The Morning Kings
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The Morning Kings

Minneap, Minnesota, United States | Established. Jan 01, 2010

Minneap, Minnesota, United States
Established on Jan, 2010
Band Alternative Jam

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The new album from The Morning Kings, “Sunrise,” is energetic and layered with rock, folk, funk and jazz.
This six-piece band from Rochester, Minn., created a collection of danceable tracks, and that’s evident with the first song, “The Groove.” The Morning Kings want to you to get up and move and as soon as you hear the first note, I’ll just bet you won’t be able to sit still.
“Red Cactus” has bit of a Tom Petty flavor to it and in “Stay True,” the vocals are a fine fusion of David Gray and Pat Monahan of Train.
My favorite track was “Levity” and I’m surprised as The Morning Kings sound like a jam band; I almost hate to admit it, but I’ve never been a fan of jam bands. But in “Levity,” each band member each brings in their own style and finely weaves together a musical tapestry, which in the hands of less skilled musicians, would be nothing more than chaotic clumps of sound.
My second favorite track was “Breezeway.” The other tracks have a happiness and joy to them, while “Breezeway” is more mellow and evocative. Less danceable maybe, but very listenable.
The Morning Kings have a clear affection for words and melody, and with each listen, “Sunrise” is sure to create new ardent admirers.
http://www.themorningkings.com/ - Rift Magazine


One of the region’s most refreshingly original bands will have a new feather to put in its hat next Friday.

The Morning Kings, a six-piece ensemble comprised of predominantly local, unequivocally musical 20-somethings, will release its first album Aug. 24 at Kathy’s Pub.

Five of the six band members have Rochester roots, and much of The Morning Kings’ journey has invoked the talents of fellow 507 area code alumni.


“We started the recording process back in February,” said lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Drew Barbes. “We worked with Rob Oesterlin, a Century High School grad, at the Terrarium studio in downtown Minneapolis.”

In addition to recording with Oesterlin, the band has worked with two other Century graduates, photographers Kurt Hohberger and Linda Thach.

“We’re really excited about this release,” Barbes said. “It’s been a long time in the making.”

The Morning Kings will be guests on 89.9 KRPR’s The Bill and Curt Rock Show from 9 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Thursday. Listeners will get a sneak preview of the band’s new album, "Sunrise," as well as several unreleased tracks.

Where did the name “The Morning Kings” come from?

Drew Barbes: There were quite a few names thrown around at first. I originally came up with the name but we all decided together what it would be. It actually has a different meaning for different members. Some equate the name with having a great time while staying up all night and being the last one still awake in the end, but because I wake up early for work every day, I see the sun coming up in the morning and I think it looks like a crown.

What genre best describes your music?

DB: Alternative acoustic rock. There are elements of catchy pop songs but we definitely still have a bit of a jam band feel. The sound is similar to what would be the musical baby of Pearl Jam and Dave Matthews Band.

Who writes your songs?

DB: It’s a collective effort. We all write songs and then bring them to the group to see what sticks and what doesn’t stick.

Part of your unique sound is the saxophone component. What made you decide to add a sax to the mix?

DB: We wanted to add a saxophone because it’d give us a mix between jazz, jam band, rock, and pop. Dan (Sauer) was a music major at St. Cloud State and definitely has a musician’s brain. He brought a bunch of experience and new ideas to both new and old songs. Having a sax lightens the load a bit and gives us more options for solos and backing parts. - Post Bulletin


Founded: 2010

Genre: Alternative Acoustic-Rock

Sounds like: Dave Matthews Band, Pearl Jam, O.A.R., John Mayer, David Gray

507: So, let’s start by having you guys tell us a little bit about yourselves.

We are a 6 piece band based out of Rochester. We have members that live in St. Cloud, Minneapolis, Winona and Rochester and we just released our debut EP called Sunrise.

507: How did you guys meet up and decide to start a band?

We all met each other in a confusing long story of accidents so here is the condensed version. We started a band in high school back in 04/05 because we wanted to have fun and just make music! Music was the common bond we had between us all and our styles just fit. We started The Morning Kings in 2010 as more matured and experienced musicians, knowing that we could really do something special with our new talents. Since we have played together back in the day it was a very comfortable fit. We set a goal to explore the depths of collaboration and improvement in ourselves as musicians.

507: Which one of you guys is the one always stressing out before the show, before recording his takes, etc. Every band has one. The total headcase guy…

The Morning KingsOverall we try to work as a team to make sure all things work out but Conrad and Drew are probably the shared head cases. They handle a lot of the background work with setting up and organizational situations. Sometimes in the music business the final details don’t quite fall into place until last minute and we have to scramble to make sure that things run smoothly. We are starting to get a bit more help now that we have great a booking agent.

507: Who wears the mom pants in the band? Making sure everyone is on time, where they need to be, and doing what they need to be doing?

