When it comes to good years, John King‘s 2014 just might take the cake. Riding high on the heels of his debut single “Tonight, Tonight,” #CMChat had the opportunity to chat with John about his ever-growing fan base, his forthcoming album, his high-profile opening gigs and his Opry debut.
Growing up in the mountains of Georgia, John King picked up singing in church at the age of 12 before honing his craft in bands during high school and while attending the University of Georgia. “I think the turning point – people ask about the tuning point a lot – was when we entered college battle of the bands,” says King. “I was a sophomore in college and we made it all the way to the finals in Los Angeles. We came in second and that was a real wakeup call, like, ‘Man, I think we could really do something here.’ A switch flipped in my head that we had something special.”
Among the ‘we’ King mentions above is his younger brother Andrew, who plays drums in his band, something which could only be described as a happy accident. “I actually started playing the drums at around 11, and I taught Andrew. He got way better than me, so I was was like, ‘Dang, I need to learn something else’,” King laughs. “It definitely worked out for the best.”
The brothers, as well as the rest of the band, are currently on the road, playing a wide range of club and radio shows, in-between scoring some coveted opening act gigs, including stops with Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line. And while the guys have put over 14,000 miles on their van in the last two months, King says the experiences have been invaluable. “Guys like Aldean, Florida Georgia Line and Eric Church really opened the doors for guys like me…It’s great to see someone like Aldean. Everyone on his crew was so nice, so helpful and it really opened my eyes to the fact that guys like that are so big because people love working for them. He’s a humble guy despite how big he is.”
While he’s already nabbed some incredible opening opportunities, King admits that there’s one that would be a dream come true: opening for Garth Brooks. “Garth was a really big influence to me as a kid, so it would be a dream to open for him,” King says. “He was in his prime when I was a little bitty guy… and I’ve always heard great stories about him, how he treats his fans and about how great of an entertainer he is so I kinda want to model my career after a guy like that. How many people could come back after being gone so long and sell out stadiums? It just shows how much his fans love him.”
While King may have yet to meet Garth, he did recently have the chance to meet some of his other idols during his Opry debut. “That’s probably my favorite place I’ve ever played…When people talk about the Opry, it truly is a magical place, it’s like the Disney World of country music,” King says, automatically gaining “cool points” with me for such a spot-on analogy. “It’s got this vibe about it that you can’t even really explain. I got to see Vince Gill sing ‘Go Rest High’ acoustically and it was like a religious experience. Steve Wariner brought me on stage, Little Jimmy Dickens was there…it was like a dream come true.”
Speaking of dreams coming true, many doors have opened to King thanks to his endlessly catchy carpe diem anthem, “Tonight, Tonight,” a song he says “kind of picked” him. “I wrote over 200 songs for the album, so I had a lot to choose from, but I was also listening to outside songs,” says King. “I fell in love with ‘Tonight, Tonight’ immediately. I thought, ‘what a cool song and what a cool message for a live or listening audience.’ It’s simple and it’s fun and I heard it as an objective listener and it really caught me.”
And while King may not have written his first single, he did write 9 of the 11 songs on his forthcoming debut album, due out next year on Black River Entertainment. “I’m so excited because there are so many good songs on there. I hate to brag, but it’s gonna be really good.” When it comes to what he loves about the album King mentions diversity and the fact that he worked really hard on two songs not sounding the same. “You can listen to it front to back and it never gets old because no two songs sound the same. There’s a common thread, but each song has its own personality.There’s ‘Tonight, Tonight’, and there’s a a ballad called “Got you Baby” which is a really heartfelt love song. I think there’s a little of everything of it on there because when I look back at my favorite albums, that’s what I like about them.”
Another song King is especially fond of is called “Proud of It,” a track that basically woke him up in the middle of the night. “It really, the whole thing came to me when I woke up and it was right there. and I just started writing. Not many happen like that.”
While King is gearing up to release his album, he says that he has loved watching the song grow all year long, now reaching a point where live audiences sing back to him. “The only thing better than hearing your song on the radio is when you go play live, and people sing it back to you,” says King, who also spoke candidly of hearing his song on the radio for the first time. “Oh man, I’ll never forget it. We had just visited WQYK in Tampa and we played them the music. We’re heading down the road like 15 minutes after we left the station and it came on the radio and we were all just freaking out. We rolled down the windows and were screaming and going out of our minds. I’ll never forget that.”
And for some fans, a moment they’ll never forget is receiving a tweet back from @JohnKingCountry, something he says is all him. “I respond to my own Twitter, I do that all on my own so if someone tweets at me, they’ll get a direct response from me, “says King. “I want to stay personally in contact with my fans. I want them to know how important they are to me. Right now, I’m just so happy and so blessed to be here. I’m so thankful that people want to pay money to see us play shows and that they love the songs. Just a big thanks to everyone for giving me the opportunity to be here…Without the fans, I wouldn’t be here and people say that all the time, but especially for a new artist like me, to have the opportunity is amazing. And come see a show because it’s all high energy.”
And while John King is a southern country boy at heart, he admits there’s one thing that may shock his fans, and that’s his dream duet partner: Katy Perry. “I love her sound. It’s really weird, but we listen to a lot of Katy Perry on the road. You wouldn’t think of a southern rock country band listening to Katy Perry, but it works.”
With a hit single, huge tour dates and Opry debut under his belt this year, 2015 only looks all the brighter for John King, and we can’t wait to see what happens next. For now “Tonight, Tonight” might be the best night of his life, but we’re sure there’s many more to come.
Listen to John King’s “Tonight, Tonight” here!
Follow me on Twitter @NicolePiering and let me know if you have any questions or comments!
Join our Country Music Chat #CMchat Mailing List:
For a complete #CMchat schedule, check out our calendar here: cmchatlive.com/calendar
Find out how you can sponsor a #CMchat or advertise with #CMchat here!