Hard-won “Battles” for Kingsley Flood

Kingsley Flood fight to the finish. Their new album, "Battles," is available everywhere now. CREDIT: DAVID GREEN
Kingsley Flood fight to the finish. Their new album, “Battles,” is available everywhere now.
CREDIT: DAVID GREEN

When Kingsley Flood began recording in Maine this summer, Naseem Khuri had only finished writing four songs for the band’s sophomore album. After nine days of laying down tracks and as many nights of sharing whiskey, they emerged with the 12 songs that make up “Battles.”

Khuri’s confidence in the band’s collective creativity is apparent in the resultant music and in conversation with the band. Sitting in a Charlestown rehearsal space, Khuri does most of the talking, but the other five members contribute in the same way that they complement his songs.

“We got into a routine of in the morning, not touching instruments, just listening to demos and taking notes,” says the singer, before violin and sax player Jenée Morgan interjects.

“And harassing Naseem to finish lyrics,” she adds.

Elsewhere, the other band members chime in when discussing their long distance relationship with Khuri, who in 2009 moved to Washington, D.C. from Boston, where the band has always been headquartered. This means they must never rehearse, right? Wrong.

“We go through spurts. I’ll come up for a week and then I’ll disappear for two weeks,” says Khuri.

“And then we’ll play for six weeks,” says drummer Travis Richter about how they usually schedule their tours.

“It’s kind of like the gigs are the rehearsals,” says bassist Nick Balkin.

On the occasion that we meet Kingsley Flood, they are participating in that rare activity of actually rehearsing together. In a rehearsal space! In Massachusetts! This time it is for a three-hour gig at the North Shore bar The Rhumb Line. They run through favorite songs by Pavement and The Buzzcocks to fill out their setlist, selections which might surprise anybody who only knew of the band from their Boston Music Award for Best Americana Act late last year. But then again, the diverse sounds on “Battles” might surprise those same people as well. The band members don’t seem to mind the Americana thing though.

“We’ll probably always be known as Americana, even if we play death metal,” says Khuri with a shrug.

“There are a lot of roots to what we’re doing,” says lead guitarist George Hall, “but we live and interact with our culture as it happens today.”

Throughout an hour spent with the band, it is evident that the band do in fact interact with their culture. A sampling of the other acts that the band members bring up in conversation: Carla Thomas, The Clash, Radiohead, Bob Willis, Sun Ra, The Kinks, Wilco, The Grownup Noise, Son of the Sun, Pearl and the Beard, Ugly Purple Sweater, King Crimson and Phish.

The last two bands only come up because they are known for having lyricists outside of their band. Balkin and Hall tease that if Khuri was unable to finish his words in time, they might have had to resort to employing such tactics.

Khuri did finally finish the lyrics though, and to great effect. Though the music on “Battles” is alive with the spontaneity of a band falling in love with mostly rocking new material, the words feel carefully chosen, with recurring themes and characters at crossroads of hard luck pasts and futures of fading faith.

“I know there’s a light, but the tunnel is so hard to find,” sings Khuri on “Sigh a While,” one of the album’s more contemplative tracks. And on “Waiting on the River to Rise,” the narrator poignantly questions, “How come everybody for the common man never looks quite like me?”

“I went into the lyrics of the whole thing wanting to sort of tell this story of what happens when you do everything right, but still fall behind,” explains the singer. “It’s just an idea I’ve been really fascinated with and you see it all around you. I was doing volunteer work at a shelter and when I’d talk to people, this always seemed to be a resonant theme. So there’s that and then what choices do you have? Do you sell out? Do you be a jerk and throw your elbows around?”

Luckily for Kingsley Flood, their second album keeps on rewarding upon repeated listens, which could mean that they might not have to sell out or behave like jerks. As for throwing elbows around, they’ve already accomplished that with this set of songs.

Kingsley Flood Album Release Show
With Velah, Air Traffic Controller
Saturday, 8 p.m.
Brighton Music Hall
158 Brighton Ave., Allston
$13, 800-745-3000
www.ticketmaster.com



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.

International

Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…

National

OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…

Local

MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.

Movies

Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."

Movies

'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.

Television

'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."

Television

TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.

MLB

Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.

NFL

Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.

NFL

Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”

MLB

Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.

Travel

Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.

Education

Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…

Education

NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.

Tech

The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.