As front-man and songwriter for the critically acclaimed The King Blues for the past 13 years, Itch has made a name for himself as one of Britain’s most treasured lyricists and political spoken word artists. Ahead of their UK headline dates in December we caught up with Itch to discuss their new album ‘The Gospel Truth’ and the upcoming live shows.
How did you first get into music?
In the early days of the band, no one wanted to put on an acoustic punk act, it was just unheard of and acoustic conjured up images of self indulgent folk artists so we started off by throwing squat parties and we’d book ourselves to be the entertainment. People would come down just for the party but eventually more and more people started to come for us until there was a bit of a buzz.
You and the band are playing two headline shows in Manchester and London in December. Are you looking forward to heading out on the road?
It’s always hugely gratifying to be able to play to people who really care and who use your music in their daily lives. The novelty of travelling around and playing gigs never wears off even all these years later. To be able to do the major cities of London and Manchester is going to be incredible.
Tell us a bit about your new album ‘The Gospel Truth’ and the process of making this?
I rented out a tiny studio in Manor House and hit it like a 9-5 every day writing new songs. All I knew was that the album had to be honest and I wasn’t in a place of writing another straight up protest record, I was going through some big changes and obstacles in my life and the struggle seemed far more personal. It was the first time I’d allowed myself to be truly vulnerable on record before and I think it’s better off for it.
What’s your favourite track from the album?
Probably Nike Town because it’s a track I’ve been playing around with for about 14 years so to finally get it finished felt epic. I also really love New Gods and Heart Of A Lion. I think we’re lucky to have a cult fan base as they listen to the albums as a whole rather than just singles and this was written to be listened to as one piece.
You’ve also just released your new book ‘101 Haikus’ and started a Kickstarter campaign for this. How did it go and can you tell us about the book?
I was blown away, it smashed its target in the first hour and was over 1500% by the end. It’s a poetry book but also an art and photography book with essays dotted around. It came out far better than I ever expected and I’m really proud of it. I had no idea how it would go down as I purposely went “off brand” and didn’t include any politics or protest. It’s so fun to be able to do the whole thing DIY and I make trips to the post office every day to personally send them out. When I got it back it felt like the first time I got to hold one of my own records.
What has been one of your most memorable performances?
There have been many memorable ones from the police shutting down squat parties to being chased out of venues by white power skinheads and performing to thousands at Trafalgar Square on the anti war marches. The one I visit the most in my head is probably our gig at The Roundhouse, there’s just something special about Camden Town and this band that goes hand in hand. We had just done a fairly grueling tour of Germany in the winter and to come back and get to play a packed venue with a string section and there to be such a great atmosphere was really memorable.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve been given?
“Don’t suck and don’t split up and it’ll all work out”
Who are your biggest musical influences?
I love so much music from throughout history but over all I’d have to day The Clash are still our biggest influence.
Have you got any messages for your fans?
Just a genuine truck load of gratitude and thanks for always sticking by us and allowing us to continue to do this
What does 2018 hold for iTCH and The King Blues?
There are lots of big plans happening and it’s going to be a very exciting year
Access All Areas / interview / The King Blues