It’s fair to say that King Kong Jane is one of my favourite S-ROCK bands. I first met the guys back in 2007 when I interviewed them for Baybeats Festival that year – when they were still in school – and since then, it’s always been great to chat with the individual members whenever we’d run across each other at gigs and the like. So from interview subjects to good friends, I have been keen to always follow their progress and it’s a proud moment for me to see them fulfilling their early promise with an excellent debut album – Waiting For Friday. I met the guys (on a Friday!) where we conducted the interview, which was ultimately published in TODAY. As always with a 600 word limit, the piece can never tell the full story. So… here’s the unedited interview in its complete glory…(I hope I attributed the quotes to the right names, though)
What does King Kong Jane – the band – stand for or mean to you?
(long pregnant pause)
Ian – For me, simply put, it’s just a group of guys playing music, what we like, something we enjoy. I don’t have high hopes – ‘world peace’ – it’s just us, playing music that we like to play.
Renquan – Personally, it represents my life where I can stay sane and do something I really like especially when you’re much older when a lot of practical things start setting in, like earning a living. But I think having this part of me, makes me happy – I still have a passion I can pursue. It represents a part of us that didn’t really grow up or get jaded in the rat race. We’ve had this (the band) for so many years and we’ve still doing it!
Colin (who for once is initially speechless!) – For me, I’m someone who loves performing and I’m very glad that we’re still doing what we’re doing because it gives me an outlet to express myself: be it writing lyrics or singing or even band marketing and promotion. It gives me an additional creative outlet that I may not be able to find in other aspects of my life.
What are the artistic or musical principles that King Kong Jane stand by?
(even longer pause)
Ruishen – Obviously we will not write songs in a musical format that we don’t believe in and we don’t like.
Ian – Yes true! We don’t follow trends.
Ruishen – We don’t like, hey this song is very in recently so let’s play something exactly like that. We always agree on everything. Everyone must be ‘okay’ with the songs – you may not like it but you must be ‘okay’ with it.
Ian – Consensus I think is fairly important. I think we’re quite democratic.
Colin – A good hook?! Like, when we know a chorus isn’t right, then the song is out.
Ian – If it offends any of our musical inclinations, we tend to voice it out.
Jianpeng – All of five of us have very different musical tastes. Recently, I told Ian about an Avril Lavigne song that I liked and the response wasn’t very positive!
Ian – I agreed that it was a very good hook!
Jianpeng – Okay whatever!
Ian – Things like that in general, we always find that common ground.
Jianpeng – It’s just what we want to express through our music to people outside. Maybe Colin will write about motivational stuff like ‘hang in there’ and ‘life is tough’. There is no general guideline or direction – whatever comes to our mind and whatever all 5 of us can agree on.
Ruishen – I think someone once called us ‘unpretentious’ and I think we subconsciously try to stay grounded, be it the lyrics or the tunes.
When you go into the recording studio, are all the song already laid out?
Ruishen – Yes, all the song structures are done before recording. Otherwise, we don’t go into the recording studio.
What was the process like, recording Waiting For Friday?
Jianpeng – All the songs were recorded at one shot within a one-year period which was a bit painful!
Colin – I found it very difficult to record my voice in the studio. It was weird because I have performed before big crowds and I’ll be totally fine but in the studio, at the start it was very difficult. My voice did not sound the way I wanted it. I only hit my stride from the middle point onwards. That was a challenge I did not foresee. When we did tracking, it felt weird, like we were doing ‘K-Box’ or something. We were very new to the recording process but we were in good hands with Leonard (Soosay of Snakeweed Studios) who definitely knows what he’s doing.
Now that you have the album in your hands, what do you feel?
Everyone – Very ‘emo’.
Colin – The albums were delivered to my place a few days ago – it felt very good and rewarding. We have been thinking – “are we ever going to get this done?” It did get to the point where we’re were getting tired of people asking about when the album would be out. Our day jobs got in the way certainly.
Being indie, we don’t have a label pushing us to come out with the album so.…we took our own sweet time, for better or worse. And because of that, now that it’s finally out, we’ve been working pretty hard in the last few months. It vindicates that a lot. One thing that a friend said – “Once you have an album, it’s always gonna be there – like a legacy.” That’s something I find a lot of comfort in.
Jianpeng – We’ve been working on this album for so many years that sometimes we felt that it was hindering our progress forward and now we can move on..
Colin – … to our darker second album
Do you feel ready to take on the world, now that the album is out?
Colin – One step at a time (laughter). In a sense I think it’s very funny. We’ve been around for 5-6 years and yet even though we’ve not released any album, some people regard us as a veteran band. Someone referred to us as ‘indie stalwarts’! It’s a very interesting place to be: 5-6 years of gigging but our debut album is only out now – we feel like experienced newcomers and because there has been no physical CD out the people who attend local gigs can only get so much. Even on FB when I’m posting songs now, it’s so interesting to see many friends hearing our songs for the first time, even though many of the songs (like If It Wasn’t For You) has been around for years! The album will definitely help us to reach out to a wider audience and in that sense, I do feel quite ready to take on the world.
Waiting For Friday is available at all HMV and Gramophone stores.