SOS Interview: Dug Pinnick of King’s X
By Mike SOS
When speaking with Dug Pinnick from King’s X over the phone a while back, everything from his upbringing to the making of the trio’s latest outstanding disc XV to what aspirations the bassist/vocalist has left was discussed.
SOS: What do you guys do in the studio that helps incite the unique King’s X edge ?
DUG: We don’t do anything. We’ve been together for 25 years, and we’ve always just done what we do. Most everything that we do is just from instinct. We don’t usually have any real deep conversations about how we want to do a song, or any concept or anything. When we’re in the studio, we just go in and make music. We don’t really think about it. And if there is any real magic going on, we don’t really know it, because we’re too busy painting the pictures. The fun that we get is when the record is done, and when the songs are all mixed. And then we sequence them. And then when we look at the sequence, then we realize what really happened. And then we smile and give it to the world.
SOS: Is it organic? You guys go in without basically a preconceived notion and then hammer stuff out?
DUG: Pretty much. I mean, I wrote ten songs off of this new record. And I brought my demos I with me. And I’d play a song, and we’d listen to it maybe twice. And then Jerry would go into his drum room..”How does that part go again?” And before I could even find it on my fret board, he had already known what it was. And then we just kind of go through the songs. We did maybe two or three takes, and that was it. And Michael said, “Well, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” And we just left it at that. And then we come back and we do the bass and then guitars and the vocals. But making a record is more work than a lot of emotional feelings of what you’re creating. I don’t think hardly anybody ever realizes what they’re doing until they’re done with it, when it comes to Earth.
SOS: It seems like there’s a lot more uplifting vocals on this in general.
DUG: Well, you know, it is. And I just read a review a couple days ago about the new record. And somebody said, “Kings X are happy again, yay!” I guess it’s true. All the music that we’ve done has always reflected on how we feel, what we’re going through, what’s happening in our life at that moment, or what we’re focused on. So there was two divorces going on. There was a questioning of my faith. There was questioning sexuality. There was questioning the nature of man. Why is there so much suffering? I think we all just started looking at the world more realistically than through the little stained glass window that we started out looking at the world in. And so those things have changed. But I think we went through a lot of things. And we come out of it. And hopefully we’re stronger. And the only thing that kept us going was hope. And at the end of the day, after writing as many songs and as many records as we’ve put out, I just want to have fun. I just want to go out and rock out and have some fun, have some great jump around, sing along, and go. Because that’s what life’s all about, just having a good time in the moment. In fact, I can’t change the world. I can’t change anything. But I still can give you a good time for a couple hours. And that’s what it’s all about. But we just connect and feel that we’re people, and that we love each other, and that we’re loved.
DUG: Well, I did that on purpose, because when you go to a King’s X show, people sing along all the time. The songs were never really written with a sing-along in mind. And on this record, there’s a couple of songs on the record that I thought, “You know, it will be fun to hear the crowd sign this.” And so “Go Tell Somebody,” “All Right,” and “Pray for Me,” are especially three songs that I just look forward to the crowd singing along and just letting them take over. I mean they can be the choir for me. And I do believe that when everybody participates it brings everybody closer.
SOS: How do you feel your new label SPV’s doing for you guys? How is it doing in the new market, in the new technology? Like where does King’s X fit into that?
DUG: Ooh. We’re still trying to figure that out, like everybody else. You know, everything’s changed. People are going, “What’s the next big thing? Where’s the new Nirvana? Where’s the new Beatles?” Well, it already happened. It’s called the internet and downloading, and a new way of doing things. Because the old way is over, period. And we’re all just finally waking up and realizing. And if you don’t step up to the plate, we don’t have a job. So it’s been really, really hard for us to figure out how to continue to do what we love to do and make a living at it.
Luckily, we do have VPs, however you say it, with Inside Out, and a cool manager who works– all three entities kind of work together. And they really believe in us. And it’s a lucky thing. It’s a rare thing, actually. They actually got their little machine going on. It’s on the new record, King’s X XV And so they’re pushing it. I mean I’ve done more interviews on this record than I’ve done in ten years. The record came out today. And it’s number one on Amazon Rock. So it’s like somebody’s doing their job. So we’re hoping that people will get to hear that. We’re not going to get rich and sell millions and millions of records. That’s passed now. But if we can just get everybody back on board that thought that we broke up around DOGMAN and pick up and get out there and just do our thing again, we’ll be fine.