Drew is wearing the mom pants for the business side of the band handling a lot of the background/organizational work. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it… all the long email threads and annoying text updates to make sure everyone is aware of the plan and schedule. We hope we can find the right manager to do it someday.

In rehearsal Dan probably wears the mom pants He has an ear if something doesn’t quite sound right and puts some attention on the problem to fix it. We all collaborate in the music making process, it’s really an open forum.

507: Obviously you guys get a ton of chicks right?

Do we get a ton of chick’s only when we have instruments in our hands haha? Kidding aside we don’t really dabble in the groupie type thing but we are always receptive to talking to fans guys or girls.

507: You guys have been playing locally for a bit now, what are some of your favorite spots to play?

We enjoy doing the acoustic shows at the Wicked Moose and Big Brads on Broadway.. Full band shows are great at Kathy’s Pub and Wicked Moose!

507: What if you just want to go enjoy a show in town, where are you headed?

Kathy’s and Wicked Moose for sure!

Visit the store! 507: Rochester is admittedly not exactly a hot bed of music and music venues. What do you think we’re missing at this point?

Not having a formal four year college hurts a bit, which is where many music scenes come from. A lot of times that is where the talent will meet up as well as college music venues/bars will form. That being said the music scene within Rochester is growing with bands (like Push and Turn, Key Lime, Dogberry etc).. and there is a direct correlation to the changes that downtown has made. Downtown has to be able to harbor that creative stage, Kathy’s Pub and Big Brads on Broadway are great examples of this. Also venues like The Wicked Moose are establishing Rochester as a music destination. The city as a whole is embracing a better music culture with community events like Thursday’s on First , Rochesterfest Riverside Concerts, Mayo Civic Center hosting better shows (Wilco, Darius Rucker etc)…. They all play a part… Many people think music is only going on in the cities or at college towns and we need to remind the rest of the state that the 507 has a lot of people here with talent. We in the music community need to do a better job promoting ourselves and other local artist. Our goal as a band is to kick some dust, stir the pot and get the rest of the Minnesota’s to see Rochester in a different light.

507: You guys just released your first full length EP. I know you guys did some early recording out at the RCTC campus and then took to The Terrarium in Minneapolis. The Terrarium has been the proving ground of a lot of Minnesota musicians. They’re known, among a lot of other studios respectively, to be a big part of the “Minnesota Sound”. Having recorded Minnesotan’s, Haley Bonar, Mason Jennings, Trampled by Turtles, Johnny Lang, Owl City, and many more. They’ve also done a handful of national acts from Pink, Soul Asylum, Beck, Semisonic and a ton more.

507: A lot of people have no idea about the ‘black magic’ that goes into making a record. What was the process like?

Working with The Terrarium was an honor knowing all the great records that have been made there. We were able to work with Rob Osterlin who is from Rochester and a Century grad, it made the whole process a lot more comfortable. The black magic is coming into the studio as prepared as we can be and capturing the right take, feelings and moments on the record. The atmosphere in which a band records is very important it will change the vibe of a recording session. We were very happy, excited and upbeat throughout the process we think the EP reflects that.

507: How long did it take from your first day in The Terrarium until it was all finished?

The Morning Kings - Thursday's on FirstWe recorded Sunrise in February of 2012. It took 4 days total however these were 10+ hour days…. There are 6 of us in the band so we each had a lot of different parts to add to get the songs done. Rob is very efficient which helped us keep the ball moving. Sometimes artist/musicians can get distracted so we needed to stay in the zone as much as we could. We then worked with Greg Reierson at Rare Form Mastering and produced the album with Copy Cats Media.. We recorded in February, had our hard copies by May, and did a release party in late August. Overall, it has been a great experience however we are learning something new every day. There is a lot of legwork that goes into putting out an independent album.

507: Any immediate plans for a follow up?

Before going into the studio, we had a list of about 40 songs or so…and had to reduce them down to 5..Since then, we’ve written a bunch of new songs so we will be going through our list again and hopefully will be going back into the studio this winter….

507: How can our readers learn more about you guys?

Check us out at www.facebook.com/TheMorningKings or www.TheMorningKings.com

507: Well that’s about it for the questions for me. Anything you guys want to leave us with?

