Interview | FFS 5 Q&A with Josh King

Photo: Todd Turner

On the cover of his solo debut, Into the BlueJosh King looks ready to toss his Stetson into the ring alongside modern outlaw-country stars like Chris Stapleton and Jamey Johnson. But when you sit down and listen, the music is as much Jon Brion as Johnny Cash. This soon-to-be father—and one-time leader of Greensboro, N.C., indie-folk rockers House of Fools—brings a craftsmanship to his songwriting that walks the line between Dawes & Willie Nelson, Tom Petty & Elliott Smith. His former group earned its keep recording for now-defunct punk/emo imprint Drive-Thru Records and performing alongside acts as varied as Robert Randolph, Leon Russell, and Jimmy Eat World.

After two decades as a professional musician, King has finally found his voice as a songwriter; his melodic roots pop shimmering brilliantly in the Southern sun. Born in Mobile, Ala., and cutting his teeth in the Greensboro scene, with Into the Blue King delivers a hopeful meditation on getting right, forging a bold new path and following it to a sense of purpose. He’s a talented singer-songwriter in the grand North Carolina tradition that also gave us Piedmont Blues, Link Wray, the dB’s, Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams and Polvo.

One can only hope the lucky stars remain aligned for Josh King as he ventures into this new chapter in his career. His solo debut, Into the Blue, is out now.

Please tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how did you get started in music? Any defining moments along the path to present day?

I was born in Mobile Alabama in 1982. From there I moved to Switzerland back to Alabama to North Carolina to New Jersey back to North Carolina to South Africa and then back to NC for my final move. My sophomore year in high school is when I started my first band and it was all downhill from there! Although I lived all over the place, I would go with my family every chance we got to visit our extended family in Alabama. My parents’ families were all really into music, especially on my mother’s side. That is where I think I got my passion for music. We’d all sit around while someone played whatever instrument was in the room and we would all sing together in harmony. Those are some of my most precious memories. So precious that I decided that I wanted to do that for the rest of my life with whoever was willing to do it with me. So here I am doing exactly that.

As an artist, how do you define success?

If you are able to create and share your art I consider that being successful. Making a living doing that would be pretty sick as well.

What do you find to be your greatest struggle when it comes to the music business?

I struggle with keeping up with the business side of the music industry. I’m just missing that part of my brain I guess. Going from a person who loves sitting alone and writing a song to someone that is supposed to make big life decisions not only for himself but for five other guys really threw me off when I was in House of Fools. I think it gave everybody we were working with plenty of opportunities to really take advantage of us.

What do you think is the most realistic goal you can achieve as an artist? What do you hope to achieve?

The goal is to create and share my music with as many people as I possibly can and I hope to achieve the most I can possibly achieve.

Outside of music, what do you like to do that you feel contributes to the creativity that you tap into for your music?

Taking my motorcycle on a long ride by myself takes me to the same place in my mind as writing a song does. It gives me a chance to think and reflect on everything that has happened in my life to get me to where I am now. A lot of songs have come from long rides.

Words by: Jonathan Frahm (@jfrahm_)

Photo: Todd Turner