Please list all of your band members and their roles in the band.
Brandon Dove: Guitar
James Meslin: Bass (he also records/engineers all of our music. Being entirely self-produced is both incredibly draining and a blessing)
Matthew "Goose" Nazario: Drums
Shayne Plunkett: Guitar/Vocals
Kalvin Rodriguez: Vocals
For starters, what bands were you guys a part of prior to Time King? How long has the band been around?
Shayne is from Northern Cali and the rest of us are from Long Island, NY. Shayne, I (Brandon), Kalvin, and James were all involved in random local bands throughout their teenage years (Brandon and Kalvin actually had a band together), and Goose actually never played in a band before this one. Time King started as a "project" between Shayne and I, but grew into a proper "band" in 2011.
What’s the origin of that name and have you changed the band’s name before?
The origin of the name comes from a text message typo. Shayne and I were texting each other one day, and I misspelled "timing" to "timking," to which Shayne replied, "Time King. band name, lawl." Shayne and I used this name to put up an entry on Youtube for a cover contest that Incubus was hosting for their song "Promises, Promises." Months later, when we developed our musical project into a full lineup of 5 people, we spent a great deal of time going through the band-naming process. We had it narrowed down to a top three after putting weeks of intense thought into names. Then at the end we stopped and concluded that Time King sounded better than any of them, haha. That would mark the first time we realized that we operate best as a band when we don't take ourselves too seriously.
So Time King was a typo, a joke, then a really convenient band name (no other bands come up when you search on facebook, etc.). It just so happens that Time King plays super groovy/fusiony prog rock music in odd meters with a particular interest in strange syncopations and rhythmic displacements, so that's kind of funny too. People usually suspect this to be the motive behind the band name; that, or it makes them think of Time Lords from Dr. Who. We love both of these assumptions, and basically like to pretend that they were both a part of the decision (at least metaphysically).
Who writes your songs? What are the main themes or topics for most of your songs and do you think these topics will change over time?
The songwriting process is pretty even across the board. Shayne and I went to school for music composition, and James works as a producer/audio engineer; this, in addition to the fact that each of us was took on the "leader" role of our previous bands, means that all three of us are super active/heavy music-writers. So we keep a bank where the three of us just dump tons and tons of tiny ideas/demos, and then eventually take them to the room where the 5 of us flesh them out into full songs. Then, of course, we can't help but also write a ton of jams/songs from scratch in the room, so there is an overabundance of musical material that flows from this band and it's all a super collaborative process.
There is no particular "main theme" for most of our songs at this point, as we jump all around. Though it is worth noting that the songs are all very music-driven, which is probably typically the case for prog bands with members who are super "into" their instruments. The lyric-writing process in the past has been extremely collaborative (i.e. involving all 5 of us or close to it), though we've been settling into the format (especially for our full-length) of letting particular members take a song and work on it lyrically themselves, then bring more of a lyrical outline to the rest of the group for collaboration. Everyone's got their own lyrical personality, and to sum each of those up into one list of some lyrical characteristics: Our songs are usually super introspective and are centered around existential ideas we pull from experiences (we have a song about Hurricane Sandy, for example... but more of the *ideas* and vibes that are evoked from thinking about that experience than a recount of the story) or from whatever we are reading/watching. Some of these turn into cool arcs that'd we look forward to continuing.
What bands are currently inspiring the music that you’re making?
The 5 of us have similar music tastes, though that doesn't help to generalize our influences because we are into way too many styles of music for our own good, haha. We all come from roots in rock and prog music (Incubus, Glassjaw, The Mars Volta, Animals as Leaders) as well as fusion/jazz music (Esperanza Spalding, Snarky Puppy, Hiromi Uehara etc.) and all sorts of groovy rnb music (classics like Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson to modern stuff like Hiatus Kaiyote and Jamiroquai). More recently there has been a solid influence from gospel artists like Kirk Franklin. There are some classical influences in there too, like Ravel and Debussy. We love what's going on lately with Hip-Hop and Neo-Soul too, of course (Kendrick Lamar, D'Angelo, Thundercat, Robert Glasper). Basically anything with hip chord changes, cool melodic lines, or does something interesting to our ears.
Was there a particular band/artist or concert that inspired you to start a band?
I know for me, Dream Theater/John Petrucci inspired to me to play guitar and do the whole "band" thing. I was listening to rock music before then, but I got into Dream Theater when I was around 12. It opened up a whole world for me that I really had no idea existed. I remember listening to the guitar solo from The Glass Prison and being so amazed that the instrument could sound that way.
For Goose, he grew up on a lot of gospel music and other groovy/latin stuff. I think it was RX Bandits who really brought him into the realm of "rock bands" and changed a lot for him and the drums.
