Matt Burks: An Interview
“Why haven’t I heard of you?” I’m talking with Matt Burks, lead singer of SF alt-rock band Kingstreet. He’s telling me about how Kingstreet just got a song on Live 105, an arduous task to say the least. “This DJ played our disc while he was typing some emails…he was just typing away and then he stopped and it hit him and he said: This is actually good. Where are you guys from?”
I’m sure if Kingstreet had a nickel for every time they heard that…well, you know. On the verge of releasing their second album “We Can Be Bought” (10 tracks of ex-girlfriends, greased up rockers, wet t-shirts, lighter flickering, top down rock hits) Kingstreet lets it all hang out; proving that if you’re going to be somebody, you might as well be yourself. Let’s take a walk down Kingstreet, shall we?
Owl: If you were an exclusive cover band, whose music would you cover?
Kingstreet: [laughs] The most fun bands to cover would be the 80s glam rock bands, only because they were so fucking over the top. If you asked that question to each band member they’d give a different answer.
What is your worst rock memory?
When we started out, we were playing at a smaller club, and we were getting ready to go on stage and I had gone to the bathroom. I was zipping up my fly and the zipper broke. It’s really hard to concentrate, when you’re worrying about your music and your fly is open. [laughs] Everyone is sort of eye level with the region. You don’t want to give a sneak peak. I was so mortified I tried to tie a shirt around my waist. Now I always have an extra pair of pants with me at a show.
What is your best rock memory?
Opening for Gavin DeGraw at the Independent. It was packed and it was one of the first times that he had come out to the west coast (he was relatively unknown). He was a really nice guy. We had a high-energy show. It felt the first time the whole crowd got it.
Where does the name Kingstreet come from?
I used to work down in the south bay, and I would drive home and I’d get off at the Kingstreet exit by the ballpark. I named it after that exit just to remind me every time that I saw that exit that I should be going after what I love to do, as opposed to going with the stream.
“We Can Be Bought,” is the new album title, have you guys finally turned to prostitution?
We’re sort of joking around. We don’t take ourselves all that seriously. It’s hard to take yourself seriously in this industry sometimes. But it’s also tough to fight against the current. For the last couple of years we’ve just been broke. We’ve been doing our thing without much financial reward.
How is the new album different than the first?
This album is more cohesive. The first album was very sporadic. It went all over the place from alt-rock to pop. It showed that we were versatile but also somewhat schizophrenic. This album is a lot more aggressive and energetic. On the new album we just let it all hang out. On the last album we were worried about what people would think, so we came out with a very polished, very commercial sounding and looking CD. This time we’re not trying to impress anyone; we’re just doing our thing…balls to the wall.
How important is it to have fun?
We have fun but have fun at the right times and we work very hard at being musicians. We’re very serious about our band. The fun comes when we get to present it at a show and we’re all super prepared. It’s not as much fun playing to a crowd and you suck and you know they know you suck. We’ve been there, we definitely blew. We realized that sucking is not fun. So then you get serious about it and commit to working your ass off.
What is it going to take to get Kingstreet to the next level?
That’s the million-dollar question and that is the big problem with the music industry today…there is no clear path to getting to the next level. There are a lot of amazing bands that haven’t moved on or gotten the recognition that they deserve. For us, the new album is the best work we’ve done. It’s the most cohesive. We’ve honed in on what we are, which is sometimes serious, often times goofy, and always melodic. It’s just about getting the music out to as many people as we can. It’s up to the gods at this point.