INTERVIEW: John King talks about the anniversary of Louisville Is For Lovers, Louisville Films, and Star Wars VII!!!

Pictured above: John King peers into your mind’s eye with his internet piercing hyper-vision.

As we mentioned last week, this February will mark as the 15 year anniversary of Louisville is for Lovers, and to celebrate John King has announced a new compilation LP called LIFE that is slated to showcase more than 30 homegrown Louisville bands and artists performing exclusive love songs. After a quick look at the roster of musicians, it’s easy to get stoked for this release. Take a look:



To get a better handle on the new compilation LP, we reached out to John King to see if he’d answer a few questions about his latest effort. Fortunately, he was kind enough to oblige.  Read on as we talk about the Louisville Zombie attack, why Louisville is for Lovers, and (of course) Star Wars Episode VII!

Never Nervous: What was the motivation behind initially starting the Louisville Is For Lovers Valentine’s Day compilation series?

John Kings: I have always felt a connection to culture and music specifically, and way back 15 years ago in my early twenties I had a hard time reconciling the fact that many of my favorite bands would break up before releasing anything. Back then bands didn’t have the social media outlets that they do now. I really wanted to capture the music culture that was happening at that particular time and place even though I had never really done anything like that before. I grew up listening to the great comps of the nineties, like the Simple Machines compilations, and decided to make one of my own.

“I have always felt a connection to culture and music specifically, and way back 15 years ago in my early twenties I had a hard time reconciling the fact that many of my favorite bands would break up before releasing anything. Back then bands didn’t have the social media outlets that they do now. I really wanted to capture the music culture that was happening at that particular time and place even though I had never really done anything like that before.”

NN: After a five-year hiatus from the compilation series, why return for a 15 year anniversary?

JK: After the 10th annual release I decided I needed to work on my station in life. I was just over 30 and couldn’t find a job. I just left Cahoots and was doing temp work in warehouses; it was rough. I decided to go to college, and spent 2011 through this past May getting a degree in Popular Culture at Berea College. I graduated just in time for the 15th Anniversary of Louisville Is For Lovers and decided it would be a shame not to celebrate that in some way.

So I am working on an anniversary edition of the valentine series, and hope to raise enough money in a crowd-source campaign to reissue the past editions. So far the crowd funding isn’t going gang busters; I am not a very good business man, I’ve never really figured out how to raise funds for projects besides just saving up and putting in what little I had personally. So if the crowd funder doesn’t pick up we may not be able to afford to do the reissues, but I am still hopeful we will get donations. We currently are about at 5% of our goal. A big thank you to everyone who has donated so far!

For anyone interested in helping, we have incentives as well. A donation of $5 or more will get a previously unreleased Live album download with of songs performed by Louisville Is For Lovers bands, including Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, 2 by Jim James and many more! Anyone who donates $15 or more will receive both the new 2016 album download and the Live album; $30+ gets you all that plus a vinyl copy of the 2016 album.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Go HERE to donate!

NN: What can you tell us about the release? Who all is involved?

JK: The new release will be released on Feb.5th on vinyl and digital download, and features over 30 Louisville artists including some Louisville is For Lovers veterans like Second Story Man, The Deloreans, The Fervor, Sandpaper Dolls, and The Gallery Singers, as well as first timers to the series including White Reaper, Twin Limb, Quiet Hollers, The Winger Brothers, Remote Observer, and many more! We will have an album release show at Zanzabar on feb. 12th, and a Live Lunch on 91.9 WFPK on Feb.5th with Hot Wires, Quiet Hollers, Gallery Singers, and more!

If the crowdfunding campaign does well, we plan to reissue one previous comp a month through 2016, with a CD boxset at the end of the year.

NN: Is Louisville really for lovers? Why?

JK: Oh, how could it not be? I don’t think I could have released so many compilations over a decade without the love and support of so many people if not!

NN: What initially drew you to Louisville’s music community? Was there a specific persuasion that lured you to get involved?

JK: Living in the 953 warehouse all those years ago was very inspiring to me. There were many artists and musicians living and working there including the sculptor Mike Ratterman and his cousin, Kevin Ratterman, who had a recoding studio there. That community felt more like family. Back then I was organizing art shows as much as I was organizing music events and records. There seemed to be so much creativity happening that I felt compelled to help promote and celebrate it.

