King Tide stir a gooey pot of smack talk about music, life and lockdown

Coming from their first release in 3 years, King Tide chat with Happy about life off-grid, rock-steady reggae, and working with dragons.

The golden bursting group of character and flair, King Tide chat with Happy about their latest release, It’s a Lock Down.

From the close-to-home chats that inspired the track, to the not so ordinary experience of working with a hot-headed dragon in their music video – King Tide are infectious with their colourful energy even from the confines of Sydney’s lockdown.

King Tide
Photograph via Facebook @KingTide.au

HAPPY: Hey Tony! Whereabouts do you find yourself today?

KING TIDE: I find myself, right here, right now in Alexandria. No, no not the largest city on the Mediterranean – not in the fourth-largest city in the Arab world and the ninth-largest urban area in Africa. Or as locals know it the “Bride of the Mediterranean”; No, I’m not in North Africa. I can’t even travel as far as North Bondi. I’m in the Alexandria that borders Newtown, Erskineville, Redfern, and Marrickville, my own little Idaho 5 km universe.

HAPPY: Who is King Tide? How did the group start?

KING TIDE: Who is King Tide? Look, I know it’s a cliché. That everyone says this at some point or other about the band they are in. They say it because it’s true. King Tide is a family. It’s us against the world. And what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. And we aren’t dead yet. When you have been touring and playing together for over fifteen years. You see the worst and best in each other. We are the sum total of all its parts. We are family; It’s a family affair…

How did the group start? It started by accident. I received a phone call from Glenn Wright, of Harbour-side Brassiere venue days, Vitamin Records, Mullumbimby Music and Arts festival. Glenn was booking the Beach Road hotel in Bondi and he asked me if I could put a Rock steady Reggae/soul band together to play on Thursday nights twice a month. I said, I was just about to ring you to see if you had any DJ work. Everyone was a DJ then. But what you’re suggesting sounds like a whole lot more fun. Then he said do you have a name. Mmm name, so I thought Jamaican music and the first word that came into mind was legendary J.A producer King Tubby, ok King, then I thought Bondi surf, water, tide. Big Tide Bingo King Tide.

What about King Tide Glenn? Glenn said that’s the name then. I’ll put that name on the advertising. I’ll see you next month. Next month King Tide was born on the carpeted floor of the Beach Road Hotel.

HAPPY: Massive congrats on the release of It’s a Lock Down! Tell us a bit about the track…

KING TIDE: Thank you! Well the track all happened because I was in Faros Bros Fish Shop in Marrickville. And bumped Frank the Tank, and he kicks off, you know, with usual un-pleasantries. Have you seen Teddy he still owes me that ten bucks. You laugh, you tell him the usual bullshit. He asks; you working? Got any gigs? And you go; All my gigs have been cancelled. Then you say; hey? And Frank the Tank goes, hey what? You go; All my gigs have been cancelled, that’d be a good first line for a song. Frank the Tank replies; well you know sufferer, they do say write about what you know. So here it is, a song about what I know.

HAPPY: How did you manage to create a full-blown track and music video in the middle of lockdown? Was it challenging trying to navigate the digital chopper explosions?

KING TIDE: With the magic of technology you can move mountains without actually being there to move the mountain. We used dropbox to spread our musical virus between individuals for mixing and such. Which turned out very fortuitous. As Paul Snatch, band member who was mixing the song while I was shooting and editing film clips, actually caught the virus. Still suffering with the virus he soldiered on mixing the tune in his home studio in the sunny isles of Bundeena.

When it came to shooting the clip. The streets were empty. So we could blow up the helicopters with impunity. Though the fire-breathing dragon was a bit of pain to work with. He had a big part in Game Of Thrones. He had such a big head. Total wanker star stuff. But our down to earth Inner West crew soon put him in his place. We Started calling him ‘Puff’ as in ‘Puff The Magic Dragon’. That gave him the shits. Which gave more fire.

HAPPY: This track is your first release in 3 years! What made this gem the tune that pulled you out of a hiatus?

KING TIDE: We were in lockdown. There were no gigs. Had to do something or donate my body to cheap liquor.

HAPPY: You describe your sound as rock steady reggae, who are some sonic influences for this sound?

KING TIDE: ‘Rock steady, reggae-got soul’. But it wasn’t King Tide that came up with that description, It was Glenn Wright. I was standing at the bar with him after our first gig at The Beach Road. And he shouted it in my ear; Rock steady reggae got soul. I said, oh yeah, that sounds like a manifesto. So I it wrote it down on a beer coaster. I showed the beer coaster to my wife. She said, just keep it crucial. She was always the smart one in the family.

Our sonic influence is the broad church that is the diaspora of Jamaican Music. It is our compass. That said, it might not always be our destination.

HAPPY: How have you been keeping sane during lockdown?

KING TIDE: Just like our recently passed musical hero; ‘Lee Scratch The Up setter Perry’ was rumoured to be doing to himself before he burnt down his Black Ark studio. I have taken to Drinking a cocktail of head cleaning fluid with Guinness and walking backwards. While chanting riddling affirmations to all the gods..

HAPPY: King Tide’s presence online is pretty minimal! How have you navigated the music scene especially since it’s become so digitally orientated?

KING TIDE: Digitally orientated. You mean fodder for the matrix? We have been promising an album for the last six years. We recorded a whole album. Then basely junked it. We pulled it apart and started again. But we have fodder for the matrix coming this summer. Starting with the song, It’s a Lock down. We simply had no reason to have a digi-presence. The matrix needs data to feed off. We simply went off grid. We had no data. We have data now.

HAPPY: What can we expect in the future for King Tide (provided we can kick covid to the curb?

KING TIDE: There is no future for King Tide. There is only now and the impermanence of everything. Once you realise this, you notice that when there is no attachment, there is no duality. New opportunities will arise.

On a less philosophical note, King Tide are set to perform at Lazybones’ 8th Birthday event on November 13th – tickets can be purchased via Moshtix.