Originally formed in Brighton but now rooted in Clapham, Stout alt-rockers PUPPET KINGS are making new friends and pricking ears with their infectious and driving sound that has already earned the riff merchants favourable descriptors that liken the band to everyone from Foo Fighters and Guns N Roses, through to Queens of the Stone Age and Alice in Chains. PUPPET KINGS have a new video for the track, The Message – https://youtu.be/qFwYD9-wCiY , which has been taken from their forthcoming new EP, The Mountain, out Friday 1st March.
Ever since their inception, PUPPET KINGS have undertaken an impressive live manifesto, which, more than ever, continues to this day. The power duo, comprising of Tomas Cochrane (Guitars, Bass and Vocals) and Harry Lehane (Drums and Vocals), are famed for delivering live shows that are ram-packed with energy and raw passion. These rock purists have also shared the stage with a diverse range of artists spanning from Skindred, Therapy and Royal Blood, through to Slade and Freeze the Atlantic.
As well as a keen desire for hitting the road, PUPPET KINGS have also released a series of well-received EPs and videos. In 2015, the band joined up with artist management company Animal Farm to produce their debut EP, Timebomb. The release was then followed up with 2017’s Very Cool and Groovy EP, which received a glorious KKKK review in Kerrang! Magazine. However, the duo’s most impressive release is their forthcoming EP, The Mountain. Featuring four fiery cuts of imposing modern rock, the record shines bright and commands your attention. The band’s current single, The Message – https://youtu.be/qFwYD9-wCiY , is a true indicator of the EP’s grit, anthemic appeal, and sonic mastery.
For any of our readers who are unfamiliar with yourself / yourselves tell us a little bit about your band.
Tom: Puppet Kings are a 2 piece rock band from the South East of England following in the footsteps of 2 piece bands like the Black Keys and Royal Blood.
We are inspired by classic rock and feature chunky riffs, whaling guitars, twin harmony vocals and pounding drums.
What was your earliest memory of music that peaked your interest?
T: Learning the riff from “Layla” by Eric Clapton when I was 9 years old. That was a real buzz moment and got me in to playing rock guitar. Then I joined a band at school and became obsessed with all things rock.
Harry: Playing the worst Nirvana covers on a drum kit I didn’t know how to set up properly, about age 14. Kick started it all really.
Who was the first album / single you purchased?
T: All Change by Cast. At the peak of Brit Pop when Oases and Blur were dominant and at school you would argue about who was better.
H: Under The Iron Sea by Keane and How to Get Everything You Ever Wanted in Ten Easy Steps by The Ordinary Boys! At a Sainsburys petrol station. I remember it well.
When did you first pick up your respective instrument / or start singing?
T: I started out playing classical guitar as a kid, then I got an electric guitar when I was 14 and started learning all those classic rock songs for the band. I also started doing backing singing in the band and then when I went to Uni and I started to sing myself and became a lead singer.
H: It was as simple as a friend at school asked if I knew anyone that could play drums for a band they were starting up, so much like the moment Ricky Gervais has when he lies for the first time in The Invention of Lying, I lied my balls off and said I could play. They straight away said I was in the band and so I got my nan to take me shopping for a new drum kit which we set up in a spare room at my nan’s house and went from there! It was honestly the worst noise we could’ve possibly made. I didn’t know what I was doing but it was some of the best fun I’ve had in my life. My nan was really deaf too so that helped.
What route did you take with your music / instrument / lessons / music school / self-taught and any fond memories of that journey?
T: We had free guitar lessons at my little school so that’s how I got in to strumming away with mostly Christian songs because it was a church of England School. Its funny ten years later I got in to rock and metal which is altogether more Satanic.
H: Self-taught for 10 years. It was only a couple of years ago when I felt I was in a rut with my playing, so I decided to get private drum lessons for the first time to start right back from the beginning so I could have a solid foundation to build on and open up my world a bit more. Just a few lessons did the trick!