“Living in the 953 warehouse all those years ago was very inspiring to me… That community felt more like family. Back then I was organizing art shows as much as I was organizing music events and records. There seemed to be so much creativity happening that I felt compelled to help promote and celebrate it.”

NN: Are you playing in any bands currently?

JK: Yes, of course! In 2000 or so I started a side project called The Gallery Singers, in which I recorded songs with local musicians I admired including members of My Morning Jacket, IAMIS, Second Story Man, The Deloreans, and many others. Now, after 15 years, it has become The Gallery Singers at the Electric Church of the Tambourine, and also my main musical project, with full time members that includes Logan Nichols and Nick and Regan Layman. We’ll be playing at the album release show, and also on Christmas night at Zanzabar for the “I’m Dreaming of a White Stripes Christmas”

Aside from the music of the Gallery Singers, The Electric Church of the Tambourine has also become something of a social movement, and church, with the idea that positive change can occur in an unjust society through music and community.

NN: What current bands or artists in Louisville have you been particularly excited with lately?

JK: Oh wow, that’s a big question. I am always proud of our town and the shear amount of creativity that goes on here. And right now there is a hell of a lot of it! It’s apparent just from the shear amount of bands on the latest Gubbey Records release Head Cleaner, which has over 180 bands on it.

Louisville also has a huge variety of music for which I’m very proud of. In 2014 Guestroom Records and Louisville Is For Lovers teamed up for the Summer Cassingle Series, which had 3 comps, each from a different genre, from Hip Hop to Pop and Americana. And just this past year at the Seven Sense fest I was amazed at the growing amount of Country/Outlaw Rock happening here. There really is a large and wide ranging amount of music in Louisville, which makes working on projects like Louisville Is For Lovers so great. This year’s comp will have a large range of music from Country, Pop, Folk, Rock, A Cappella, and even Experimental.

NN: Would you care to recommend an obscure film revolving around undead flesheaters that we may not have seen?

JK: I love the whole genre, from well known to not known! Zombie films tend to be (but not always) used as a conduit for social commentary. George A. Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead is a classic, seen not only as the film that solidified the modern zombie archetype, but also as the first feature film to have a lead black role in a film not about race. Return of Living Dead (1985) also being a classic for having a lead actress, Linnea Quigley, completely nude for nearly the entire length of the film, and also equally known for dropping a nuclear bomb on Louisville as the finale. It also has a fairly good soundtrack with contributions from The Cramps, Roky Erickson, 45 Grave, and The Damned.

As for obscure, there is no lack of very ‘B Movies’ for zombie lovers. Romero made several zombie films that didn’t break into the mainstream that are still worth a viewing including Diary of the Dead (2007), which is shot with hand held video cameras as if it were found footage put together after the fact, and The Crazies (1973, and remade in 2010), which isn’t Romero’s archetype Zombie, but involves infected people compelled to kill non-infected victims. Also the remake stars Timothy Olyphant giving, yet again, a captivating performance as a steely-nerved lawman.

There are super awful zombie films too, such as Zombie Apocalypse (2011), which stars Ving Rhames, (who was great in the Dawn of the Dead remake (2004) and is one of my favorite zombie films of all time) and maybe he did a good job here too, but the budget was so low that any acting skills are dwarfed by the shoe-string budget and ridiculous nature of the film, including a poorly animated zombie tiger that Ving tries his best to fight.

“There are super awful zombie films too, such as Zombie Apocalypse (2011), which stars Ving Rhames… the budget was so low that any acting skills are dwarfed by the shoe-string budget and ridiculous nature of the film, including a poorly animated zombie tiger that Ving tries his best to fight.”

One of my favorite super-low-budget B zombie films is called Hide and Creep (2004), and if you can find it is worth watching. It’s a zomedy set in a small town in Alabama when the appearance of UFOs cause the dead to reanimate; which is also the plot of Wild Zero (1999), an amazing zombie flick, this one featuring the Japanese punk rock band Guitar Wolf as unlikely heroes. Also, the DVD comes with a drinking game mode, that prompts the viewer to have a shot every time someone says “Rock N’ Roll!”

