Randall King Is Changing The Game Of Country Music

Randall King is everything you’d expect from a country music star: easy smile, firm handshake, and a white cowboy hat which he wears indoors. Despite his jet lag, he’s eager to begin his UK tour, his longest stint in this country. This is his second visit here, having previously played at this year’s C2C Festival in London, and we made a great impression on him. “That whole festival was incredible. Not many places you go do you have a listening crowd. They listened,” the West Texas native emphasises the word, impressed. “When it was time to cheer, they cheered, but they listened to every word and took it in. They locked eyes with me, their eyes never left. It’s a very easy thing to play to people where you don’t have to catch their attention.”

Randall King, interview @ Warner Music Group HQ, 2023-09-05

Randall King (Pauline Di Silvestro)
Randall King (Pauline Di Silvestro)

Playing live in the UK is a very different experience from performing in bars in Texas, as King did earlier in his career. “As Americans we typically have a very short attention span,” he laughs. “You typically have to put on a show to keep their attention. It’s been great, and it’s shaped me as an entertainer, and elevated me. We used to play three hour bar sets where I made it goal to keep a crowd’s attention for three hours, which is incredibly difficult to do, especially as someone who’s doing covers. So learning how to be high energy, talk to a crowd: that keeps somebody on it, and trains you very well to do a ninety minute show where you kick ass and keep their attention.”

Randall King’s not just touring to grace us with his presence and easy-going brand of sweet country music. His new album is ready for release in January, and he feels it’s a new direction for his music. “It’s different, man, it’s a different side of me.” He is more intent when talking about his next album. It’s clear he sees it as an accomplishment he’s keen to share. “It’s an edgier side, something that hasn’t been captured yet. I aimed for it on my self-titled record [released in 2018], and I ended up with what I grew up on, which is the 90s sound. On this record, I switched producers: we got Jared Conrad. It’s a little darker, like a neon lit Honky Tonk.”

He’s confident too that his growing number of fans will enjoy listening to it as much as he enjoyed making it. “You always hope they’ll love it. For me, I wanna show off who I am, to put it out there, to keep touring and playing music and seeing people that relate to my music come out and scream my lyric and have a good time. It cheers me. It’s part of relating to country music, it’s real.” In the five years since his debut release, he’s kept his darker side under control. However, the 32-year-old has noticed an evolution in his style: “My voice, honestly, has really aged well. I went back and compared myself to my self-titled record, and there’s a massive difference in training my vocals and adapting my sound.”

It was 2021’s single release, You In A Honky Tonk, which propelled King to stardom. At the time of writing it’s had over twenty seven million streams on Spotify and its video has another 1.4 million views on YouTube. It’s a cute, smokey song, the kind that many girls wish was written about them. The song emerged through the good instincts of his producer, who insisted that the song was right for him. “You In A Honky Tonk was pitched to me by my producer, Bart. He was adamant that I kept the song,” King emphasises with his hands just how certain the producer was. “I wasn’t super keen on it, because it was a little [more] hip-swinging, a little more bro-country than I was looking for, and it was down to that song or another song called Outlook that Morgan Wallen put on his last record. Bart was like ‘anything you don’t like about that song we can fix, we can straighten that out in production’. We went in and fixed it, and today it’s my biggest song. It’s unbelievable what that song has done for me and my live shows, and what it’s done for me and my career.” There’s a universal appeal in the song which goes beyond the average country tune and reaches out to tug at people’s hearts regardless of who and where they are. “Every country fan understands the bar life, understands the honky-tonk life,” he explains. “They understand what it means to see their girl beneath neon light. It’s a sexy song, but sweet-sexy. It’s a complimentary song to a woman, to say ‘you look good, but girl, you wanna see you underneath that neon light.’”

Randall King, interview @ Warner Music Group HQ, 2023-09-05

Randall King (Pauline Di Silvestro)
Randall King (Pauline Di Silvestro)

Most descriptions call King’s music ‘modern/traditionalist’, a label he embraces. “I think I [my sound] rides the line right in between traditional and modern. I grew up on the 90s country sound, and the eighties country sound, so for me, that treads deep into my roots.” Country music has always been a part of King, even from his earliest years. “It’s something I’ve wanted to do my whole life. I’ve dreamed about being on these stages. I’ve sang since I could talk. In fact, my mom and dad could never get me to shut up,” he grins. “My dad said ‘If he don’t shut up, we’re gonna get him a guitar’, and I was seven years old. My dad put me in lessons from an incredible man named Rick. He was missing his two middle fingers on his left hand: I don’t know if you know how to play guitar without your two middle fingers but it’s incredibly challenging! That man played acoustic guitar, electric guitar, steel, fiddle, mandolin, banjo…all sorts of things, man! Looking at him at that age taught me the resilience of a Texan.”

Indeed, King’s  identity as a Texan is as important to him as the music he grew up with. Being Texan is, for him, a philosophy and a huge influence on his sound. “I think the mentality of us Texans, it’s the fight that we have, It’s a pride, buried deep down in our roots,” he explains. “Our motto is ‘come and take it’. For me, that motto flips into ‘Go get it’. It’s a mentality of ‘go out and work for what you want’.” It’s that mindset which led him to independently record his first album and kick-start his career. “I wasn’t gonna sit back and wait for someone to hand me something. You’ll sit back your whole life and wait for that. If you want something, go out there and get it. You have all the tools in the world to go build yourself. The biggest thing about signing to a label was getting the power to spread you out further than what was in my own grasp.”

“Country music, to me, is an opinion,” King says with enthusiasm. “Everyone’s got an idea, a different take on what country music is. For me, the biggest thing with country music is songwriting. It’s a sound, it’s how you relate to people. It’s what tugs at your heart-strings.” With a string of dates across the UK in a short burst, King is bound to make a huge impression on the country fans on this side of the Atlantic. As the man himself very accurately puts it: “Randall King’s coming for country music, son. We’re changing the game.”

For upcoming tour dates and more information, visit RandallKingMusic.com or follow @RandallKingBand across all social platforms.

Randall King’s upcoming European and UK tour dates:

8th – Gstaad, Switzerland – Festivalzelt
9th – Gstaad, Switzerland – Festivalzelt
11th – Glasgow, UK – Oran Mor
12th – Manchester, UK – The Deaf Institute
13th – London, UK – Bush Hall
15th – Cologne, Germany – Club Volta
17th – Hamburg, Germany – Bahnhof Pauli
18th – Berlin, Germany – Kesselhaus
19th – Stuttgart – Im Wizemann
21st – Vaduz, Liechtenstein – Rheinparkstadion
23rd – Vaduz, Liechtenstein – Rheinparkstadion

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Interview with Randall King by Kate Allvey, photography by Pauline Di Silvestro

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