Rock fans who like to be challenged by high-quality music that's not easily pigeonholed into one distinct category can find no better practitioner than King's X.
The critically acclaimed, Texas-based hard rock trio of vocalist/guitarist Ty Tabor, vocalist/bass guitarist Doug Pinnick and vocalist/drummer Jerry Gaskill have spent nearly 25 years together crafting their own unique sound. King's X is known for its ability to fuse the power of hard rock and heavy metal with Beatles-like pop melodies and the experimental traits of progressive rock. Thoughtful lyrics complete the package.
"King's X doesn't fit into any one music scene. We're not a hair metal band, we're not a pure metal band, we're not an alternative band, we're not a jam band and we're not a pure progressive rock band," Tabor says. "We like to dabble in this weird gray area that encompasses all of those."
The origin of King's X goes many years to when Pinnick and Gaskill toured with the Christian rock band Petra. They soon met up with Tabor and they all joined a Top 40 cover band. Ultimately, they took the name Sneak Preview and spent five years based in the college town of Springfield, MO, and quickly earned a devoted following on the local original music scene. They toured as far away as North Carolina, Colorado, Michigan and Texas and managed to record one album by 1983.
In 1985 the band was offered a recording contract contingent upon relocation to Houston, TX. However, the deal fell through. Tabor, Pinnick and Gaskill stayed in Houston and were determined to make a breakthrough. They met Sam Taylor, who produced videos for ZZ Top, and he helped the band sign with Megaforce Records, an Atlantic Records imprint. Sneak Preview was then renamed King's X.
King's X's 1988 debut album 'Out of the Silent Planet' earned critical recognition but was not a success. 1989's 'Gretchen Goes to Nebraska' was the band's real first attention-grabber, and MTV put the "Over My Head" video into rotation. 'Faith, Hope, Love' surfaced in 1990 and it nearly went gold in the aftermath of a highly successful tour with AC/DC, and MTV regularly spun the video for "It's Love."
By 1992, King's X severed its ties with Taylor and a self-titled album was released on Atlantic itself. A creative resurgence was evident on 1994's 'Dogman,' which was helmed by producer Brendan O'Brien. King's X then opened many shows for longtime fans Pearl Jam and performed a highly memorable set on the opening night of Woodstock '94. (The band is interviewed for a documentary about all three Woodstock festivals currently airing on Showtime.) 'Ear Candy' followed in 1996. Then, in 1997, 'Best of King's X' was the band's last album on Atlantic.
After signing with Metal Blade Records, King's X release 'Tapehead' in 1998. This album was followed by 'Please Come Home ... Mr. Bulbous' in 2000 and 'Manic Moonlight' in 2001. 'Black Like Sunday,' a newly recorded album of fans' favorite songs dating from before the band had signed its first record deal, is set for release on May 20, 2003.
Both Tabor and Pinnick have pursued projects outside of King's X in recent years. Tabor has released solo albums and been a member of progressive metal supergroups Platypus and The Jelly Jam. Pinnick's solo albums have been under the moniker Poundhound and he has a side band called Supershine.
The fact that King's X is an extremely difficult band to slap a simple musical label on has definitely affected its career.
"Since we're this weird concoction of styles, we've had record companies tell us 'We love you but we don't know what to do with you,' " Tabor says.
Devoted fans include other bands like Pearl Jam, Anthrax and Living Colour, and they all praise King's X any chance they get. King's X was also voted by VH1 as one of the "100 Greatest Artists of Hard Rock."