BioThe King of France's new self-titled album has all the jittery majesty of their hometown of New York City, a place where heartfelt songs about dread and wonder make a whole lot of sense. The influences are clear - you'll hear everything from early Talking Heads to middle-era Velvet Underground to late-period Beatles, and much more besides - but the King of France are master alchemists in recombining them, taking their favorite disparate chunks of rock history and turning them into purest musical gold.
The King of France began in early 2002, when Steve Salad moved to New York City and began playing solo acoustic shows at the legendary Sidewalk club in the East Village. Salad, who was the leader of underground sensations Deformo "the best band in Minneapolis" raved City Pages in 1998 and guitarist with the Kelley Deal 6000, met Michael Azerrad after one of these shows. Azerrad, a veteran music journalist and the author of a couple of classic rock books, approached Salad and asked if he needed a drummer. Even though Azerrad's only musical instrument was the sousaphone (for which he won the prestigious Altschul Award in 1988), the two musicians began creating spontaneous, fully formed songs, calling their telepathic compositions "improv pop."
For Salad and Azerrad, the whole idea was to make music that would make you want to spin around with arms outspread, Von Trapp-style, and to search for the refreshingly unselfconscious elation that pervades their songs. "Life is too short to be cool or ironic," says Michael. Adds Salad, "I want people to relate to this music, see something they already knew but didn't realize they did."
A year later, former Deformo sideman Tom Siler joined and the trio played all over New York at clubs like Tonic, Pianos, the Mercury Lounge, Northsix and Fez. Live (in concert it's just voice, guitar, keyboard and drums), the personalities were just as captivating as the music: Salad like a last-chance Vegas lounge performer with a dash of Andy Kaufmanic audacity; Azerrad single-mindedly focused and frenziedly intense; Siler, with ever-present cigarette (later, nicotine inhaler) a dissolute but dazzlingly witty musical prankster.
Soon the King Of France began recording their self-titled album, eventually laying down tracks in some seven different studios in New York City, upstate New York, and Minneapolis-St. Paul. After the album was recorded, Siler left the band to pursue an advanced degree in applied forensic illustration.