For as long as I can remember, a quasi-joke running around the Fayetteville music scene has been the Curse. If you are a band in Fayetteville and you record and release an album, you will break up. And, tragically, the Curse comes true more often than not. It came true for Kings of New England whose last show was also their CD release party.
Kings of the New England were the first band that was made up of friends of mine and they were the first local band that I was passionate about. I’ve spilled a lot of ink on KONE over the years, as I wrote their press kits, blogged about their shows and even wrote the reviews of their releases for KXUA. So I’m not going to say a ton here.
They started off as a pretty standard 00s post-punk band, albeit one with more hardcore influence than normal. Les Savy Fav was a pretty clear influence. They recorded a demo pretty early on that shows what they sounded like pretty well. They started on an album, but it was aborted due to an unfortunate hard drive crash. I have been told that the original takes still exist, but all the mixing and editing work was lost.
By the time they final released an album (2005’s On the Cusp), their sound had changed considerably. Their new songs all had a more metal sound and they had started going in some pretty progressive directions. This later (and better) sound is exemplified by “The Golden Cove”, a 9 minute epic that is a lot closer to Mastodon or the Mars Volta than Les Savy Fav or Fugazi. Unfortunately, they broke up before they could fully step into this new sound. On the Cusp really did sound like a band on the cusp of a major transition, which made it a fairly difficult debut album. It had some of the first songs that they had written and those just didn’t sound like they should have been on the same disc as the newer material. While still a fun listen, it really did feel like an album and a half. If they had made the album a year earlier, it would have been a great post-punk debut album. If it had been made later and had none of the songs from the theoretical debut album, it would have been an incredible progressive punk album that would have make a lot of heads turn. As it is, it got some decent reviews, but non-fans didn’t really know what to make of it.
After they broke up, guitarist Tommy Atkinson shifted his focus to his other band Storm the Castle!, an incredible (and very non-prolific) metal band that are working on album that will hopefully come out late this year or early next year. Vocalist Roger Barrett & drummer Chris Byrne are now in a band called the Counterlife who sound like Henry Rollins fronting Hey Mercedes. Chris also does some solo singer/songwriter stuff. Bassist Paul Wardein was in a folk group called the Early Morning Bourbon Girls, but I don’t think they are still around. Guitarist Jonathan Haguewood is no longer involved in music.
I’ve posted “The Golden Cove” from On the Cusp, as that is the best thing the band ever did. I’ve also posted their 3 song demo. They never sold it at shows, so I don’t think too many people have a copy of it. I used to have a few live recordings, but those were lost in a hard drive crash. I have also been told that there is a recording of their live show, but that the sound quality is pretty bad. If I can ever get my hands on any other of the band’s recordings, I’ll be sure to post them here.
Kings of New England – Woodson Lateral (from their demo)
Kings of New England – Space is the New Seattle (from their demo)
Kings of New England – Dot the i (from their demo)