Sunday 6 October 2013

Itch // Warped UK & Kevin Says Tour Preview Interview

Warped Tour is back in the UK in November for a second year and this year things are even bigger. The Kevin Says Tour will kick off straight after the main weekend event at Alexandra Palace and will see some of the acts head out around the country on this special five date tour.
The Kevin Says Tour will be headlined by Itch. The former King Blues front man has been playing on the US Warped Tour all summer and is just gearing up to release a new single featuring Taking Back Sunday’s Adam Lazzara.

 We caught up with Itch ahead of tour for an indepth chat about going solo, writing with Fall Out Boy's Patrick Stump and his impressive shirt collection...

 Are you looking forward to Warped UK and The Kevin Says Tour?                      
 Absolutely. I just did Warped Tour in the US and it was an incredible experience. Because there are so many bands on it all the egos get locked out. Everyone becomes a big unit and I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of those bands that are coming over and my friend’s bands.

Warped is relatively new to UK- is it nice being a part of bringing it over here especially headlining the Kevin Says tour?
It’s a massive honour. The Kevin Says Tour is a first, so to get that endorsement is a great honour. There’s some dope bands playing it so it’s going to be good.

You’ve been on Warped in the US all summer. Warped is tough enough anyway for bands but you were doing it with a broken leg, right?
[Laughing] Yeah, it’s definitely tough, and those bands doing it in a van and stuff, that’s real tough. I’ve been touring for ten years and I like being on the road and love meeting people, so I’ve just had a really great time. It is hard and the heat is intense; a lot of people complain about the heat but I’m like “you haven’t been to a festival where the mud is up to your knees’. 

You’re renowned for really getting stuck in to live shows; you’re usually out in the crowds bouncing up and down. Have you had to rethink the live shows and approach them differently with your injury?
Yes absolutely. That’s exactly it, that’s how I get a crowd going by being everywhere. When I was forced to just use my mind and whatever came out of my mouth it was a skill that I got to practice. By the end it was a new skill and it’s made me a better MC for it. I feel that it’s rounded me more as a performer. 

So the single ‘Homeless Romantic is released in the UK on 20th October- it features Adam from Taking Back, how did that collaboration come about?
Initially I wrote the song with Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy and this was just before the decided to get back together. So, the first thing that they wanted to put out was there stuff and not him featuring on something else, which was obviously a massive mistake as they were number one in like sixty countries [laughing]. So we were like yeah that’s cool and we were throwing names around and when Adam’s name came up I believed him; when he sings, I can hear the pain in his voice, it feels real to me. I was into them [Taking Back Sunday], haven’t got the tattoo, but I thought they were cool [laughing]. We sent a tape off to him, not really expecting to hear back but he was down for it, so he flew in from Texas to record it. He’s a super shy guy but put a mic in his hand he becomes a different person.

You’re music is a mix of punk, hip-hop, pop; do you categories your style and influences or do you take the approach that if it works, it works?
I see it as rebel street music. I always like bands where it’s about more than just the music and I always try and bring that in to what I do. It’s less about genre and more philosophically specific. That’s what’s really fun about being solo and this being a new project, it’s freedom.

Yeah, I was going to ask you about going from The King Blues to being on your own; I guess it could be quite daunting but are you embracing it?
Massively. Before I had to write for six people in mind and now I can sit down with just a beat and I’m having so much fun doing it.

Would you ever go back to a band, not necessarily The King Blues but…
Never [laughing]. I’m really proud of everything TKB’s achieved; we were the only band on the radio that were putting out anti-war messages and I’m glad that I got to do that as part of a group, but I feel that someone’s given me another chance now and I’m very grateful. I just believe in moving forward in life, in anything, you should always be brave and embrace the future.

You’ve had a busy summer; as well as Warped you played at Reading and Leeds Festival…
I loved it because I haven’t played that many shows over in the UK but I’ve been releasing music steadily so I wasn’t sure how it was going to go down. To see so many people come out and so much love in the tent it was great. Reading and Leeds was the first exposure that The Kings Blues got and it was exactly the same feeling of walking up to the stage and not knowing if anyone’s going to be there, but it’s so rewarding.

And I hear that a couple got engaged during your set!?
They did. We’ve had that a couple of times over the years but these two actually met at a King Blues gig.

We have to ask- are you going to sing at their wedding?
[Laughing] I don’t make promises.

Being in the industry for over a decade and I guess it must’ve comes with its ups and downs. Do you feel that everything that’s happened along the way has all helped you get to this point?
I think every struggle has been for a reason and now I feel I’m at my peak position; I’ve learnt from my mistakes but also things that I’ve done right. Now I can take on the world feeling experienced enough and kind of know how it works enough to really make a dent.

And you’re now signed to Red Bull Records which is not necessarily conventional record label, but is that why you went with them?
This is my fourth label; I’ve done major labels, DIY labels, big indie labels, I’ve seen the way it works. When Red Bull came in it, it was so outside the box, that’s how I like to work. So many bands nowadays just go through the treadmill and I think the best thing that The King Blues did was build up our fanbase, grass roots, we had that control. Red Bull were very much about making my vision a reality, not just bringing me into their vision. I’ve had some crazy ideas and they’ve never said no to anything [laughing].

What else do you have coming up?
The album is done. After this I’m going to America touring the east coast with Deltron 3030; they’re a trio of Dan the Automator, Kid Koala and Del the Funky Homosapien. So I’m going to do that and drop a mix tape in October that I did with Dan the Automator in San Francisco which is a lot more rap and hip-hop. Then the album will be out in the new year.

And I can’t leave without asking you about your very impressive shirt collection. You have a different one on every time we see you…
I shop in various places; I have a saying that “once it’s in American Apparel then it’s too late” [laughing] which has offended so many people. I try to avoid big chain stores.