They are one of Portland’s most energetic and enjoyable bands to see live…and they have a new release. Years in the making, Kingdom Under Fire’s self-titled release is available now. Bright and shiny, exquisitely recorded, nicely produced, and incredibly written and performed, I’d recommend you pick it up if you are a fan of metal. If you do, you’ll not just be supporting a local band, you’ll be getting a top-notch release.
Kingdom Under Fire get it right by combining technical riffs with bouncy grooves. Even if you aren’t familiar with the songs you’ll enjoy them; but once you ARE familiar…it will bring you a whole new experience that you can hold on to for a long time. Easily competing with some of the best National and International releases out this year, Kingdom Under Fire totally got this one right.
I recently had a chance to talk with Kingdom Under Fire.
MIRP – You are one of my favorite Portland bands, and some of my favorite people. I hear you have a new release. What is the new release entitled?
AARON – Self Titled!
MIRP – Six songs, brilliantly written, exquisitely recorded….my only criticism was that it wasn’t longer. Tell me how long this release was in the making, and why it took so long.
AARON – This album is estimated about six years. Between recording changes mid-recording, to member changes mid-recording, to funding mid-recording.
CHRIS – We tried so many different avenues to get the recording quality we wanted on a tight budget but realized to truly get the sound we wanted we needed to go with a really professional recording studio. The best of which we had been hearing around town was Gabe at Falcon Studios.
NICK – Being our first release and how long everything had already taken and funding thus far, it just seemed right to release what we had ASAP.
CHRIS – Working on writing the next one already!
MIRP – You are one of the most understated bands who I think truly write and play music for yourselves. With this release, why no grand hype?
CHRIS – I guess we WANT grand hype but…
NICK – Just feel like we need to let the fire catch on its own, naturally. So many other huge bands didn’t get their hype until a couple of albums later.
JR – We’ve been so focused getting all our eggs in a basket.
AARON – This interview is really kind of the first thing we’ve done TO hype the album. Haha, Let’s keep going!
MIRP – Your brand of groove and thrash is satisfying even if you don’t intimately know the songs. How important do you think that is in today’s music?
NICK – VERY important.
JR – So important, got to get out of the box and away from the cookie-cutter bands you hear so often out there.
NICK – Whenever I’m listening to other bands, I’m just waiting for that song to catch my attention, something different from many different influences behind them.
LUKE – I’ve always attempted to create music that was accessible to people that aren’t musicians but also technically challenging enough to interest the ones that are musicians. I think KUF does this well. We have lots of intricacies but also lots of hooks. There is something for everyone to appreciate.
MIRP – Can you describe Kingdom Under Fire in one word?
** After a brief silence **
AARON – Squishy…
CHRIS – Hahaha Squishy… I like it.
ALL – Hahahahaha!
CHRIS – In one word? I’m not good at [being a] one-word man.
JR – A lot of people who have listened to us have come up and told me Wow! That’s POWERFUL.
NICK – Supercalifragalisticexpealadocious. LOL
MIRP – I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad performance? What do you attribute that to?
CHRIS – Attitude.
AARON – We have a good work ethic about it, we want people to enjoy it.
NICK – Having an album is great but playing live man… that’s it.
CHRIS – It’s just passion. We just want to take the audience on a ride with ya. JR- We want to give our fans the same feeling we get from our favorites live performances.
CHRIS – Whether in front of a huge crowd or 5 people… we’ve played shows in front of our girlfriends and a bartender. Literally. But that doesn’t change the fact we’re going to get up there and do what we love to do, how we love to do it.
MIRP – And…after 10 years, you still look so incredibly happy when you play. What is it about playing live that you love the best?
NICK – For me honestly, it’s when you see people’s eyes and their heads moving… like a moth to the flame. You feel that connection.
CHRIS – It’s a connection for sure, you feed off it.
NICK – I get to connect, where you guys have to go mock 10 with your instruments, but I get to really mesh with the audience in front of us.
JR – I just agree. I don’t know what else to add. I just love being to share the music we create together in this little room and then blow it up on stage in front of a crowd.
AARON -…yup. What they said. Lol!
MIRP – I’ve seen you live quite a few times, but not too many. Is there a tactic in the number of times you choose to play live?
CHRIS – We DO want to limit the number of times we play so we don’t burn people out. Maybe once a month in our city. But we love to play live so much so sometimes when we’re asked to play a couple shows in a month were like… eh… fuck it lets do it. Lol
MIRP – Kingdom Under Fire is also a video game…. can you tell me who came up with the name first?
CHRIS – Well the game did apparently.
AARON – I just play guitar man. Hahaha, Shit, I don’t know man, we were just coming up with names, back and forth. I had never even heard of that game when we came up with it.
