A Convo With King Complex -- St. Pete's Coolest Duo
By: Carly Tagen-Dye
It has been a long road for Florida band King Complex. Lead singer/guitarist Bracher Brown and singer/drummer Cody Doss have been keeping busy these past couple of years, dropping two EPs and sharing their wildly electronic rock music all across their home state.
The release of their newest single “Dark Disco”, however, marks a different direction for the two, moving towards a new sound all together. With their infectious beat and high sensory performance, King Complex is sure to leave a lasting impression on their listeners, no matter what they produce.
Carly had the chance to chat with the St. Pete duo to discuss their upcoming album, newfound recording process, and ambitious plans for the future.
HEM: It’s nice to meet you guys! If I understand correctly, you met through mutual friends and formed a band later, right?
B: Yeah. I didn’t know Cody when I first moved in. We started a band before we really hung out. Then we kind of had to hang out, because we started a band.
C: And then we found out we hated each other, and for some reason, we still do it.
B: I didn’t know we hated each other.
C: You’re messing up the whole plotline!
HEM: Did you guys start playing music earlier in life, or was it something that developed more as you grew up?
B: I’ve been playing guitar and singing and writing songs since I was fourteen. At the time, I wasn’t really looking to do anything serious. I heard this band needed a singer, and I tried out for Cody, and the mutual friend, and the band kind of became a casual thing. Then Cody started other projects, and I played in that, and I started writing King Complex stuff, and he came into that. It’s been quite the musical, incestual experience.
C: That’s gross.
B: That is gross. That’s true.
HEM: So, congratulations on the release of your new single “Dark Disco.” It was really interesting to hear how different it sounded from your past EP’s, but how you still managed to keep your classic electronic sound within. What was it like recording that? Did you have a different process or approach from earlier records?
C: We did. This time, our good friend Allen DiCenzo helped us record. The stuff that we did on the first two EP’s were done in the house on our own. He was nice enough to volunteer and do it. We spent a lot of hours at his place in his studio. He had a lot of cool ideas that transcended the mixing and the typical production process.
B: Yeah. He has such a mind for music and clearly has absorbed so much of it. He’s older than us, so he’s had a lot more time to do that. We thought we knew what we wanted and we could articulate that, but he had a much better idea of what that actually meant and how to do it. So there are definitely a lot of touches of Allen and his sensibilities on the track. That was the first time really having an outside opinion on one of our songs too.
C: The song also has a sort of 70’s funk spiel to it. Allen was playing funk music, so he was able to bring the actual era influence in a way that we would never be able to do just from listening to records, which is the coolest thing that happened for me.
B: I think he also brought modern pop sounds to some other songs that we had. I feel like our mixes are a lot cleaner now. That was an influence on how we wanted this next batch of songs to sound. It was a very cool experience.
HEM: For sure. One thing that really drew me to your music was how each album has its own personality. Each one is really different from the next, both in sound and message. Do you go into the studio with that in mind, or is it something that kind of develops naturally throughout the process?
B: We wrote the songs at different periods of our lives. I’m nineteen and writing the first batch of songs - I was a different person then when I was twenty one and writing the next one, just like I am different at twenty three writing this one. It’s a matter of personal philosophies changing, and I think those albums are pretty good reflections of that. I can go back and look at the first record and I can still picture exactly how I was and I’ll remember how I used to be.
C: Yeah, that’s all true. I think the answer to the question is definitely most in terms of what inspires what. The music is always inspired by an environment concept. It’s a lot easier and more fun to write because I’m writing within the sort of world I have in mind. That also comes naturally as you’re just writing songs, you know? I like to think of the music in terms of movies, just because it makes it fun for me. The first one was like a thriller-horror thing, the second one was very much sci-fi, and I think we’re about to get into like...I don’t want to say Tarantino, because that sounds more intense than it is. It’s helpful for me to think about it like that.
HEM: That’s a super interesting way of thinking about it. Kind of related, in that horror-thriller realm - one thing that people probably notice first with your band are the masks. Is there a different persona that comes from wearing them onstage?
