After a casual stroll around New Street station, Theo Polyzoides reacts enthusiastically to the Café Nero opposite and gestures we go in there for the interview. The 6 out 9 coffee stamps on his loyalty card provided ample reasoning as to why Café Nero was the shop of choice. The constant touring life that King Nun find themselves in nowadays, provides opportunity to visit a Café Nero in every city in the country. Theo, the lead singer of the up-and-coming band signed to Dirty Hit records, begins to reminisce on the positive reaction to their debut album Mass. Reading the rave reviews to the album he considers somewhat ‘masturbatory’, however what he is seemingly most pleased about is the fact that ‘it’s the sort of album [he] would have enjoyed when he first got into music’. Theo exudes an approachable aura, comfortable in his own skin, but with a slight vulnerability – the sort of self-reflection which has inspired an album of questioning and self-doubt, juxtaposed with the punk rock lifestyle. The introduction of such insecurities into his songwriting, is a departure form some of the initial demos released by the band, and this progression is something recognised by Theo himself. Thrashy punk music produces that ‘adrenaline, an instantly emotional effect’ but this same effect can be achieved ‘with something stripped back, something moody and depressing’ Theo chuckles, and the album reflects this blend of thrash punk and more introspective work. The reasoning for such a shift Theo explains is simply a matter of space. ‘In the town opposite us there was this guy Phil, who had somehow converted his garden into a recording studio. So, it was almost a soundproof large corridor where we would only have to pay £10 for two hours to record.’ Such DIY rock often lends itself to thrash based music, and it was only when the band were signed to Dirty Hit where they able to record in suitable conditions and thus realised ‘there was space to work with within music. The acoustics being much better meant we didn’t have to sound the way we used to’.
The opportunities Dirty Hit have provided the band is something Theo is extremely grateful for, explaining that the label is made up of people ‘who are passionate about music’ and believes the band escape the issues of red tape which plagues some artists who are ignored by their label. The real stress of being a touring in a van band today is ‘social media’ Theo exasperates. ‘Only having one month dedicated to working on an album… constantly having to upload to social media’ are King Nun’s biggest gripes with the music industry today. The pitfalls of ‘playlist power’ however seem to be the only issues which are affecting the band, as the chemistry between the four friends from Richmond is stronger than ever. ‘I don’t think you could be in a band at the stage where we are now if you all didn’t get along’ Theo explains. ‘Cramped in a van touring both the UK, Europe going to America, surviving day to day’ is the life the King Nun lads are living right now, and with the concept of home diminished by travelling, it seems to be home for Theo is wherever in the world the band is.
Concluding the interview on his song writing process, Theo explains that ‘the band writes democratically. I do the words so what the songs are about reflect me, but we are all the primary songwriter’. The importance of his surrounding members is clear, as the ‘collaborative process’ is key to the band, although Theo admits when I referred to him as the ‘primary songwriter’ earlier, it was a good feeling to hear it, even if it is not strictly true. Bassist, Nathan, is touched upon by Theo, citing the effect of his bass lines as ‘blowing him away’, and along with drummer, Caius, and lead guitar, James, the other members clearly provide an anchor for Theo, as is such with many charismatic frontmen, finding their confidence in the people around them. The relationship between guitarist James and Theo was the formation for the band back when they were in their teens, as Theo admits that he asked James to be in a band with him before he even knew how to play the Guitar. ‘That was just how desperate I was to be in a band. We were people who all loved the same music, bonded over Black Sabbath, and continued to keep a hold of each other throughout life’. What a valid aspiration from the band members in retrospect, as the ending result has been a heavy rock band with a uniquely British sound; a band who is just as ready to create adrenaline rushing head bangers, along with connecting with fans on the more nuanced confidence crisis faced in life. Theo Polyzoides is a frontman who can electrify a crowd, express raw emotion, and then deeply connect with its audience of ‘outsiders’. Watch this space, this man and his band are going places.
By Ed Baidya