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King 810: Stick To Your Guns

King 810 could very easily have been any number of generic metal bands that fly under the radar – then they started turning up to shows with guns. BLUNT spoke to frontman David Gunn.

King 810

King 810 are from Flint, a forlorn and forgotten city in Michigan, USA, with rather bleak statistics when it comes to crime, unemployment, drug addiction, and the like.

In May this year they brought a crew of bandana-clad, (faux) assault rifle-toting dudes on stage when performing at Rock On The Range to give a sense of the Flint they inhabit. In June this year frontman David Gunn (formerly David Swan) and bassist Eugene Gill were arrested while attempting to board a flight to the UK to perform at Download Festival and taken into custody on charges of “assault with intent to do great bodily harm”. Gunn’s charge was then upgraded to “assault with intent to murder”.

The case was dismissed by the judge – but that didn’t stop Gunn from titling King 810’s first full-length, Memoirs Of A Murderer. Like Curtis James ‘Fifty Cent’ Jackson III, David Gunn has been shot. Contrary to what Gunn, 28, believes, Michael Moore was in fact born in Flint, and even founded The Flint Voice at age 22. His first successful documentary, Emmy Award-winning Rodger & Me, examined the effects on Flint after the collapse of General Motors.

Can you tell me a little about the album: why you structured it with these three movements, and the concept of it being a memoir?
David Gunn: Yeah, it’s a sonic memoir. There’s two movements, but three parts. It loosely parallels Freud’s id, ego and super-ego theory. The first part is the id, or what would translate as the more violent or easily digestible cohesive material that is very up front – you get it the first time you listen to it, it’s aggressive and it’s basically what people think King is at first glance. A spoken word track moves it from there into the second movement which turns into a male/female explanation of traditional love. In the first section love is presented more as a brotherhood or a camaraderie or something in the wake of the violent, gritty urban material, when it moves to spoken word it moves to the ego of traditional male/female love. From the next spoken word it changes to the third part, which is superego, and kind of an abstract artistic love.

Stressing the idea of it as a memoir, though – it’s an immediately arresting title – but how does the title reflect on things like you missing out on Download Festival this year, the arrest, for example? Where does the line between memoir and fiction blur?
Gunn: There’s lines for a lot of artists and for a lot of other people, but with this group, when I say memoir, that’s exactly what it is: it’s to the point, it’s a fact, there’s no sensationalising, no glamorisation, no exaggeration, there’s no line to be blurred at all. What’s on the disc is exactly how it happened without any bluff or anything fictional, it’s all true, it’s 100 percent true, and that’s how it happened. There’s no line, and that’s why we missed Download and things like that, we had criminal records and those types of things, not that we go around bragging or we’re not proud about it, it’s not like… It is whatever it is.

I’m interested in the relationship between Flint and King 810, how you see each feeding the other – what were you doing there before the band?
Gunn: Before the band I didn’t have a job or anything, I was never doing – uh – legitimate work. I wasn’t ever going to be anything else. I didn’t have a plan B, college or a job, I wasn’t going to do all these things because this was what we were going to do from the start, since we were kids this is what we were going to do. A back-up plan is just a division in energy or focus. This is always what we were going to do, we were never going to do anything else, and we kind of crossed the bridge and burned it behind us.

As someone in Australia, to outsiders, the dominant view of Flint is still the one presented in Bowling For Columbine, and there hasn’t been an update on that, though you seem to pick up that thread…
Gunn: Michael Moore isn’t from Flint [Moore was born in Flint – Ed], and doesn’t live in Flint so, I mean, he did do a little bit of work in Flint and that’s like his meal ticket but in reality he’s not from here. He’s a middle-aged white guy so what does he know about what we’re doing? This is like you’re getting the real report from the front lines from someone who is actually involved. This is what it is, it’s coming from an organic place, it’s not an act of fiction.

What about with the live show? The guns have become quite notorious, is that taking a piece of Flint around and showing people what it’s like?
Gunn: Yeah, that’s what we’re trying to do. Sonically we’re trying to make you understand it, but you can only get so far sonically, but when we play live we’re trying to bring that visual which makes you understand what Flint looks like too. Of course they are going to rag on us about bringing guys with guns or whatever, like it’s some kind of gimmick, but at the end of the day we’re just showing you what home looks like.

And your surname change?
Gunn: The name change is my Scottish family name, from the North Highlands. I had my dad’s last name, and I don’t even know my dad, so I changed it to my grandparents’ who actually had a hand in raising me. A lot of people think it’s gun like ‘handgun’, but it’s my family’s name.

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