SOS: Totally. Well, you guys never really stopped doing your thing. It’s more like the crowd left.
DUG: Well, the two things that happened was, number one, is when we left the major record label. Well, we were with the label that just weren’t able to get the word out like it could have been. There was no more videos on MTV and stuff like that. So things have changed.
SOS: Having massive cross-over appeal, you guys get lumped in the metal, into the grunge, like the pioneers of grunge.What’s your take?
DUG: We don’t know what we are, that’s the problem. Nobody does. And that’s always been the problem. People try to categorize it, and they can’t. And we didn’t try to be this. We just did what we did.
SOS: Do you enjoy touring?
DUG: You know, I love touring, and I miss it. I haven’t been on the road for three years, and I’m ready to lose my mind. I mean literally. I mean because I’ve been doing this almost all my life. I go on the road, and I come home. My body and my mind mentally is used to it. And this is the longest I’ve been home in 25 years, I think. It’s taken its toll on me. I’ve gotten to a place where I’ve gotten depressed and I’ve gotten– just didn’t know what to do with myself. And it’s just all the bad things. Because all you got to do, and you ain’t got nothing to do. And I don’t mean saying that you don’t not have nothing to do, like there is nothing to do. I mean there’s grass to be cut. There’s your business to keep up with, being on-line all the time with management and taking care of things, and writing music, and doing those things. But after a while, if you’re not giving it to anybody, it just turns into this ball of energy in your house that weights you down. I’m ready to get out there and start singing some of these songs and having some fun, smiling, look at the faces.
SOS: Who are some of your new favorite bands?
DUG: I’m really digging Protest the Hero. There’s just something about those guys. I guess it’s because they got that theater thing going, that they got that emo thing going. And then, all of a sudden, they throw a groove in there, and all of a sudden, they got that Muse thing or Radiohead thing happening. And I’m just going– and then all of a sudden, where did this shit come from? And I sit there and go, “This is the same.” And I don’t know if I like it as much as I am just proud and in awe of these kids who sit down and fuckin’ did their homework and came up with something just really fuckin’ stomping. And another band I love called Seemless. There’s a band called Stateless, too. I like both of them. I bought them both at the same time, and I get them mixed up. But I love both of them. Now Stateless is more like with a drummer and a piano, with very sparse melody. But the vocals are just– I mean when the guy sings, he makes me cry. And I don’t know if it’s the sound of his voice or what he’s singing. But he’s touched a nerve in me. And so it’s pretty mellow, too. But it really moves me. I play it almost every day.
SOS: Do you guys get a better reaction in Europe than you do in America?
DUG: You know, it’s the same, really. It’s all good. It’s the same. We pack clubs out. They’re not huge clubs, but we pack them out, just like we do in the U.S.. They’re a lot of fun. European people listen differently than Americans do. Americans get drunk and just kind of hang out and have fun, and just kind of let it just float. But Europeans, they listen. They listen to everything that you’re doing. And they respond, which is really cool. And they’re very loyal. It’s like you can be the flavor of the week in America, but you go to Europe and play there until you die. And they’re cool like that. I want us to do a DVD in London, a live one. I hope we can still do it. That’s been on my list for a long time.
SOS: What’s left for you guys?
DUG: Here is what it is. I want to write a song that that deems as number one, a great song for that moment at least once. I mean the whole world. Everybody goes it’s like when “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came out, everybody knew it. Or “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” by The Beatles or something. It’s like everybody knew that song. I want to write a song like that, that everyone goes, “That’s the tune.” And then I’m done. I’m gonna go cook. And the cool thing about it is the odds of that are like winning the lottery. So you just keep doing it. It’s the chase that I enjoy. It’s not the end, it’s the chase of just continually writing and trying to write better songs, and be creative, and have fun doing what I do. Because if I do ever write that number one greatest hit song in the world, well, where do I have to go after that? It’s like I don’t know. So the bottom line is I’m fine. And somebody always said, “What’s your goals?” And I said, “Well, if you reach for the moon, you might get to the top of the mountain. But if you reach for the moon, you might hit the stars.” So it’s like you just got to keep on pushing.