Interview: King Charles (DW is 5! Special)

This interview was originally published in Issue #10, DW is 5! Special, December 2009.

DrunkenWerewolf’s Tiffany Daniels talks to King Charles, the musician, not the monarch, about his ambitious ethos, life on holiday and going down well in the Midlands.

King Charles I was a notorious British monarch who married a Catholic princess during a time of religious unrest, challenged the authority of the Parliament of England and advocated his Divine Right: a stature that promoted Royalty to the same superiority as God. Executed on March 27th 1625, his reign will forever be associated with the British Civil War, led by Puritan Oliver Cromwell. This is not said King Charles, this is King Charles the London musician, famed for his lyrical exploits, and maintaining balance on an electric skateboard in the video for “Early Thoughts of Final Days”: “I just stood on it, I wasn't actually moving, the world was…whizzing past me!”

Clearly the man is talented. Defying the laws of mobility aside, he’s taken the challenge of a generation under his wing:

“I want our generation to be remembered,” he claims, “we are in the historically unique position of having more forms of communication and information at our fingertips than ever before, and these opportunities can be used to enormous effect. I’m not talking about an anarchistic generation, or even a political generation, but the generation who value values. A dignified, honest, stable, compassionate, creative, generous and fearless generation who above all are united by their love for each other is the kind of generation that will be remembered and one that I want to be part of. This would be a loud generation, a rebellious generation, a party generation, a rock’n’roll generation.”
Far from the preaching of an arrogant Royalist, this is the talk of a 21st Century Cromwell; favoring creativity over religion, the goal is bombastic but ultimately achievable, and King Charles seems set to oversee the proceedings at every possible turn, starting with “gathering as many people as I can under one roof and getting them all to say hello to each other”. Great things come after small steps, after all.
After signing to Mi7 Records, on May 16th King Charles released debut single “Time of Eternity” to critical acclaim: Hugh Stevens, Rob Da Bank and Zane Low all aired the single and the release made a minor dent on the independent record chart. When asked what compelled him to choose the single as a debut, Charles explains, “It seemed to make sense. I felt it was quite punchy - a good opener, and I felt it represented what I was doing and what I want to do [in the future].”

Follow up “Love Lust”, released October 26th, earned the singer-songwriter a slot on the BBC music website and sent bloggers raving in his direction. As with “Time of Eternity”, the song blends a folk mentality with alternative rock and to-the-point lyrics; the launch night was “good. I had the time of my life. My trousers fell down, I couldn’t get them back on or off, and it became a bit of a hazard. Great support acts, rowdy crowd, chicks, dudes, and a giraffe. I looked pretty awesome”.

It was his festival appearances, however, that really caught the nation’s heart: with Glastonbury’s BBC Introducing stage, Field Day and Camp Bestival all under his belt, he admits, “I tend to enjoy the small countryside festivals the most. The ones that have a birthday party feel to them. I love Glastonbury though. I would love to play Benicassim, I would love to play a giant festival, only for giants, and beer festivals are usually pretty jokes. Foreign festivals got me going last year.”

To top his own bill, during the summer Charles went on tour with Mumford & Sons, who are notably more folk in sound: “there is definitely [a noticeable difference in the kind of music people in a particular region like],” he muses, “to generalize everyone, it seems [the audience] are harder in the North; softer in the South.  We went down great in the Midlands.”

Before this epic journey into the realm of single releases and touring, Charles took a preemptive rest, which he describes with a Blaise Pascal quote:

Nothing is so intolerable to man as being fully at rest, without a passion, without business, without entertainment, without care.

“I wasn't necessarily the man in the state that Blaise Pascal describes here,” King Charles asserts, “But that is the kind of 'rest' I was talking about. I think one can have passion but not act passionately, have business but be bored, have entertainment and not be entertained, have a care, but not actually be caring. It takes time to give passion, business etc. a direction and purpose. You can't relate to someone's thoughts, only the expression of those thoughts, and that is what takes a while to articulate. I spent a bit of time at University, some time in London with different bands, and some time in Africa.”

However, he thinks that “travelling is a strong word; I tend to go on holiday! Though I have done some 'aggressive travelling'. I think in a way it probably did influence my approach to music because it affected my approach to life: there were cultures that I wanted to be part of, animals that I wanted to be and people I was impressed and inspired by.”

He was particularly motivated to “see what was going on in the rest of the world. No one seemed that active so I came home, anyway all I really did was sit on beaches, ride motorbikes, chase girls (along the beach and on motorbikes) and write in a diary about how much I missed my darling Mother!”

Of the future, Charles is unusually coy: “there are Big Plans! But I’m not telling,” and then in an unprovoked return to form, “we’re going on tour a lot next year, releasing an album, and then [I plan to] retire and party”.

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