Who were your hero’s as a young musician that inspired and pushed you to want to be a musician too?
T:I had a guitar teacher in my teens who ran the local guitar shop called Ben Fleetcroft. The man could shred the guitar like nobody else i have ever seen play. He was a tall blond eighties rock god and I really wanted to be able to play like him. So I practiced like crazy to get my technique to the standard where I could do some cool things on the guitar.
H: The Rev from Avenged Sevenfold really got me serious about drumming but since I’ve been singing a lot more and even fronting in a band for a while my absolute idle and someones skill set I aspire to achieve is Conor Mason from Nothing But Thieves. He’s got the bloody voice of an angel and I want it. I love doing acoustic covers of their songs and it’s made me a much better singer.
Is there one particular album or song that gave you a “Eureka” moment from your youth that made you want to be a musician?
T:Appetite for Destruction by Gun and Roses. The guitar work on that album is outstanding. I love the groove, the swagger, the attitude. Everything comes together and for me its the perfect rock album. I needed to be in a band playing guitar like Slash.
H: Believe it or not, I used to love RnB and Hip Hop. Usher, Akon, Eminem, all the old skool starts like them had me gasping for the artistic licence they had. I used to love Daniel Bedingfield too haha. One of the main reasons I strted to enjoy singing from a young age! Nothing serious but you always wanted to hit those high falsetto notes!
What was the best gig you’ve ever attended?
T:Alice in Chains at the London Hammersmith. It was on the Black gives way to Blue tour and it was really amazing. After Layne Staley died I didn’t think I would ever get to see them play live. The fact that they reformed with new Singer Willam Duvall and made such an incredible album. It was just really emotional and intense and a special moment for me to see them.
H: I’ve been to hundreds. So hard. Nah, I just couldn’t. I’d be here all day.
Do you have any musical guilty pleasures?
T:Duran Duran are a definite guilty pleasure. I love their glam funk pop and crazy hair. View to a Kill is a tune!
Right now I’d digging Havana by Camila Cabana. I like the groove on it but it needs more guitar ha ha.
H: I can’t stand pop but for some reason I LOVE One Direction. They’re pretty much the definition of a guilty pleasure for metalheads but I can’t help it! Massive on My Chemical Romance too. They’re sick and people just have to get over that.
So any new music in the works currently or just released?
T:Our new EP “The Mountain” released in March with our lead single “The Message” out now
Where and when did you record it?
T:We recorded it in the summer in Guildford at Spiral Studios. The same place we recorded our last EP “Very Cool and Groovy”
How does the song writing process generally work for you?
T:Noodling! It usually starts with noodling or jamming. Every once in a while a cool riff pops up and then we build a song around it.
I find you cant force song writing. It has to come organically. The riff or the hook is usually the first building block which inspires everything else.
What route have you taken to build up and establish a fan base locally & beyond your local area?
T:Playing live around the country, getting featured on local radio shows, releasing music and videos. Its a bit of everything really. The key is hard work and being really good.
Ultimately its all about the songs. If the songs are good, people will be interested in your band.
What is the music scene like locally to you and where do you fit in?
T:The Music scene in the South East and in particular in Brighton has always been really strong. You have the music colleges and Universities so there is a lot of talent around. The diversity of the music is really cool as well but its good to see there is still a strong rock scene going. A lot of the stuff at the moment is math core or hard core so we are probably a bit more straight up classic rock to these bands but its cool because it makes us stand out a bit more, especially as a 2 piece. We dont really sounds like anyone else. There are elements of classic rock in our songs but we give it a modern twist.
Do you feel there are enough venues around you to help promote and establish up and coming bands like yourself?
T:There are definitely less than there used to be and they are closing all the time. Local venues are so important to young bands and the local scene. Landlords building flats next to music venues and then complaining about the noise, it just seems really unfair. The Star in Guildford for example which has always been a really important venue for myself and local bands is under threat from this exact problem. We have to take a stand and protect these kinds of places.
