Joseph King Talks Out His Bad Break-Ups and His Wanderlusting

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Courtesy of HMG Public Relations
Joseph King
As he very bluntly puts it, "shit went south" for Joseph King towards the end of 2012. The Austin transplant, who had fronted and based the alt-psych rock band Canvas in his hometown after founding it in California, moved to New York in 2005 and found his way to another band he would lead almost as soon as he unpacked his stuff. With Deadbeat Darling, King saw the fruits of his labor as an indie artist start to take his music past a local scene. With a tumultuous relationship running its course simultaneously, King saw a bitter end to his year that miraculously left enough room for a total rebirth.

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With his acoustic guitar, King sits in the beautiful Shabby Road Studios owned by Roger McEvoy Greenawalt. Joined by the owner and his recent collaborator Kayce Laine (also pursuing her own solo career), he glides through several of his newest tracks off his debut solo EP Wanderlusting, set to be released in March of next year. "When I put together this solo project, I knew it definitely wasn't going to be straight up rock 'n' roll--two guitars, drums, bass," he firmly states. "I've done that all my life, and I'm done with it. I wanted to do this surfier acoustic pop thing with organs and synth."

For songs coming from two concurrent moments of pain and grief, the music is surprisingly refreshed and hopeful. On "When I Was a Mime," he takes his pain back further to when a former bandmate's girlfriend died in a motorcycle accident. "Your Velvet Skin" is, as he says, a "montage of everything that was happening as Deadbeat Darling was coming to an end." That particular project had begun as King's solo endeavor post-Austin and Canvas, and while in the UK, band members began to "freak out" and suddenly, King was back to where he had started in New York.

Neither of the tracks compare to the brutal honesty of the surprisingly catchy "The Tiniest Thief," an ode of sorts and open letter to his ex-girlfriend. He's coy on who she is exactly, but notes that she sings in a band on Joan Jett's record label and that her success is something they shared. On the track, he addresses her relapse into addiction that ended their time together. "She had been sort of a junkie in the past. While we were together she started using drugs again. There's a difference between people who use drugs and people who are truly addicts, and it got really dark," he says. "We broke up on New Year's Eve this past year."

A year later, King is as hopeful as his new sound is. After playing his new and lovely songs, he addressed the past year, his bad break-ups, Austin, and his new direction.

You've lived for periods of time in Austin, San Francisco, and New York City. What are those scenes like and how are they different from one another?
I went to Stanford then I moved to San Francisco where I lived in this crazy house with five other guys that had gone there with me. Three of them were into the rave scene so there were turntables upstairs and people spinning house music. We would rehearse in the garage. We played, but there's not much of a scene there. Maybe I just wasn't immersed in it, but it felt very peripheral there. So, I moved back to Austin in '99, 2000, and it was happening. Austin and Dallas - the whole Texas scene at that point. We were packing 800 person clubs every other week. It was super exciting. It's such an easy place to be a musician, but that's also why I left. There's a nickname for Austin -- they call it the "velvet coffin" since there are so many people that can go there and be so comfortable that they think that's what the rest of the world is like, and it's not. That's why I moved to New York.

Knowing that was not what you wanted, what did you realize that you actually did want that pushed the move to NYC?
I wanted to get out. I felt like I was teetering on that brink of the [comfortable] direction. I always wanted to live in New York; it's one of the most fascinating places in the world. I wanted to be in a big city for a minute. It was time for me to get out and go do that, cut ties, and try to do it on my own. My ex-fiancee and I, she had just graduated from culinary school, packed up a U-Haul and drove straight here.

How did you fit into the New York scene at first?
Rockwood is still home to me. Ken, the owner there, is so good to me and treats me like family. I love that place, and I'm so happy for him and that venue. [At first] I really started to play Rockwood and Pete's Candy Sotre and all those spots. I'm a pretty social did, so I was out and about. Put a band was slow-going at first but once we got the band together things started moving. It all went pretty quickly.

Who has been working on your solo material with you?
It's the two of us [King and Kayce Laine], and I'm co-producing this album in Garrison, New York in a little studio called Bird Creek Studio with a really old friend of mine, Drew Nix. We both grew up in the Austin area. He moved up to Brooklyn the same time I had about seven, eight years ago. He and I have been up there, the two of us working on the record. He's actually playing drums, but he won't be touring with us.

