FPSF 2016 Preview: King Finn

kingfinn1I didn’t get King Finn‘s music at first. I am a graybeard. Think: Van Halen posters and Flying V guitars. The oldest guy in this band was born after I’d crashed my first Mustang. So admittedly, this all begins with a little butt-sniffing, and finding common ground on what it means to be in a rock band in modern-day America. If you want to see what it all means, check ’em out at this year’s Free Press Summer Festival and see for yourself.


SCR: Do you consider yourselves a rock band?
Jeremy Ortiz: We tell people we’re indie Space Rock, what with the texturized ambience and dynamics we tend to use.

Jakub Ausobsky: Driving rhythms, dynamic instrumentation, with moments of melodic ambience.

Jeremy: It all helps that we’re infatuated with space and the universe and togetherness.

So who are your favorite Houston rock bands?
Jeremy: ZZ Top, Scale the Summit, and The Suffers.

For me, I would add Sprawl, deadhorse, the 13th Floor Elevators… Maybe more as we go along.
Jakub: Another Run!

Jeremy: I like The Beatles, Floyd, and Radiohead.

Jakub: Hendrix, Floyd, Zeppelin, AC/DC, Rush, and Steely Dan.

Yeah, AC/DC! The Ramones and Queen.
Jeremy: Oh, absolutely add Queen on there.

Jakub: I can’t believe I forgot Queen.

Why don’t any of you have long hair?
Jeremy: I guess Jakub has the longest hair right now. Might be past his shoulder. Prior to that, our recently passed guitarist, Alan Huynh, had the longest mane of us all. Perhaps we subconsciously don’t grow it out in honor or him and the place he held within our band’s look.

Do you think that rock ‘n’ roll suffered when it ceased to be a group of easily identifiable, long-haired, social outcasts?
Jeremy: I don’t believe it suffered at all. In fact, I think it helped expand the genre more. I’m speaking for myself when I say this, but I’ve always thought hair metal from the ’80s is some of the weakest cookie-cutter shit out there.

Another thing: I don’t think any of us have any aspirations to look like the images to you see when you Google “rock star”. We think of ourselves as musicians first and foremost.

Toph Gallego: Long hair never looked great on me, personally. Thick and curly, I would have something of an afro — that is, if my hair wasn’t thinning. Oh, and my vote was ZZ Top for the win. I also agree with Lightning Hopkins. Big, bold, and beautiful is how I personally like to describe our music to people. Indie-space-rock covers that, with the upbeat tempo and catchy melodies peppered with depth and ambiance. It’s huge. You can get lost in it. And my favorite bands are Queen, U2, Floyd, Hendrix, and the Chili Peppers.

Jakub: What people once knew as rock ‘n’ roll might be dead, but I personally believe it has consistently evolved into something new. “Rock star” status is no longer about hair, and as you mentioned, we now have rock stars outside of the genre. But the essence of rock ‘n’ roll is alive and well and can be found in many up-and-coming Houston bands, such as Sik Mule.

Toph: I was interested in dreads in the past but that was very briefly.

Jeremy: I’d pay money to see you with dreads, Toph.

Jakub: I’m the token metalhead of the band, that’s why I like to grow my hair out. Haha!

Toph: The quintessential “rock star,” I always felt, was a devil-may-care individual, purely superficial, someone unreal, larger than life. Our music I hope can reach that grandeur, but we’re just people. Equals. I never thought the rock star attitude was something I wanted. We’re a rock band in the sense that it’s electric guitar- and drum-driven. But I’m personally just fine if we weren’t labeled as such. We’re no Led Zeppelin, and that’s cool.

But do you think, as I do, that rock ‘n’ roll in popular music has lost its danger?
Toph: Our themes tend to revolve around love and friendship, compassion and respect, understanding, while also touch on facing hard times and persevering.

Yeah, and Nixon would’ve called you dangerous, subversive, communist elements for talking that way.
Toph: Not a lot of sex, drugs, violence, or anger.

I asked about danger, not anger.
Jeremy: I would say yes, regarding Nixon, but I don’t thing that’s a bad thing. What caused the stigma against rock in the first place? Conservative families who saw Elvis shaking his hips and nearly fainted? Those people are long gone, and with them, the fear that rock is inherently evil.

Jakub: I definitely believe rock ‘n’ roll has lost its dangerous appeal. There are still cases where you’ll have your stereotypical rockstar getting into trouble, but it’s not as huge a deal.

Jeremy: But when you do see people attached to that rock ‘n’ roll stock image, it looks so forced and cheese.

Toph: Dang, Nixon. Fair point. It’s all subjective, I guess, but definitely “the times, they are a changing.”

Jakub: I personally enjoy when bands put on a get-up, as long as their music can back it up. KISS, although I’m not a huge fan, perfected that concept.

Toph: Bingo, Jeremy. It holds the same attraction to me as a lot of mainstream hip-hop. How foolish and a waste of potential music to highlight the Cartier watch you have, or the $100,000 Mercedes, or cruises in the Cayman Islands. It’s self-aggrandizing. I know where hip-hop comes from, and the struggles it has endured. However, that side of it has regressed. Same for rock ‘n’ roll, I think. It’s lost its flame. We create music to connect and reach people. What a dick move to get to that point simply to put others down or lift yourself up as greater.

I’m glad we got that Queen thing straightened out. END

[King Finn is playing at 11:20AM on 6/4/16, at the Venus Stage of Free Press Summer Festival 2016 in NRG Park, along with a crap-ton of other cool-ass bands.]

Interview by . Interview posted Friday, June 3rd, 2016. Filed under Features, Interviews.

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