The Kings of Spain at the Crossroads

Santa Barbara-Based Band Talks About the Future

Asking whether a band will survive adversity or fold under the pressure of internal politics and the loss of key members usually only becomes noteworthy when the band has been together for years and has produced at least one full-length, critically acclaimed album. Santa Barbara’s funk-rock pioneers the Kings of Spain Elevator%20Photo.jpg have been together for only a very short period of time, and have produced an excellent demo full of grit and fire. So why is it so important to talk about their future?

Following a slew of successful live shows and some success in a couple of American Idol-style competitions — which serve to introduce the band’s music to a wider audience than the Santa Barbarba live scene ever could — the Kings of Spain seemed poised to get back into their homemade though high-tech studio and record some new songs, and possibly start working on a full-length debut. Competition judges praise their gusto and bookers beg them to return to just about every venue they play, and in an industry that revolves around striking when the iron is hot, the Kings of Spain are at a point where momentum could make all the difference in the band’s longevity. That makes drummer Adam Baltieri’s decision to depart the band in favor of a college education outside of Santa Barbara tragic. And when you take a closer look at the relationship between Baltieri and vocalist/lead guitarist Will Loomis, the decision becomes heartbreaking.

Loomis and Baltieri met when they played together in a band that performed mostly cover songs. “Adam encouraged me to work on my own songs,” Loomis recalled, and the two eventually formed the Kings of Spain. “We have a very strong musical connection; Adam is a very creative drummer, not just a timekeeper, and he is a good friend,” said Loomis. kings%20logo.bmp The duo performed and produced most of the music that made it to the demo, proving their connection exists both instrumentally as well as philosophically. “I write most of the songs solo,” said Looomis, “but Adam’s creativity gives me a vehicle to get them to another level.” Both cite similar influences, too: Jimmy Page and Chuck Berry chief among them.

Loomis and Baltieri later found guitarist Thomas Masker and bassist Adam Reiber, who play in the band’s live shows and add a different dimension to the band’s sound. Just as the foursome had finally found its groove, a key piece of the puzzle is falling out of the picture. “Adam leaving is huge — it will change the band’s chemistry pretty drastically,” Loomis said. “He and I played so long together that there’s no way it could be otherwise.”

The Kings of Spain aren’t ready to give up just yet, though. Baltieri’s still in town, and he will play shows with the band through the end of the year. That includes the free Cold Spring Tavern show this Friday, November 24, at 7 p.m.; and Friday, December 8, at the Brewhouse (both all ages). And after that, Loomis plans to keep plugging away in the studio. “It almost makes sense that he got the ball rolling and now he’s moving on.” Loomis, who has more than enough material already, will be hard at work on a new demo in the New Year. The Kings of Spain will continue to play contests, too, because it’s good PR. “One time we played a live contest gig in L.A. and some A&R guy approached us after a show and asked for a copy of [the single] ‘Amplifire,’” said Loomis. And the band reaches new people every time.

What the Kings of Spain are finding out is that, especially in these contests, which normally feature a bunch of bands playing homogeneously harder music, their sound stands out. “We’re hopelessly out of touch with punk and hardcore music, which is so prevalent today. … We never related to that.” The Kings of Spain recently participated in NBC’s web-based competition, StarTomorrow, which pitted music performers against each other, with the band getting the most votes for its prerecorded track moving on to the next round. Just getting in to the contest was a big deal, as thousands applied but only 100 bands from across the nation got to participate, but the Kings of Spain additionally got through a couple of rounds, before losing to the eventual winner.

So the Kings of Spain will continue to reign. They will majestically pursue an ever-expanding creativity and bend to their music, never forcing their way into something different, but finding their way there naturally. The band has already achieved more than a lot bands ever do, and they’re looking for more. “A record deal would be nice,” said Loomis. “I’d like to do this for a while.”

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