London’s most elegant singer/songwriter, King Charles, is a sight for sore eyes. After being away from the live circuit for the best part of a year now, only venturing out for the occasional gig or festival, it makes it even sweeter to see him currently supporting the mighty Panic! at the Disco here in the UK. Bringing us a set full of old favourites and new tracks from his forthcoming second record, it’s a delightful blend of frivolous fun teemed with his signature blend of ‘glam folk’, country and rock. Listening to a set from King Charles can only make your day that much better.
I was lucky enough to be able to catch up with Charles Costa (King Charles) backstage before his set supporting Panic! at the Disco last Thursday night at Manchester’s O2 Apollo. We talked about everything from what’s happening with his forthcoming second record, his influences and whom he would take to the ball if he was in a Jane Austen novel, Mississippi Isabel or Lady Percy? You might be surprised by the answer.
CHARLOTTE (BITTER SWEET SYMPHONIES): Firstly, I’d like to say thanks for this interview. What’s one thing that we should all know about King Charles that we might not know about you yet?
CHARLES: I don’t really know…yeah I don’t know what I want to people to know about me or not know.
You’ve said before that some of your main influences are God, girls and the passage of time, are these themes still prevalent in your new material?
Yeah very much so. Maybe even more so.
Am I right in thinking that you’ve finished working on your second record?
Well, it’s becoming rather complicated my second record. It’s becoming clear that business is battle. I’m dreaming of the days when I was a carefree artist, I won’t go into too much detail.
How was the process working on this record?
Interesting, it was an interesting experience. I made the whole thing myself in my house mainly and then did drums elsewhere, but it was a very, very isolated experience, which is great in some ways but then in other ways it was quite a lonely time and I have a very small studio with no windows in it.
I became a caveman, 12/13 months of recording. I started growing hairs on my forehead [laughs] no I didn’t really.
How did it compare to working on your début?
It was different. I was making the sounds that I wanted to make and I was very close to what I wanted to do and I was in control, which I was lesser on the first one.
How many songs did you write for the album?
Can we be expecting a similar sound to LoveBlood or has it taken a slightly different path?
It has taken a bit of a different path. I don’t really know what is going to happen to this album right now.
You mentioned recently on twitter that you and Fred Macpherson (Spector) exchanged some of your new songs with each other. What was the response you got back from Fred about the songs and just out of interest what did you think of Spector’s new material?
Well, let me tell you. You’re in for a really good surprise with Spector’s new stuff. Fred was very complimentary I remember. But, there’s a huge amount of different opinions I’ve had on the album and it’s very difficult to know how close you should stay to your artistic instincts and how much artistic influence you should let in or comment or critique, you know how important that is. I think it’s a real journey.
I find that your music is very quotable and memorable, it stirs something inside you and it’s powerful because of that. You’re particularly good at writing the perfect lyric. So I wanted to ask, what’s your favourite lyric that you’ve written so far?
That’s a nice question.
My favourite lyric that I sing with the most gusto is probably “Love will set your soul on fire”.
Loveblood told many stories of love and lust, whether that be true love, temptation or unrequited love. Between the release of Loveblood and your forthcoming second record, do you feel that your perspective on love has changed at all? What have you learned about love from touring the album?
I have learnt that love is something to be invested in rather than claimed from.
We as fans get star struck when meeting our favourite bands and celebrities and I’m sure that happens to many people when they meet you. Have you ever got star struck when meeting anyone famous?
Yes and I still do get star struck actually. Even people I’ve known for ages when they become famous, there’s like an aura or something surrounding them that kinda changes their presence and I get very star struck by really, really talented…not necessarily really, really famous people just really like capable, capable musicians whether it’s in rock n roll or in classical music.
I’ve got a friend called Charlie Siem, who’s a violinist, he’s phenomenal. I always feel star struck with him because he’s so capable in what he’s doing. His work is so sophisticated, there’s no like distortion boxes or massive decibels to hide behind, it’s just him and a violin.
Didn’t you meet The Rolling Stones when you played Hyde Park?
Oh yeah, I did. I was pretty star struck actually meeting Keith Richards. That was pretty awesome. I compared shoes with Charlie Watts, we both had tassels [pointing to his shoes].
You’ve got lots of festivals scheduled for this summer, including T in the Park and Positivus. How excited are you to get back out there playing festivals and are there any bands you’d love to check out while you’re there?
I want to see Sam Smith, I saw him actually last festival, Standon Calling maybe. I thought he was great, and then everything’s kicked off for him since that. I wanna see Jake Bugg. Who else, what else is good?
Are Haim playing T in the Park? I think they are.
I don’t know, it’d be interesting to see them actually.
Are they gonna be at Glastonbury?
I’m not sure. I know they’re playing Latitude.
Oh, oh Latitude. Are we doing that Geoff? [to his tour manager]
GEOFF: Latitude? Yeah.
Yeah I’d like to see Haim.
It’s a cool stage you played last time as well at Latitude.
Yeah, that was wicked last time.
You joined the Panic! At The Disco tour yesterday in Glasgow, how was the show and have you been able to hang out with the guys from Panic! yet?
No, I haven’t even met them yet. Glasgow was great. It was raining there as it’s raining now. I was quite nervous actually. Really fun. Really fun short sets, it’s almost kind of over while you’re warming up and getting in to it.
How was the reaction?
Yeah it was good. I was pleased actually.
If you were in a Jane Austen novel, who would you take to the ball? Mississippi Isabel or Lady Percy?
Aww man. That’s definitely my favourite question ever.
I would take…aww, why are you doing this to me? They’re both seriously great dates, I don’t know if they’d say yes to my invitations. I’d probably choose the secure option or I might ask them first like months in advance.
I would probably wanna go with someone else actually, I wouldn’t go with either of them. I’d go with somebody that actually likes me [laughs].
You have a great relationship with your fans, is there anything you’d like to say to them now?
I miss you. Sorry I haven’t been around more. I wanna be around more and more and more.
Like that tour we did in April last year, I wanted that to be followed up each month. I wish I could’ve done 30 shows, in 30 days times 12. That’s what I wanna do. I just need to get some more fans to make sure people come to the shows.
A special thanks to King Charles for this interview and for more info on him and his music, check out the following links below.