King No-One frontman Zach Lout is an ambitious man despite having only played Ireland once and being booked into play a headline slot in The Academy 2 this weekend, the singer hailing from York confidently tells us towards the end of our conversation “I reckon we'll get to the 3Arena, headline and sell-out by 2026.” A lofty, if somewhat flippant long-term goal.
The York act are making a habit out of making it further than people expect though, selling over 7.000 tickets on their most recent tour of Northern Britain. “We've never been given a support tour, we've never been given any industry funding. We do everything off of our own backs, it's almost as if we don't exist” exclaims Lout. “I think people (in London) don't believe it's going on. Who's gonna believe you when you say: Oh there's this band up north that sell 7,000 tickets on tour in northern cities? Who's going to believe that. This band that nobody's heard of? You look at our streaming stats, we haven't got that many so how are we selling so many tickets? That's what people think, but we're doing the Ritz in Manchester, that's 1,500 and that's nearly sold out, you can't fake these things.”
King No-One have used a very old fashioned technique to shift those tickets extensive busking and word of mouth. But as Lout tells us it’s “hard graft” and their only option as a DIY outfit. “Busking is hard, it's kind of soul destroying. We're not signed to a label and we pay for everything ourselves, it means that we have to go out and do it, otherwise we can't afford to do anything. We make a lot of money touring, but when we're off tour we have to busk, otherwise we can't pay our rent.” King No-one will spend 12-14 hours “Grafting on Grafton Street” today to promote the Academy show, Lout informs us.
King No-One have built a reputation up north at least as being a flamboyant live experience examining the world from an alternative lifestyle stance with vivid, abstract observational lyrics.
“I'm a very emotional person and simple lyrics don't express what I'm feeling.” Explains Lout, when we enquire how well read the band are. “Quite often I don't know how I'm feeling until I hit the pen and paper and these words start coming out and I'm like oh, I didn't realise I feel that bad. I guess that's why there's more lyrical depth because there's a lot going on in the old cranium”
That’s an understatement Zach Lout is razor sharp, witty and remarkably frank. As a self-confessed feeler of deep feelings it’s no surprise that Lout is prone to making grandiose, but effect statements in his songs such as “My heart's in Alcatraz.”
“I was only 19 when I wrote that” he says referring to Alcatraz which he classes as a ‘cheesy pop song’ almost apologetically. “…but it's actually quite deep. It's about the fact that I was trying to see girls again and I started comparing them to my high school relationship which was five years previous. Memory either diminishes or exaggerates and in my case it exaggerated. I thought this previous relationship was the best thing ever…Your mind plays tricks on you, that's what memory does, the song is about that five-year gap. How you tarnish everything, how you keep ruining everything for yourself. (with false memories)."
Lout also utilises characters which he says exaggerate certain aspects of his personality as edified by the track Antichrist
“You're the first person who ever noticed that actually. In a way it's like method acting. I like to put my head into someone who is a lot more confident and a lot more unforgiving than I am. And therefore, it lets me explore the lyrics a lot easier. It's quite an LGBT song; It's about how society looks down on people, even anyone who is a little bit different, society is an absolute twat to them, especially younger people. I like to put my head into this really confident disregard for anybody else and even though it was in jest, to get the best tone out of it I had to be the arsehole that I was being in jest of.”
For Lout these characters are the perfect conduit to help him sell the songs on stage.
“That particular personality is one of my favourites when it comes to writing. "Fuck you I'm a God" (joking voice) sometimes I feel like a God you know. When I'm playing Antichrist into a room of people and my arms fly out and I sing the words 'I am a God' it really does feel like that for a second. It's great, I love getting into the character, because obviously I don't actually think I'm a God, but when I'm in that character I do, and it's hard to differentiate the real me when I'm in this character because I really get stuck in.”
Lout enjoy changing persona so much that he wouldn’t be against exploring the possibility of doing some proper acting.
“We just shot a video for our next single Out of My Mind it's about the generation back looking at us now and judging what we do. I acted out exaggerated versions of my personalities and I absolutely loved it so, yeah, I'd love to do acting. I suppose when I step out on stage that's exactly what I am doing, don't get me wrong I do feel it, but there's a few trigger moments in the set.”
One such trigger moment is Toxic Love a true story about testing the relationship waters for the first time after a serious breakup only to be unexpectedly rejected
“I'm such an emotional person, I went into a cave and hid away and the song came out at that moment. We recorded it a week later, but we had to scrap it because it was so dark that I wasn't happy with it. I wanted to rest on the emotions for a while and come back to it. We've still got that version, it's really dark. We'll definitely release it because I want people to hear how bad I was. Ego aside that was the first time I'd ever really been dumped. Before we play it, I think about the hurt that I was feeling at that point and how toxic it was; immerse myself in the feeling, the song is always played better when I do because the feelings are there.”
King No-One’s latest single Out of Your Mind sees the group exploring yet another side of Lout’s personality with a glam edge. “It wasn't meant to be rockier per se, it was just about that constant guitar grove and repetition. Our songs are up and down like yoyo's one will be soft, the next one will be a homage to hip hop, the next one will be rock. It's just whatever we fancy at the time."
The track makes some stark political references to the malaise of the western world at home and abroad. “Obviously Brexit is one of the largest things, but I don't think I would (write a song about Brexit) right now unless I did it in a real cool and interesting way. I do reference Brexit in another (unreleased) song and the USA, but I'm not one of these political songwriters who likes to say Fuck Donald Trump, Brexit's doomed or politicians are children, because it's obvious. If you're a left thinker you already know that and it's a bit of a cliche to say what everybody's already saying, so I try to address these things in a better fashion. That lyric is a bit about Brexit, but also all the other clump of shit that's going on at the minute."
"Brexit? It's a head in hands, I think there's an actual emoji for it. It'll be bad for everybody. What I hate most about this is the western world has taken a massive right step and I'm not trying to say right is wrong and left is right. But what frustrates me about everything is we are living on is borrowed land.
This is Dublin, yes, I agree, but this is no more Irish than it is Australian. It's just land. You've got America who are locking their borders. Remember (America) that's the biggest genocide in history, they wiped out the Indians and called it their land, but it's not their land they took that land. Borders are ridiculous I know you can't get rid of them over night, but I don't feel like because I was born in the UK I have any more right to live in York than someone fleeing Syria, I don't. I was just lucky enough to be born there, they weren't. I don't think anybody should have more right that people from other places it frustrates me."
People just believe what they are told. If you're told something is 'as is' all your life you'll believe it. It takes a very rare person to sit there and say 'hang on I want to investigate this I want to find the truth'. Maps sum it up for me, if you get a normal map it's done to scale, but the countries are completely out of proportion."
The standard maps anywhere that you go has England down as this little Island, which it is and Europe and Russia which is a massive landmass, then USA, Canada South America. And Africa is always smaller than Russia, but it's twice the size, it's the biggest landmass on earth. It blew my mind, these maps are made by western countries to imply that they are bigger and more powerful than they are."
King No-One play The Academy 2, Dublin, Friday 9th November, 2018. Tickets €15.00. Support from State Lights