Since this record was made in the woods of upstate New York, how did you get this surf rock, lighter sound as opposed to the much more melancholy sound you would expect from music made in this type of location?
Well, I wrote the songs before I went up to the woods, so that's a good start! But it's kind of cool - it's a big old converted barn up there so the studio is one big room. But yeah, it's been floating around for some time. It doesn't feel like a studio; it feels like we're hanging out on a hammock in the backyard all day.

When exactly did you decide that you wanted to explore the "surf rock sound," and how long had this idea been floating right for you?
I mean, I've always been a huge fan of '60s rock and that sort of surfy-y vibe. I'm not sure when it started, but I guess I just always have been drawn to those vibes and beats.

You've mentioned how rough 2012 had been for you. Did you find that writing lyrics that addressed this fought against the lighter sound of the surf rock?
I think it's kind of like the juxtaposition makes a point. It was such a dark year, and the tendency is to write really dark music to get it out. For me, [the difference] is the entire point of the EP Wanderlusting.

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The Mercury Lounge

217 E. Houston St., New York, NY

Category: Music

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Loved Deadbeat Darling. Love J. King's solo stuff. Keep up the good work, Joseph. Can't wait for the new album.


This guy is an idiot. I unfortunately I had to listen to him play simply because he was opening for a favorite artist of mine who he is also talking about in this article. It seems like your doing whatever it takes for publicity. iE me wasting my time reading this because you mentioned Blackheart records which gave me a google alert. You basically pin pointed her out. The funny thing is the girl has been completely honest about her past having a cover story In the Sa current. Last night I went to see her play to a sold out show in SA . She's in great health and completely drug free. I asked her about this article and her answer was in complete taste. She basically said to ignore the idiots and he needed to do whatever it takes for attention to his failed attempt at music. Upon further talking to other people who know the situation, turns out the poor girl relapsed because Mr. King put her in situations to relapse. Of course he fails to mention that.

I'm also told he has the biggest collection of low cut v necks . What a douche bag.


I have been a fan of Joseph King for many many years now. Seeing the growth and change in his music and expression from his days in Canvas to his latest performance on Wednesday had been really amazing. As mentioned in the comments below it takes so much courage and brave vulnerability to share your life through your music and he has always done so beautifully! Can't wait for the full album to be released and to see what's next for Joseph!


I've been a fan of Joe King for the last few years in the underground NYC music scene and have watched his style mature and his talent come of age.  The early Deadbeat repertoire had a strong classic rock infuence of bands like the Doors, the Cure, Depeche Mode, etc.  His latest work has a different sound, brighter and more folksy twangs with still a hint of those dark undertones.  Looking forward to hearing the full album.  Cheers.     


I can't wait for the release of the full album! It's so wonderful to see Joseph's hard work, collaboration with artists & friends, and vision come to life. He's always been tenacious, despite the challenges. He always plays for his fans. I love hearing this boy croon his stories all over NYC! 


I've had the pleasure of hearing Joseph play over the last 12 years in many different locations, incarnations, and settings. I could not be prouder of the artist and the person he has grown into. What character it takes to bare your soul so fully for anyone to take a shot at. Couldn't love the new single more and can't wait to hear the rest.


Joseph is great!! I've heard him playing and he's amazing!!


LOL This guy got headbutted in the face for being a prick to another student back in highschool. HILARIOUS


Honestly- first time I saw him- I wanted to bathe him-- not bathe WITH him but give him a bath.  I was way too close to the stage and I could smell something coming from his jeans.  You know like when you've been been 'dancing with yourself' all day but haven't showered. 

Well it smelled  liked THAT except like - three days bad.

I'm not sure I remember the music.  Doesn't he do a Neil Diamond cover but like with an banjo or something?


Who is this guy?

I've had the misfortune of seeing him twice and each time it occurred to me, "Why am I here? Why am I wasting some of my precious life listening to this most derivative, badly played, badly written a completely untalented hipster-dork? Why?" 

I still want that those two hours of my life back. 

In two hours, I could have met the love of my life, had incredible sex... or not... I could have just have a mediocre meal at Mcdonalds. Eiher case would have been time better spent than listening to someone who is so obviously stuck playing the same five chords he learned in middle school, desperately trying to keep time and melody to hackneyed, badly put together melodies. 

Lord, please forgive me for wasting time from my precious life on this guy and forgive the village voice for giving him the time of day. 


And your too old to be riding coat tails. Being that there is only one active band on Blackheart it wasn't hard to figure out. I'm also a fan of this band. Those comments are in poor taste towards a recovering addict who just so happens to be very open about her past and current sobriety in media publications and her own media outlets. Therefore these comments make you look like a complete dick.

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