A song that made you want to make music?
Good Morning from Tucson, AZ. ONLY 112 degrees today…good times.
In 1982, my big bother Matt gave me a Rush album called Exit…Stage Left. It’s a live record, and the longest song (side 3 of a Double LP) was called “Xanadu.” I wasn’t a musician at age 10, but I had a healthy respect and love of 70’s rock radio. KISW was Seattle’s Best Rock, man.
“Xanadu” set off literal bells! How can 3 dudes do that live? How does the drummer fit all of those hits in time and make each fill different? How does a dude sing like THAT? It was inspiring and a little mystery every day. As a kid, that was enough for me to want to pick up a guitar and master it.
Best rider you’ve had?
(Tongue Firmly In Cheek…)
In the early 2000’s, I had a little radio and publicity company based in El Paso, TX. One of my first hip hop clients of that era was named Preny Mo, and he had a song and video called (I think) “Naptown Ridaz.” Such a jam. I LOVED IT. So I worked for him for a while, but like so many of those relationships back then, there was some time served and it never hit. That happened a lot lot lot in that business FOR SURE. The stories I could tell but nah…
Craziest moment you’ve had in the band?
I mean, that I can actually write about? Pffffft…
We were all drinkers until I sobered up in late 2019. Before that, Manny (Tejeda, bass) and Eddy (Garcia, drums and engineer) were my drinking buddies. And it was El Chuco-style competitive drinking. “Liver Treatments” was what we called it.
Manny’s first Little King record was Occam’s Foil, and he came to El Paso for the first time from Delaware to track bass parts and jam. Now Manny is a big dude and he can hold his own. Domincan-powered animal, for sure. But Eddy (and I, back in the day) were cut from a different cloth. So the first night Manny came in, we got after it fast and furious. Manny had a bad night…El Paso 1, DR 0.
Deepest lyric one of your songs features?
First off, Honorable Mention to:
After those 5 songs, I’m gonna defer to the new tune, “Amber Waves (GoodBye),” and let you take from it what you will. All of my song lyrics have deeper meaning intended, but this is the recent single (8/8/23 release) and it involves a breakup, so let’s have at it here:
“Well bless your heart for breaking mine
This ache is an old friend
It’s been awhile, but we’re acquainted
And now we’re catching up again
I am riding Amber Waves of anger
And then a swell of sorrow
Mulling lemon memories
I’ll sift through some more of them tomorrow
Love songs are sweet self-indulgence
But this could be the one
So, right now every note is yours
Until the aching is done
Right now every ring is you
And every passing car
Waiting, but the joke’s on me-
I took the dream too far
I reserve the right to feel
Like anybody would
Grieving is its own reward
There is no bad or good
And I feel guilty for these words
About my state of heart
When every morning is a win
And the big picture is a work of art”
(C) Ryan Rosoff and Mad Bell Records, ASCAP, 2023
All Rights Reserved
Easiest song you wrote?
Funny…none of them have been “easy,” in the sense that appropriate care and repetition has been given to all of them (58 songs in total since 1997…I guess a few instrumentals though, for good measure.)
“Amber” flowed easily enough. I usually write all of the music first before I pick up a pen for the lyrics, but this one was so raw that I had to get the words out first. They took on a life of their own and even as “artsy” as they turned out, that was really the first run. Very little editing at all for the words. Once I had that, I went to my studio and wrote an acoustic guitar part, recorded the demo, and the rest went to Daniel Salcido in LA. Sauce co-produced, engineered, and mixed “Amber Waves (GoodBye),” so he has some skin in the game for sure.
Favourite song in your set?
Well, I love all of my children, but I get particular pleasure from playing “Amuse De Q.” It’s so angular, challenging, plaintive and yet heavy, and I just think it’s about the finest of what Little King has ever produced.
The first song of the evening is usually “Keyboard Soldier” from that same album. It’s odd and pretty punk/prog. I don’t know, it’s super fun to play and sing and I love the bridge in 7 and the ending. Check out a live performance of it from last year! Keyboard Soldier Live
Guest you’d most like to feature on your record?
