By Onna Jaeger
King Bongo is a 3 piece band of goofball boys from our very own state of Connecticut. With their surf-rock sound and upbeat tunes, their music is extremely easy to bounce around to. Their most recent EP ‘Sleep on the Phone’ is comprised of two tracks with a combination of surprisingly dark lyrics paired with catchy melodies. You can catch King Bongo playing shows around many different parts of Connecticut & the East Coast. Cody, the drummer will be answering these questions on behalf of the band. For more information check out their Facebook page.
Onna Jaeger: So, how did you boys meet? When did you decide to play music together?
Cody: I had met Henry back in the fall of 2013 at a house show that his funk fusion band was playing. It wasn’t until the spring of the next year that Henry had asked if I could help him out and play drums in the pit band of a play he was working on that we first hung out. On the ride over to the first rehearsal we bonded over our own respective rough break up that we were going through. Then on the ride home from that rehearsal Henry said to me, “I was thinking about starting a rock band to get out these feelings. I was going to ask someone else to play drums, but I was wondering if you wanted to do it instead?” I immediately said yes. At that point Henry asked our mutual friend Nick (who is no longer in the band) if he wanted to also play guitar in the band. It was Nick’s idea to then ask Max, who is one of my oldest friends from middle school, if he wanted to be in the band. At the time Max played synth bass but eventually taught himself to play bass guitar. He is by far one of the most musically talented people I’ve had the pleasure to know. He was actually a classically trained clarinetist!
Onna: What’s the songwriting process for King Bongo? Is there one person who comes up with the lyrics, or is it a collective brainstorming process?
Cody: Henry is the primary songwriter but Max and I also write music. Max doesn’t write lyrics but he’ll present us with a riff that we’ll all work on while either Henry or I will come with words to it. When it comes to the rest of the songs either Henry or myself will present the bare bones of a song to the group which then gets worked on as a collective process. We do our best to make sure every song doesn’t belong to one individual but eventually becomes a song by King Bongo.
Onna: You guys have a very unique style, can you tell us about some of your musical influences?
Cody: We have a wide array of musical influences from The Beatles to Black Sabbath to Twin Peaks to Thee Oh Sees. I’d say the three of us definitely share punk music as a common influence.
Onna: What does your music reflect about you as individual King Bongo-ers?
Cody: Above all we try to have our music reflect good vibes and the fun the three of us have together hanging out writing tunes. A good portion of our music to me is happy chords with sad lyrics. The bass is fuzzed out and the drums are usually fast. It’s the kind of music you can just rock out to and belt the words. We want it to be music that when the track ends you just feel so much happier. Again, good vibes.
Onna: What are some of the challenges that you run into as a band?
Cody: There aren’t really many challenges in King Bongo. The three of us make sure to spend time hanging out so that our bond is stronger therefore making the music stronger. I suppose one challenge is the fact that Henry doesn’t currently have his license and lives a good 30 minutes from our practice spot. Carting around that man can definitely wear on anyone but we love him to death so it’s completely worth it.
Onna: The CT music scene seems to be growing more and more as the days pass. What are your thoughts on the local scene?
Cody: The scene in CT always been super supportive when it came to any project I’ve been in. People are always outgoing and we all support each other. I can’t even begin to express the love I have for our friends in the scene and the fans who support us. The bad I would say is just our location. CT has always been known as a place most major artists skip over. It has been getting a lot better recently though.
Onna: Tell us about one of your fondest memories as a band.
Cody: Oh jeez…where would I even start? We practice twice a week and we seem to make fond memories every time. I’d say if I had to pick one it’d be the time we played a show in NYC and missed the last train out back to CT. It was just a night of debauchery from our arrival to killing time until the first train ran in the morning. Henry ended up getting absorbed into Brooklyn for a couple days.
Onna: Any exciting future plans coming up for King Bongo?
Cody: There are lots of exciting things on the horizon so our fellow bongos should keep their eyes peeled!