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King Lizzard

 
 

A Tribe of Noise Spotlight Interview with the Stanley Kubrick of music.

 

On King Lizzard’s website you will find:

Born and raised in Detroit, MI, in the sixties. Became very infused with Motown. Was in Detroit during the 1967 riots.
Born to country music songwriter and performer, Johnny Colmus. Johnny Colmus had is own television show in Michigan, wrote songs for Loretta Lynn and played for Patsy Cline.
He was raised by his grandparents and spent most of childhood in a wheelchair after a car accident.

But when did King Lizzard start, what has been his biggest surprise/lesson along the way and what is he working on right now?

 

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… and listen to more of King Lizzard’s music at the bottom

 
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What got you started?

I have a long history of musicians in my family, going all the way back to the 16th century where my great grandfather 11 times removed, Niklaus LaPointe, played in the court of Louis XVI. My father was a very successful country western star who wrote songs for Loretta Lynn, Ernest Tubb, Little Jimmy Dickens, performed at the Grand Ol' Oprey, had his own TV show and played for Patsy Cline. Most of my aunts, uncles and cousins are established musicians. So, theres a lot of music in my blood. My uncle introduced me to classical music, which I still have a great love for.

As a kid I really loved Paul Revere and the Raiders; I loved their costumes, their dance moves, their pony tails, their hard rock sound and screaming vocals. And that was back in 1967. But it was listening to Yes' "Roundabout" at Guitar Center in 1973 that made me determine that that's the thing I wanted to do. I put together my first band, a heavy metal band, Grand Cross, in 1977. Since then I've assembled Legacy, Living Karma, and King Lizzard's Hearts of Darkness Band.

 

What has changed since you started out?

Making music has gotten a lot more accessible to the masses. Back in the 70s when I cut some demo songs you had to borrow $200 and book time in a recording studio. That $200 would get you one song of medium quality. Then you would have to hawk it around to get recognised. You would have to pester the local radio stations in the hopes they would play your record once, maybe at 2 in the morning.

Now, for $80 you can get pretty decent recording software, with all kinds of loops so you don't have to know how to play any instrument. Then when you're done, you post it on the internet where millions of people can access it. Internet radio is easy to get on. People don't really need major labels anymore, you can distribute your music yourself. Downside of that is, we've got a hell of a glut of crappy music clogging the internet. There's no floodgate anymore. And the chances of making good money are like someone winning the lottery.

 
 
 
 
 

What has been the biggest surprise/lesson along the way?

That being a rock star isn't nearly as fun as it looks. I was signed to a major label in the 80s. Got to meet a lot of big name stars. But, imagine being on a tour bus 12-15 hours a day that smells like cigarette smoke, pot, farts and old french fries, driving endlessly to get to a gig. You get to the gig, which they all look alike. You play your show. You go backstage, schmooze with the fans and press, go to your room, then get up early to get back on the same smelly tour bus. People all want to be your friend and want something from you, people are always giving you their demo tapes, and your life really isn't your own. But the couple of hours that you're on stage seems to make it all worth while; no other feeling in the world.

 

What would you do if you were not doing this/making music?

I've always enjoyed making films. In college I was a film major and planned to go to USC film school. I'm one of those film school guys who never quite made it in the movie business. Music is a lot more accessible, and cheaper, than making films. I don't know...maybe I'd be an accountant for the Air Force.

 

Do you have advice for other musicians?

Get ready for a rough road. Unless you're a miraculous player, singer or songwriter, brace yourself for a lot of rejection and hard knocks. But if making music is what you would bet all of your money on, stick with it, don't get sidetracked, practice your ass off, and develop as many contacts as humanly possible. But most important: Don't fall for people or websites who say they will make you famous if you give them money. Those are evil people who feed on artist's dreams.

 
 
 
 
 

What are you working on right now?

The closest famous artist that I can be compared to is David Bowie. Over the years I changed my look, my musical style, I reinvented my vocal style and songwriting. I've done heavy metal albums, just released an electronic dance music album, I'm also working on a surf guitar EP, as well as blues, latin jazz, psychedelia and good old arena rock. I haven't toured in quite some time, so I spend a lot of time in my personal studio experimenting with different sounds and styles. I love ethereal sounds, I would say psychedelic is my favourite music genre.

I tried putting together another performing band, a power trio, but it just didn't work out, so I'll be writing and recording for a while. It's hard to pin down my genre, so that’s why I categorise myself as an Experimental Art Rock musician.

 
 
 

Listen to more of King Lizzard’s Music

 
 
 
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Like to learn more about King Lizzard?

Check King Lizzard’s online presence!