About…King Ibex – (interview 08/08/2019)

King Ibex are a three-piece alternative rock band hailing from Newport/Monmouth with a penchant for uncompromising, out and out rock songs. In May this year they released their self-titled debut album, a product of years of writing and jamming.

I caught up with guitarist/vocalist Michael Buffery and bassist/vocalist Tom Jayne in what can legitimately be called a regular feature (two in as many weeks!) to discuss the album, their upcoming headline show in Le Pub on Sat August 24 and to be amused by a Robert De Niro impersonation.

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Alistair Morgan (drums), Tom Jayne (bass/vocals), Mike Buffery (Guitar/vocals)

AS: Firstly, Mike & Tom, thanks for joining me for the second About Sound “live” interview, I’ve got a couple of questions to ask, but we’ll see what happens!

You released your debut album in May this year. Did you already have an idea of how you wanted it to sound before you started writing it?
Tom: Natural and clean – a lot of stuff now is heavily compressed and over produced. We love modern albums but some of the older stuff sounds so much clearer. Songs came quite steadily over a couple of months of writing and the rock sound is something that we didn’t have to push…I guess it just appeals to all three of us

AS: Do the 3 band members have similar musical tastes, or is your sound built from a mix of interests?
Mike: There’s common ground for sure, but the three of us have very different backgrounds. Tom is more from an old prog rock sensibility, Alistair is from a metal background and I learned from early 90’s grunge rock bands.

Tom: Some bands we all love, but we do have our own tastes, IDLES are a great example of a band we all love and probably for different reasons. I was also surprised to see “Trick of the Tail” by Genesis in Mike’s vinyl collection – I think I’ve played it more than he has haha

AS: Agreed, IDLES are great! Aside from having inspiring songs, they are proof that hard work really can pay off!

Tell me a bit about the writing process, do you write as a unit, or do you write separately and show each other what you’ve come up with?

Mike: Bit of both with the writing, we tend to jam in the live room for the majority of the initial riffs and song ideas, more specific parts like lyrics or guitar solos we tend to come with on our own. We haven’t yet had a situation where someone has shown up to rehearsal with an entire song and says “THIS IS IT”. It’s a proper band effort.

Tom: Yeah it’s totally a mixed bag; Al writes more than his fair share of lyrics too (“Broken”, “Crooks of the Commons”)… I’ll leave out the drummer jokes. It didn’t matter what came first either, some lyrical ideas started the music & melodies. Some melodies had lyrics were shoehorned in.

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Self-titled debut album cover

AS: Lyrics are clearly important to you. Songs such as “Crooks of the Commons”, “Westminster Daydream” and the last song (my favourite track on the album) “Ballot” show you have a political edge. Do you intend to write politically or is it impossible to ignore?

Tom: There’s definitely a political tone, I think it’s reflective of the climate at the moment and what’s been on our minds the last couple of years. I turned up to the rehearsal studio to meet Al & Mike for the first just after Trump got in to office at the back-end of 2016. It probably laid the foundations to a couple of songs although I don’t think any of us had that intention or had written like it before, but they’re some of our proudest lyrics now.

Mike: Some of the songs have got more personal themes too, “Graveyard Shift” comes to mind. The songs are like a snapshot of our lives during the making of the album which I find really cool.

AS: I’ve seen you describe your music as visceral, what is your interpretation of this and how that translate on stage for live performances?

Tom: Well Mike burnt through a Vox during the album sessions and we were sent out to Cardiff to get new snare skins for Al after only three hits. We’re pretty aggressive with our live sound.

Mike: Lyrically we’re not hiding anything, there’s no bullshit. We also rehearse & record at full whack and it’s a force to behold. When we were recording the ending to “Ballot” the walls of the studio were shaking like crazy at 4am and that seems to be an element that some bands are missing these days. The emotional response from something truly loud and powerful.

Tom: And you can’t have crap melodies at that volume haha

AS: Yeah, it sounds like you’re about to take off on “Ballot”, it really is a great way to end any album!

Band names is something I’m a little obsessed with and will always ask about. How did the King Ibex come about? It sounds powerful (there’s nothing meek about an Ibex), which compliments the music…

Tom: Well you wouldn’t exactly wanna fight one would ya? They’re the king of the mountains! We were looking for something unique and short and the bands we’d been in previously were constantly mispronounced. I walked on to a gig introduced as Inverness one night and the Innovators the next so you know…
And to quote the most famous from Teignmouth “It looks good on a poster”

AS: Before I ruined the flow and crow-barred that last question, we were getting onto live performance. You’re making your first appearance at Le Pub on Saturday August 24th as headliners. It’s going to be special, right?

Tom: Oh yeah, we’re sat in here in now having a couple of pints (cue photo of a pint making me just a little bit envious)

Mike: We’re all super excited as we’ve been waiting to play these tracks live for a while. And as it’s a hometown headline show, we can bring every piece of gear we want to get the vibe just right. Having artists as great as Windshake & Ollie P as support is also gonna make the show awesome.

Tom: Ollie Powell I’ve known for like 5 years, he’s such a brilliant songwriter and master of first take recording – we caught up with him in MonUsk (fantastic Newport Tapas bar) the other day and he’s only got better. He was so good Mike seemed to be doing a Robert De Niro impression all night…
Windshake I’ve heard great things and will be cool to meet the lads – their sound is quite reminiscent of early Floyd

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Mike shows his appreciation of Ollie Powell with his De Niro impersonation

AS: I love early Floyd. As great as they got when he left, it’s always Syd era I go back to!

Is it the first gig since the release of the album and do you have any more lined up?

Mike: Yeah, we decided it was better to have an album to band behind (forgive the pun) before hitting the live scene. Allowed us to really get our sound together better than if we just went out and played half-finished songs. We’ve got a few shows lined up that we’re waiting to announce. We’re also hoping to do a mini tour across the border in the new year or perhaps sooner.

AS: A tour sounds great. Make sure you’ve got your merch to go!
Tom: T-Shirts are landing tomorrow and will be on sale at KingIbex.com and at shows of course

AS: What does the next couple of years hold for King Ibex? Do you have a plan or is it a case of seeing where it all takes you?

Mike: We’ve written so many songs we would have loved to have had on this album, we have more than enough for the next album ready now. It’s hard to record as fast as we write, which is not a bad problem to have!

Tom: We’re deffo pushing forward – we officially launched in May this year so it’s still early stages

AS: Mike/Tom, thanks for your time this evening, I’ve very much enjoyed exploring the dynamics of King Ibex. I’m looking forward to the gig on the 24th and I’ll be sure not to stand too close to the speakers!

King Ibex headline Le Pub a week Saturday (24th), their first gig since the recording of their debut album. Tickets are just £3, you can get them here; it promises to be fun and loud…very loud.

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