MuzicNotez: First off, it’s an honor to be doing this interview with you, thanks for taking the time to sit down with us.
Introduce yourselves, what are your names and rolls in the band?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Well thank you, I’m glad I can be here to represent the band (Pete Juzl)
Steve Counsell, lead vocals and guitars
Pete Juzl, guitars
Dave Smaylen, Drums
Brian Richards, Bass guitar
Simon Moth, keyboards
Jenny Curtis, Backing Vocals
MuzicNotez: How did you meet and form up? How long have you been together?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: I (Pete) moved to Worcestershire from London 7 years ago, having just finished an intense three year album project with a great singer called Orson Deimal. I was expecting to take a break from music and spend more time customising motorcycles. But I got a message from Dave after he saw an internet advert I had put up some time before, looking for people to jam with. I had no intention of getting back into live playing at the time. However, Dave got in contact with Steve and Brian, both of whom he had played in previous bands with, and it just clicked. Dave and Brian have been a rhythm section together for a long time so that just works. Steve and I found that our guitar styles just seemed to interweave really nicely, and our songwriting styles, both individually and collaboratively, suit each other too. Everyone seems to bring just what’s needed to the material. It’s an absolutely natural process which is the strength of the band. During a particularly busy summer of festivals in 2019 we were looking for a backing vocalist. When Jenny joined, she mentioned her partner was an accomplished keyboard player. We became a 6 piece. Once again, those two just fit the band right from the off.
MuzicNotez: How did you come up with the name Kings of the Quarter Mile? What does it mean to you?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Kings of the quarter Mile refers to drag car racing. I grew up being a bit of a petrol head, because I didn’t really get on with the normal sport culture. My Dad used to take me to watch motor racing from a young age just because we both enjoyed it. We used to go and watch drag racing at Santa Pod and as a kid I used to obsess over custom car magazines. The hotrod and drag racing community is hot bed of can-do spirit, and crazy artistic talent mixed with intense engineering skills. It’s a deep “low brow” culture and that kind of appealed – it comes from the same roots as rock and roll. It’s also a trans-Atlantic thing like the music. The imagery seemed to suit what the band was trying to do, and the phrase is obscure enough to either have people wondering or bringing their own spin to it.
MuzicNotez: Who were your musical influences, idols, or bands growing up that have helped mold you into the band you are today? Or helped mold the music that you create?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: I think for the four core members we all have a grounding in classic rock, blues and in Brian’s case, jazz. We all grew up listening to the greats from the late 60s to 70’s. Plus we’ve all had different journeys building on that. I grew up on a diet of Led Zep, Thin Lizzy, Bob Dylan and so on. There’s a lot of eclectism in the band, I’ve been involved in everything from New Wave to Funk to Trip Hop, even though my roots are in rock and blues. The others are similarly broad in their influences. Brian is a jazz journeyman, Simon and Jenny bring some different flavours to the mix, from the nineties and so on. However, what unites the band is shared love for rootsy rock with a tinge of soul, pop, or country, and that’s really a rich field at the moment, but also runs all the way back to the 70’s. Although it gets labelled Americana it also includes a lot of British talent too, like the Faces, Nick Lowe, or Elvis Costello or Mark Knoplfer. Tom Petty, Sturgill Simpson, The Black Crowes, Jason Isbell, Little Feat, these are the sounds that inspired the band. That’s the kind of center ground for us. But you know, several of us are massive Steely Dan fans, so it’s a real mix.
MuzicNotez: What’s the greatest concert you’ve ever been to or performed?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: In terms of going to concerts it’s impossible for me to just single one out, where would I start, Miles Davis? The Black Crowes? Pat Metheney? Derek Trucks?
In terms of our band’s performances, we’ve had the most fun in the smaller festivals – the Upton Blues Festival was a highlight for us. Keeping around a 100 people away from the main stage for almost two hours, when you’re playing strictly original material is a good feeling.
MuzicNotez: What’s the ultimate goal you want your music to achieve, or for you to achieve in your career as a band? Any particular message you wish to send?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Our goal is simple, to keep writing and playing great songs, and getting them to as many people as possible. We’re not building a career, we earn our money away from music. We write, play, record, and perform because we love it so much we have to do it. My message would be, if you like what we do, please tell people about it.
MuzicNotez: Your latest release is the album ‘Whatever It Takes Is What I’ve Got’. This is your second album, what does this release mean to you? How does it differ from the first album?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Our first record, Only Dark Horses had a nice spontaneous raw feel to it. We were a brand-new band and that meant high energy but also some rough edges. With Whatever It Takes it feels like we’ve grown into the band. It’s allowed us to be more experimental, and maybe a little more sophisticated in writing and in production, but without losing the energy. It makes a big difference bringing keyboards and a second voice to the party too.
MuzicNotez: Not only has the pandemic and covid hit the entertainment industry hard, but I think it’s especially tricky for bands like yours, which rely more on live shows. How have you had to adapt and overcome?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Well we are suffering as a band, no doubt. We’ve been unable to rehearse much and there’s been no gigs and that hurts. The lockdown kind of inspired the album title – we have had some personal challenges we’ve met head on, and we’ve seen everyone around us just rise to the challenges too, so the title celebrates that. We are just starting to get some offers now from venues getting ready for the end of lockdown so we are getting happy! Luckily we were able to spend a lot of time finishing the album at home during lockdown. We captured the raw songs at The Old Smithy studios before the lockdown. Then we were able to spend time in our home studios working on overdubs, mixing and mastering for release. Promoting and distributing the record kept us busy too.
MuzicNotez: What else are you working on? What can we expect to see and hear from you in the future?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Well we’re going to be publishing some gig dates as soon as they get confirmed, and we are constantly song writing. I would hope we would be gigging again by mid to late summer. There will definitely be a third album in the pipeline, but I would guess that would come after we properly forge the new material in the fires of a few gigs!
MuzicNotez: Anything else you wish to say about yourself or your music? Any message for your fans?
- Kings of the Quarter Mile: Just a big thank you to everyone who has supported us at gigs, bought our records or followed on kotqm.bandcamp.com, streamed us or downloaded us on Spotify and all the platforms, followed us and commented on social media. That’s what we’re here for, to get the music to people whether on a festival stage, or two feet in front of you in a bar.