NICK – Dude I’m a gamer and I didn’t even know it was a game till I googled KINGDOM UNDER FIRE.
CHRIS – We discovered that too late but we started to discuss if we should change it but at that point, it had already grown on us. But we have run into issues with the game popping up when you search for us etc. So were trying to incorporate the word METAL into everything. Kingdom Under Fire Metal.
MIRP – Clocking in at just over 30 minutes and six songs. Why stop at 6? Time? Budget? Schedule? Writing?
CHRIS – All of the above basically.
ALL – *Nodding in agreement*
MIRP – You’ve managed to be one of the rare bands that are current, yet timeless within this genre of metal. What do you think it is about Kingdom Under Fire that allows that type of music to be written?
CHRIS – I feel like it’s the age difference between Aaron and I. He has classic rock influences like I do, but also current taste. So, we can blend all of it so well.
NICK – We’re all like that, we get to blend all our different genre tastes and influences into our writing.
CHRIS – We marry old and new. Heavy and thrash. Well, I gotta give Aaron credit too cuz he writes most of the riffs but we honestly all pull so much influence from our favorites. We appreciate old school and new school shit. So, it blends that way. Pretty cool we make it work.
JR – It is magical. Lol.
MIRP – You recorded here in Portland at Falcon Recording Studios. Why did you choose Gabe?
NICK – Because he’s sexy. Lol.
CHRIS – Because of his previous work!
AARON – We heard through our brothers Proven that he was the guy to go to for recording and mixing. Through a lot of people actually, that Gabe’s the guy!
CHRIS – Yeah, he’s crushing. Some of the best out of Portland comes from him. JR- Just want to point out that my drums were actually recorded through my buddy Pooya at Perfect Audio Studios, then mixed with Gabe after.
MIRP – Album artwork…who is the artist and what does the cover convey to you?
CHRIS – Nicole you take this one. Lol. [Nicole is the fiancé of Aaron, and heavily involved in the administrative aspect of the band.]
NICOLE – I shuffled through many sampled photos that portrayed a sort of ‘Kingdom Under Fire’ image, since its self-titled. Presented a few ideas to the guys and they ultimately liked this one best. A little photoshopping (not much) … and all that Jazz. It’s an honest portrayal of a modern Kingdom Under Fire… pretty on the nose without it actually being a medieval fortress burning down. Haha.
MIRP – There is no title on the front of the album cover, why is that?
CHRIS – All the great first albums I can think of started with a self-titled release… we decided to start there.
MIRP – I want to break each song down. I have to say I seriously love this album. You guys did a top-notch job and it stands up to any of the great metal releases coming out today. Give me a breakdown of each of the songs… meaning, how easily or hard it came together, what it means to you. Is it organic or is there a tactic to the order?
ALL – Song breakdown… we want our AUDIENCE to break them down. How do they make YOU feel? How do YOU interpret them?
MIRP – How did the song order come to be? Does song one have to be song one or could it be, say song three?
CHRIS – Song order wise, we labored for weeks deciding on what order it should be in. For our live set we like to change it up.
NICK – We organized it based on dynamics. Wanted it to be a sort of roller coaster. JR- Yes it has a good flow, which we really wanted.
MIRP – When you were finished recording…how did you know the songs were “done”? Was it a feeling? Is there always something more you can tweak?
AARON – There’s ALWAYS something more you can tweak. You just have to stop yourself. That was a big part of it taking so long to release it too because we took the time to let all the song mature, we kept changing it and everything kept growing. CHRIS- DEFINITELY. We had to get to a point where we’re like IT SOUNDS GOOD. We gotta just say DONE. Haha
MIRP – The commentary at the opening of the album…what is it from?
AARON – They are actual news clips that we found, pre-compiled from the Ebola outbreak a few years back.
MIRP – Do you ever see KUF incorporating less traditional instruments?
CHRIS – Behind the Strike, we used my Mom’s acoustic guitar that she built in 1971. It’s not THAT unconventional really but we decided to throw acoustic in which isn’t very common with metal. AARON- I’d be completely open to using any and all instruments. Just doing something different. If it sounds good, it sounds good! Why not?! NICK- Look at Pink Floyd and all the crazy shit they through in there! Hell yes, let’s do it.
MIRP – Individually, what band or musician is responsible for you being a musician today?
AARON – We’re all fans of the heart of music.
CHRIS – I think it goes back to your childhood though, like what is it that guided you and GOOD LORD I don’t know… when I first heard heavy music it was FREE- All Right Now. But when I really KNEW… my aha moment was when my cousin Kevin played Iron Man on the Jukebox in 1972. So Black Sabbath. I was like OK THIS IS DIFFERENT. All because of my hippie cousin. It was life-changing.
