The Rock and Roll band 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 seminal eclectic rock group Tweed Quickly (where he met future Little King bassist Shannon Brady). 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 (a translation of the name “Ryan” in Gaelic). Featuring bassist Mike Esparza and drummer Alex Lizarazo, the trio played a few shows locally and regionally in the next four months while preparing to enter the studio. Little King’s first demo CD, titled Transmountain, was released in El Paso in May on 1997. The group continued to tour and promote the CD, which sold about 800 copies in and around the Southwest.
In September of ’97, Rosoff moved back to his hometown of Seattle, Washington. He signed a one-record deal with an independent label, Shade Records, and journeyed back to Texas in August of 1998 to record and produce a new CD called Time Extension. For this record, Rosoff was joined by bassist Shannon Brady and drummer Jim Hargrave. Rosoff, who has a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing, based the concept album on the story of a fictional man’s life, and it opens with the anti-hero on his deathbed in an emergency room. The protagonist looks back on his life and examines all of the things he wishes he had done differently, and each song in the set relates to the choices he had made throughout the years.
Time Extension sold well online and at shows as the band toured extensively throughout the Western United States. The band also filmed a pro-shot video for the single “Smoke Spin Free.” The single received extensive college airplay, and the video was a mainstay for three months on cable access video shows across the States. Little King worked hard and developed a loyal following, but when Shade Records dissolved in 2000, the band agreed to go on hiatus indefinitely. Rosoff focused his energy on a new business venture, Little King Productions. His company handled print and radio promotion, management, and booking. The business became successful after a year, but Rosoff continued to write songs with the knowledge that a new album would eventually demand to be born.
That itch was finally scratched in September of 2003, as Rosoff joined with drummer Wes Kahalekulu to lay down tracks for the new record, titled Virus Divine. The songs were engineered by Eddy Garcia (the bass player for Ministry) and were recorded at Krank Studios in El Paso. After the guitars and drums were completed, the two were joined by Brady in the studio, and the tracks were completed in April of 2004. That summer, Rosoff took the completed sessions to Toronto where the album was mixed by Terry Brown, whose impressive resume includes production credits on ten Rush albums. The disc continued Rosoff’s tradition of conceptual lyric writing and follows a theme of enlightenment, inner conflict, and resolution. Based on the story of another anonymous man who is moved to change the world after watching news coverage of the horrible tragedy at Columbine High School, Virus Divine examines the impact one righteous person can have on the world around him.
Virus Divine moved about 3,500 copies and sold records (through a deal with Prog Rock powerhouse Unicorn Records, based in Quebec) in over 20 countries. Over 250 college radio stations and a handful of commercial stations added the disc. Print and Internet reviews were almost uniformly positive in the Progressive and Independent rock worlds. Riding this wave of momentum, Little King toured the Western United States throughout 2005. However, when the band returned home in November of ’05, another hiatus would follow.
As 2006 ran its course, Rosoff began writing more songs on his own. As nine new tunes took shape, Virus Divine engineer Eddy Garcia agreed to play drums on the record, and the two would be joined by Michael Esparza, who had played bass on the first Little King record. Rosoff took a job as a high school English teacher, and this experience brought about a renewed lyrical focus. The new album, Little King’s fourth effort, would be titled Legacy Of Fools. According to Rosoff, “The lyrics center on all that we have inherited and what we are willfully leaving behind.” The song “Legacy” follows four generations of Rosoff men, starting with his grandfather and ending with his son, Asher, who was born in November of 1997. The track includes a beautiful violin melody performed by one of Rosoff’s English students, Lyris Soto. “202” is named after Rosoff’s classroom number and shines a harsh light on the state of education in America. The album opener, “Prodigal Son,” examines another familial relationship, this time between the 41st and 43rd presidents of the United States. “Mea Culpa” is a heartfelt plea for forgiveness, and “Collateral Damage” is an angry indictment of the war in Iraq that asks “What would you do/ If we occupied Cleveland?”
Musically, Legacy Of Fools was another big leap forward in Rosoff’s progression as an arranger, singer, and songwriter. Eddy Garcia drums incredibly, as his chops are phenomenal and wrought with power and intricacy. Michael Esparza is an instinctive bass player, as he interprets each song differently and has an innate understanding of when to groove and when to step out into the spotlight. For the first time in Little King’s history, keyboards played an integral role in sculpting the band’s sound, as Ruben Gutierrez joined the band on 7 of the 9 tracks.
Again, Little King went into hibernation until late 2013. When Rosoff uprooted again, this time heading to the East Coast, he made a stop back in El Paso and hooked up with Eddy Garcia and longtime friend and collaborator, bassist Brian Ramos.
The EP, titled OD1, was released in March of 2014. The songs include the heavy-hitting instrumental “The Leaded Beatdown,” “Happy Home” which includes a video collage of all of Rosoff’s homes since childhood, and “Black Hole” which is homage to getting lit at a Raiders game.
OD1 charted on college radio all over the United States and received airplay on over 100 stations. The seeds were there for another album release, though, as a few songs had already been partially written.
Finally, in 2019, bassist M”anny Tejeda, Rosoff’s friend from Delaware and originally from the Dominican Republic, joined Little King. He added his flavor on bass and with backing vocals, and the duo traveled back to El Paso to record a new record.
Occam’s Foil was recorded again at Krank Studios in the Summer and Fall of 2019. It features Rosoff, Tejeda, and Eddy Garcia again on drums. As special guests on a couple songs, the band brought in David Hamilton (cello and arrangements), Christina Hernandez (violin), and Monica Gutierrez (backing vocals, and wife of Legacy of Fools keyboardist Ruben Gutierrez.)
The theme of the 5-song EP is a play on the theory “Occam’s Razor,” a problem-solving principle that states “Entities should not be multiplied without necessity,” as theorized English Franciscan friar William of Ockham. That argument for simplicity and it’s “Foil,” or counter-argument, influenced the lyrics of all the new songs. Relationships, Social norms, the Opioid Crisis, Religion, and Politics all take center-stage on Occam’s Foil.
Released on November 4, 2019, the band sets off for a full tour and press/radio campaign in early 2020. STAY TUNED!