amazing. So, we just sincerely thank all of them, every one of them.
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