Debut album series: King Cannons ‘Brightest Light’

When we asked King Cannons’ colourful frontman Luke Yeoward to name some of the influences on his band’s debut album he noted the importance of “modern guys” like Joe Strummer and Bruce Springsteen and then admitted that he doesn’t care about being out of touch with fashion.

“I have no idea how we fit in,” Yeoward explained. “I’m so out of touch. To be honest I find it hard to find a new sound that I like, but I like a lot of new groups that have similar influences to us. Jack White is one of the few big players that I think really has something to offer and who tips his hat to that really old style of performing and producing and recording. Justin Townes Earle has some good stuff too. Springsteen’s new album is fantastic. I like those guys who aren’t worried about being cool or modern or anything like that; they just make handcrafted music. Keeping it simple and full of passion and heart.”

The Australian born frontman grew up in New Zealand and flirted with relocating to London before relocating to Melbourne where he and his band recorded their debut album The Brightest Light with producer Tom Larkin (Shihad) and engineer Steve Schram (Eagle & The Worm, The Vasco Era). To mark the release of the album, Yeoward told FL the band’s history, how the album came together, and his ‘heart on the sleeve’ approach to writing.

In the beginning

I spent my teenage years playing in punk rock bands in Auckland and I got to a point in my life where I needed a change to make myself and my musical life a bit happier and productive. I moved out of the city and went to work in the country and strated writing some new material. I met some guys that wanted who wanted to do something new and so we started King Cannons.

We wanted to do something new and exciting and didn’t want to be restricted by any genres or themes or anything like that. Then in 2007 we had a plan where we wanted to move to England and get out of New Zealand because we’d just been doing the same thing for ages there. Half way through 2008 half of us moved to England and the other half were supposed to arrive shortly after but then they were denied visas and stuck in New Zealand so we were up shit-creek a little bit financially. So haven thrown a bunch of money down the toilet we then moved to Melbourne in 2009. We moved into a house together and just started booking shows, writing and recording. Next thing you know we signed a record deal and put out the EP and here we are!

The lineup stayed the same all through that [although drummer Josh Matthews was replaced by Dan McKay from the Nation Blue] because we’re all really good friends and we knew that we had something special. We didn’t want to just give up and let red tape and money get the better of us. It helped to make us stronger and more passionate about what we’re doing.

Our sound

I’d describe our sound as roots influenced rock music or roots influenced pop music; something like that. There are a lot of influences in there but when it comes down to it we just channel it out in a very simple way.

Our heroes

Where do you start? Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Sam Cooke, all the great soul guys. Great folk music as well, Pete Seeger, Woodie Guthrie, Bob Dylan. Country – Johnny Cash, Hank Williams. Modern guys doing rock stuff – Strummer and Springsteen. A lot of piano guys too – Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis. The old rock and rollers.

Our lyrics

We don’t think about it too much. This is where we’re from. This is who we are. Are we a ‘band for the people’? Yeah, because we just sing about real things and real people in a very simple way. I think that’s accessible for everybody whether you’re old or young or a blue collar worker or you’re not.

That feeds the lyrics of the album. It’s very much a heart on the sleeve kind of record lyrically. They’re truthful stories about my past and upbringing and experiences I’ve had. So if there are people out there like me, and I’m pretty sue there are, then I’m singing those songs for them too.

Favourite track off The Brightest Light

I think the The Brightest Light, the title track, is probably the best song on the record. That’s why it earned the right to be the title track. I’m really happy with the dynamic of it, the sound of it. The way it was recorded I really like. And the lyrical content is very special and I think it sums up the vibe of the album really well because it tell a story about a boy and a past and all that kind of stuff. It’s about really realizing that you can embrace freedom and that there is a light side; that you can rise above and keep working and striving for something better. “Crawl up from under that thumb, we’re bound for the sea” is like forget about your Monday to Friday working life – you are a free human. You have the liberty to enjoy yourself and go and embrace your life. It’s freedom. It’s powerful and positive.

The artwork

I think it depends on how you look at it – wether it’s a dark sky or it’s a storm. I think it’s just a picture that demonstrates something powerful. Nature and the earth is powerful and it’s moving. When a storm comes through it cleanses stuff. I think having a picture of darkness on the front cove provides a bit of contrast as well. On the record there are some dark stories, but in the end it’s always positive. At the end of a storm in a lot of dry places it’s celebrated. When I first moved back to Australia, in the summer time when the cool change would come through and the storms would come everyone would get happy because it would cool down and it would rain and the plants would grow. All of that good stuff. So the cover just depends on how you look at it. It; a positive thing for me but it’s dark at the same time.

Favourite debut album (by another band)

Maybe The Ramones first album; the self titled record. I’ve always loved the Ramones from when I was an early teenager. Even though we don’t make punk rock music anymore we still maintain that mentality from growing up with that music.

One artist in the whole world we would secretly like to dig Brightest Light?

If Bruce Springsteen could hear this record I’m pretty sure he’d like it.