Exclusive Interview with Birmingham Rock Duo: Cut Glass Kings

Cut Glass Kings are a new, two-piece rock band from Birmingham, England. The band are on James Skelly’s label, Skeleton Key Records and were able to record material under the guidance of producers, Ian and James Skelly from The Coral.

They just recently became a duo and their new sound is heavier and grittier than ever. I saw the band live on the Skeleton Key Records Tour with Edgar Jones & The New Joneses and Sundowners at The Lexington in London at the beginning of the month and they absolutely blew me away.

About a month ago, they released their first single as a duo, “Here Comes The Light” and this bluesy rock track is nothing short of guitar riff heaven. It’s also a notable departure from the psychedelic pop sound of their previous singles: “Drifter”, “Only A Daydream”, and “How Does It Feel.”

Cut Glass Kings consist of Paul Cross (guitar, lead vocals) and Greg McMurray (drums, backing vocals). Read my interview with Greg as we talk about the band’s formation, finding their new sound, their favorite new bands, and their ambitions for the future.

How long have you guys been playing music individually?

Greg: We’ve both been playing instruments since were about 12 or 13 years old.

How did you guys meet each other and how did you decide to form a band?

Greg: We met each other when we were 4 or 5 in the first year of primary school and have been best mates since. I think we decided to start a band out of sheer boredom more than anything else, there’s not really much else to do where we’re from.

Where does the band’s name come from?

Greg: It’s kind of a tongue-in-cheek reference to the town we come from and the fact that the only thing it’s ever really been known for its making glass. We also thought it sounded quite cool and bluesy.

How was the process of moving from a three-piece band to a duo?

Greg: It just happened naturally really. It’s always been the two of us who write the songs anyway.

You seem to have ditched your more psychedelic pop/rock sound for a grittier, riff-heavy rock sound. Can you talk a little bit about this transition?

Greg: Yeah, it just happened as a direct result of becoming a two-piece really. We thought we’d try sending the guitar signal through a bass amp rather than look for another bass player, and it just sounded quite raw and heavy, so we wrote a load of new songs based around that sound and adapted a few older songs to fit.

Do you feel pressure to do more or be louder or more energetic since you only have two members?

Greg: No not really. I think the sound has just become louder and more aggressive by accident rather than design.

Can we expect to hear re-worked versions of tracks like “Drifter”, “How Does It Feel”, and “Only A Daydream”?

Greg: Yeah, I think we’re gonna re-record Drifter eventually. Probably not gonna use the other two though, they’re not really in the same vein as the newer songs.

Who are your main, shared musical influences on your current sound?

Greg: Loads of good stuff. Mainly; The Beatles, Black Sabbath and old blues. More recently we’ve got into stuff like The Black Angels, The Kills, BRMC, and Thee Oh Sees.

How did you first get to involved with Ian and James Skelly and Skeleton Key Records?

Greg: We met a few years ago when our old band played a gig up in Liverpool. James saw us play and basically approached us after the gig and asked if we’d be interested in working with him. Being big fans of The Coral, it was a no brainer for us really.

What was the experience like recording in Parr Street Studios with Ian and James?

Greg: Above anything else, it was a really good laugh. Ian is one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. When it comes to the work, they like to get on with things quickly in the studio, 2 or 3 takes max, which is cool because otherwise you can start overthinking everything.

You mentioned that you’re planning on releasing another new single in a month or two and eventually an EP. How does the new material to “Here Comes The Light?”

Greg: Yeah, quite similar I guess. They’re all heavy rock ‘n’ roll songs played on guitar and drums.

Can you describe the band’s songwriting process? Do you both collaborate on the music and lyrics?

Greg: Yeah, normally songs tend to start with Paul. He’ll have some chords or a riff and a verse melody or something and then we’ll finish the song off together. It’s different every time I guess, but Paul tends to write more of the music and I tend to write more of the words.

How have the live shows been so far? Any stand out shows?

Greg: The live shows have been a lot of fun so far, we just got back off tour. I think the stand out ones were Birmingham, Manchester, and London. They had the best crowds. We always love playing Leeds as well.

Do you have any favorite, new bands that you think people should check out?

Greg: Neon Waltz are the best new band we’ve seen, good lads as well. Theres also a load of good bands and artists on the Skeleton Key label.

Are there any concrete goals for the band and at what point would you consider the band to be successful?

Greg: Putting out a good debut album is a concrete goal I suppose. Getting a song on FIFA would fulfill a childhood dream of ours. I think we’ll consider the band to be successful when we’re not completely skint anymore.

What’s in store for the band for the rest of 2017?

Greg: More music, more touring, more fast food.


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