What would you like to see ideally to help hard working bands / artists get better exposure and opportunities to make a living form their craft?
T:More support for good local venues would be key for me. It would be nice if there were a few more forums like BBC introducing which give aspiring artists a platform to present their music. Particularly if there was more rock orientated one.
H: One thing that winds me up is big bands forgetting, or moreover dismissing what got them to where they are now. If it wasn’t for fans they wouldn’t be able to do what they love for a living. How about help us struggling bands with a lot of potential but no platform or support to showcase it. Buy-ons man, you’d have to be a piece of shit to make a band pay thousands just to tour and play a gig or 2 with you. It’s disgusting and something I would never do. Help the little guy out.
What is the best piece of advice you have received on your journey thus far?
T:Keep writing better songs. That’s the best piece of advice I have been given. Its all about the songs. Beyond everything else.
H:We’ve been umming and ahhing a lot about getting a bass player or seeing if we can hold up just the 2 of us. I was pretty adamant that being a 2-piece is a great niche to be in if we can nail it and it could be the deal breaker at the end of the day. Although Royal Blood are so sick and I genuinely love their music, they are some much bigger because they’re a 2-piece. I don’t think there’s any beating around the bush with that one. Anyway, what I’m getting at is I was so set on that being the “thing” that would do it for us before Tom not too long ago said whether we’re a 2-piece or not, it’s the songs that are going to make it for us, nothing else. Damn true!
What would you say has been the biggest lesson you have learnt on your journey to date?
T:Keep going and enjoy playing music above all else. That’s the main thing. Enjoy being in a band. Its actually a privilege to play music and should never be taken for granted.
H: I’ve made the decision that music is going to be my life. Whether I’m successful or not. I just can’t see myself doing anything else professionally despite enjoying a lot of other vocational jobs/activities in life. It has to be music. I would just say, if you wanna make it, don’t go half arsed about it, pursue it til your wits’ end.
With the music industry always constantly changing – how have you had to adapt to the ever-changing landscape?
T:We have been much more active providing content online. Making more music videos and recording more. I think that is key. Its so much more about interaction now on a daily basis.
H: I think people like to watch things a lot more now. Keep putting out music vids/live shows/filmed acoustic recording. It’s more engaging than just passively listening to a track on you way to work.
Does the introduction of New Technology / Digital Age / Social Media etc enhance your life as a musician or do you feel it can be more of a hindrance?
T:In reaching about and being heard by new people, social media and technology offers a great opportunity for bands. Its just you have to be really good to stand out from the crowd. It also means more work though as you have to be as good on the social media interactions as you are at the song writing.
So moving forward what’s next for you?
T:Gigs in 2019 supporting the release of our new EP. We will be touring around the UK in support of the Mountain and we cant wait for people to hear these songs live.
How do you see the evolution of the band?
T:The most obvious change has been going from a 3 piece to a 2 piece band. That has been a challenge but also really exciting. I put my guitar through a guitar amp and a bass amp use loop pedals and Octave Pedals to deliver a wall of sound. As an artist I think my songwriting has matured and the subject matter of my songs has become perhaps more political.
H: We’re both gonna have to be more tech-y and buy more advanced gear to cope with being a 2-piece band on a wider scale. I’m looking forward to our journey there. A long way to go yet.
Do you have any short-term or long-term goals in mind?
T:Short term is to play some really good rock festivals in 2019. 2000 Trees would be a dream festival for us to play. We have applied and I really hope we get on.
H: Short-term would be supporting some cool up and coming bands. If there’s any bands out there that fancies us then we’re all ready to go! Long-term is to be able to look back and say we did it!
If you could tour with any band or artists who would that be?
T:I would love to tour with a band like Royal Blood as they are also a 2 piece and have been a real inspiration in how you can make a huge rock sounds with just 2 people.
Check out the video for our new single “The Message”