NICK- It was specifically in Shane’s sister’s car in 2000 outside of skate world smoking a cigarette like I was cool and Shane’s like have heard of Slipknot? I was like WHAT?! Who is that? A monster? I’ve listened to so many genres all my life except metal. Rock sure but METAL… that was the first time I was like HOLY SHIT I’m in.
JR – My Mom bought me an AC/DC cassette tape in the 5th grade. Yup. From that point on, I wanted to do THAT.
AARON – I grew up with music, my Dad played guitar my mom sang and played the piano. I played in my family’s band when I was 15/16. Then I started branching off with heavier rock. Then my sister showed me Domination…. She said Oooh Metallica… they’re OK. But check THIS out. In comes Pantera and everything else steps aside. That was my HEAVY METAL. Dude, I stayed on top of everything of theirs. Dimebag. Just raw.
NICK – Hahaha! I went from Creed as a kid to Slipknot overnight. My Mom was like WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED?! Lol!
LUKE – Cliff Burton was my initial inspiration to play bass. If I had to name a top 5 of bands that had the largest influence on my formative years as a musician I would say Metallica, Faith No More, Tool, System of a Down, and Floater.
MIRP – Has that inspiration changed over the years?
AARON – I think my spectrum has gotten bigger for what inspires me as I’m getting older. It used to be PANTERA, All day every day. But now it can be anything, many genres too.
CHRIS – To me the inspiration hasn’t changed, it’s just what I listened to and what moves me. To me, my inspirations have always been… it’s a tough question. I get inspired by 70’s and even soft rock… but then new stuff too so… I think inspiration is always changing. JR- For me, it hasn’t changed, since 5th grade. What inspired me then, inspires me now.
NICK – I’m always inspired by new things too. But old inspirations will always be there.
LUKE – These days I’m inspired by artists whose music defies easy categorization. Or artists with amazing technical prowess.
MIRP – Current music, are there any bands that you are liking?
CHRIS – Exmortus!
NICK – Too many to list. I don’t listen to just metal; I listen to everything and it just melds into my brain.
AARON – Same here. Lots of blues. Depends on how I’m feeling. Not just White Chapel… but then there’s White Chapel… Damn man. Lol!
JR – Same. I could go down the list but nah…
MIRP – Classics…what five albums shaped the music you write today?
CHRIS – Sabbath, Paranoid NICK- Slipknot, Self-Titled!
AARON – Ozzy “Osmosis.”
JR – RUSH, 2112!
MIRP – Can you each describe each band member in one word:
Aaron plays lead guitar, Chris plays rhythm guitar, Luke plays Bass, JR Drums, and Nick is Vocals
NICK ‘s response:
* AARON – Creative
* CHRIS – Founder
* LUKE – Entertaining
* JR – ThunderFromDownUnder
* NICK – My Bro
* AARON – My bro
* CHRIS – My Bro
* LUKE – My bro
* NICK – Inspirational
* CHRIS – Backbone
* LUKE – Rounded
* JR – Solid
* NICK – Vital
* AARON – Leader
* LUKE – Principled
* JR – Inspiration
LUKE’s response: The one word I would use to describe my band mates applies to all of them, homies. That is really what it boils down to in my mind. Making music with people whose talents and character I respect, and whose company I truly enjoy.
MIRP – Plans for the rest of 2019?
AARON – Release this CD OFFICIALLY and start the hype for 2020. Keep writing and playing live.
MIRP – Biggest dream for Kingdom Under Fire?
AARON – I’d love to fucking tour. If we could go overseas… hell yeah! I don’t need to make millions or be fucking Metallica. Just get out there and do what we love for more people.
CHRIS – Tour and not have to sleep in a tent, maybe make a living. Do I have to work man? Haha!
LUKE- In the current state of the music industry, it’s hard to maintain the hope for true financial success. Instead, I just hope to be able to get out on a real tour and experience the life of a professional musician, even if only briefly.
Posted on the band’s Facebook page is a paragraph written five years ago by a local Portland journalist, and stands true today:
“Started in 2009, Kingdom Under Fire has grown into a well established Portland, OR heavy metal band. Kingdom Under Fire brilliantly incorporates modern new-wave metal, groove metal, and thrash metal all together to create their massive and unique sound.
Kingdom Under Fire uses melody, aggression and technicality to create a unique and powerful auditory experience any metal head is SURE to enjoy! Combine this with their intensity and urgency performing on stage?! Kingdom Under Fire set themselves apart from all other acts; local and national!”
Check out the new lyric video for Kingdom Under Fire’s song “Killing Fields” here:
You can connect with Kingdom Under Fire in the following locations: