A chat with Kings and Comrades

After much anticipation, Philadelphia’s Kings and Comrades released their first full-length album Get Away, on February 17th, 2015.  Lead by guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter Jeff McCaughey, the band began with only two members but are now equipped with a full ensemble including Frank Rein and Rick Rein on the horns.  Kings and Comrades deliver lyrics as smooth as Shakespeare and melodies so sweet, you can’t help but feel good.  They have shared the stage with Tribal Seeds, Josh Heinrichs, Fortunate Youth, and have also played at the fourth annual 2013 California Roots Festival in Monterey, California.  We caught up with front man Jeff McCaughey to learn more about their new album and what to expect from Kings and Comrades this coming year.

Congratulations on your new album Get Away. We’re really stoked to hear the new album!  What have the Kings and Comrades been brewing up these past 2 years?

Thanks guys!  Since our performance at Cali Roots 2013, we’ve been playing shows here and there but not as often as we would like, mostly due to personnel changes. We've been spending most of our time writing this new music and experimenting in the studio.  This album has been a long process and a lot of work ourselves but we’re stoked on the final outcome!

It’s no secret that Kings and Comrades love, love songs!  There’s nothing better than the feeling of love and being in it.  What direction and message did you guys go with on this album?

Indeed!  Love songs are a big part of our style.  Growing up, I always gravitated to the Lovers Rock style of Alton Ellis, Dennis Brown, Carlton and the Shoes and so many more.  Love is such a big part of my life and I think that really comes through in the songwriting. There are a few other recurring themes, such as self acceptance and escape. Sometimes we all just need to get away from society and appreciate the little things in life.

You guys gave us a sneak peak of the title track “Get Away” which features Karim of Arise Roots.  The song has an awesome and intense tropical vibe.  How do you maintain a positive mindset and keep the creative elements in your music growing?

Thank you!  I think we always try to maintain a positive outlook on life and it’s important for us to exemplify that through our music. It’s important to stay true to yourself and not let other people bring you down.  I take a lot of inspiration from people around me as well as artists I listen to, such as Tribal Seeds, Rebelution, and Slightly Stoopid to name a few.

With the current ongoing reggae movement in the States, the recipe for a great song often includes other talented artists.  Who else did you collaborate with on this album and whom would you like to work with in the future?

Collaborations are a big part of the American reggae scene.  The collabs often yield some of the best songs, in my opinion.  It’s awesome to see how other artists work together and what they can create.  We were super stoked to work with Karim, he’s one of my favorite vocalists right now and Arise Roots is killing it!  We were blessed to work with KBong as well. I met him when we played with Stick Figure a few years back, we've been friends ever since.  Great guy and a very talented musician! He killed it inna lovers rock style on “You and I.”  It was also a pleasure working with Joe from Sensamotion on “Late Night.”  I've been a big fan of their music for a while now, and they’re finally getting the recognition they deserve.  It is definitely one of the rootsiest tunes we have ever done and Joe fit the track perfectly.  It’s always awesome working with my cousin, Ryan Leimkuhler, as well.  He’s been an honorary member since the inception of Kings and Comrades and has always helped me grow as a musician.  “Summer Nights” is very different from other songs on the album, and we tried to pay homage to the classic Lovers Rock artists I mentioned above.  Not only is he an awesome vocalist, but he’s also one of the best lyricists I know.  It was also an incredible experience working with E.N Young on some of the tunes.  He is so professional and has an amazing ear.  Definitely want to collab with him more in the future!

We would love to work with other artists down the road for sure.  I’ve always wanted to do a song with Steven Jacobo of Tribal Seeds or Dan Kelly from Fortunate Youth!  Those are two of my favorite singers and I think it would be awesome to collab with them someday. I'd definitely like to work with Stick Figure, Rebelution, or Hirie as well!  Scott from Stick Figure has been a friend for a few years and I really respect him as an artist.

What is the song writing process like when you’re working with other artists?

It was a humbling and amazing experience to work with all the guest artists on this record.  Each artist has such a unique and original style that really flowed well with our style and message.  Since three of the artists are based in California, the entire process was done through email/text.  Basically I sent everyone a rough demo with my parts and they would add in their verse and send it back my way!  Everyone had some great feedback and ideas for the tune that I incorporated as well.

Are there any songs on this album that are more meaningful or special to you than others?

Ha, that’s a tough one!  I think each song is meaningful and special to me in their own way.  Every song has something different to offer and I like the variety this record has.  I think one song that really has a lot of meaning to me is “Gone.”  For as long as I can remember, every summer for me has been marked by some sort of epic trip/moment.  This song is about that fleeting feeling you get when an epic moment is coming to an end.  I wanted to capture that bittersweet nostalgia that always gets me at those times.  When I am feeling down or upset, these amazing memories always lift me up and I try to get back in that mindset.

Thanks for taking the time to discuss your new album with us; we really appreciate your positive music.  Will we be seeing a tour sometime soon?

That’s something we are definitely working towards right now.  In the past few years we have gone through a few different drummers so it’s been tough to gain momentum.  Since the record is now finished, our main focus is solidifying our lineup and finally getting out on the road!  Thank you guys for all the support.  Lots of love for the Top Shelf Reggae fam!

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