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718Clip: King Kong leaves Louisville

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  • Carl Zimring
    Aug 1, 2002

      King Kong lives

      Dave Chamberlain

      King Kong, Ethan Buckler's post-Slint, B-52s-dance-redux band, makes a
      return to Chicago on August 3 at the Abbey Pub in support of its most
      recent, "The Big Bang" (Drag City).

      "Return" is the operative word here: on one hand, it marks the first time
      since 1998 that King Kong has played Chicago; on the other hand, Buckler
      and his wife recently relocated from Louisville to Chicago.

      "I had done it [King Kong] for such a long time, I just didn't feel like it
      anymore," Buckler says, explaining the band's hiatus. "Plus, King Kong was
      losing money, and I couldn't think of any new ideas." But for someone whose
      career started when he was 18 (as Slint's original bass player), the
      vacation had to end. "I just started to miss it."

      Buckler's return led to "The Big Bang," which reveals a renewal of creative
      energy. It uses space travel as a motif, making extensive use of
      synthesizers and deep, lush bass lines with a thickness that borders on dub
      style, and a lessened emphasis on the vocals. "That was intentional," he
      says, "like the words are a time-warp in space. With minimal vocals, a
      phrase can suggest a seed?then you can let that expand in your mind to the
      music." The result is the purest dance record King Kong has released to

      "The Big Bang" marks King Kong's fifth original full-length (minus
      "Breeding Ground," 2001's collection of demos and outtakes), and throughout
      them all the band has followed a concept of sorts, begging the question:
      what comes first, the song or the idea? "Usually it's the music. I start
      fooling around with the songs and come up with a few hooks, and eventually
      a few come together. The motifs end up developing from one line or one
      song, and going from there."