Stemming from Flint, MI and emerging into a solid entity in the world of metal, KING 810 is delivering a lethal dose of charismatic metal music led by a supreme vocal performance that adds the almighty touch. Capable of delivering insane breakdowns and the perfect balance between the first-generation metal attitude laced with a modern feel, KING 810 is a band you must discover this year. I caught up with vocalist, David Gunn, to chat about KING 810’s upcoming immersive art performances, the Flint water crisis, tattoos and more.
You guys are gearing up to host four unique immersive art performances. Fill us in with further details as to what the show entails.
The shows entail several immersive aspects. It isn’t a single prepared show/setlist that we will play four times over four days. It’s four different shows, each containing separate elements. There are common threads but each show is a piece of the whole where the total of the four make the complete program. That aside, the immersion begins with sound in that the shows will be in 6.2 which to my knowledge has never been done before. While Surround Sound has been accomplished in large places and even quadrophonic sound was achieved decades ago by Pink Floyd, this is something different. The process itself includes six speakers and two subwoofers placed all around the room with the audience at the center. This means the crowd will not be standing in a spot staring forward at the stage where all the noise/action is. We can manually control where sound is or how it moves around the room this way. This goes for sounds like programming and samples and loops and things down to our actual instruments. This is the first obvious difference with the shows. This sound immersion experience may get lost on people or they may just not care as much so we’ve tried to design an experience that looks as good as it sounds. For this aspect it was a collaborative effort between the group and other kinds of performance artists. These range from something simple and obvious like a string quartet to something less obvious like dance troupes or an aerialist, etc. I don’t want to give away very many details but we envision the night more like an installation exhibit or event rather than a show or concert or what have you. Those tend to be a bit boring.
Flint, Michigan is still without clean water. This is being overshadowed and tossed aside by corporate media. What are your thoughts pertaining to this?
I don’t care much about it at all. The poisonous water was “under shadowed” for a couple years before it was made known by any of the global publications outside of the city. The plan itself was implemented by the governor who was informed in advance of what the consequences would be. We’re Flint stones, we are used to being fucked. We just deal with it. When the media got ahold of it and blew it up all over the world as their next dinner table talk piece, nothing changed. That’s how corporate media operates.
Before CNN was talking about the Flint water crisis, they were talking about some politics somewhere else or some shooting in another place or this or that. That’s their business; it’s what they do for a living so my thoughts are I don’t give a fuck. I don’t watch the shit. I don’t talk to my friends about it. I don’t go on social media and become a technological social justice warrior because of it. I don’t blame corporate media at all. After all it is called “corporate” … “media.” These things shouldn’t come as a surprise. It’s all the people who watch and support the outlet at its different levels that sustain it. They give these rich, white, out of touch with reality companies a seat in their living rooms every night. They need their heads examined.
As far as tossing the subject aside and moving onto the next one, that’s what media has always done because that’s what people watch. So people need to blame themselves. As far as the crisis is concerned yeah the water is poisonous. People are sick. Property is worth nothing. People are leaving the city and never coming back but this has been happening since the ’80s. I’m focused on the people themselves, on my own water, on why the first woman to sue the city was found dead after trying to sue, on why a water plant worker was found dead shortly after that, on why the water dept. building was broken into, and one room was vandalized (guess which one), on fixing our own situation here. I couldn’t care less about the business tactics of corporate media. That only makes me more of a victim, more out of control, more at the mercy of an entity I don’t see, hear, or know. That’s unhealthy.
Congrats on the release of your second studio album, ‘La Petite Mort or a Conversation with God’. Tell us about the creative and recording process behind this album.
Thank you. This question is painfully simple. I receive ideas or pieces of ideas consistently, seemingly through osmosis. I share the ideas with my friends and we try and make sense of them, aligning them with similar breakthroughs they have come across and clumsily fill in the blank spaces in between. The recording process is also painfully simple. A friend of ours who produced the album makes sure the microphone is on as to capture whatever those creations were.
Let’s talk tattoos. Tell us about some of your favorite personal pieces and the artists that brought them to life.
I don’t prefer any one piece over another. All my stuff is done by a couple of friends Jay Dowd, John Hill, Ryan Brown out of one place called Consolidated in Flint. All greyscale stuff. I’ll pick this leg piece since I could talk at length about anyone. This has the 810 down the shin. About a dozen of us got these 10 or so years ago. Now there’s at least 50-60 of us. That’s the area code in Flint, solid black, so can’t nothin cover that up. One side of the leg is a city building from downtown. On the other side is a jungle environment. Across the top it reads “Killing Field,” because that’s the environment I grew up in. It stretches down to the foot where it becomes bricks. These are the bricks from the main downtown strip of the city. Saginaw Street is still made of those small red bricks. On the bricks is a memorial RIP for my cousin Daniel who was shot and killed back in ‘08 when he was 20. That was my guy. On the left ankle bone, there is a dead canary. On the right ankle bone, there is a human skull, I think you can put that together. On the back is a gorilla behind bars. The bars are the Vehicle City signs that hang over downtowns Saginaw Street. This is what the city used to be known as. Now it’s more like a prison or jungle environment where animals are bred. Underneath that are AK47 casings because that’s just the weapon of choice. I’ve seen a bunch of people mowed down with the AK alone. Over this it says “downtown,” this is where I grew up hustlin a long time ago before they put up all the cameras and handed over control of the city to a private company equipped with an “emergency relief manager.”
