“I grew up in Seattle, moved to Tucson for a couple years for school, then followed a girl to El Paso. Yup…”Down in the West Texas town of El Paso, I fell in love with a Mexican girl…?
I was 20 when I got married, and I dropped out of school to get a job and try to be “normal” and “productive.” Sorta worked, but music was always there. I just couldn’t fly the straight and narrow without a bit of music in my life, so I joined a band called Skittle De Bop Do Wop (which ended up as Tweed Quickly.) The singer/drummer/songwriter in that band was a guy named Scott Marestein, and he was and is a great friend. And a complicated dude.
Tweed songs were HARD, so I had to buckle down and woodshed. I did, and we started playing some shows around El Paso, particularly at a club called The Attic which was owned by brothers Danny and Eddy Garcia. I knew Danny much better than Ed at that time, and when Tweed disintegrated, it was my call to start writing some songs. I did just that, and decided to call the band Little King, which is a translation of the name “Ryan” from Gaelic. We made an “album” called Transmountain and started touring and playing locally to try and build a following. Had a CD release party at the Attic in 1997, and Danny and Ed were super-supportive.
Years when by and the Attic closed, but the bass player in LK was my best friend Shannon, and he and Eddy were really good friends, as Shannon was the sound guy for Ed’s band Pissing Razors. When I finished writing our 3rd record, Virus Divine, Shannon and I got in touch with Ed and agreed to have him record the album in 2003. We hit it off both personally and musically, and he soon became the drummer as well. We’ve now made 4 records with him on drums, and I couldn’t be more blessed with a good human and fantastic drummer.
As for Manny Tejeda, he’s a Dominican native who I met in Delaware after I moved there in 2013 (followed another girl…I know, I know.) Manny and I had a bunch of mutual friends, and he just has this effervescent personality that is hard to turn away from! He didn’t have much studio experience, but he more than made up for that in talent and drive. We began writing songs in 2017, and finally journeyed down to Texas in 2019 to record Occam’s Foil. Again, very lucky to know him, and of course he and Eddy bonded (over whisky, music, and modified debauchery”.
Who were your musical influences growing up?
“Classic rock ruled my house. My big bro was a big fan of Zeppelin and Floyd, and he turned me on to Rush as well. When he gave me the album Exit…Stage Left in like 1982, I was blown away. Hooked. I HAD to know how they did that! 3 guys? Come on…
I also loved older metal like Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, and later Talking Heads, Steely Dan, The Who, and so much more. I know a lot of people think I was influenced by Prog, but I wasn’t really turned onto it beyond Yes and Rush until much later. So, my roots are in classic rock and metal…Prog is just an extension of the math side of my brain. I don’t think in 4…so I don’t write much in 4. Is Little King a Prog band? I don’t think so. Is it a rock band? Absolutely”.
What made you want to be in a band?
“As I said, I was just fascinated. Eddie Van Halen and Neil Peart were sort of the Michael Jordan of music, to me. I am a huge basketball fan, and I really try and seek out the best of the best as influences. I want to push myself and model my movements after the greats, and I was obsessed with music. I am short and feisty! Basketball wasn’t gonna happen after high school, so I focused my energy on music.
I am a self-taught guitarist, but I didn’t spend a ton of time learning other people’s songs. I suck at open mic night. Instead, to emulate the greats, I knew I had to write songs and try to record them. So I did! It wasn’t about fame and chicks and the like…I just wanted to see if I could DO it. Still do…always in search of writing the perfect song. I must say, the new album (Amuse De Q) has what I consider to be the closest I’ve gotten to achieving that goal”.
What has been your best gig?
“Viper Room in LA in about 2005. We had a record label in LA that signed us, and we went on tour with a show for them and some other labels that year. We were LIT UP! There were a bunch of warm-up shows in the Southwest just prior to that gig, so I don’t think Little King has ever played at a higher level.
When we arrived for the show in LA, we were ready. Showed up to the club, had a soundcheck, and it was a Go. Unfortunately, those guys at the label were ASSHOLES. They didn’t even show up! We were broke, tired, and a little pissed. Okay…a LOT pissed. So that energy and togetherness translated into the best show we’ve ever played. Not gonna show up? FUCK YOU. The crowd had no idea who we were when we showed up, but they sure as hell did when we left”.
Can you tell us a bit about your music?
“Amuse De Q will be released on September 3, 2021. The first single is called “Keyboard Soldier,” and we released that July 6 along with a cool lyric video directed by Vien Nguyen. The second single is “Bombs Away” and that song and video will be released on August 6.
I have never ever felt better about a Little King record. We nailed it. I had Daniel Salcido mix and Maor Appelbaum master, and those guys are total pros. They GOT it, and I’m very grateful for their passion and guidance. I am absolutely sure that our fans and those who’ve never heard us will agree. I cannot believe it’s been 25 years since LK formed…but I am equally amazed that we are still getting better all these years later. This is our 7th record, and there us a lot more gas left in the tank, for sure”.
Describe your music in 3 words.
“Dynamic Passion Rock”
What makes your band stand out from others?
“Perhaps the fact that we don’t sound like anyone else, but there are so many influences that there are many moments that might sound familiar. After 25 years, Little King just sounds like my brain on drugs. Or NOT on drugs, actually. I’m sober.
The amount of care and practice and editing should be apparent when people listen to the new album. In addition, I have a degree in creative writing, so the lyrics are as important and thoughtful as the music. I care a lot! This is my legacy, and I take that pretty seriously. If you’re into thinking and feeling, I know that this record is for you”.
If your band had to be remembered for one thing apart from your music what would you want it to be?
“As I get older, my filter fades. I used to care about not pissing people off with strong opinions…that’s no longer the case. The songs are somewhat political, particularly “Keyboard Soldier.” Amuse De Q is a compendium of my experiences in quarantine, and each track references those memories. Domestic Abuse, Social Justice, Sobriety, failed relationships, and Climate Change. It’s all in there.
If we can be remembered as the band that makes you think and reconsider what you think you know, both musically and socially, that would be nice. Would also like people to know that Bald is Beautiful 🙂”
By Siân Parker