I Prefer Their Earlier Stuff is an irregular series of blogs about Irish bands that are no longer with us – they’re not dead or anything, just not making music anymore.
Where it all began:
The Future Kings of Spain and I didn’t get off to the best of starts. At the time, Autumn 2003, I was going through a phase of listening almost exclusively to singer-songwriters.
I realise that 80% of you have now stopped reading but, please, bear with me.
I was sitting in a car with my friend Graham when he asked me if I wanted to hear some band he really liked who had just brought out their first record. “You probably won’t like it” were his exact words. To be fair, when Joey Wilson started screaming the opening lyrics of ‘A Place for Everything’ down my earphones, I was sure he was going to be right.
However, the more I listened, especially to the infectious ‘Venetian Blinds’ and ‘Hanging Around’ the more I thought they’d be worth seeing live.
Future Kings of Spain – ‘Venetian Blinds’
The first time ever I saw your face:
It was a couple of months before I got to see them in the flesh though, when they supported Biffy Clyro in the Temple Bar Music Centre. In terms attendance, there can’t have been more than 30 people there. Gary Lightbody was there – the band’s Final Straw record had been released on the same day as the self-titled FKOS one – as was most of JJ72. I’m not name-dropping here – they’re fairly pathetic names to be honest – it’s just that the memory sticks with me because it seemed as if I was one of the few people there that wasn’t in an indie rock band.
Anyway, I liked what I saw that night enough to buy the album and the band soon became one of my favourite acts. After that I tried to see them live as often as I could. It took three years for the band to release a follow-up as difficulties with their record label meant they had to sit on it for two years before eventually getting permission to release it on their own What’s the Kim? label.
You said what?
During my time at CLUAS I described their sophomore LP, Nervousystem, as thus:
From the moment ‘Guess Again’ (with riffs that Billy Corgan can only reminisce about these days) opens the album, right through to the last vestiges of ‘Disappear’, you know you are listening to something special. Nervousystem is the Emancipation Proclamation of alternative indie rock. It’s a statement to those who listen to this particular genre of music, imploring them to forget everything they thought they knew, free their minds and absorb the possibilities that come from being willing to make music that is truly different.
So you can take it that I liked it. I liked it a lot.
As good as the records were, it was live that the Future Kings really came in to their own. The band even had the honour of being the first band to play Oxegen 2008, opening on the O2 Stage. They also played to over 40,000 people in Japan. A long way for 30 folks in the Music Centre. It makes me sad to this day that I’ll never get to hear songs like ‘Meanest Sound’ or ‘Upside Down’ again. If you were ever at a FKOS gig and heard some idiot shouting “Play ‘Meanest Sound'”, well, I was that idiot.
This is the end:
The demise of Future Kings of Spain came in June 2009 when the band went their seperate ways. There didn’t appear to be any great falling out, just a project that had run its course. I was in work when I read the news and can honestly say that nothing got done for the rest of the day. It’s a bit like taking your dog to the vet and being told it had to be put down. You’re sure it’s probably for the best but you still don’t want to believe it.
Joey Wilson – vocals & guitar
Karl Hussey – guitar
Anton Hegarty – bass guitar
Bryan McMahon – drums
Future Kings of Spain – August 2003
Los Debemos EP – June 2004
Nervousystem – September 2007
Just one more thing:
The Future Kings are also the stars of one of the great Irish music videos:
The Future Kings of Spain – ‘Syndicate’