Stadium rock for small pubs – that’s how King George sum up their brand of twisted pop and heavy rock, the likes of which the duo hope might one day earn them a slot alongside giants like U2 or The Killers. And sure, it’s baby-steps for the time being, but as one half of the Melbourne pair Michael Makris explains, the duo’s recent debut album has definitely proved one big leap forward. “You don’t want to sound like a knob, but you always do have aspirations of your favourite bands that you grew up with,” laughs Makris. “Your Led Zeppelins and Black Sabbaths on my end, and more Depeche Mode and The Killers on George’s [Zois, vocals] end. If we could end up that way, we’d be laughing!
“We love the whole idea of putting on a real show, the full musical and visual aspect. For our album we had some artwork done which we’re going to project up on a screen behind us. It’s just lyrics from the album which are scripted in a weird way, so we’re having them flashing up behind us just to make the show more fun.”
Released in August this year, the self-titled album is currently available on iTunes as well as the band’s official website. But it’s the USB version available for purchase at King George shows that’s really got the punters talking about this innovative duo…
“Well, actually we got the idea from Matchbox 20, funnily enough,” chuckles Makris. “What they did was, after their shows, they had a wrist band that you could buy, which was a USB with a recording of the show you’d just seen.
“So fans could leave the arena and grab a wrist band and listen to the concert that night on their computer. We thought it was a really cool idea to also sell the album that way. It’s also got our logo on it, so I guess we figured it could be a bit of a fashion statement as well. It turned out that it was really popular at our album launch at The East Brunswick a couple of months ago, so I think we’ll use that idea again.”
And while the album has so far proved quite a success for Makris and Zois – not only earning the lads radio airplay in Sydney thanks to singles Birthday Girl and Nothing Left but also airtime on ABC’s Rage – according to Makris, it’s being able to show their friends and family a body of original work that’s really been the highlight in the band’s five-year-long career.
“Me and George have been together in bands for about 11 years, but King George has only been going for about five,” he says. “The album has definitely been the best thing that’s happened to us so far.
“For me, it’s just being able to have something, a hard copy of an album, to show to friends and family what we’ve been doing all this time!”
And although the band has previously inspired major label interest, Makris claims that it’s the indies that King George would much rather prefer to be on. In fact, the more DIY, the better, according to the drummer.
“If we could pull of something like what John Butler Trio did – completely doing it on their own – that would ideally be the best way to go,” he explains. “It would be nice to have some backing from a label though, at least with the marketing and promotional side of things. At one point earlier on we had [majors] looking at us. The truth is that we just weren’t ready for it at the time. We played a massive showcase at The Espy once but we knew that we just weren’t there yet.”
As Makris points out, it definitely is early days still for King George, and for that reason alone, the duo’s main point of focus is developing their live show and building a steady fanbase around Melbourne.
“Apart from people that we know, we don’t have a large fanbase yet,” he says. “It’s very much word-of-mouth right now, so we want to get the crowds going first. We’ve got a couple of new songs that we are excited by so hopefully we’ll be able to get more together for another album.
“It took us about three or four years to make this first album happen and that’s definitely something we don’t want repeat! It was our first professional recording session because we worked with Malcolm Beazley.
“Like any producer, he made us do the tracks over and over a million times because he wanted to make sure we got it right. He also gave us some very good ideas, we were really happy with him. Still, it would be nice to get something out sooner next time.”
KING GEORGE launch their excellent debut album Prisoners Of The Pluto Junction (which is out now and contains their singles Nothing Left and Birthday Girl) with a huge showcase at Revolver Upstairs this Friday November 5. For more info and tickets check out kinggeorge.com.au.