Dork Radio
Now playing:
In the mag...
Featuring Pale Waves, Arlo Parks, Goat Girl, Black Honey and more.
Order a copy
February 2021
Cover Story

Lock the doors! Here come King Nun

They're already indie heroes. 2018 is when the rest of the world wakes up to King Nun.
Published: 12:09 pm, December 11, 2017
Lock the doors! Here come King Nun

There's a rumble coming from over yonder. An unsettling noise that's announcing a band who stand apart from their peers. They're already indie heroes. 2018 is when the rest of the world wakes up to King Nun.

Words: Jamie Muir. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.

[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]"Someone sent us a tweet,” starts Theo, gathered with his King Nun bandmates on a bench in North London. They’re reflecting on a year full of firsts and full of new experiences that they’d been searching for since playing their very first note together. “And that person said that their son had started a band because they went and saw us - and I was just like, OH MY GOD. It was like that feeling and the moment when we were like, ‘Right, let’s do more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more and let’s do it now’.”

“Let’s go! Let’s go!” he exclaims, that energy rising from the rest of the band.

For a band who this time last year were itching at the blocks, King Nun have lived the sort of year that every band across the world dreams of when playing away in a garage or school music room. Playing in different cities, different towns and to different crowds every night, King Nun were born for these times - and these times haven’t seen anything quite like them.

“It’s just so nice to see people’s faces light up when we come on stage, rather than people just staring at you thinking, ‘You don’t belong here’,” explains bassist Nathan. “It’s all very new to us though, we’ve been writing music for a long time, but the reactions we’ve been getting are completely new, which is mental. It’s progress, and we’re really happy - but we want more.”

A lot of bands claim to have that hunger, but King Nun are insatiable, always looking to go bigger and take on any stage thrown their way. They have an enthusiasm for everything music is and are grateful to have the opportunity to do it on such a grand scale. When somebody claps or puts their hands up at a show, King Nun are the band who’ll thank and feed off it with a swagger amplified even louder. No matter what the response.

“Individually, I feel like we were fuelled to become more of a punky-rocky band because of our own criticisms going into music; we were driven by criticism from the get-go,” explains Theo, delving into how they infectiously take on the world around them. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive, to the point where I can’t even process all of it, but” - he adopts a vintage English accent - “we’re very bloody happy.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row
[vc_column][vc_single_image image="28601" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center
[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]If music is all about gangs, then King Nun are one everyone wants to be a part of. They feel like the group of mates who hang out with each other 24/7; a band wrapped in the fun of it all, whose happiness you can see no matter what they’re doing. Recording? Yep. Playing live? Yep. Meeting fans? Yep. Every part of it is met with a fevered joy.

Looking back on the past 12 months it’s been a range of lessons and experiences for King Nun - but one that has kept their core foundations at the forefront. “The nice thing is that we’re still as energetic now as we were back then,” points out guitarist James. “So I’m hoping that we continue that trend of just embracing everything.”

Theo glints at something bigger in the future, looking back on the year as the first step towards their ultimate goal. “We’ve always said, from beginning to now, that the point of being in a band is to inspire as you’ve been inspired on as grand a scale as possible, and we’re still pushing for that. We’re pushing to reach as many people as we can with those moments and feelings. It feels more within grasp now.

"pull" text="We're really happy, but we want more

“We’ve been asking for this kind of hard work since we started a band, so now that all these opportunities have opened up we’re going at it as hard as we can.”

There’s no doubt about that. In the past year, King Nun have been a fixture at shows across the country. There’s a good chance you will have bumped into them either in a venue, on the streets around the cities they’ve had the chance to check into, or in muddy festival fields. For a band who were practically frothing at the mouth to get out there, it’s been a storied journey of everything they’ve dreamed of.

For Theo, it opened up elements that he hadn’t considered. “I never thought about the travelling aspect of being in a band - I thought constantly about the process of making music, I never thought about being in all these crazy places. Like, there was this moment on the Dirty Hit tour [with Superfood and Pale Waves] earlier in the year where we played in Belfast. I was taking this lift up with a bag, and I accidentally took the lift up all the way to the roof! So I stepped outside, and it was this little roof, and there was this beautiful light shining across the city in front of me - and I could see the tour van below. And I was like, ‘Holy fuck’. I never thought about the sort of views and the places you’d get to go to, and that to me was surprising. The views and the places you’d find yourself, I didn’t consider that, but I’m really happy that it is there.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_video link="
" align="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“We had a guy come to a few shows with his son,” recalls Nathan, thinking back to where they were at the end of 2016. “That was absolutely mind-blowing, that someone would take that time with their child and spend it at our shows. That is crazy. It’s amazing. It’s like wow - people care.”

“Especially when you can spot that within yourself,” continues Theo, “Because you’re always trying to recreate that moment when you found a band for the first time, and you’re like, ‘Holy fuck’. So if you get a glimpse of that happening with other people, and we’ve seen it a few time, it’s like yeah. More please.”

“We had an American kid do a cover of our songs on YouTube, that and a Spanish lyric video for ‘Speakerface’,” details Nathan, memories fizzing between the band as they laugh and recall their own highlights. “To be fair, in Spanish, it’s quite the singalong.”

Laughter rings out. “I remember at Latitude,” starts drummer Caius. “I heard a bunch of guys behind me while I was queuing for the showers just rinsing King Nun. I wish I could have joined in with them; it was so funny. I’m glad there was such a strong reaction.”

