A self-confessed “feral street kid”, former King Blues frontman Jonny 'Itch' Fox hits the road today for a short UK tour in support of his acclaimed debut album The Deep End. Before he threw his mic into his rucksack we caught up with the singer/rapper to talk about the record and an imminent London reunion with his former TKB sidekick Jamie Jazz...
Itch: “I never understood what The King Blues meant to people!”
Jonny Fox on starting over...
You spent much of 2014 months promoting your recently-released debut solo album The Deep End in the US: how's the album been received there so far?
“It's been really cool actually. Hardly anyone over there knows who The King Blues were, so the record is being judged on its own merits, rather than being compared to what I've done in the past or what people might expect of me, so it's been weirdly good. And it's been good here too: I honestly didn't expect it to get shown as much love as it has. When you record a record and put it out straight away you're still so close to it, and you can get really buzzed off the new songs, but because my record was recorded so long ago I didn't really know how people would take it. So to get so much love back has been really humbling and really exciting.”
Your upcoming UK tour includes a date in London with Bleach Blood, the new band from your old King Blues partner Jamie Jazz: given that the band split in unhappy circumstances people might be surprised to see you sharing a stage again.
“Yeah, I'm really excited about it to be honest. It's been a long time coming, and we've been friends for a while now, so to publicly do something and make that statement is cool. I kinda went out of my way at the start of my solo career to emphasise the fact that this wasn't The King Blues Part 2, and to really hold the two apart, and now I'm at a point where I'm really proud and happy of everything the King Blues did. I love those records, and I love what the band stood for, and I kinda realised how important it was to so many people as well. It'll be nice to have Bleach Blood there and it'll be a fun show.”
The King Blues were undoubtedly a band that changed people's lives: did that responsibility weigh heavily upon you when it came time to make the new record?
“Well, to be honest, I didn't really realise that at the time. At the time I was so busy doing the band and getting so caught up in the whirlwind of it all, that I didn't really understand how much it meant to people. After we split, I got it. I can't do a show now without someone showing me a tattoo of some lyric I wrote, or I'll get letters from kids saying 'You opened my mind to politics...' but I've never really felt a responsibility for it, I just put out songs based on what I'm passionate about and what I believe in and just hoped that other people would take to it. But the past 12 months have been weird in terms of realising how much that band meant to a lot of people, it's been really nice actually.”
How's your summer looking?
“Pretty busy. I'm doing a lot of summer festivals, including Sonisphere, and I'm excited about that: I did some last year, but I was in a wheelchair at the time, which wasn't really ideal, and this is the first time I'm able to face crowds with the new record being out so I'm excited.”
What will constitute success for you with The Deep End?
“I don't know, I've been asking myself the same question recently! With the King Blues I never felt like I'd got it to where I wanted to go, and I've kinda learned to let go of that a little bit. As long as I'm doing music that I'm proud of, and leaving a legacy that I can be pleased with, that'll be success to me. So I feel like this record is a success already.”