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pepe-2Kyng is one of a handful of bands that I feel like I can say that I’ve literally watched grow up before my very eyes. From a band I stumbled upon on accident opening for Black Stone Cherry (thanks Shawn!) to the powerhouse trio hand picked by Dave Mustaine to open for Megadeth, Kyng has grown by leaps and bounds. Their live shows have left people speechless and Kyng has really become a name that is being thrown around within the metal community in a very positive way.

I recently had the chance to catch up once again with their drummer Pepe Clarke. Pepe is a great friend of mine and is probably one of my favorite people to talk to. This time around we talked about their as of yet untitled follow up to their debut Trampled Sun, the differences between both the albums, and just why the Black Sabbath reunion is somewhat of a bummer. This was a really fun and at times hilarious interview. I hope you’ll enjoy this one as much as I did.

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Pepe, wake up man!

Ah, I’m wide awake now! [laughs] I didn’t recognize your number man.

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Well, I’m calling from my Google Voice line because I don’t think you’re worth me wasting valuable minutes on my cell phone.

[laughs] Good. I’m glad you feel that way. I don’t think you’re worth me staying on the line. Peace out buddy! [laughs]

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I have to say I was really pumped about doing another interview with an amazing drummer but he canceled so I called you instead.

[laughs] Man, I got your text saying that and it’s just as not funny when you say it to me on the phone.

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Pepe, it’s great to catch up with you once again dude. How are ya?

I’m good man. Everything’s great man.

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So Kyng played Bonnaroo this year. So Kyng played on a hippie granola hipsterfest?

[laughs] Yeah. We were one of the only, if the only, metal band on the bill. Paul McCartney’s played there, fucking Tom Petty, ZZ Top. I’m was stoked to see all those guys.

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That is awesome. So basically you guys show up and get free tickets for the festival.Kyng

Yeah, pretty much. They’re like, “Hey. Play for 30 minutes and you can stay for the weekend.” We were like, “OK.”

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You guys also just recently did a bunch of shows with the Sword. How did those shows go for you guys?

Those shows were rad. We love The Sword. Actually, The Sword took us out on our very first tour ever so they have a really special place in our hearts. Every show was great and everyone was really cool. We played like three Tennessee shows, Savannah, and North Carolina. I love that part of the country and it was really awesome.

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You guys have really made quite a name for yourselves over here on the East coast and you’ve really hit a lot of these same towns over and over again. Are you guys seeing a significant growth in your fanbase?

We are definitely seeing some growth. We are really seeing growth when we’re playing with other bands but I don’t know if I would be like, “Let’s do a handful of headlining shows.” More people seem to know the songs and more people know about us. We’re even seeing a few Kyng shirts before the show starts which is awesome.

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Did you guys do any new songs on these shows?

Yeah. We did “Burn the Serum” and ‘Used as a Fool”. People seem to really like them and the people that were aware that they were new songs were all excited. The new songs are definitely different so I was a little nervous to see people’s reactions to them but they really took to them.

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Speaking of the new album, where are you with the recording process or are you done?

We’re done tracking. We just need to mix the thing, then master it and then we’ll be waiting to release it.

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So do you have a title yet?

We don’t have a title yet. It’s been really hard to think of a title honestly. We will have conversations about what we should call the album and then stay silent for five minutes just staring at each other [laughs]. I don’t know if we want to have a title track or just have a title of the album. That’s kind of where the debate is at this moment.

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I’ve already given you a bunch of ideas so obviously those didn’t fly.

[laughs] Well, they are on top of the list. It’s just that we’re saying, “We’ll come up with something better, or we’ll just use Don’s ideas.” That’s basically the consensus in our meetings [laughs].

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Ok, I have another one. How about you just throw everyone a curve ball, keep them all guessing. Call the album Kyng IV.

Dude, I like it. I like it. We can do Kyng IV and then do Kyng II & III. They’ll be prequels! This is a great idea. This is a great fucking idea Don [laughs].

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If this flies, I want full credit in your liner notes.

[laughs] You’re asking for too much. That’s not going to happen. Thanks a lot man.

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Ok, so now that we got the album title debacle out of the way, how is the material itself differing from the Trampled Sun album?

