Hear First: King Dude’s Music To Make War To

Stream the album and read King Dude's own thoughts on it.

Hear First is Talkhouse’s series of album premieres. Along with streams of upcoming albums—today’s is King Dude’s Music To Make War To—we publish statements from artists and their peers about the mindsets and impressions that go into, or come out of reflection on, a record. Here, TJ Cowgill shares his own thoughts on the album, which you can also listen to right here.
—Annie Fell, associate editor, Talkhouse

War is a terrible subject for a rock album, especially when you prefer the subject of religion over politics. I know that won’t win me any points in today’s highly politicized world, but I’d rather be unpopular than a liar. 

Maybe I thought it would be a funny title for an album when I came up with it years ago… I can’t remember exactly now. I gave titles to all my future albums at once about six years ago now, and I find some of the ways in which my life has imitated the subjects of my albums truly bizarre. I was arrested during Burning Daylight, seriously injured myself in a bar fight during Fear, had my heart broken during Songs of Flesh & Blood in the Key of Light, and had an affair during Sex. I was a very bad person, but don’t worry, I’ve learned my lessons along the way. Even though I haven’t made every mistake one could in life, I hope to make them. One time only—and never again.

Sometimes, when faced with these parallels in my life and work, it makes me question the nature of reality. This thought had me concerned about what Music To Make War To had in store for me. War? I don’t know. Maybe I should write an album called You Will Have Everything You Want in Life Including Money and Happiness and Retire in a Castle Far Away From Other People. Or maybe I should not put so much thought into it? I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to make these albums without the intention of becoming the work itself, moreover without a deep devotion to the subject. I only fear that I won’t have the pounds of flesh that this work demands for much longer.

When I think about songwriting, I always think of storytelling. A good storyteller has a bit of the story in them but not too much to sour them or the story. Inversely, a bad storyteller has nothing of what they’re talking about in them but can pass it off as pure authenticity—to most, but not to all. The art of songwriting is locked in the mysterious cathedral of all folk music in my mind. The shared experience that is again shared and re-lived in song, theater. It’s how we can communicate the intangible-seeming, bittersweet feelings that elude us in language. It seems that through song we can communicate more of what we feel to each other in ways we still don’t fully understand. Truly to me, music is a “God Spell.”
—TJ Cowgill

Reverent as it is prophetic and stark, King Dude has previously shared his spiritual visions with releases on Dais, Avant!, Bathetic, Clan Destine, and Ván records. Pulling together the biblical sound and isolation of the bygone days of revelation with an atmosphere filled with hope and salvation, King Dude has woven his own brand of American music.

He brandishes many varied influences in his songwriting. Everything from British Folk, Americana, Country and Blues can be heard in his songs. Even the heavier sounds of Heavy Metal tend to sneak and slither it’s way into the King Dude canon. The resulting songs are much more of a modern day hymn then your average pop song.

King Dude’s music begs the soul to lift itself up from the darkness of ignorance, towards the ever shining glorious “Light” that exists outside of all of us yet that which we are eternally connected to and at once connects everyone on Earth.