Opening Salvo

28 June 2012 | 6:26 pm | Tyler McLoughlan

The amazingly strong group dynamic of King Cannons is certainly understood when Yeoward explains that each of the band members have the same crown tattoo that adorns their throat, though the lyrical journey for The Brightest Light was a deeply personal one for the straight-shooting frontman.

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Hitting up Europe for a 17-date tour may seem low on the list of priorities for most bands yet to release a debut album, though for Melbourne's King Cannons it was simply a bonus by-product of the blood, sweat and years dedicated to their rock'n'roll career.    

“We were supporting [German punk outfit The Broilers] for the first couple of weeks. They'd heard of us somehow, they called us up, invited us over to do the tour with them and we were just like, 'Yeah sure, we'll come and do a bunch of sold-out shows with you. That sounds terrible!'” says frontman Luke Yeoward sarcastically upon his return last month. “I guess years and years of makin' a racket [and] workin' your arse off kind of pays off with things like that.

“We were playing to anywhere between 1500-2000 people each night. We were playing six nights a week over three weeks in different towns. The hospitality was amazing, the shows were huge, the crowds were really excited and well-received and it was a really, really good way to first tour Europe. I'm really excited because we've got the [debut album The Brightest Light] coming out simultaneously now on June 22 all across Europe as well as Australia and New Zealand all through EMI, so it's really positive for us.”

Thankfully, this most recent European experience was far more successful for the Kiwi expats than their first attempt to infiltrate the market.

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“We had the idea that we wanted to move to England, to get out of New Zealand and to do something different, and so in mid-2008 half the band moved over to England. And we were thinking the rest of the band wouldfollow shortly after, but we found out once we were already over there that half the band got denied their visas unfortunately,” Yeoward says.

Throwing away all the time, effort and cash spent to set up in the UK, the six-piece spent a year apart before regrouping in Melbourne.

“We all lived together and jammed every night, started bookin' our own gigs again, got our own recordings, toured around the country and just tried to network and stuff. We landed a record deal with EMI after about a year's work and makin' enough of a racket in Australia. So here we are with our first full-length record, which is pretty bloody awesome after all that rigmarole and time and ups and downs, all that shit.

“We just made do,” Yeoward continues of the decision to live together in Australia. “We're all really close friends so you just do what you've got to do to make sure you can get by. We made sure nobody was gonna starve or be without a place to live, and that we could carry on makin' music and stuff; you just do what you've got to do until everyone gets on their feet. That's what friends do.”

As the key songwriter of King Cannons, Yeoward spent several months amassing over 50 songs, eventually culling down the choices and enlisting Tom Larkin and Steven Schram to record at Melbourne's legendary Sing Sing Studios.

“Of course we knew of Tom because we all grew up with Shihad being quite successful, but I only met him for the first time a couple of years ago,” he recalls. “Our manager introduced us to him; I liked the cut of his jib. He was a straight talkin' dude and had plenty of experience in the studio behind a drum kit and also behind a desk, and it was like, 'You're the man for the job'. We wanted to record live all in a room – everybody set up at the same time in a very old fashioned way of recording – and he seemed really excited by that because he had a real love for old rock'n'roll and soul music and stuff like that.”

Considering their reputation as a fierce live act, recording live was the only way to go for King Cannons.

“I said [to the band], 'The only thing I want it to be is: I need it to be honest with minimal overdubs or anything like that – we've got to find a big fuckin' room and set everybody up so that we can all just look at each other play some fucking music.' Not lay down a drum track, and then two days later lay down a bass track, and then put it all to a grid and computerise the fuck out of it and all this kind of stuff. It was just like, 'Nup, just put some mics in front of everything and play.' And the beauty of soul music and rock'n'roll is that it's just got that raw vibe that you get when people in a room together, and it's really special when it works.”

The amazingly strong group dynamic of King Cannons is certainly understood when Yeoward explains that each of the band members have the same crown tattoo that adorns their throat, though the lyrical journey for The Brightest Light was a deeply personal one for the straight-shooting frontman.

“When I started writing for it I'd just gotten married and I was pretty happy with my life, I must admit, Yeoward explains. “We had a good foundation for our career in music here, plenty of opportunities and good friends. That's all really good but it made me think about all the shit that had happened in my past – in my past relationships, past friendships, my past musical life with punk rock and growin' up and all of those hard times and experiences that I had leaving home early, going into the workforce and being reckless and not really belonging to anyone, or anything, or anybody. “I thought for the first album it would be really good to just tell those stories and to kind of put my heart and my soul on my sleeve and just go, 'Okay, 75 percent of the lyrics on here are all really personal; this is our story, this is my story about where I'm from and the little towns I grew up in and the experiences that I had and how I feel about it now, and some of the regrets I had.

“For the first album I think it's a good spot to be at, and the next record might be something completely different – I can write from a completely different spot now that I've got all that out of my system. I really wanted to save all of those stories and those feelings for the first album and make it really personal. I'm glad I did it.”