Alt-Rock Florida-Based Rising Band KINGS COUNTY Discuss Their Debut Album and More!
Get to know the Orlando, Florida-based high energy rock band, Kings County! Along with their strong cover material, they deliver hard hitting original rock. Last year, they won the iheart radio original music contest for their song/video “Take it or Leave it” opening some great artists as such as Bon Jovi and Ted Nugent.
More recently, last week on September 27th, they released their debut full-length album. The collection’s first single was “Blood Stained Adrenaline.” According to Kings County vocalist/bassist Rob Dexter, “This album has been a long time in the making. It’s a labor of love and we are proud to put our name on it. We’re really looking forward to having it reach the masses, one person at a time.”
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Learn more about Kings County in the following All Access interview:
Thanks for your time! What is on tap for the rest of your day?
It’s just another day in the life of a working musician. There’s no clocking in and out, it’s a 24/7 job. The day of just singing or playing an instrument is over. You have to wear a lot of hats in this business if you want to survive. Multitasking is an understatement. I’ve even booked a show while waiting in line at a theme park. The more facets of the business you understand the better you will be equipped to handle the chaos. Oh, and you better be a damn good musician. So as to your asking, for the rest of my day I will be doing…everything.
Now that we are into the 9th month of the year, how would you say that 2019 has treated this band? What have been some goals this group has had this year? How close are you to reaching them? What are you already excited about for 2020?
2019 has been an amazing and productive year for Kings County. Things really kind of started even back before then in the spring of 2018 when we had the opportunity to open for Bon Jovi here in Orlando, FL. One of our songs won the iHeart radio music contest for original music and that propelled us in front of a lot of people. Our debut album was a year in the making from start to finish. We started tracking songs in the summer of 2018 and the CD went to print right around a year later this past August. We really weren’t concerned with the time. We just wanted to release the most focused and strongest material we possibly could and we feel we achieved that goal. But now the real work begins, getting it heard and available to the masses.
If 2020 is anything like this year, we will be in great shape. We recently acquired a great publicist and radio promotion firm to help propel the band to the next level. We currently tour the southeast U.S. and hopefully we will be able to grab some opening slots with nationals along the way. Touring and performing your music is the reward for all the headaches of the business. It’s a great way to make new fans.
Can you recall the moment when you thought you could be in this group together? Was it hard to think of a name that you could all agree on?
One of the strengths of this band is that three of us – myself (Rob Dexter), vocalist/ guitarist Steve Bell and guitarist Bill Kania – have played together for years. You can’t go to the music store and buy tightness. It truly showed in our live performances, and was validated by comments we constantly heard after a performance.
The band started in New York before we moved to Orlando to perform for Disney. We wanted to keep the New York theme in the name of the band; that was our roots and where we cut our teeth in becoming established musicians. We then decided to go with the name Kings County that is the county of Brooklyn, NY. We had gone through a few drummers before we acquired drummer Joe Lopez from Tampa, FL. Being in a band is absolutely a team sport and Joe’s chops and passion for music filled our missing position perfectly.
How do you think your hometown has influenced the sound and how you all carry yourselves in this group? If not, what do you think does influence this group?
Although the band is based in Orlando and this area is a great live music town, the core of the band developed its sound and attitude in New York. Myself and guitarist Bill Kania had a chance to do a lot of writing together when we were musicians for illusionist Criss Angel. We created a lot of the music that Criss would perform his illusions to with a full live band and the music was pretty kick ass. Long Island was a great avenue to create music and develop our sound and that’s where we met vocalist/guitarist Steve Bell. We were always huge fans of the rock bands from the 90’s, raw powerful guitars with hooky melodic vocals and that’s what guided us in our writing process infused with our own distinct style.
I’d love to know more about what it is like being the house band at Disney World? How did this opportunity come to this group? Were you all already big fans of all things Disney before getting this job?
How we obtained the Disney World gig is a pretty strange story. We were performing a show in Mt. Snow, Vermont when someone approached us saying they were with Disney management and asked if we’d be interested in auditioning for their live music venue, Pleasure Island. None of us even heard of Pleasure Island, but we took his business card anyway, then kind of forgot about it. A few months later, we got a call from an agent that handled the booking for Disney and set up an audition in Orlando. If you want to audition for Disney you have to get there on your own dime. You better be confident you’ll make some noise otherwise it would have been a waste of a trip. We performed for maybe 15 minutes in front of 3 people with clipboards straight out of the “Back to the Future” movie. We didn’t hear anything for a year until we got a call about playing one night at Pleasure Island. Luckily, we were able to line up other shows in Florida to make the one Disney gig worthwhile. One gig turned into 5, which turned into a whole month for spring back, and eventually we were offered the house band position. One great thing about playing for Disney is they never told us what we could play or not play. As long as we didn’t cuss or sing about anything subjective they were cool with it. It was the greatest gig to reach fans worldwide. Instead of the band touring, the audience came to you and we created a strong fan base. Isn’t everyone a fan of Disney? some people more then others but working for a corporation like them you’re pretty much guaranteed that their checks won’t bounce.
Let’s talk about your most recent music. What has been inspiring your songs lately? Do you have plans to release a new album anytime soon?
