Flamboyant star in waiting King Charles is back on the road playing tunes from his new album. Paul Clarke caught up with him to talk about clashing with Dolly Parton at Glastonbury, where he stands on the posh v common musicians debate and why Marcus Mumford is producing the new record.
What can people expect on this tour?
This tour is about playing material from the new album so it’s been really exciting playing lot of songs which people have never heard before. The new stuff is coming from the same source, but they are sprouting in different directions, and they have been going down brilliantly.
You have a reputation of being a flamboyant performer.
There are new outfits and new guitars as you can’t really stop me onstage. It is a new look and new sound so it’s really fresh.
You made a live comeback at last year’s Glastonbury.
That was really cool playing on a massive stage. The crowd were great, but it would have bigger if I wasn’t clashing with Dolly Parton.
That was unfortunate but do you admire Dolly as a songwriter.
Very much so as she is such a phenomenal character and personality who has lasted through all sorts of changes in culture and sounds. I admire Dolly’s songwriting, and her strength of character as she is so much more than hair and titties.
And as a songwriter you were the first Brit to ever win the International Songwriting Competition?
It is a Nashville based competition and I entered without really thinking about it. It’s kind of entering a lottery as there are about 15,000 songs. I was in Norwich loading out, pissed off about something and I get a call from the lady in charge. I was taken aback by the American accent, and she said you are the grand prize winner. I hadn’t really thought about it, so it took a while to register, and I then thought ‘oh shit, that is fucking amazing.’
The judges who voted for you included Tom Waits, Jeff Beck, Loretta Lynn and Jerry Lee Lewis.
It was the first unanimous decision in the prize’s history so all of them voted for my song Love Lust. It was very exciting.
Winning the top prize came at a good time?
The win came three months into recovery from a brain trauma from a massive skiing crash which was really scary. I recovered miraculously, and got straight back on the road, but it did take a long time to get my head balanced over 18 months.
Mumford and Sons appeared in your Brightest Lights video so were you shocked at their global success?
I guess the world was surprised, but I’d seen the growth from the beginning so I was less excited. Marcus Mumford has produced my new album which I am touring now so it has been a great relationship.
You went to leading public school St Paul’s so what you make of this working class v posh debate that Noel Gallagher is stirring up?
It is part of being English as people are always concerned with your social identity, but I want people to be interested in me and my music. I’m interested in the characters behind the music and I don’t think anyone is more worthy than anyone else.
King Charles is playing 28 shows in 28 days including Hebden Bridge Trades Club on Friday 13 February and to find if he is playing near you go to www.kingcharles-music.com