When we were listening back to the entire album, I think it’s heavier than Trampled Sun but in a non-traditional heavy way. It is a bit more accessible and contained but it’s a bit more focused. Everything is very song oriented. On Trampled Sun we just went in and did whatever we wanted because we didn’t know better. We just went in and hammered out our songs and that’s what you got. Now we have production, we had an engineer, and they were feeding us so much information and they were trying to get the best out of us. On this new album you’re getting a way more focused version of Kyng. We have Jim Rota from Fireball Ministry producing the album and he’s great. He knows exactly what he wants and he’s a great musician. It was very focused.  The album just sounds so good. I’m really excited about it.

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I know that Tony told me once that you guys weren’t 100% satisfied with Trampled Sun. Looking back on that one, what about it did you say, “We’re not going to make that same mistake again.”?

Well, we had a written agreement with the engineer and producer which was great. The first one was done very amateurly in terms of we only did stuff whenever we had money. The drums were done in two days because that was the time allotted. Then we did guitar and vocals in a studio in Thousand Oaks which is like an hour from us. Everyone was working so we’d have to go there after work and get stuck in traffic, then the engineer would stop really early so we’d only be there like an hour or two and then stop. It was just a really frustrating process and not really professionally done. This time we did everything at a studio and a home base so everything was done in the same area with the same people and it was just really easy to get everything done. We also worked every single day, 7 days a week until it was done. This was just a much easier process. The first album took like a year and a half to finish. A lot of it was that we just weren’t thrilled with how Trampled Sun sounds. I mean, it’s a great record and I know that people like it but it was just so frustrating when we got it. It was a bittersweet moment when we finally got the final copy and I remember feeling a very unique sense of indifference [laughs]. It was a really bizarre moment but I think it was just out of frustration with the whole process of it just being done but not how we wanted it done.

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How much did touring, seeing the world a bit, and getting to meet awesome people like me play into the songwriting aspect of the new songs?

[laughs] Well, we do have a song called “Don de Leaumont” so you tell me bro.

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598345_10151029692640943_1565986414_nA 15 minute epic masterpiece right?

[laughs] We just chant your name [laughs]. Ok, actually, it influenced the songwriting a lot because with Trampled Sun we just had all the time in the world to write. We just wrote to have songs and it just became a never ending songwriting process. By the time we went to record Trampled Sun, we already had songs ready for this album. Like the song “Burn the Serum.” That song was done before Trampled Sun even came out. Eddie did most of the songwriting alone at his house and then we’d get together and jam and work on ideas. It was kind of time pressured. Unlike the first album, there was a time limit and we needed to get this album done.

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Do you guys have a release date for the album yet?

Not yet. We’re hoping to have it out by September but we do not have a release date yet.

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Touring in a van must make it hard to write much on the road though.

Yeah, we didn’t write too much on the road. We had a few times where we would sit down and think of stuff. “Used as a Fool” kind of happened on the road. We would rehearse it a few times during sound checks. When we played it at Orion Festival for the first time, it was actually the first time we played it. It was completely nerve racking but it worked out [laughs].

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That had to be a cool feeling.

It was an even cooler feeling when it was done and we didn’t fuck it up [laughs].

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How about tour plans? Anything set up yet or are you just concentrating on getting the album out?

We’re just concentrating on the album. Now that we’re done tracking hopefully we can start getting back out on the road soon but nothing is set in stone just yet.

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Last year was a huge year for you guys so I have to ask what was your personal highlight?

My personal highlight was being interviewed by you at The Tabernacle when we were there with Megadeth [laughs].

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Ok, what was your 2nd highlight?

[laughs] Personally, I would have to say playing the Orion Music Festival. I’m a big Metallica fan. I know it’s cool to hate Metallica but I love them. I grew up listening to them and it’s pretty much how I learned to play drums. That was definitely a highlight and touring with Megadeth was also a highlight for me.

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I’m so glad you said that man because I asked you this question the last time and you answered Orion Music Festival. I just wanted to see if I could catch you in a lie.

[laughs] Ok. Next time we do an interview I’m going to lie the entire time.

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What is the single most annoying question you get asked over and over again in interviews?

Um, well, I don’t do that many interviews. It’s usually Eddie or Tony that do them so there’s really no one question that annoys me. I don’t know bro [laughs].

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You should do all the interviews man. You’re way cooler than Tony.

[laughs] You sonofabitch! Tony and Eddie always do a great job in interviews. They’re always up front and everyone knows them. I’m the drummer. You don’t want to hear about the drummers [laughs].

