The K’s talk gatecrashing the UK Album Chart: “We’ve dragged ourselves to the top”

The K’s are currently Number Two in the UK charts with their debut album ‘I Wonder If The World Knows?’. Vocalist Jamie Boyle has spoken to NME about doing battle with The Libertines, getting picked up by living legend Alan McGee and why guitar music will never die.

READ MORE: Alan McGee: “The music industry doesn’t want young indie rock’n’roll. The culture is so different”

‘I Wonder If The World Knows?’ was released last Friday (April 5) and according to the midweek chart update, is outselling records from the likes of Conan Gray, Beyoncé, The Black Keys, Vampire Weekend and Olivia Rodrigo.

“It’s mental. It’s one of those situations that just doesn’t seem real,” said Boyle. “We definitely feel like underdogs but we’re up for the challenge. “We were hoping for this reaction, but we weren’t expecting it.”

“No matter how confident you are in your music, there’s always that bit of self-doubt. There’s always the fear that people are going to think what you’ve done is shit, but the reaction has been amazing. Whatever the outcome on Friday, we’re buzzing.”

Boyle said that when he was 15, The Libertines were one of the bands that first inspired him to pick up a guitar. “If we lose to them, absolutely nobody is going to think we’ve fucked it.”

The frontman said that he believes the support for The K’s’ debut album is because people know how hard they’ve worked to get here. “It’s no secret that we’ve gone the long way around,” he explained.

The band first formed in 2017 and have gigged relentlessly since the release of first single ‘Sarajevo’ that same year. “We’ve absolutely toured our arses off, which is why we’re in the position that we’re in,” he continued. “We just constantly built that living following up and people know that we’ve done this ourselves. I think people respect the fact we’ve dragged ourselves to the top.”

The singer argued that ‘I Wonder If The World Knows?’ is also resonating with people because of how honest it is. “It’s basically my diary from the last couple of years,” said Boyle. “I sort of wish this wasn’t the case, but everything on it is a true to life story. It’s the ups, the downs, the mistakes and everything in-between.”

There were moments during the writing of the record where Boyle was worried he was being too honest in the songs, when the material “seemed so raw”.

“But that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it?,” he went on. “I feel like people can tell when someone isn’t being authentic. I want those songs to give people hope as well. It’s still a sensitive thing to talk about but a lot of the songs are about my battles with mental health.”

He continued: “I’m living my dream every single day but there are plenty of times where I’ll feel like absolute shit. Maybe if people see that, it’ll make whatever they’re going through seem less scary.”

The band’s shows often see fans sharing messages on mobile phone screens saying that The K’s and their music has “saved” them. “That is worth more than any Number One ever could be,” said Boyle. ”We’re literally having a massive effect on people’s lives.”

According to Boyle, The K’s have never been short of confidence – but signing to Alan McGee’s Creation23 label in 2019 gave them an extra early boost. “We’d met a few times and he really liked the band. We were just a bit starstruck,” admitted Boyle. “The fact that the bloke who discovered Oasis wants to work with you just gives you the belief that you’re doing something right.”

That confidence gave the band the boost they needed to carry on, when a number of offers from labels to work with The K’s on their debut album were taken off the table when the pandemic hit. “We’re grateful for that now. We’ve spent the past couple of years properly building the momentum which has led us here. It feels like the perfect time for us,” offered Boyle.

‘I Wonder If The World Knows?’ is the latest in the long line of albums from regional guitar bands to gatecrash the UK Album Charts, following in the footsteps of The Lathums’ ‘From Nothing To A Little More’, The Reytons’ ‘What’s Rock & Roll’ and The Lottery Winners’ ‘Anxiety Replacement Therapy’.

“The scene is just so strong right now and it’s only getting stronger,” said Boyle. “People are really going to have to start paying more attention to bands from the north of England, aren’t they?”

He continued: “When people see bands from small towns do well, of course they’re going to be inspired to pick up a guitar and give it a go as well. Bands like The Lathums are proof that it is possible to be successful if you come from somewhere like Wigan. We love coming from Earlestown, but there wasn’t exactly much going on. Right from the start though, everyone has always been so supportive. They want to see you succeed.”

“Coming from the north, you do feel like you’re up against that London bubble sometimes –but honestly, that just inspires us to work harder.”

The K’s press shot 2024. CREDIT: Halestorm

While ‘I Wonder If The World Knows?’ was inspired by The Clash, The Sex Pistols, The Strokes, Arctic Monkeys, The Rolling Stones and Blink-182, the album’s opener ‘Icarus’ begins with a burst of strings while the closing ‘Valley One’ is built around cello, violin and piano.“No matter where we go, the cornerstone of what we do is summer festival anthems,” said Boyle. “High energy songs with catchy guitar riffs.”

While many old-school indie fans have voiced dismay at how Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds festivals have moved away from guitar bands to showcase more dance and pop acts, Boyle isn’t worried.

“Guitar music will always have a place at festivals because it’s what people want to go and see. Don’t get me wrong, Billie Eilish’s headline set was fucking amazing and Stormzy was incredible, but guitar music will always be the heart of festivals.”

He went on: “I don’t think you can replace the buzz of a guitar band absolutely smashing their set in front of thousands of people and every single person sharing in that same energy. Obviously I’m biased, but nothing can replicate that feeling.

“If you look back over the decades, other genres of music have had their moment but guitar music and good bands have always been there. It’ll be that way forever.”

While Boyle argued that a big reason for guitar music’s perseverance is how easy it is for young fans to pick up a guitar and emulate their favourite bands, he also voiced fear at the state of live music as “grassroots venues also help with that accessibility”.

“It’s so heartbreaking to see so many venues closing down,” he said. “We played our first ever show at Sound Control. We played our first ever headline show at Jimmy’s. Both those venues aren’t there anymore. Even Manchester’s Night & Day, which has been there for years and has played host to so many incredible bands, has been in a battle to stay open. It’s a really shitty situation, because those community spaces are so important.

“We wouldn’t be a band without them. I’m pretty sure it’s the same for bands like The Lathums and The Reytons. We need to really support those local grassroots venues because it’s going to massively fuck everything up otherwise.”

Once The K’s have release week out the way, they’ve got a busy summer of playing live with appearances at Reading & Leeds alongside their own headline tour, which kicks off later this month. “Our shows are high energy. There’s just this electricity in the air,” said Boyle. “I challenge anybody to come to one of our gigs and not have a great time.”

The band are also already demoing album two. “We don’t want to rest on our laurels,” said Boyle. “It feels like we’re on this planet and make music to share with people, and the success of ‘I Wonder If The World Knows?’ has really given us the belief that we’re doing something right. There’s no pressure, we’re just really excited for the future.”

“I Wonder If The World Knows?’ is out now on LAB Records and can be purchased here. The K’s tour the UK this month and tickets are available here.

The post The K’s talk gatecrashing the UK Album Chart: “We’ve dragged ourselves to the top” appeared first on NME.

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