Little King are a progressive rock band, hailing from El Paso, Texas. The group consists of Ryan Roscoff (vocals/guitar), Manny Tejeda (bass) and Eddy Garcia (drums). Little King was created in November 1996 and since then, they have really changed their sound for the better. Their 2019 track ‘The Skin That I’m In’ from their EP ‘Occam’s Foil’ has currently received over 73,000 streams on Spotify alone.
In more recent times, Little King released their latest studio album ‘Amuse De Q’ late last year featuring songs such as ‘Keyboard Soldier’ and ‘Omega Son‘. The band have definitely evolved musically since their early days and we are generally excited to hear what they do next. With that, we spoke to Little King to discuss the realities of making true fans in the music business.
Where did your band name originate from?
We started off being called ‘Trash The Set’ and wrote a song called ‘Trash Heads’ as a dedication to our fans, but soon realised it was a better band name so we changed it quick smart!
How would you describe your sound in 3 words?
In Fucking Describable
Which bands inspire you the most when writing music and why?
All the usual suspects from classic 60’s through 90’s rock and a ton of reggae and 90’s hip hop thrown in for good measure. Rush, Zep, Floyd, Steely Dan. We all love Metal, too…esepcially Ed and Manny. I’m from the School of Maiden, Judas Preist, Deep Purple, early Metallica, and so on. I love the virtuosity of those 80’s metal players, and the songwriting was just what I grew up on.
You know, this morning on my desert walk, I was listening to another album that doesn’t get nearly enough love. Human Wheels by John Mellencamp is a masterpiece. To me, it has elements of everything i like…thoughtful words, killer players, and immaculate production, from the tones right up to the mastering. I think it’s a near-perfect album.
Another one…somewhat obscure, maybe, but Earth, Sun and Moon from Midnight Oil is the same way. Just a killer production job, amazing melodies and songwriting, and lyrics that just resonate. Honorable mention today to Jeff Buckley RIP, Dime, Peter Tosh, and Megadeth. “Holy Wars and “Hangar 18” still crush.
What advice would you give to bands starting out in the industry?
Getta job, hippie.
I think making music that you absolutely believe in, uncompromised by wants of fame and fortune, is the most noble pursuit that a musician can undertake. Make it for yourself, make it for your friends and family, make it for the world that needs your voice. But…the machine is cruel. Be honest with yourself…it’s HARD to do this, and even harder to make money without bending.
Also, derp. People care way less about your art than you do. Be careful…don’t try and draw too much inspiration from approval of others. Just make it the way you want it, don’t give a fuck about if it streams sells downloads views spins twists turns bites whatevers…it’s your art and it lasts forever. Respect that.
What is your songwriting process?
Essentially unchanged for the better part of 25 years, really. I write music on my old ass first guitar, an acoustic Washburn Dreadnaught that my pops got for me in 1988. I co-write with a couple electrics, back and forth, trying everything. Different tempos, time sigs, transposing the melodies a step or an octave or whatever.
This is an arduous but addictive process. I have 2 new songs that I am actually working on now, and the plants and my son and the coffeemaker are all already sick of them! Over and over and over…until it’s perfect. I try hard to avoid repeating myself, which isn’t easy after 7 albums and 25 years. Avoid cliches, avoid too much outside opinion, and as I complete them, I send the audio/video to Manny and Eddy.
For the last album, Amuse De Q, I was writing in lockdown. That allowed me some iso time but also was incredibly collaborative in that I could count on Manny to absorb the songs and write some parts, even if we weren’t together physically.
From there, we recorded in two sessions – Late Summer of 2020 and then Februrary of 2021. When we were done with the summer sessions, I went back to the lab with the bed music tracks and set about writing the lyrics. I try and chronicle my experiences in real time, but once I have to set words to music, the focus gets tighter and I lock in. The last record was topical – hell, they are ALL topical – and I distilled my experiences (and those of a few friends) into the lyrical theme.
Sang those words and finished recording strings, solos, and odds and ends as well in February of 2021, mixed in April and May in LA with Daniel Salcido and mastered with Maor Appelbaum, and the rest is stilllllll happening…
Out of all the tracks you have released, which one is the most personal to you?
Terrific question! I have 3 that fit together from teh last 3 albums, and I wanna just say a few things about each.
2014 – “Happy Home” from OD1…I wrote this as my second marriage was dissolving and I was moving from San Jose to Rehoboth Beach, DE. I didn’t know a soupl there other than my wife, who was all too ready to bounce me as soon as I go tthere. I knew it. Was walking into a trap…and bought it all. So this song and video (I actually took pics in a collage around the country on my way to Delaware of all the places I had lived since Age 3 and went for it!) I was in pain, and this one still hurts to play and sing.
2019 – “The Skin That I’m In” from Occam’s Foil…5 years later, this is my “marked safe from ex wife #2” song of triumph. It was NOT sad! Seriously, this was my answer to the healing that had happening in the interim, and I think the song is playful and fun but dark at its heart. And Iripped that guitar solo in one take and I think it’s maybe my best recorded solo. I LOVE listening to this one.
2021 – “Amuse De Q” from the album of the same name…The third in the series, this is a lament and celebration of being alone in the Q in 2020. No woman, no cry? I am pretty sure this is my best song ever. My bro is a good an even critic of my career, and he thinks so. If Big Brother Matt says so, let’s roll with it.
Which song is your favourite to perform live?
It’s been a minute, but I am ramping up for a tour in 2022. But we’ve been a stuidio band like Steely Dan and The Beatles for too long. So, May 17, 2022 is the day before I turn 50 and also the 25th anniversary of the release of Transmountain, the first LIttle King album (don’t ask…you can’t hear it.) I am planning a big musical celebration in El Paso and then the road to follow.
Used to love playing a crazy instrumental from 1998 called “Pet Black Goose” from the Time Extension album. IT’s a bitch and has a ton of hard parts, but when the band was ON…smokin’ hot and always slays. I think “Hate Counter,” “Skin,” and then about 4 songs from the new record will appear in the live set as well. I have SO MUCH material, so now I am going through it all, playing it and singing it, and making sure that it’s still in my range and moves me the way it should. Some old songs die hard, and some are happily put to rest!
How do you feel that social media has impacted your career as musicians?
How hasn’t it? I mean, it becomes the essential medium for promotion, whether it is a song or video or just my guitar warmup. It can be ALL out there, a living record of what we’ve been up to for all time. And THAT is amazing. If someone had handed me “social media” in 1997 and said go for it, I would have thought it to be the greatest invention in the history of music.
And then it HAPPENED. Worked. And now it’s pure evil. Kidding! Just wanna play live and then the rest of that takes care of itself. The world is moving so quickly, and we try and keep up with our social media machine. But honestly? It’s a little soul-sucking. I just really wanna write songs and entertain.Change the world. Make coffee.
What’s next for you musically?
Since you asked…we have a new video out now called “Set It Down.” It’s my take on going sober and staying without alcohol throughout the pandemic and now, two years later. I was a drinker, yo. It was a lifestyle, and we go hard in El Paso and Delaware and everywhere. But I got into some trouble and it was just time to Set It Down…the songs is evocative of that journey, for sure.
Next year is a secret…but new touring plans and, wait for it, another ALBUM! So excited, writing already like crazy, and cutting 2 demos in a couple weeks with Ed at Krank Studios in El Paso. TBC…