Rise and Fall by We Are Kings & Queens
Music is an amazing medium; it can bring about feelings of happiness, sorrow, love, and hate in every way, sometimes all at once. The evocation of a certain emotions just by listening to the tracks are just one of the many ways we allow ourselves to be and feel truly human; to be vulnerable and expressive in ways we never thought possible. We Are Kings & Queens, a melodic rock group from L.A., has created a beautiful and ambient soundtrack for the listener who has stopped running, who has taken the time to relax and really reflect upon the events of their life. With their debut EP, 'Rise and Fall,' these guys have managed to perfect the art of using minimal instrumentation to create sweeping, grandiose tracks that were meant to be played in spectacular rock arenas across the globe.
Opening with 'Decide,' the listener gets a glimpse of the type of dreamy, flowing atmosphere that these men have worked so hard to cultivate. The haunting vocals and broad tones make for a splendid track that reaches an immense climax, which sends chills down the spine. In the titular track, an acoustic guitar is used over a lovely piano melody, giving the track a resilient feel that literally rises and falls with the waning of the guitar and piano keys. The brooding, dark feeling that oozes from the album is not necessarily bad or evil; it feels like sorrow and regret mixed with feelings of optimism and hope. My favorite track, 'Now You Know,' is a beautiful song with that only uses the underscore of a piano and lead singer Jonathan Mahan's strong and persistent vocals. The song speaks of love and the power it has to literally save someone's life, even the most disheartened of individuals.
The fourth track, 'White Fences,' features a soft, slow guitar and strings to emphasize the distorted vocal performance, coming up in full force at the end to again create a sonisphere of an almost operatic musical compression. The last track, 'The Sound,' uses echoes and deliberate key strokes to let the listener literally slip away into the world that WAKAQ have created, landing on a gentle slope of dark emotions that can be turned into peace and love in a mere moment.
I have always been a fan of using music as a way to escape, to let your emotions reach their fullest potential and embrace the feelings you have, whether they be positive or negative. With this album I was truly touched; I truly felt a series of emotions that bubbled up in my chest and exploded in a mass of joy and sorrow, pleasure and pain. I am impressed and enlightened by this band and their sound, and I am sure that the rest of the scene will catch up with me on my journey through the world of indie rock. I wish the best of luck to these guys and their future endeavors.
I was able to chat with Jonathan Mahan, check it out below!
Tell me a bit about your background and why you formed We Are Kings & Queens.
I'm a questioner. I always have been.growingupI never understood why things were the way they were and I always wondered why it seemed like no one else was either aware or even cared about the unbalanced things I saw. I needed a voice.
Writing music, I hope, is a way to open eyes. To get people to think about the layers below the surface, or just to think in general. Even the band name speaks to a deeper level of awareness. That's the purpose of the band. It's above me, us, and even the music we create. I dare call it a spiritual endeavor.
What/Who are your musical influences?
They're all over the place. I personally love really deep songwriters like Gillian Welch, Patty Griffin, David Grayandrockin' acts like Muse, Catherine Wheel, and U2. Of course I love Radiohead - the wild sounds of Jonny Greenwood and the intense darklyricsthomsings. And Oasis for being Oasis.
The album feels very deep and sorrowful. What inspired it?
Life. At the time I had just lost everything. I was chasing a rabbit down a long dark hole and I lost perspective.Ultimately Iended up hurting those closest to me and alienated myself from my very best friends. So I was at a real low point. The name of the album came from the feeling of being on top of the world (whether I was or wasn't I felt like it) and having the proverbial rug pulled out.
In certain ways I feel so very grateful for the experience. In others I feel I’ll have a lifetime of hurt and regret to bear.
I tend towards the side of pain and sorrow. Not because I’m a downer or anything, but because I feel that someone should balance out all of the silly themes and throwaway music in the world. Hands up, taking shots, up all night. It can be fun, but what kind of image are we selling to our youth?Haha, now I sound like a crotchety old man...
Overall you seem to use minimal instrumentation yet manage to achieve a very full and broad sound. What can you attribute to this?
I love huge sound.Soundthatswallows you up like the ocean. I saw My Bloody Valentine in Santa Monica and I felt like I time traveled! No joke. It was an out of body experience. I like that and that's what I’ve always tended towards.Surprisingly Ican really vibe with stripped down guitarandvocalssinger-songwriter style too. I hope to introduce a little of that with these next releases.
How do you feel about the digital revolution of music and has it helped or hindered your success?
It's weird. No one knows up or down. In some ways I’m happy that all of us poor kids have the tools to make incredible music. But in the same turn there is just too much stuff out there. It's really hard to find gold. And making everything so accessible has cheapened it in a way. People used to hold an album, crave the sounds they might hear, look through the booklet,dreamaboutthat band's life. Nowpeoplelisteninthe background as theycheckfacebookandpost dinner picsoninstagram.
hasithelped or hurt us? I think the jury is still out on that one.
Onward and upward!