What do you do to prepare for a show? Any flexing, exercises, ect …
Kalvin used to claim that eating a Checker's cheeseburger was the perfect pre-show activity and warm-up for his voice. His rationale was something about it giving his stomach the perfect fullness. Shayne (who comes from a more formal background in vocal training) has since put that to an end, haha. We put an emphasis on taking care of our voices before a show, through doing a full vocal warmup, drinking some tea perhaps, etc. There's also some drumming on chairs and noodling/warming up on un-plugged guitars that happens.
What has been the biggest highlight of the band’s career so far?
We have had perhaps the most success by doing some unique youtube arrangements and throwing them down the right alleys. Shayne and I did an Incubus cover for a contest that got 20,000-30,000 views. Later, as a full band, we did a rock/prog interpretation of a Kimbra song just before she blew up in the states- we were able to get that one directly to her via social media, and so we got praise and attention from her (which led to amounting 30,000 views or so), and even hung a few times when her band came around to NY. We love the show Psych on the USA Network, and wondered why no one ever tried to do their own fan-interpretation of the theme song (it's a culty show, so they would do interesting things with the theme song depending on the episode or who was featured in it- Curt Smith from Tears for Fears was a guest star one time, and so he made his own arrangement of the theme), so we made a theme song and attempted to do the same thing we did with the Kimbra cover (tweet it to the show's director, writers, actors, etc.). We got some buzz from the actors and the writing circle, which led to a few thousand views and more importantly a phone call from NBC to do a songwriting gig. They needed a dark/rock version of Amazing Grace for the upcoming USA series "Graceland." That was pretty awesome.
If you could tour with any bands, past or present, who would they be and why?
We'd love to tour with any of our influences, particularly the rock/prog acts that ring closer to home with our act (Incubus, The Dear Hunter, Thrice, The Mars Volta -if we could go back in time-, Circa Survive, RX Bandits, etc.). Not only would it be a chance to hang with some people who were instrumental to our music-making aspirations, but it also would mean a ton to have the opportunity to show some like-minded fans what we're made of. I remember going to see bands like The Fall of Troy and wanting so badly to be on the stage - not even as a headliner, but as an opening act. I mean, being a headliner with tons of fans would be great and all, but being an opening act on the perfect tour is a big first-goal for us. It's more edgy in a way; you are out there, with an opportunity to give it your all and win the respect of a crowd who may have never heard of you before. That's how we discovered a lot of our favorite bands, and so having the same opportunity to build a fanbase organically like that would be incredible. I remember one time when The Dear Hunter opened for Coheed and Cambria... I was at the show with my brother and his girlfriend; we were already big TDH fans. The people in front of us had no clue who they were, and were questioning each other, "The Dear Hunter? Who the hell is that?" To watch the transformation in their faces when TDH came on and completely killed it was so inspiring to me. I guess when it comes down to it, it doesn't matter who we tour with, we just really want to get out there and give it our all in front of new crowds.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
One cool story about the band is our inception and early forms of operation. I met Shayne back in 2009 in Boston at a 5-week summer program that Berklee runs. He's from Northern California and I'm from Long Island. We conceived of the idea for a project back then, assuming we'd reconvene in Fall 2010 when we both were back at Berklee to attend college. He ended up there, but I stuck around Long Island. However, we continued with our plans for the project. Aside from a few in-person visits, the two of us collaborated entirely online. We'd write songs via iChat and demo them by sending Logic sessions back and forth. It was through this medium that we produced some of those youtube covers that I described earlier (Incubus, Kimbra). Our first EP (which essentially consisted of songs written only by Shayne and I, not a full-band collaboration) was recorded during this "operating-out-of-multuple-cities" period as well. Shayne ended up relocating here to Long Island full time at the end of 2013, finishing school here to facilitate building Time King into an actual live act. We solidified the lineup soon after (two prior contributors- Kalvin, who we had singing on some demos, and James, who we had recording those demos- took it on full time and one new member- Goose, who we found on youtube- came on board) and have been gigging and writing as a full band ever since.We just released our debut record Suprœ, which is our first full-length and really the first body of music we've released that consisted purely of collaboration between the 5 members of Time King.
I guess I'm sharing all of that because I think it's sort of cool that I could maintain a musical project (at least the parts that didn't involve live music) with someone who regularly swapped between living 200 (when at Berklee) and 2000 (when at home in Cali) miles away from me. It's a relatively new phenomenon. I mean... even as little as 10-15 years ago it would have been super difficult to (reliably) jam over the internet via video chat and collaborate on songs or compositions by sending digital sessions back and forth.