By: Geoff Teach
Photos by Paul Aparicio
Hard work leads to success, or least that’s what I was taught growing up anyway. Chicago metal outfit As King believes in this principle. Made up of members Keith Cunningham (Drums), Matt Growl (Bass), Dan Conners (Guitars), Chuck LaValle (Guitars), and Trent Duval (Vocals), As King wants to tour, record, and make their livings from the band. One member even moved to Chicago from Arizona to join the group, a sign of the seriousness that the members possess in their quest toward becoming professional musicians. Owning both commitment to the cause and solidarity in their efforts, As King answered my questions as a band, not having one answer be from any one man or another. I always appreciate this, frankly. It tells me that the guys in the group are serious in their endeavor together, and that instead of letting just one or two members handle the press requests, they’d much rather answer together, allowing their answers to come from a unified front, and thus become more complete and thorough with their responses. Having only existed in their current, finalized lineup since November of 2011, As King has quickly established themselves as a “can’t miss” live show, and if their shows are like their interviews (as in “unified”, “well-thought-out”, and “confident”), I can see why As King is beginning to make a name for themselves.
When I asked As King about the motivation behind forming the band, their answer was all-encompassing and wonderful: “Making metal that is powerful and inspirational. We would hope to get signed by a [major] label and go on tours. As King as a whole wants to make music for a living more than anything. We would love to be able to support our families by doing that which we love so much. [Also], to make friends with new bands, find new music to inspire us, and to have fun. With our successes as a band so far, and our growing popularity, we are trying to bring the scene back to Chicago. The Chicago music scene was very prolific for a very long time but has since fallen off. We think with the right bands and industry back-up that the Chicago metal scene will soon be known again worldwide.” This is quite a bold statement from a band that hasn’t even been around for two full years yet, but it speaks of their mission’s solemnity, and I, for one, would love nothing more than for our beloved hometown to regain its prominence among the music hotbeds of the nation.
With such a lofty goal, the music has to be damn good, and damn good it is. Part of this is because some of the members known each other for long periods of time. “Keith and Chuck have been playing together for around eleven years. It is really cool because we’ve all known each other and have been friends for years, have supported each other, and played together. We knew each other’s styles and were all excited to work together (upon the band’s formation). There was a breaking-in period because we had never really all worked together. We had to find out how everyone made the bad-ass music we’d heard each other make in other projects. Trent was someone new to everyone (after moving in from Arizona), but he fit like a glove right from the beginning. He’s brought a fresh style and youthful perspective to the music,” says As King, and the end result is heavy, aggressive, and unrelenting. “We would describe our sound as a thick wall of sound that is created by all five members. Two crunching and riffing guitars sharing rhythm and lead with organic, eerie overtones and occasional noodling, screaming leads. A powerful bass with solid fingerpicking and blaring slap techniques. A jazzy but aggressive drummer that keeps time like a human metronome, and a screaming singer that has multiple levels of sound like a three-headed Banshee. Put that all together and you have a roller-coaster of progressive, aggressive rhythms.” I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. No, honestly, thanks As King, you guys made my job writing this that much easier with such an articulate answer.
All kidding aside, though, As King has a message of sovereignty for their listeners, probably lending to the name of the band itself. “We try to portray to our fans that we as a society cannot be sheep or cattle. We must make ourselves knowledgeable of the laws and rules within our society and learn how to use them to our advantage, and teach others,” says As King, continuing, “Become sovereign, rule yourself, ask questions so you may learn and teach others.” In other words, we must all be As our own Kings, governing our own existences as best we can within the law. Not a bad message, entirely, and once again, a bold statement by such a “young” band. As King is definitely not afraid to band together and take on challenges and tough questions head on, and even doing it with enthusiasm. It is invigorating to know that bands, new and old, that call Chicago home are striving to bring prosperity back to the city’s musical culture, and as long as bands like As King continue to work hard and put out excellent, independently produced music, I truly believe that the challenge will be met…and exceeded.
You can check out As King here:
As King is featured on the March Rock in Chicago Show