Last of the Living (2009) is another very ‘B’ film from New Zealand that is highly entertaining if not over-the-top campy. There is actually a lot of B Horror out of New Zealand including the super gory Dead Alive (also known as Brain Dead) by director Peter Jackson (also see Meet the Feebles) and What We Do in the Shadows (2014) which is mostly about vampires and werewolves – which I guess are technically flesheaters – but does briefly employ zombies, and is worth seeing as well.

NN: If you and I were to have a night out on the town, and the evening plans were entirely up to you, where would we eat, drink and be merry?

JK: To be perfectly honest, I’d imagine to have the perfect night out with you I would have to insist on you being in the driver’s seat as you always amaze me with your insight of the local cultural scenes! But if it were entirely up to me, I would think it would be a on a Tuesday (currently my only night off) which also happens to be 2 for 1 night at Baxter Avenue Theater. For $20 you can get 2 movie tickets, a bottomless popcorn and Coca Cola (with 2 straws of course). It’s quite a deal.

After that I think we could head over to Juanita’s Burger Boy in Old Louisville for their famous Bison Burgers (or my favorite the Burger Boy Special, which is basically a Big Mac with a different name, fries and Coca Cola; with 2 straws again for continuity). Followed by a quick stroll across the new Suspension bridge for good measure and if you are still looking for more to do, there is a late night pinball tournament at Zanzabar on Tuesdays, from about 11pm to 1am.

NN: As a former employee of Cahoots, how do you feel about all of the negative press the bar has received over the last few months?

JK: Wow, you really aren’t pulling any punches with this interview! But I do appreciate your candid nature and well thought out questions! And I guess, since I did spend most of the aughts working there, it would be understandable to ask me about it. Again, it isn’t easy talking publicly about people who were once very close to me that ended in a very stressful situation, but I suppose the cat is out of the bag now. Honestly I was a little surprised it took this long for the press and the city government to notice and question what was happening there. Then again, I was approached a few times in the past by the press (specifically television news) about Cahoots and declined over worries of backlash or being targeted by certain individuals.

“Maybe I should have spoken up, I don’t know, but I will say for a long time it was a great place to work, it felt like a family to me, but very quickly the atmosphere changed. We saw lives destroyed, and I really felt like mine would be too if something didn’t change. After some very difficult times I gave up drugs and alcohol, but that only seemed to drive a bigger wedge between me and some of the people there.”

Maybe I should have spoken up, I don’t know, but I will say for a long time it was a great place to work, it felt like a family to me, but very quickly the atmosphere changed. We saw lives destroyed, and I really felt like mine would be too if something didn’t change. After some very difficult times I gave up drugs and alcohol, but that only seemed to drive a bigger wedge between me and some of the people there. I finally left in 2009 along with the majority of the staff at the time. We were just at the end of our rope. Some of us made it out, others didn’t, which still haunts me to this day. But to answer your question, some of this press may seem like Gotcha Journalism, and maybe some of it is, but the truth is this world is now without some great people, and I believe Cahoots was a major factor in that.

NN: Star Wars Episode VII is almost here, how fucking stoked are you right now?

JK: Pretty damn well stoked. A group of us met at The Haymarket Whiskey Bar the night the first trailer came out to watch it, and we ended up watching it several times in a row on the big screen. At this point the line “Chewy we’re home” is well worn out, and is even featured on a line of J Crew clothing, but it was exciting that first time.

NN: Before you go, talk about one of your favorite records from 2015. What was so damned good about it?

JK: Oh man, there was a ton of great records this year! The great thing about working at Guestroom is being exposed to so much new music! Locally there have been some great releases including music from Skyscraper Stereo, Twin Limb, Lydia Burrell, Howell Dawdy, Cereal Gylphs, Joan Shelley, Jonathan Glenn Wood, and so much more! There has been some great comps too including the work being done by Gubbey Records and the motorcycle themed comp River City Rumble curated by Brad White. The first song “I dreamt I had a motorcycle” by Murals, was stuck in my head for a month. So Good. Nationally there has been some amazing releases including the new Death Grips double LP and the Dr. Dre double LP, Compton, which I think is just as good as anything he has worked on, and is almost worth the $40 sticker price.

There has been some good newcomers this year too, including the debut album Coming Home by Leon Bridges, if you don’t already have it, get it! He’ll be playing in Louisville on June 9th, and you’ll want to be ready!