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I dig talking to drummers but it’s always a hit or miss. They’re either really totally cool or socially retarded.

Well, I’m glad I’m the later one [laughs].

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Ok, let’s get silly dude. What’s your favorite TV show?

[laughs] Oh man. Hm. I just finished watching Breaking Bad. That show’s really good. I do like Walking Dead and I just finished both seasons of Louis CK which I think was just awesome.

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What do you think of this trend of bands charging to meet their fans?793872_10151169327411735_293250322_o

At first glance it looks super douchie and a “How dare you…” type of thing but man, music is such a bad place to be economically. I guess I kind of understand why bands do that, even though it’s still horrible. I think music is just in a transitional period. Nobody knows how to sell it anymore and nobody knows how to make money but people still want shows and all of that. I think the music industry is still trying to figure itself out and that includes bands that are trying to figure out how to make money to stay afloat. People think it’s so glamorous for a band to live on a bus but these bands need to make money so that they can stay on their bus because they don’t want to be in a van. Those people don’t know what it’s like to live in a van for 9 or 10 months. Some of these bands are older and they don’t want to go back to fucking being in a van. They’ve already done that for 10 years and have paid their dues so I can kind of understand it. I don’t like it but I understand why some bands would do that.

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I have to say that it seems like I’m seeing the fans buying a lot more music these days especially with bands selling their CDs on the road.

People really are starting to be a lot more supportive. It’s really cool. We get a lot of people that come to our shows and they’ll buy our album and then download it too. They’ll tell us, “I’m going to buy it from you guys now because I know you need gas money but I’m going to download it later because I want it on my computer.” Some people will buy several albums because they know it’s gas money for us. People are becoming very much aware of how hard it is for us and how detrimental not buying music is to the music industry.

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I see all these bands peddling their own merch from show to show and that’s pretty much your ticket to the next town.

We’re people that sell clothes but to sell you clothes, we’re going to entertain you first! [laughs]

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I know you’re a big Sabbath fan and I have to ask how you feel about Black Sabbath doing this whole “reunion” thing without Bill Ward?

Well, I completely disagree with it and I think that most Sabbath fans do as well. I think it’s a shame and it’s not really a reunion by what the true definition of what a reunion is [laughs]. You can call it an incarnation of Black Sabbath but it’s really not Black Sabbath. It’s just not. Bill Ward’s playing is very much a key to the Sabbath sound.

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What’s the deal with metal drummers playing these tiny ass drum kits? Don’t you ever just wanna go balls out and just get a cage with like 15 drums and 23 cymbals?

[laughs] Well, not really because I don’t have a drum tech and I have to set up all my own stuff [laughs]. I have a 5 piece kit and it takes me like 17 hours to set up just because I don’t want to do it [laughs]. I’ll set up a stand and then walk away. Then I’ll come back and set up a drum and walk away. So yeah.

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432355_10151311654340943_596021589_nNow if you had a roadie?

Bring on the Neil Peart kit bro! I mean personally, I’d love to get another bass drum. I do a lot of double bass drumming in the songs. I’d love to have two kicks. I would be down for that. I don’t know if the other guys would be down for that but I would [laughs]. We’d need a bigger trailer.

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Well look man, next time you’re in town, I’ll help you set up a few stands and drums. Hell, I helped Eddie haul his amps off the stage at the Masquerade.

How about you not help the guy with three things on stage and help the guy with 17 things on stage huh?

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And last but not least, what’s in store for the rest of 2013 brother?

Man, it’s all about this new album. Hopefully it’ll be out by September but everything else just kinda of on hold. I know that we’ll be on the road but I don’t know when or with who. Sorry that answer sucked bro [laughs].

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Pepe, as always, it’s great to catch up. You guys are my boys and I love that you always make time for me.

Don, thank you very much as always. We really appreciate all your support and you hold a little place in our hearts as well Don de Leaumont.

About Don de Leaumont

Don (aka. The Brainfart) has been a heavy metal fan since hearing it for the first time in 1983. Don is also repsonsible for all of the typos, shitty grammar, and kick ass content on this site. Don likes cheap beer, whiskey, Coca Cola Icees, going to shows, and hanging with his kick ass wife, two cats and dog. He originally wanted to name his dog Shandi but his wife said, “No fucking way.”

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