B: It definitely puts me in a different headspace. There’s a different mentality that happens, and I don’t think it happens immediately. I’ve just gotten so used to putting on a suit and a mask that I immediately turn onto stage mode. There’s really no gradual, “Let’s get ready to perform.” It’s ready to go.
C: Yeah. No one can see me, so I can be weirder easier. That’s the main thing. You’re less self conscious automatically, even if you don’t realize it.
B: You’re really, like, people watching...you’re part of the people and people watching at the same time.
C: You’re people watching people watching people.
B: Yeah. It’s an interesting dynamic between yourself and when a crowd is really excited. It’s a very cool thing to be visible, but also be part of the source of why a crowd is behaving why they’re behaving.
HEM: Kind of bouncing off of that, what can people expect from your live shows?
C: It’s a fun, visual, textile experience. If you get bored easily, I hope you don’t at our show, because then there’s a problem.
B: I think there’s something that doesn’t come across as much in the records. The records sound a little more controlled. But Cody and I both come from playing in loud garage rock bands, so that comes out pretty naturally live, which is good because it brings more energy to it. The songs are in a different light than you hear on the record.
HEM: I know you guys are Florida natives and have played a bunch of shows around the state. What’s the music scene like there?
B: It depends on where you go. There’s a lot of different kinds of music. I feel like Gainesville has got more of an indie thing going on. St. Pete’s is a bit more grungier. Miami sort of has some indie-rock. What’s cool is that nobody seems weirded out by anything. If one band likes another band, then it really doesn’t matter why. They put you on a bill because they like your band. At the end of the day, it’s all musicians who love music. That seems to be the driving thing, at least with the bands that we associate with. It’s a pretty cool environment.
HEM: What can people expect from your next album?
B: I feel like it’s a lot of different stuff. It’s a pretty eclectic combination of songs.
C: Yeah. Right now, they sound more practiced and a little more clean. The clean stuff and the pop stuff is the heavy end of the spectrum. The pop songs are going to be super loud and the vocals are going to be layered. There are a few tracks on there too that are weirder sounding than other things that we’ve done before. It’s a different energy. We’ve done dark weird, but this is cool and psychedelic. It has a really exciting quality to it for me.
B: Yeah. I think all the songs have a bit more excitement. I feel like we were more focused on the songwriting this time, and really took our time to make sure the songs did themselves justice. Our last record, I think some could argue that it was a little too unconstructed and free. These songs feel a lot more like songs. I think we arranged the best songs that we’ve written so far, and I’m excited to deal with the rest of them.
C: I hope someday we’re going to answer that question and say the opposite, like, “Yeah, you know, the last album was really good, but, like, these are probably the worst songs we’ve ever written.”
B: Yeah, if you can say that confidently, then you’ve made it.
HEM: As a band, do you have any musical bucket list items, or things that you would love to do?
C: I want to go skiing as a band. That’s personal combined with band. I want to go skiing, and I want to go spearfishing, but Sean is the fish, and Bracher and I are trying to spear him.
B: Sean is our manager, so you know Cody is now talking about spearing our manager.
C: Something in Egypt, too. The pyramids. Yeah, we’ll go break into the pyramids and we’ll uncover King Tut’s curse and we’ll lay it to rest for all of eternity. Yeah, that’s most of it. I just want to keep writing more music until we run out of ideas.
HEM: It’s a big balance between really extreme and more reachable goals! You talked a bit about the new album, but is there anything else that fans and new listeners can expect from King Complex in the future?
C: More videos!
B: Yeah, more stuff to look at. Hopefully, those will turn out good. I think we both feel we have a pretty good team now. We have people who trust our judgement. I think we feel like the project gives us a lot of freedom to do whatever we want in whatever creative outlet we feel like. So who knows. Maybe we’ll put out a video game. Probably not, but maybe.
HEM: Lastly, is there anything else you would like us to know?
C: Well, I want everyone to know everything.
B: Bees are not yet extinct. I know there was a bee scare, but I just wanted to say that it is not happening yet.
C: One juul pod is equal to three hundred Red Bulls.
B: In terms of bad. It’s as bad as three hundred Red Bulls.
C: Yeah. Also, if you have real moonshine, you should be very careful. Do not drink. Be careful.