Little King – Interview
Interview with Ryan Rosoff of Little King and Pete Devine of Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: What type of artist are you?
RR: I am a guitarist, singer, songwriter, producer, and performer. I also am a corporate team builder! I think that’s an art form, too. In my spare time, I do some drawing and writing, too. One thing people don’t know about me is that I have written a couple screenplays. Some day, perhaps, they will see the light of day on the big screen…
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
RR: I was born outside of LA and moved around a lot as a little kid. My dad was a doctor and was also in the Army toward the end of the Vietnam War, so we moved around a lot. Even lived in London for a year! But we settled in Seattle in the late 70’s, and that’s where I went to school my entire childhood. Was a GREAT place to grow up, especially as Grunge was just bubbling up to be the huge movement that it became.
From there, I went to school in Arizona and finished in El Paso, Texas, where I was married (twice) and had kids (twice). Also have made 6 albums there, so even though I grew up in Seattle, El Paso is my “adopted’ hometown for sure. I lived back in Silicon Valley for about 6 years, and then relocated to the shores of Delaware, where I have lived for the last 6 years.
As I said, I have made 4 full-length albums and 2 EP’s: OCCAM’S FOIL (2019), OD1 (2014), Legacy of Fools (2008), Virus Divine (2004), Time Extension (1998), Transmountain (1997).
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
RR: My musical influences are very, very diverse. Rush and Tupac, Steely Dan and Iron Maiden, John Mellencamp and John Coltrane, Peter Tosh and Peter Gabriel…I love just about all music except modern Country. I call that Republican Rock! Not my bag.
As for non-musical, I’ve had a few mentors like my dad, who is a retired doctor and an all-around great person. He taught me the value of patience, kindness,, intellectual curiosity, and work ethic. I also was influenced by the late great Neil Peart, the drummer and lyricist for Rush who just passed away in January of this year. He was an amazing man…perhaps the best rock drummer ever and an incredibly astute and prolific lyricist and writer. I sort of subscribe to a lot of his philosophies – both musically and in life – and so I am still his loss profoundly.
PD: What are your dreams and goals?
RR: You know, I am living them! I have great kids, a fun and successful career outside of music, and have produced a bunch of music that I’m proud of. I challenge myself physically, as I have recently lost about 15 pounds and am probably in the best shape of my life at age almost-48. I also aspire to get my music out to as many people as is possible. That’s happening now, with a huge publicity and radio outreach.
Eventually, I would like to live in Europe and tour there extensively. I have been to almost every US State, but I haven’t traveled abroad nearly enough. I am going to home-school my teenage son next year for 8th grade, and as a single dad that will be a challenge as well. But I’m looking forward to setting his curriculum and being able to travel with him as part of his education. I was a high school English teacher for a couple years back in 2006-08, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on how to make his school year work for him!
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
RR: I write them all, both musically and lyrically. The latest album, Occam’s Foil, is about simplicity and how it has affected our society and driven it to a state of apathy. Each song addresses that apathetic attitude in some way. I also have written about legacy, loss, relationships, parenthood, education, history, rebellion, and so much more. When you have a catalog of almost 50 songs, and someone asks you what your songs are about, it’s hard to pick just one theme!
PD: How do you promote your band and shows?
RR: We use the usual methods like social media, a web site, a couple different publicists, and a college radio promoter. Will be hiring a booking agent next month and plan on playing 50+ shows this year. I actually owned a Music Promotion Company from 2000-2006 called Little King Productions, but things have changed so much since then. It’s a lot easier to get the word out with targeted messaging and advertising, but there are also a lot more people doing the same thing. So one has to be really creative and direct with the message. Persistent, too.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
RR: I think it sucks for the artist who tries to make a living making records, that’s for sure. But it also allows us somewhat of a level playing field. With companies like CD Baby, and artist can be on sale in 50 countries and available for download in no time! That’s pretty cool. I am email friends with the founder of CD Baby, Derek Sivers. He’s an awesome guy and quite brilliant and eccentric. You should track him down and ask him that question.
Downloading has certainly shifted the focus financially for musicians. You cannot make money with downloads unless you are in the top 1/10 of 1/10 of 1 percent. So we have to play shows, kick ass, and sell merchandise. Also, licensing songs for video games and commercials and tv/movies has taken on a great significance. Music is EVERYWHERE…just gotta figure out how to capitalize on it. But if a young musician thinks they are gonna buy a crib from downloads alone, I would say they were born 25 years too late.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
RR: That’s such a great question! I’ve done a million interviews, but no one has ever asked that. I would say I wish I’d written all of Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons.” It’s sort of an Everything. I’m moved by all of it, and it really is timeless. I am positive people and clones and robots in the year 2112 and 3112 will still be listening to it…
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
RR: Just gonna list them. Ready?
Auto-tune. Smart Phone Addiction. Racism. Messiness. Bad drivers. Red Maga Hats that were made in China. Homophobia. Throwing food away. That’s a pretty good list, no?
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
RR: When we released Occam’s Foil, I took a couple weeks where I didn’t hear the music at all. I was DONE with it for the time being. When you grind so hard on something, especially art, it can get to the point of exasperation. That leads to a place that only an artist could appreciate…total and complete isolation from that current work. And that’s where I was.
After a couple weeks, I went to a quiet place, put on some sweet high-end noise-cancelling headphones, and listened again. It MOVED me! I was so proud of the work we had done, but I needed to step away from it to appreciate the album. But I am proud of Manny Tejeda, our bass player, in particular, as this was his first recording with Little King and he absolutely crushed it. Very proud of the string arrangement that David Hamilton from El Paso wrote for the song “The Skin That I’m In,” too. It is lovely.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
RR: I have 2 new songs that are almost done, so I am trying to decide what to do with them. I have always focused on Albums or EP’s, but things have changed in the music business so much as many of my friends and contemporaries are releasing singles. That has NEVER interested me until now. The ALBUM has always been the thing, as a collection of songs that are tied together by lyrical concepts, musical production, and artwork has always appealed to me. So I am at that crossroads now…album or singles? Time will tell.
We are also rehearsing a drummer locally who can play shows and possibly record with us. Tomorrow is his first rehearsal! Pretty exciting. Eddy Garcia is my longtime drummer (and engineer), but he’s busy with his band Pissing Razors as well as running sound for Overkill, so I need someone closer to home. We have a setlist of 8 million or so songs, so we have pared that down to an hour and change, and I am really pleased with it. So much fun to combine the new songs from Occam’s Foil with tunes that I wrote like 23 years ago. Some of them are terrible…those didn’t make the cut. But some of them work even better all these years later. Can’t wait to share them with our fans and friends.
PD: Tell us about your next shows and why we should be there.
RR: I can’t tell you yet…they are still being planned, but we have already booked some things in Nashville, LA, and DC that we will announce in the coming weeks. Will also have a couple longer tours of the East Coast and then again the Southwest and into the West Coast coming up in the summer and fall.
You should be there because we are a live band! Anyone can make a record with ProTools and a hundred takes in the studio. It’s an artform and I obviously love and embrace it, but studio production is unto itself. I always listen to a record and think, “Well, can they pull it off live? Without backing tracks, cheats, vocal tuning, etc.” I’d like to think that we can…and our music ain’t easy to nail perfectly in a live setting. So come watch and see if the train gets to the station or veers completely off the tracks!