Larissa Howie talks to the group about hospitalisations and their debut tour.
Life is good. Waking up buzzed from the night before, revelling in the afterglow of summer and embracing youth in full spirit. This is the vibe captured in Kingsland’s latest single ‘The Motto’. But, only a few weeks after the song was written, a devastating car accident left the band’s lead singer seriously injured, and the lyrics gained an eerie new meaning.
“The song was just completely different after that,” says lead singer, Will.
Before ‘The Motto’ was even released, the indie darlings were performing the song as an encore at Galatos. The band, featuring Will Giles (vocals/guitar), Jared Gullett (lead guitar), Eliot Witters (bass) and Josh Smith (drums) say they weren’t even sure if it was sounding good initially. “It wasn’t really finished but we played it anyway and people were just shouting that line back ‘live while we still can’ so it struck a bit of a chord.”
In the week following that performance, lead singer Will was driving home from band practise and “ka-boom-fah”, his reality changed dramatically. He soon found himself hospitalised and without the ability to walk or even talk. ‘The Motto’ had just been recorded and was the only thing Will had to listen to during his time in hospital. “It was very haunting in some ways to be able to listen to myself sing when I couldn’t talk,” he says.
The Auckland based band of four produce a Kiwi surf rock sound they say is “palatable to the masses,” and, after the past year, making music is something they don’t take for granted. Although the boys tease that they could’ve just replaced Will with some other singer, they admit it was rough to see him in such bad shape. The group describes themselves as now being “pretty tight” both musically and personally due to their newfound appreciation for one and other.
“We hug and kiss each other before we leave band practise now,” they joke.
The group were grateful that Will could return to the music scene far earlier than expected, reuniting with the band in August last year.
“My recovery could have been a hell of a lot longer and we might have not been together - it’s bit of a testament to the whole band to stick together through hard shit - as cheesy as that sounds.”
‘Live while we still can’ is a lyric that now rings truer than ever with the Kingsland boys as they seize the opportunity to make the most of life; embarking on their debut tour within the next few weeks. It’s a dream that seemed very unlikely to come true a year ago.
“This time last year these guys came and visited me in the hospital and I couldn’t walk or talk properly so it’s pretty crazy to be here now. I’m going on tour, releasing new music and I’m able bodied,” says Will.
Tying in with New Zealand music month, the timing of this national tour couldn’t be any better. And for Kingsland, it was now or never...Especially with two of the members, Elliot and Jared, prepping to become Dads later this year.
“Timing wise I think this is sort of the only chance we could get,” says Elliot. Although he jokes they could just start making baby merch.
The tour kicks off down South in Dunedin, where the band hopes their sound will “go down quite sweetly” with the student audience. They’ll then travel to Christchurch and Auckland, ending their tour in Wellington.
They’re eager to “test the waters of the music scene in the central city,” with their Auckland show being held at ‘Win-Win’, an up-and-comer in the world of music venues. The show is expected to be big, with a line-up that includes local musician Harry Parsons. The group says they hope to be a part of something that can bring Auckland’s music scene back to life.
Another thing that they’re hopefully about is that their Auckland show might appeal to the typical broke student as “it’s so cheap some might even call it free,” according to Bass player, Elliot. He also adds that students new to Auckland should skip out on Bar101 for a night and come see them live instead. And with the crazy year the boys have endured, the crowd should prepare for a rather special performance.
“When you sing those lyrics it’s a bit of a reflection on the past year for all of us” says Will. So if there’s anything to take away from the scare the Kingsland boys have experienced, it’s that we should, first and foremost, live while we still can.
Catch Kingsland Friday 24 May at Win Win, Auckland w/ Harry Parsons and Bay Street Band.