For years, Indianapolis’ Peter King had more or less been that dude in every band. From The Impossible Shapes
to Learner Dancer,
the multi-instrumentalist found himself playing all kinds of styles in all kinds of bands. Now after all these years as a sideman though, the 34-year-old has decided to abandon all other projects in pursuit of his own band, Peter and The Kings.
“All the experiences I’ve had over the years have kind of just led to this point where I’m confident enough to have my own band, play out and make records on my own,” he says.
King’s chamber-esque music style can be traced all the way back to his teenage years, when he first began taking classical guitar lessons at Broad Ripple’s Renaissance Studios.
“It’s something that subconsciously influences my songwriting and the way I play guitar,” he says. As the years went on, King eventually teamed up with fellow Indianapolis guitar-playing friends Chris Barth
and Aaron Deer. The three would go on to form The Impossible Shapes, with King shifting from guitar to drums out of necessity.
“Because we wanted to be a band, I ended up buying a drum set,” he says, laughing. “So I was kind of defacto drummer at that point, although we all just kind of did everything on the recordings and switched around.”
The three eventually split off for college, with Barth and Deer heading to IU where they’d continue The Impossible Shapes. During this time, King occasionally contributed to the band, although they had found a new drummer while in Bloomington. He went on to form the four-piece power-folk act Buffalino while at the College of Wooster.
After spending some time in Ohio, King returned to Indiana, picking up where he left off with The Impossible Shapes. During this time, he also teamed up with fellow roommate Vince Lewandowski to form the folk duo Uno Moss, coming into his own as a songwriter in the process.
“I had been writing songs basically since I started playing guitar, but Vince and I really had some sort of spiritual connection with songwriting,” King says. “We didn’t even know each other before then, but we were able to write in unison and basically sang every word together and wrote all the lyrics and music together.”
Following this stint in Bloomington, King returned to Indy, drumming in bands like Learner Dancer, Christian Taylor & Homeschool and Bait and Tackle Tabernacle while also quietly working on solo material. With several songs written and recorded on his own, he decided to assemble Peter and The Kings about one year ago.
“I finally wanted to put my songs as my top priority,” he says. “It’s really my main focus in life now.”
With a specific sound in mind, King assembled a band that would add accentuating textures to what he had written, recruiting Benny Sanders on bass, Duncan Kissinger on keys, Ben Bernthal on percussion and Jimmy Frezza (who has since left the band to pursue his own group Phases) on guitar.
“Peter approached me wanting something other than a typical drum kit setup,” says Bernthal, who also fronts his own group Memory Foam. “I jumped at the chance to create a standing drum kit with the various percussion instruments that I have collected over the years. I play a self-assembled kit made out of a timpani, a floor tom as a bass drum, a snare drum, one conga, a ride cymbal, a guiro, and a tambourine.”
Since those early days, the group has gelled together quite well.
“I feel that we all contribute something that no other musician could replicate in the same way,” Bernthal says. With this lineup, Peter and The Kings recently began work on a full-length album, recording with John Dawson at Boomington’s Magnetic South recording studio. Now about 75 percent complete, King chose to record the album live to tape, rather than going the clean-cut digital.
“I just kind of want to get our songs out there, even if they have a few blemishes,” he says. “As long as it has the spirit of the band and the songs, I’m fine with flawed notes or singing a little out of key. That’s kind of my style anyway.”
As for a release, he hopes for something physical, whether it be cassette or vinyl. In the meantime though, the plan is to continue putting all of his creative energy into this project.
“I’ve always been one of those guys in like five bands, which is why I don’t have my own records out at this point,” King says. “…Which is fine. I probably wasn’t ready to do that. But I feel like I am now.”
A sampling of previous recordings by Peter and The Kings from musicalfamilytree.com.