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Kings of Spade interview with Kasi Nunes

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Posted October 21, 2016 by George Archibald in Interviews
Interview with Kings of Spade for Empire Extreme

Going Where The Tide Takes Them

An Interview with Kasi Nunes of Kings of Spade

Interviewed by: George Archibald & Josh Drespling

Interview with Kings of Spade for Empire Extreme

Kings of Spade self titled cover

Hawaiian blues band Kings of Spade were supporting King’s X while in Cleveland on October 1st at the Agora Ballroom. Kings of Spade came out very energetic; fronted by the powerful vocals of Kasi Nunes, the band came to kick some ass. The band’s performance was a demonstration of what has made them a band on the rise. Their style is a blend of island, funk, reggae, and according to Kasi herself “it’s all blues, because that seems to be the only genre we agree on collectively.” I was fortunate to get to speak with Kasi after their very powerful set, to learn more about this band from Hawaii that everyone needs to know about.

GA: How about we start with you telling me a little bit about the band and how you all got started?
KN: I was bar tending at an open mic. I just graduated from college, and I had no intention on being in a band. I was more into trying to get quick cash and see what type of job I could get into next. The house band at that open mic asked me if I knew any songs. No one was in the bar so they were just screwing around, and was like “hey Kasi you know any songs?” I told them, “I know this one Guns and Roses song can you guys play it?” They were like, “yeah we know that one.” No one is in the bar and I sing the song, it was like a joke because no one was taking it too serious., and then something in me goes, hey this feels really good. From that open mic Jesse (guitars), used to come into the bar and rock these Johnny Cash tunes. Eventually, I kept asking the open mic band to learn all these songs that I wanted to sing, then Jesse said we should just start our own band. So it was really random. No one really had any intentions; well maybe Jesse wanted to do this for the rest of his life, but for me at the time I had no plan for being in a band.

Kings of Spade interview with Empire Extreme Photos by Josh DresplingGA: It’s cool to see how it took off and is moving forward for you guys.
KN: Yea it’s awesome. You just do it because you love it. You see other bands that are so talented, and they just never get that break. So you can’t bank on the break, you have to do it because you love it, or otherwise you will just drive yourself crazy. It would be a wonderful thing to be able to do this full time. I mean what musician wouldn’t want that.

JD: So what was the time frame like for all of this?
KN: Jesse and I, have been together doing music for about 10 years. It was never anything serious, we never planned on leaving the island, or anything. It was just like us messing around in the beginning.

JD: So how is Cleveland different from Hawaii?
KN: In Hawaii everyone listens to reggae music. So if a rock show comes through its like tumbleweeds. We are like one of the only touring rock bands out of Hawaii, and when we are home we have to hustle. Other than that there is a huge reggae scene and a ton of touring reggae bands. They get to play up and down the west coast, and they get played on the radio. So reggae and island music do really well, but we are kind of a weird pin in a haystack over there. When we are over here we are just another rock band.

GA: I can definitely hear the reggae in your music, and a little bit of the island as well. I even heard some blues in there.
KN: Oh we throw it all in there. It’s all blues, because that seems to be the only genre we agree on collectively.

Kings of Spade interview with Empire Extreme Photos by Josh DresplingGA: Since you are a vocalist, did you take any vocal lessons to get your voice to where it is today? (And I may add it sounds amazing live!!)
KN: No, I never took singing serious so I was never trained, but I did almost lose my voice after a tour one time. I ended up with a weird throttle in my throat, and I was like, what’s going on I can’t push as normally hard as I usually can. So I went to see a guy, and he asked me to sing a song so he could hear how I sing. After I finished he was like, ‘you have been singing like that for how long? You have been singing from all the wrong places.’ He ended up giving me one 20-minute tip, and taught me how to breathe from my diaphragm. I didn’t even know what he was talking about. He was like, ‘you are breathing from your chest,’ and put his hand on my belly. “Down there that’s where it has to come from.” So that was it, it corrected everything and I never lost my voice again.

GA: So what’s next for the band after tonight?
KN: We got really lucky and Riki Racktman from Headbanger’s Ball, booked us for the fastest selling show at The Roxy! Which is on the fifth coming up. So we are probably the only band that nobody knows that is on that show. There are going to be all these secret huge named bands on the bill, and then us. The show was sold out before we were even asked to play on it. So we are going to play a sold out show at the Roxy. Riki saw us play in Austin, Texas one time a few years ago, and then showed up at two of our shows in North Carolina.  Then he asked us to do the Roxy show. After that we go home for a few days and then go back out on the road with King’s X.

JD: How did you hook up with King’s X?
KN: This is all luck. We just got really lucky man. We were in Texas during South by Southwest, and King’s X’s road manager was doing sound at one of the venues and saw us play. He approached us and said, “hey you guys would be a great opening band for King’s X.” Then I was like, “who? I am so sorry but I grew up on a small island listening to 60’s music so I have no idea who they are.” People see my hair and think I know about all the rock and punk bands. I am like no, no, man Hawaiians have Mohawks. The boys in my band wanted to slap me when they heard what I said. I was like I was being honest, but since being on tour with King’s X, I’m their biggest fan!! I have my favorite songs and everything, rocking their t shirt 24/7.

Kings of Spade interview with Empire Extreme Photos by Josh DresplingGA: What’s one of your favorite places to play/visit on the mainland for you?
KN: I would think Austin, TX because our road guys are from there. So when we get to hang with them, they take us to shoot guns, and take us for BBQs. Also Austin just built this wave pool that we are really excited to try out. They are going to have a legit tank wave pool that will have the perfect waves in there. Myself and the drummer are surfers back home so we are really excited to check it out.

JD: So do you just have the one album out now?
KS: We one that came out in 2009, and the album we just did we recorded in Nashville, with Dave Cobb and he is Chris Stapleton’s producer. That was another thing where we just got lucky. Do you know Rivals Sons, a rock and roll band, well he is their producer as well? So when we were looking for who we wanted to produce our album. J-Boy was like they play bluesy rock and roll just like us, let’s try to call and get this guy. So he randomly calls Dave Cobb in Nashville and is like, “hey man we are a little band from Hawaii is it ok if we send you some demos?” Dave was like sure, and we never expected to hear from him, then all of a sudden he is like when are you guys going to come on down? So we did a Kickstarter for that album and asked our fans to help us. The thing was like $30,000 for our flights, housing, meals, and recording for the band. I couldn’t be any prouder of that album from all of this. He made us sound so much better. You don’t realize what a producer does till someone tweaks and puts their touch on the music. He turned it up like a thousand on that album for us.

Well I for one can’t wait to hear what will come next from Kings of Spade. Kasi we wish all the best to you and the band. You can check out Kings of Spade on Facebook or through their website www.kingsofspade.com. Their albums Kings of Spade, and Crave are both available for streaming on Spotify, make sure you give them a listen and send some love out to the band.


About the Author

George Archibald
George Archibald


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