Whenever a new wave of music takes over the Internet and starts invading the iPods of hipsters, a lot of bands are bound to get swept up in that wave whether they like it or not. One band to both benefit and suffer from this phenomenon recently has been Milwaukee outfit Kings Go Forth, who have seen their profile rise considerably in the wake of the 70's soul and funk revival.
Kings Go Forth will bring their sound to the Majestic this Saturday, but as the band is quick to point out, they won't be bringing the supposed revivalist sound many people expect.
According to Kings Go Forth singer-songwriter Andy Noble the band has definitely seen some heightened media attention, but he doesn't really feel like a part of the revival. In fact, he disputes whether one even exists.
""I don't really see this as a revival,"" Noble said. ""You have to really view soul and funk music as a living art, the same way people view jazz or classical music or anything else.""
Noble's work with soul and funk goes back much further than the current soul and funk trend, dating back to his work as a disc jockey, record collector and owner of the since-closed Milwaukee record store Lotus Land Records—an experience that led Noble to declare the movie ""High Fidelity"" a ""pile of crap"" that is ""not even cliffs notes"" for running a record store.
Kings Go Forth was born out of Noble's collaboration with vocalist Black Wolf and found new success with the release of their 2010 album The Outsiders Are Back. However, Noble is quick to point out that Kings Go Forth's work doesn't fit into the narrow trend many people claim it belongs to.
""It's not really based off of James Brown and Curtis Mayfield like everybody says it is, it's not really the sound of the superstars of soul music in the 70s and the 80s,"" Noble said. ""It's much more inspired by the little groups that never made it, and the sound of those groups is a lot different from those who made gold and platinum records."" It may sound like indie-snobbery, but Noble insists it's more about his love of small-time music production.
In fact, Noble credits the band's success to that very dichotomy between big studio sound and the more homemade sound displayed by groups like Kings Go Forth. He describes the band's main goal as to craft an authentic funk sound while still maintaining a connection with their audience, something Noble says they achieve through their personal approach to crafting music and an emphasis on live performances.
""To me, the essence of soul and funk music scene is more of a DJ-based event, more based on live groups,"" Noble said, adding that a lot of popular acts don't craft the same feel.
""People can make a really great technical album,"" he said, ""[a person] like Kanye West can really know how to use their computer editing programs, but anybody who's ever seen someone like him live knows that it's not really that mindblowing. It's usually pretty disappointing.""
In addition, Kings Go Forth puts a considerable amount of effort into their composition and arrangement, with Noble highlighting their arduous songwriting process, which starts with Noble and Black Wolf bouncing ideas off each other and continues with the band sometimes arranging songs for months at a time. Creating The Outsiders Are Back took over two years.
But the real passion for Kings Go Forth seems to be in their live shows. Despite the complicated logistics of shuffling 10 members all over the world, Noble says he loves venturing from city to city, seeing new places and meeting new people.
He has a particular affinity for less metropolitan Midwestern cities like Madison, which he describes as having a ""beauty and mystique"" that can't be found anywhere else. Kings Go Forth hopes to make sure Madison is just as enamored with them at this weekend, bringing their (non-revival) funk to the isthmus.