King Nun have had an irrepressible energy since their early days of trying to find gigs wherever possible and sneaking into venues - lying about their age to get a spot on the stage. They’ve been ready since the start, their sights aimed squarely at the top. They started out frequenting a bill that would usually surround them with bluegrass acts and ram-jam covers, with a crowd that resented bands taking up valuable ‘jam time’.

“The gap between then and now is so big that I can’t even see back then,” elaborates Theo.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="28604" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“We spent a lot of time doing that open mic night,” remembers James, “just around the corner from where Caius lives. It was like a proper Dad’s pub where they’d be doing their blues jam nights, but then four 16-year-olds would roll up…” - “It was shit,” calls in Caius. - “It was interesting to start out somewhere where they didn’t want us in the first place.” They’d keep returning to it, week after week after week in succession, defiantly playing the music they wanted to and enjoying the fact they had a stage to play on at all. Even if nobody else in the boozer was younger than 40; it was theirs.

“This is the thing though,” continues James. “From then until now playing live has been such a desirable objective that any time we can get a chance to play, it’s always been a great thing. Playing those nights makes you realise that the thing which makes a show good is how you perform. A good audience adds to the show, but a band should be such where they’re just a force unto themselves.”

“We’d get cussed out a lot,” Theo recalls, “but it gave us our spine, and made those first recordings and the first songs we wrote together really punky. I’m grateful that we grew up in this improv environment because at that open mic people would go up with different members each night and just jam, do a cover of [Jimi Hendrix single] ‘Purple Haze’ or something, which was cool. Watching them was interesting because they were there for the music. It wasn’t like they were trying to be something huge, there was no ego about it all. That improv side of things has spilt into us, when we cover [old-school punk musician] Richard Hell or something, well turn it into something else halfway through and that still happens. We’ll see a time to improvise and turn what we’re writing into another beast. That environment was really important.”

"pull" text="The point of being in a band is to inspire

That knack for gazing to new realms is vital to the collection of cuts they’ve shown the world already. Opening call ‘Tulip’ is a blistering punk shaker, ‘Speakerface’ is a swinging strut of party-soaked ambition, ‘Hung Around’ is a measured and menacing primal growl that sizes you up before you even hear Theo’s voice reign in, and ‘Sponge’ hypnotises with unabashed freedom and a punch to a gut at the same time. It’s what takes them into another league; a jack in the box of influences and styles that you’ll never be able to predict.

Caius sums it up perfectly: “I think we all like bands who try to do their own take on guitar music and do it in their own way. We want to be more like that, putting our own take on guitar music.”

“It’s a good thing to be in a band and want to overthrow your idols,” states Theo, a message of intent for the throne King Nun want to make their own.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row full_width="stretch_row[vc_column][vc_single_image image="28602" img_size="full" add_caption="yes" alignment="center[/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]“It’s interesting,” continues James, “that we’re still at a point - not to say that we don’t have a sound - but that people who listen to us can’t necessarily guess what’s next. It’s interesting that we have several open-avenues ahead of us, and it makes it a very exciting time. That people are expecting something, but they don’t know what.”

“It reminds me of one of the first times we were in a studio,” jumps in Theo, his eyes lighting up. “We were recording with [producer] Jolyon Thomas who we’ve done all of our tracks with so far, and he asked in one of our sessions what our message was. I hesitated for a second, and he said something in the realm of, ‘Some bands don’t find out for a long time, some bands never find out. What counts as ‘the feeling’, so let’s do this recording and see where it leads you - but just make sure you mean it’. That has resonated with me so strongly, and it’s become part of our nature now. Carry that feeling with you and the rest, I suppose by some mythical force, will follow.”

It’s palpable the excitement that comes from King Nun now they’ve had a taste of becoming the band they’ve talked about being for years. “I didn’t realise immediately our need to evolve and to push our boundaries. We’re having a lot of fun doing that,” lays out Theo. “We knew the specific kind of music we wanted to make, and now I feel like we’re close to the specific type of message we want to make, but we’re having a lot of fun pushing that all around - which is a great thing to discover. When you feel something significant, the first thing you do is share it, and because of where we’ve been over the past year there’s even more to share. There’s more interesting stuff now we’ve lived in a world that was so unfamiliar, and we’re more driven to share it.”

“We always wanted it,” points out Nathan, “and we always knew that there was going to be a lot of work involved. We want more, and we’ve always aimed for the top.”

As they bundle into their tour van for another night, whisking them off to another stage to bounce around and saying goodbye to those who were strangers at the start of the day but now feel like friends, King Nun are beaming. In a world of serious, the most important antidote is fun - and there’s nobody you’d want behind the wheel more than King Nun.


Give all this a try

Lynks: "Cool is safe. Cool is easy. And cool's boring to watch"

Lynks: "Cool is safe. Cool is easy. And cool's boring to watch"

Take a peek beneath Lynks' pop-star persona with the man behind the mask, Elliot Brett.
Introducing the new issue of Dork, featuring cover stars Pale Waves!
New issue

Introducing the new issue of Dork, featuring cover stars Pale Waves!

There's also Arlo Parks, Goat Girl, Black Honey, Shame and loads, loads more too.
Goat Girl: "It's quite post-apocalyptic"

Goat Girl: "It's quite post-apocalyptic"

Cult London faves Goat Girl are taking on the world with their much-anticipated second album, 'On All Fours'.
Pixey: “While the world was falling apart, mine was coming together”

Pixey: “While the world was falling apart, mine was coming together”

Chess Club Records’ latest signee Pixey is among a long list of hugely talented artists, and she herself is certainly not one to let that reputation down.
Like this? Subscribe to Dork and get every issue delivered direct to your door anywhere on the planet.

© 2018 The Bunker Publishing