Hands-down Snoop. That’s my guy…would love to kick it with him and come up with some Prog-Hop shit. Would be so fun…and we are about the same age, so lots of things in common, as much as we would have to bring to the table that is different.
Alex and Geddy from Rush would be intimidating, but of course that would be insane. I did mix a record with Terry Brown, their producer, back in 2004 (Virus Divine). Once-in-a-lifetime stuff…I mean, he produced that song “Xanadu” that I referenced earlier, so that ticked off a bucket item.
Donald Fagen, David Byrne, and Obama. Together. That would be rad.
Hardest thing about being in a band?
Just the financial part, really. Like, I’ve had to have second careers for almost the entirety of the 26 years that Little King has been making records. People ain’t flocking to buy our music, and that’s fine. But other than the last 2 years plus a stint with a couple record companies 15-20 years ago, music has been my second job. I’m a single dad with bills and responsibilities beyond new guitar strings, so I’ve met that challenge aggressively.
Key to writing a song?
Repetition. Taking chances. Varied meter, time signatures, keys…hammer that cool riff in every permutation possible until it hits you just right. Then it’s YOURS.
Lyrically, rhyming dictionaries and thesauruses are brothers. They should be used judiciously and consistently, if that makes sense. The language is so beautiful…the more one is able to use it in a variety of ways, the more elegant the message might be delivered.
Longest distance you’ve travelled to play a show?
I guess from Seattle to Dallas back in the day. That’s a schlep, but I’m not sure if it counts since we had shows in between? But hey…we are down to go ANYWHERE there are rock fans. Who will have us?
Most inspiring musician you’ve experienced?
I’ve loved playing with Eddy for all of these years. He’s a monster in the studio and in writing sessions…creative and precise and powerful. Ed’s a great MUSICIAN, not just a drummer, so collaborating with him for 5 albums (4 on drums, one as engineer) has been a life-changing experience. He really has defined a good bit of what Little King has become, and I am grateful to him for all of it.
Opening for this band would be ideal?
If we could get in front of a Tool, Rush, Coheed and Cambria, Foo Fighters, or maybe Pearl Jam audience, I’m quite certain we would enter a new realm as a band to be reckoned with…
Place you’d most like to tour?
Europe for sure. I love it there, and I haven’t spent nearly enough time in the EU. They fancy Little King over there, according to our press and streaming response. And if they like the songs, I can guarantee that they’d love us live.
Again, though…it has to make $en$e.
Quote you’d like to pass on to our readers?
You’ve got a weapon, so don’t be afraid
The truth makes a point like a sword when you wield it
Reason for the title of your recent/forthcoming release?
“Amber Waves (GoodBye)” is named, appropriately enough, for an ex-girlfriend who kinda broke my heart last year. All good…better off FOR SURE, and I’m with someone now who is my all. But Amber got me good. It’s funny…that shit hurt way worse than I had remembered. But I DID remember. I know I was withdrawing anyway when it went down, but for some reason (ego?), her letting me go stung. Reminders of 2 failed marriages, I suppose.
Anyway…loved her, lost her, and here we are.
The old days of music were better than the current, do you agree?
Hell yeah I agree, but who am I? Child of the 70’s and 80’s, I guess. Let’s be clear, though…I value the ability to PLAY WELL just as much as I revere SONGWRITING. So, my ideal songs are ones that feature killer musicianship with a well-constructed tune, even if it is a 20 minute Phish or Dead jam. I love SONGS. But listen to Steely Dan and Rush and even the Stones and Zep. Those fuckers could PLAY, and they didn’t get 9,000 digital takes to make it happen in the studio or Autotune to smooth the edges live.
“Better”? That’s subjective. More accomplished musicianship? Inarguable.
What do your fans mean to you?
I don’t know how to answer that. Like it or not, as an artist I still feel a bit like I operate in a vacuum. I need to SEE them live. That’s been missing from Little King and from my psyche for far too long.
We are currently playing some shows in October in the western US. I will post the dates and venues as soon as they are all finalized, but that should be before the end of August.
You’re late for a show, whose fault is it?
Fucking opening band, probably.
Zoo animal that next describes the personality of your band?