The majority of our songs are based around real life experiences, real situations that anyone can relate to. We touch on the struggles of relationships, drug abuse and finding one’s own inner strength. Even with the darker subject matter we always try to give the listener a way out, a way to become stronger in the face of adversity. We are pleased to announce that we will be releasing our debut album on September 27. They say you have your whole life to make your first album, and we feel we’ve created some powerful music with infectious hooks that will hopefully grab the attention of the masses.
Generally, how do you guys go about writing your music? Do you write together or separately? What is the first step in your music-making process?
Our writing process is a collective effort. We all contribute ideas we feel will enhance the raw beginning stage of the song and focus and what we think is the strongest. Steve Bell and myself write most of the lyrics. My writing process begins with a song subject and a strong memorable hook. People tend to remember a melody first before they learn the lyrics so a strong melodic chorus is always a great place to start. One great thing about access to the Internet is it easy to exchange song ideas between band members speeding along the writing process. We all have home studios where we can track ideas and share them quickly with each other. We then get together as a band and play them live to feel what works and what doesn’t work.
I always like to ask bands if you all hang out socially apart from the music? In other words, when you aren’t working on music, do you guys enjoy hanging out for fun?
Part of making a great band is the relationship you have outside of the music. If you have a strong bond with each other personally it will make for an even stronger connection musically. We are like brothers…maybe brothers who argue and disagree, but there is always that respect for each other in the end. So yes, we do sometimes spend time together outside of music, whether it’s holidays, birthdays, etc.
How do you feel that this band has grown through the years? What has remained the same?
This is a great question, and an important one. Growing as a band is an important part of its success. Without change you wither and die. The band has grown in our constant writing and with that you become better songwriters. You also have to embrace technology. Nowadays social media and the Internet are a crucial part of expanding a new band into new markets. There’s always time to learn new ideas, learn what to do and what not to do. The constant that has always remained is our drive to succeed. Failure is not an option. We continue to knock on doors and maybe, if necessary, kick a few in.
Where do you think you are all happiest- in the studio recording new music, on stage performing or elsewhere?
We’re definitely happiest when we’re performing live. We do enjoy the creative part of writing and recording, but the big payoff of working months and months on material is performing your music in front of a live audience. Touring and selling merchandise in today’s music industry is the best way to generate revenue. There’s nothing better than playing a new song live for the first time. You never know how a song will go over from venue to venue and audience to audience. Sometimes you’re surprised by which songs work and which songs don’t.
What do you think makes for an ideal show for this band? What have been some of your favorite shows and venues over the years?
Our years of playing for Disney made us a great live band. We learned early on that people listen with their eyes and performing on some of Disney’s biggest stages and we made certain we were going to give people a show. We’ve been fortunate to play with some great bands. Recently we opened for Bon Jovi at The Amway Center and Ted Nugent at The Plaza Live, both here in Orlando, FL. I must say, arenas to me aren’t the best place to perform live music, sound-wise. But when you are playing in front of 20,000 people, it’s pretty intense. I always enjoy the smaller venues cause there’s a more personal connection with the audience and smaller venues acoustically just sound better. While playing for Disney, we also played with some other great acts such as Foreigner, Styx and Joan Jett.
Do you have a Fall Tour scheduled yet? Where can fans see you perform next?
We constantly perform all year round. On average we play 160 shows a year so anyone interested in seeing the band live can access our website or our social media platforms and view all of our tour dates.
How has social media impacted this band? How often are you all on your different sites interacting with fans? How have you been able to utilize it through the years?
Back in the day before the Internet and before social media, it was nearly impossible for up-and-coming bands to get their music out to new fans. I remember the day when you had to put a CD, a promo pic and a bio in an envelope and mail it out throughout the world. Not only was that time consuming but costly and there were never guarantees your package would even make it to its destination especially overseas. Now social media lets you target potential fans you wouldn’t have had the ability to reach previously. The whole band feels it is important to have a personal connection with the fans on social media. If someone goes out of their way to send a message they are guaranteed we will answer back. That is crucial in building a strong fan base.
We are currently living through a very trying and politically charged time right now so I am curious to know how you all think being musicians and in this band still gives you the most joy in life today? Do you find that your music is an escape to all the current events?
I would have to agree that the country is going through some trying times. It’s unfortunate that we are so politically split and that puts a strain on us as Americans. People need outlets away from all of that and a great release is listening to music and seeing a live band. Creating and performing music is a passion for the entire band. It’s pretty amazing when someone comes up to you and mentions that one of your songs helped them through a tough time. It’s such a rewarding feeling. People need an escape and hopefully listening to a song or rocking out with us for 90 mins will put them in a better place. That is the true pay off of playing in a band and being a musician.
What musicians have really been inspiring you all since you first started making music?
We all have a pretty eclectic mix of musical inspirations and it’s not all what people would think a rock band would say. When we were kids growing up, Steve Bell and myself were fans of trumpet player Herb Albert and the Beatles. We also, as very young musicians, gravitated to a lot of the super groups back in the 70’s such as Aerosmith, Boston, Black Sabbath, Rush and Led Zeppelin, arena rock at its best when bands were looked up to like super heroes and still are even today.
What do you hope is the message of your music? What do you hope people continue to take away from your songs?
I’m glad you asked that question, because you mentioned the word twice: “hope.” Without hope, you have nothing. Some of our songs may have a darker side to them – real life, real struggles – but there’s always a way out. There’s always the light at the end of the tunnel and that’s what we hope people take away from our songs.