by Nels Jensen
The basics… whose in the band, what do you play, where are you from? Give us the run-down.
Good Question.These are a bunch of good questions. Sort of depends on the day. The official answer is:
Dave Hollier, writes the songs, sings, plays guitar, makes noises on the records. Grew up in Bozeman, lived in Brooklyn for a long time, L.A. for a short time, moved back to Bozeman 3 years ago.
Jeff Jensen, plays drums, guitar, is half of the excellent indescribable folk/psych duo Henry + Isla, grew up in St Regis, MT. Lives in Bozeman.
Aaron Banfield, began playing piano at age 7 in Maadi, Egypt, plays bass and guitar in the band. And, has started playing a little analogue synth live that’s adding a lot of texture to our live shows that we’d been missing form the recordings. Aaron plays in a bunch of other bands around town, as well as being pretty active playing solo gigs singing covers and his own songs. Grew up in Bozeman, and really likes food.
Ben Roth plays Guitars and synthesizers. Grew up in Tacoma, WA, went to an excellent public high school there focused on art and music. Is minorly obsessed with Michael MacDonald, and also The Wipers. Has toured a lot with some bands you might have heard of. Lives back and forth between Seattle and Joshua Tree, CA.
Sam Hollier plays cello. Had an early and long lasting interest in opera, including singing in the New York City Opera children’s chorus, before his voice changed. He plays in a bunch of bands, playing anything from eastern European folk music to heavy metal. Sam grew up in Brooklyn and lives in New Orleans. Dave Hollier is Sam’s dad.
The less official version:
All of those guys are sort of spread out. So we also get to play with Keith Hernandez some. Keith, as you know, is a super multi talented musician who brings a lot to the table. Playing live with King Ropes, he plays drums and bass. Keith Grew up in Rock Springs, WY. And is the man behind Zenitram, which, if you don’t know yet, you should. We are really luck to have Keith on board.
When you see us live, you’ll get some combination of all those folks. It keeps it fun and interesting to mix it up little.
I’ve only seen one King Ropes show, and honestly I couldn’t really pin down how I would describe you. If you had to let people know what you sounded like, what would you say?
I’m happy to hear you say that. We like being hard to pin down. We love all kinds of stuff. It seems boring to try to define ourselves by one genre. I say something like Wilco, Tom Waits, The Velvet Underground, and The Pixies hanging out at Willie Nelson’s place.
I’m sure this has been answered… but I have yet to hear it. Your name, where did this come from? Did you just want a built in merch distributor?
Haha! That can be pretty funny, actually. I’d lived in Brooklyn for a long time and just moved to L.A. The band I had in Brooklyn had run it’s course and I wanted a name for my new band that had some kind of distinct Western reference. I like that some people get that reference and some people don’t. The name King Ropes is borrowed from a saddler and western tack store in Sheridan, WY that’s probably best known for their trucker hats. If you Google “king ropes hat”, you can see photos of people like Johnny Depp wearing them. I like that some people get that reference and some people don’t. Folks in Montana and Wyoming tend to know about it. Further away not so much. I have friends all over the place who get really excited and text me when they see somebody wearing a King Ropes hat. They think we’re getting famous. We’re not. But I usually just let them think that.
You guys seem to get out of town quite a bit, when you’re touring. What kind of shows are you playing? Like, the Kirk’s Grocery show I saw you at, you seemed to fit in with a rock scene crowd playing for 30 minutes. I could also see you guys killing it with a bar crowd and playing for hours. What kind of shows do you play on tour? Do you prefer one to the other?
Like the whole genre thing, we like playing different kinds of shows. We play venues, with 3 or 4 rock bands playing short sets, and bar gigs, playing originals and weird covers for 3 hours. We like doing quiet coffee shop kinds of shows. Doing all those different things makes us better at everything.
If you could clone Keith, would you? And what would you use the clone(s) for?
I would definitely clone Keith. He’s one of the most serious dedicated artists I know anywhere. He collaborated with me, (as in I sat there and spouted off about my ideas, and he did all the work), on a video for a song off a record we have coming out July 26. I had some vague ideas, but no idea how to make the thing. And Keith said, “sure, let’s figure it out”. He’s been just fantastic to have in the band.
Is there any band/artist you’re looking forward to seeing this year at Dreyfest?
I’ve been wanting to see Bull Market and keep missing them when they come to Bozeman. I love seeing FUULS. They’re killer! I was sad to see that Tiny Plastic Stars are calling it quits. Maybe they’ll decide to do one more show at Dreyfest? There are a bunch of bands I know are good. And a bunch of bands I don’t know, which is also good.
Any big plans in the future of the band? Releases? More touring? New instrumentation?
We have a new record, Gravity and Friction, coming out July 26.
And a bunch of touring. I think we have 45 shows between now and the end of the year.
Finally…I’ll name the artist, you just name their best album:
Tom Petty -
Hard Promises, (Damn the Torpedos, close second)
Surfer Rosa is the only one I’ve ever owned. Maybe they made a better album, but even if they didn’t they’re a freaking great band.
Flaming Lips -
Used to be I would have said Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, but when I DJ I’m always playing stuff from Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. “She Don’t Use Jelly” is kinda played out, but man there are some killer tracks on there!
Zenitram Jr. -
Favorite song: Sick Ass Chrystal
Favorite video: Bitches on My Tip