Little King was formed in November of 1996 by guitarist/singer/songwriter Ryan Rosoff in El Paso, Texas. Rosoff had cut his teeth as the guitar player in the rock group Tweed Quickly (where he played with future Little King bassist Shannon Brady and touring drummer Scott Marestein.) After a year in that band, he had written enough of his own songs to try his hand at recording and producing a record. Rosoff named the new group Little King. The Penguin Rocks presents this interview with Little King.
How would you describe your band's sound?
I have answered this probably 1000 times in (almost) 25 years, and it's a different answer almost every time. It's hard to say, really. I guess we live under the big tent of "rock and roll," but there are so many dynamics and proggy moments without the proggy TOO MUCH going on about it that a listen to the last album might confuse you even more. Let's go with "Dynamic Rock," cool? I like that term, as we cover vibes from full on metal (okay, 70's and 80's and maybe some more modern stuff) to acoustic ballads. Strings and guest female vocalists and even some keys from time to time. You tell ME what kind of music you think it is? Hard to pigeonhole, for sure.
How long has the band been around?
The 25th anniversary of the first album, Transmountain, is May 17, 2022. As such, we are going to be celebrating all year with various projects marking this 25th anniversary. New music, live shows, and more. Pretty exciting....I can't believe this has been half of my life.
Is there a story behind the band name?
As info, my first name "Ryan" is translated as "Little King" from Gaelic. So yeah...don't let the Little King do the thinking for the Big King, m'kay? It started as kind of a joke, a take-off on the Lil' rappers of the day and also with me "Calling The Shots," as it were. Was just tired of waiting on other people to get their shit together, always...so I decided to do it myself and then bring my friends in to record. 7 records ago!
Who are the members of the band and what instrument do they each play?
Ryan Rosoff (moi) - Guitar and Vox; Manny Tejeda - Bass and some Vox; Eddy Guitar - Drums and Blacktooths. We also worked with: David Hamilton - cello and string arrangements; Christina Hernandez - Violin; Jessica Flores - Vox on "How Could You?"; Becca G - Vox on "Set It Down"; Asher Syrinx (my son) - Keys on "Set It Down"; and Bongo Bryan - Hand biz on "Set It Down".
Tell me about your latest record. What songs are you most proud of on the record?
We released Amuse De Q on September 3 of this year, 2021. It is, in my mind, as good as it could be. I am so pleased to talk about it and turn new fans onto it, because I know that it resonates with me and those who I trust maybe more than anything else I've ever released.
We recorded in El Paso, TX at Eddy Garcia's studio, Krank. It moved to another physical location in 2020, but Ed and I have now done 5 records together with him turning knobs and 4 with him on drums. Our friendship runs even longer...maybe close to 25 years. That's my brother.
Two trips to El Chuco got us done...August of '20 and Februrary of '21 to El Paso with Manny, my son, and the usual supects made the tracks happen. From there, I mixed with Daniel Salcido (who's a badass) in LA and Maor Appelbaum (also a total badass) handled mastering duties.
I cannot choose amongst my children! Picking a fave song? Ugh. I will say that the one that currently moves me the most is the one Daniel liked best from the start, the title track "Amuse De Q." I think it is always the way I've wanted to sounds rolled up into one pretty plaintive song. It still is fun to listen to for me, and playing it live is gonna be something. I'll be a busy boy!
How many records, eps, or singles has the band put out in total? How has the band changed over time?
Amuse is the 7th release from Little King. The last 3 releases have been EP length, really...just trying to pack more into less, I guess...
The personnel has changed constantly. Ed has drummed on the last 4 records, but I had 3 different drummers for the first 3 records. Like Steely Dan but not as cool! Bass players have changed, too. Manny has played on the last 2, and he's like a brother to me as well. Legit. Before him, Shannon Brady played on 2 records, also a brother of almost 30 years. Constant shuffle...
What would be the “next step” that you’d like to see the band take?
Due to my life and schedule and abject stage fright (not true...a lie), LK has been like a studio project for going on 15 years. But things have changed. We are actually putting out music that people seem to really LIKE. It's nice.
Look, I am an entertainer. It's high time I start fucking entertaining again. Can't wait...I am in the woodshed on January 3 and we will play a ton of shows this summer. So, that's where we go. 25th Anniversary requires new music, too. Of course. Ed and I get together next week and I am ready. -Ish.
Going through my career now, listening to my whole discography. So many things strike me, and most of them are good. I've always tried hard. I've improved from album to album, and so has the production. I'm blessed to have surrounded myself with people who are better than me. Humbled to have them all contribute.
Since we are going on the road, I am trying to configure the setlist. Does the sentiment of the lyric still move me? Can I sing it and play it at the same time (some of our shit is hardddd to do both)? Happy to report that most of it has stood the test of time. And it will feature at least 1 song from every album plus...
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