An Australian band, the Kujo Kings has been rocking out Ska tunes for around 4 years. Ska, a niche genre of music that has evolved over many years and became particularly popular in the 90’s and turn of the century, is a bit like the love child of Reggae, Punk rock and a brass band. Ska might seem like a pretty crazy mix of music genres, but it shouldn’t be judged until it is listened to. It is good. Damn good.
The Kujo Kings is a 7 piece band with the usual array of instruments, plus some exciting additions. Guitar (Wes Kingsford), Bass (Josh Szabo) and Drums (Hughie Hanily) play alongside a Trumpet (Nathan Holt), Saxophone (James Byrne), Trombone (Ellie Lamb) and a Flute (Iva Bujanovic) to create some seriously fresh, jumpy, fun and angry music that will have you up and dancing almost as soon as they hit the stage. I know I sure was!
With such a unique and enjoyable sound, we couldn’t help but ask them a few questions.
1. For those who do not know you guys well, how would you describe yourselves?
We’re a strange mix of personalities and upbringings who combine on stage (and in pubs in general) to bring happiness through SKA, and other unorthodox entertainment methods including bad jokes, annoying pranks and tribal chants…
2. Ska is a somewhat rare genre of music to play. How did you guys end up playing Ska?
When me (Wes) and Josh were playing around with the idea of being in a band, there was a Suicide Machines song we really wanted to cover (and now wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot setlist) called “Hey”. The song required horns, and with that song and lineup, there’s pretty much only one genre you can play!
3. A 7 piece band is generally bigger than most bands. What would you say is the best and worst aspects of having such a big band?
The best aspect is definitely promotion!! We are not a band that should have over 1,600 likes on facebook. But when you have 800 members, all you need is your parents on board and kaboom there you go! Love gigs at the Tote that are filled with rellies… I guess another good aspect is that you can easily have more free beers without the other members noticing that you’re using up their share of the rider…
The worst aspect is when other members of the band use up your share of the rider!
4. Some of your songs are humorous, whilst others are more serious. Senile Delinquents is about elderly gangs controlling the streets at night, whilst acting innocent in the day time, whilst Met Cops is about the abuse of power used by Public service officers on Melbourne’s Public trains. How do you come up with such original concepts for songs?
We really enjoy satire, especially in ironic form, and I think that’s when our songs are at their best. If there’s something we want to sing about it, we’ll find a really roundabout way of making our point. But then again, we do have pointless songs like Women with Guns as well… Despite our care-free onstage persona, we’re our own harshest critics when it comes to songwriting.
5. What drives you guys to continue making music? Do other bands inspire you to make great music?
I think we have never really been fully satisfied with our achievements. Every time we come off stage, there are always areas we want to improve, and in terms of releasing music there is a common goal to release a full length LP. For us, this goal has been further inspired by bands like The Bennies and Hightime who we consider friends and peers, but who we also admire for their hard work and amazing full-length albums.
6. Every band has great stories about their performances that either went well or went hilariously wrong. Do you have any such stories?
Every time we play in Aireys Inlet, Josh takes his pants off. So I guess that’s as low as we go haha.
There are a few rowdy gigs that have been memorable – Byrnezy crowd surfing on a boogie board and giving himself a rash, Nathan going head to head with a council worker and his noise meter, driving home from tour in nothing but underwear because all our clothes were dirty, playing the Happy Tree Friends theme at the Corner Hotel and embarrassing ourselves trying to cover a Resignators song – all great memories.
One time recently, Hughie punched a hole in his kick drum during the first song, and then during the last song he broke the other side of the drum as well. HOW PUNK IS THAT! PUNK!!!!!!
There’s only one time we’ve ever had to stop a gig mid-set, and that was when a girl who was dancing suddenly passed out right in front of us. She will forever hold a place in Kujo Kings history!
7. For those eager to listen to your music, where can they find it?
You can listen and download all of our music at www.thekujokings.bandcamp.com
Our Live DVD is also available for purchase at www.thekujokings.bigcartel.com
8. Upcoming gigs?
Friday, May 16th at the Union Hotel, Brunswick