Chris Spedding & King Mob Are Ready
To Rock Your World
By Ralph Greco, Jr.
In a band made up of such rock and roll stalwarts as guitar legend Chris Spedding, Pretenders drummer Martin Chambers, Stephen W. ‘Snips’ Parsons (vocalist with 70s legends Sharks), and newcomers bassist Toshi Ogawa and guitarist Sixteen, you can expect a wide swatch of appeal from King Mob and their debut album, Force 9.
“Love Of High Renown” is a pure rockabilly-based opener with Snips’ vocals riding nicely over that hard tight beat Chambers is known for. “Whose Chasing Who” has got a 4x4 trashy beat but it’s oddly romantic and somewhat commercial with an effective riff and vocal — a pretty damn good song recorded in only four days!
Perfect studied guitar interplay and dynamics make “Secret Song” the perfect tremolo guitar ballad to hit us about midway. The “huh” and “ha” and backing vocal shouts throughout “American Salves” make it a cookin’ little single-string guitar ditty even if Snips sounds a little bit like Buster Poindexter. I just love the jangle of both the guitars and Chambers’ loose snare hits on “Chapel Of Love,” right up there with the single “Va Vah Voom” and “Whose Chasing Who,” another cool one with a chunky middle that lifts the song to a place I never expected.
“Make That Call” is a tight little rocker filled with atmosphere. And what’s not to dig about the noise and Chambers rolling up from the depth drumming and the western movie feel riffing of “China Waters.” In the end, it would be easy enough to call Force 9 a rockabilly record, but that requires some clarification.
With credentials that include playing with Elton John, Roxy Music, Robert Gordon, Paul McCartney and a host of others, Chris Spedding has been around the rock and roll block party more times than most. I spoke with him briefly about King Mob’s rockabilly style and the band’s future plans.
I know your professional musical background, diverse and celebrated as it is (and I personally think it damn well should be!) has seen you working in rockabilly a bit, with Robert Gordon and also with The Razorbacks, to name a few. Do you consider this particular genre one you go back to again and again or one you have been wanting to explore again?
I enjoy playing rockabilly. It is the first thing that turned me on to music in the late 50s so I remember those records by Elvis and Eddie Cochran, etc., when they came out for the first time and I remember the impact they had on everyone. We never used the term “rockabilly” back then, it was all “rock’n’roll”. When I first met Robert Gordon in 1978 he said, “I hope you can play rockabilly”, and I asked him what he meant. He said. “You know, Scotty Moore and all that stuff.” Fortunately I knew exactly what he meant – he was talking about my roots.
Are there specific elements to rockabilly that particularly stand out for you as a player?
Rockabilly is a simple and very direct form which is always fun to play, and we hardly ever have to rehearse — another thing that appeals to me! There are elements of this genre in a lot of what I do but I don’t consider myself a rockabilly purist.
AAnd you and singer Steve ’Snips’ Parsons have continued to work together since Sharks.
Steve and I have always been in touch and have collaborated on many a project over the years. During his period of writing for film and TV, I would often contribute guitar parts. We have worked together on film and TV music both in London and L.A. and several of my solo albums have had compositions or collaborations with him; I often call him when I need a good song lyric. So yes, King Mob is just a continuation of all that for Steve and myself.
What are some not-so-apparent benefits or disadvantages of playing in a band where there are two guitar players as opposed to bands where you are the only guitarist?
If Steve picks up the guitar — as he often does, especially in the studio — then there are three guitars going. Sixteen has a unique style and I’m happy to let him take leads when he wants, leaving me to add rhythm and coloring behind him. We play off each other a lot and the whole sound of the band is dependent on having more than one guitar. If I’m the only guitar player in a band, it is sometimes quite limiting because you have to keep a rhythm going, so your soloing options are affected by that.
I know Pearls (Spedding’s most recent solo release) was released in September (2011). Are you working on any new solo material or just concentrating all your energies on King Mob for the foreseeable future?
I never saw myself touring with Pearls, it was a studio project. King Mob’s Force 9, on the other hand, was always conceived as an album that could be played live. So my recording and touring with King Mob is the priority. If I get any ideas I can put them down at my home studio. Some will no doubt end up as King Mob and some will end up on my next solo album, if I decide to do one.
When a project like King Mob comes along, something you are obviously very dedicated to, do you just take yourself out of ‘hired gun’ status for a prescribed amount of time, or do you find you still do the occasional guest spot then run back to play and jam with Martin, Steve and the guys?
When Steve and I had Sharks I stopped doing all other work. This time I’m a bit more relaxed about it and I do other work if I have the time. I think the other band members all have other things they like to do too.
What are your touring plans, if any, for King Mob? Are you guys going to hit the States, Asia, anywhere else?
I have heard that there are plans to go to Japan but nothing firm yet. Of course, all bands want to go to the USA, and I’m sure we’ll get there eventually. We hope to do some festivals in the summer of 2012.
To learn more, go to the King Mob web site.