By Greg Prato
It’s hard to believe that’s it’s been 14 long years since King’s X issued an all-new studio album (the last being 2008’s XV). But thankfully, that all changed on September 2, 2022, when the group’s 13th album overall, Three Sides Of One, was released.
Comprising singer and bassist Doug Pinnick, singer and guitarist Ty Tabor, and singer and drummer Jerry Gaskill, King’s X has built a large and loyal following over the years on the strength of such classic albums as Gretchen Goes To Nebraska (1989), Faith Hope Love (1990), and Dogman (1994), and such MTV and radio hits as “Over My Head,” “It’s Love,” and “Black Flag.” And since their inception, the trio has incorporated a variety of styles into their own sound — metal, funk, prog, psychedelic, ballads, etc.
And you could certainly say that I’m a diehard fan of the band…after all, it was yours truly that worked with the band on their 2019 biography, King’s X: The Oral History! So it was a pleasure to chat with Pinnick two weeks before Three Sides of One was set to drop — discussing the new album, his 2021 solo album Joy Bomb, and the future of King’s X.
Why so long between albums?
Nobody wanted to make a record but me. It just didn’t feel like we had anything to offer. So, finally after a little bit of persuasion — about fourteen years, I guess – we felt like we had something to offer. Plain and simple. I went and did all these side projects. Really, just one day we were playing demos for each other, and Jerry said, “Oh, I feel encouraged. Maybe we can make a record.” Real innocent.
How was it working on Three Sides Of One compared to previous King’s X albums?
It was the most fun we’ve ever had — because after being in a band for 42 years, and still being together, we understand each other in a better way. It was just a pleasure to be amongst old friends making music again. And the results seem to be palatable. We were really excited about what we were doing, so we thought, “Wow. There’s some excitement — after all these years.”
Material-wise or sonically, is it comparable to any earlier King’s X albums?
No. I think this album is just basically take all the other albums and put them in a pot and stir it.
Which tracks were the hardest to get right, and which were the easiest?
Actually, they all came easy. The uncanny thing of playing with King’s X is it doesn’t take but a second to lay a track down. Building up the tracks is a lot of fun, and sometimes things come fast, sometimes things come slow. But we’re not aware of time when we’re making a record. It’s sort of like you float along, and wherever the butterfly takes you…we’re chasing butterflies — wherever it takes us, that’s what will happen!
Was the entire album recorded in a studio or were files exchanged online?
I would say 99.9% was done in the studio. All done analog — except for Pro Tools. It went down analog, and then it went through analog stuff to be mastered. So, we wanted to keep it as true to that analog sound that we were used to back in the ‘70s and ‘80s. And we thought about “album” more than CDs or streaming. So, we went for the approach of making a real record.
Which studio was 3 Sides Of One recorded in?
It was Black Sound Studio. Michael Parnin owns it and he lives there. I lived there for a little while when I first moved to LA about 15 years ago. He’s just a great producer — he produced my Strum Sum Up and Hendrix tribute record (Tribute To Jimi: Often Imitated But Never Duplicated). And he’s worked with probably everybody you can think of. You name it, he’s probably engineered them. He’s a veteran when it comes to that. And like a fly on the wall, he’s learned everything there is to know from watching other people. I think he did an excellent job on our album when it comes to the sonics and the producing of it.
How is Ty doing health-wise (it was recently announced that the guitarist has been diagnosed with an undisclosed illness), and will King’s X be able to tour in support of the album?
As soon as his doctor says “OK,” we’re on the go. Until then, we have to just pick shows to do that Ty can go do, without it wearing him out or it compromises his immune system.
How were the shows that King’s X recently played? It was two-and-a-half years since your last performance.
We were horrified until we went on stage to play. And then after we got through the first show in New York, we thought, “OK…we might be able to do this.” By the time we got to the third show — with Stone Temple Pilots — we were having a good time. So, it just took a minute. You don’t walk away from the stage for two-and-a-half years and just think you’re going to pick up right where you left off. It was good for us. Because we never stopped playing — so we never experienced this.
Are there any songs that you’d like to see reintroduced to the set that haven’t been played in a while?
No — what we’re doing now is we want to do the whole new record. We’ll probably do everything but “Swipe Up.” There’s going to be some major rehearsing to do that one. That’s one of those songs that you’ve got to practice eight hours a day for two weeks — like we did for “We Were Born To Be Loved,” to get that.
Now that it’s been a few years since the book King’s X: The Oral History came out, what are your thoughts on it now and did you learn things that you didn’t know before?
Yeah, I learned a whole lot of things. It’s like being married and having a marriage counselor after 40 years, and all of a sudden you find out that they hated peanut butter — and you were putting it on their sandwich all the time, but they didn’t want to tell you because they didn’t want to hurt your feelings! I learned a lot of things. Nothing specific that I’d like to go into, but it just helped me see my side, my share, and the brotherhood of King’s X and how they feel about me — in positive and negative ways. It was really good. I can’t wait until the next one — because we’re all older and wiser, and see the world differently. There should be a “part II” coming soon, hopefully!
Last year, you issued your latest solo album, Joy Bomb.
My solo albums are my babies. They’re the songs that nobody else would take. [Laughs] Or I’m trying to whip them up to try to make them as good as King’s X or my side projects. You can’t do that if you’re doing it all yourself, but my solo records, they’re like my demos, basically. I approach them all the same way. I try to make them the best I can. So, Joy Bomb was out there, people seemed to like it, and I’m moving on. It’s sort of like I put a record out, people buy it, and then next month there’s something else going on. I love when people buy all my stuff and have it in their collection — which means a lot to me.
Future plans or projects?
New KXM (a band that also includes Dokken’s George Lynch and Korn’s Ray Luzier), hopefully. We’re in the beginning conversations — text messages — of doing the fourth one. And have you ever heard of a guy named Gary Myrick? I’m doing a project with him and a guy named Mike Hansen. Gary had a band called Gary Myrick & the Figures. If you remember an old ‘80s song called “She Talks in Stereo” — that was his big hit. Anyway, we’re doing a little project — an EP just for the fun of it. Who knows — I’ll be doing all kinds of stuff. Oh, my Naked record is coming out on vinyl. It never came out on vinyl — it’s done and we’re just waiting for the printing.
Do you think King’s X will issue another studio album after this one?
Yeah. If we can do this, we can do another one. There’s never been a conversation about to stop. We even said if we had to stop touring, we’d still make records.