Around the ankle is a mother on the side of the city building. She is holding hands with a line of children as if they are crossing the road but as it gets to the jungle side the child is reaching for the hand of the next child in line but he appears as a small gorilla on the jungle side. This is a brief rundown but you get the idea. I don’t get the tattoos to start conversations with people; there really aren’t any goofy ones because I don’t have a sense of humor or any of that. Tattoos have kind of crossed over in a way. I’m the type of person who if I see a little punk kid with teardrops tattooed under his eyes and all over his throat and all that I’ll walk over and punch him in his face to see if he’s really about that shit.
Flint, Michigan does have a very unique downtown scene. If you were to recommend two restaurants to check out to a human being who has never been to the city, which two restaurants would you choose and why?
Only a couple I would really endorse. I wouldn’t recommend going downtown for several reasons. I used to hang down there as a kid but things have changed a lot over the years. It used to be a desolate war zone. But now it’s secured. Which is good. But the businesses close and re-open quickly down there and really it’s about more than good tasting food to me. A lot of the downtown establishments are products of attempted gentrification by outsiders. By outsiders I don’t mean it as a closed-minded asshole who doesn’t believe in collaboration or who thinks things should be one way or no way. Perhaps it’s overthinking it but when a person or even an organization or company who lives or is based outside of the city starts a downtown establishment where it’s mildly safe (not as a business venture, but safe from harm) and where the college money is flowing and this company takes this money back to the suburbs where it came from so that they may spend it, it’s almost a self-contained scene within itself that doesn’t need any endorsing from me. A place I go to often just outside of the downtown area is called The White Horse. It’s a family owned place that has been here for 40 years I believe and I grew up in it so that’s the significance. It’s also dark and doesn’t have any windows. The food is good but overall it’s comfortable. Perhaps this kind of comfort wouldn’t be achieved by someone stopping in momentarily yaknow. If you aren’t looking to sit down somewhere I say stop by some shit called “Da Red Wagon” or the food truck on the corner where they BBQ. Once again this is just from growing up in the neighborhood so it’s what I prefer. The shit doesn’t get no Michelin star but we don’t really do Michelin stars; we do hot sauce; hot sauce on the chicken, hot sauce on our coneys, I put hot sauce in my cereal. Hot sauce.
How has growing up in the Midwest influenced your artistry?
Unexplainably so. Too many facets of the question which warrants an even more multi-faceted answer I don’t think anyone would read or sit through especially if they had no knowledge of the ways of the Midwest. So to keep the answer narrow and simple I would say that the Midwest is a real breeding ground for world class musicians. Michigan itself is onto something. We had Motown, The Temptations, The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, Madonna was born here, so was Glen Frey, Anthony Kiedis, Bob Seger, Iggy Pop, Jack White, Kid Rock, Eminem etc., etc. So there’s something goin on here.
What do fans of KING 810 have to look forward to over the next six months?
A handful of shows I would recommend attending.
Tell us about your collaboration with Flint Child & Health and Development.
This was something we felt responsible to do. It being our city and being personally affected by it as well. Using our platform for our city to help kids was the idea and we knew that’s what would get accomplished or help rather. It wasn’t for attention or publicity. On top of not believing in blindly giving money to charities or not for profit or NGO’s or what have you I don’t believe it was the people’s responsibility to fix as I have said before. This is annoying in a way that things like this had to be done. Even when all the celebrities jumped on board sending semi trucks full of water to Flint that was a good thing in a way that’s what we needed for the short term, you know people need water to drink while this thing gets sorted, although that will take several years. But on the other hand this is the same strange economics we have seen in the past with the real estate bubble and the big corporate bail outs. It’s strange to me that when a billion dollar company messes up their business, we the people, bail them out. It’s strange that when shit loans are thrown out as quickly as possible for houses no one can pay for and when the big banks writing those shit loans cannot back any of it up the people bail out the banks. It’s strange that when a city is advertently poisoned by its government the people are summoned to come together to fix something they didn’t break. This resembles communism and socialism more than capitalism to me. Perhaps I’m in the wrong place.
Last but certainly not least, any closing messages for your fans?