Our new album Sunrise cost $5 and it will be online for download soon. Come out to a show have a party with us! - Five Oh Seven


The Morning Kings
Some bands use the stage as a platform to
discuss their political views, while others
just want to make a lot of money. Rochester-grown
band “The Morning Kings” has a
different idea about music: It should simply
be about having a good time.
The Morning Kings initially came together through a mutual
love of playing music while some of its members were still in
high school. Singer Drew Barbes still remembers walking up to
guitarist Andrew Conrad at a Century hockey game back in 2005,
and inquiring about his guitar playing. Once they discovered they
both played, they decided to “jam” together—a collaboration that
became their fi rst band, Unapt.
After graduating from Century High School, band
members spread across Minnesota to attend college,
and Unapt disbanded. But it wasn’t the end of their
story. In 2009, Barbes and Conrad reunited to form
The Morning Kings.
Since then, their line up—and their music—has
changed. But now, with Barbes, Conrad, and Justin
Bourassa on electric guitar, Cameron Smith on drums,
and Dan Sauer on saxophone, Conrad says that The
Morning Kings are stronger than ever and have fi nally
found their sound.
It’s a sound that’s getting attention. After winning a
couple “battle of the bands” competitions, The Morning
Kings were nominated for a 2013 Minnesota-wide,
“Are You Local” music award. It may be just the kind
of attention they need to get their foot in the door.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The Morning Kings defi ne their sound as “jam band.”
As they played their funky sound and got the crowd
grooving at their June 13 Thursdays on First performance,
it became clear why their website claims they’re
“known for having a layered, energetic full band sound with
infl uences of funk, rock, and organized jam.”
“We all have different music tastes. We defi nitely come from all
over,” says Conrad, who compares the band’s sound to groups
like Dave Matthews Band and O.A.R. When they added the sax,
they knew that The Morning Kings needed to head into a jam
band direction.
Photo by Ken Klotzbach
50 AUGUST 2013 ROCHESTERMAGAZINE.COM
“It felt so right. Now we can really expand our jams
out and diversify everything,” says Conrad.
But The Morning Kings’ strength doesn’t lie only
in playing. When they aren’t working their day jobs
(ranging from in the technology to restaurant to
music industries), every member of the band writes
their own songs—which means they always have
plenty of new material in the works.
“The best part about being in a band is writing the
music,” says Barbes.
But don’t expect the guys to be forcing their views
onto their songwriting—or the audience—any time
soon. They make a conscious effort to ensure their
music is not controversial.
“Our whole focus lately has just been to try and
keep it upbeat,” says Barbes. He says he does use
aspects of his life as song inspiration, but tries to
disguise them so fans can interpret a song’s meaning
in whatever way they want.
Conrad confi rms that The
Morning Kings shy away from
using the microphone as their
soapbox, because that’s “touching
on areas where you start to
lose your audience.” He says it’s
just not their thing like it is for
some bands. Instead, their focus
is to create and innovate music
that can get a crowd moving.
Appealing to a wide range of
music lovers is something The
Morning Kings keep in mind as
they navigate the music scene.
“It’s hard in Southern Minnesota,”
admits Barbes, who says
there hadn’t been a huge music scene in Rochester—but
is hopeful that the new visualization of
downtown, with new bars and other venues popping
up, will help the growth of local music.
One thing that has given The Morning Kings a
boost is the support and friendship of other Minnesota-based
bands. “I feel like Minnesota really just
has independent artists and we all really work well
together,” says Conrad. With the support of other
groups, The Morning Kings have been increasingly
traveling out of Rochester to play at venues in Duluth,
St. Paul, and Mankato. They’ve also recently
played an hour-long, live set on a syndicated television
show out of St. Cloud. They want to build on
this Minnesota base, and eventually tour with bands
that will take them out of state.
Until then, The Morning Kings are doing everything
independently. They raised funds to record
their EP “Sunrise” on their own (by “playing gigs
anywhere and everywhere they’d have us!”), and do
the marketing and distribution of the album themselves.
They recently bought their own recording
studio, and plan to begin recording a second album
at the end of the summer. They use social media to
interact with fans and connect with the right people
to get their name out.
While the freedom of working independently is
great, The Morning Kings admit that it can be dif-
fi cult to take on everything without help.
“The music business isn’t a good business if you
want to make a bunch of money. You have to really
do well in order to really make it and it’s hard,” says
Barbes. “There’s lots of people who play guitar, lots
of people who do music, so you kind of have to be
special. We’re just trying to get our foot in the door.”
One thing is certain: The Morning Kings have
steadily become the solid group they strive to be.
Despite the obstacles that stand in any local band’s
way, The Morning Kings continue to get more gigs.
“It’s that constant struggle of getting ahead,” says
Barbes.
And what does “getting ahead” mean for The
Morning Kings? Playing the music they love together.
Says Conrad, “There’s nothing better than
being on stage and seeing an audience enjoy our
music.”
Check out The Morning Kings at their August 17 show at
Legends Bar. The band will take the stage at 9 p.m. You can
purchase their EP, “Sunrise,” at shows, at www.Facebook.com/
TheMorningKings, or at www.TheMorningKings.com. - Rochester Magazine


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

Photos

Bio

The Morning Kings (TMK) are a band from Minnesota and was established in 2010. The Morning Kings are known throughout the region for having a layered, energetic full band sound with influences of funk, rock, and organized jam. TMK pushes the envelope to create and innovate music that can get a crowd moving while invoking a true connection to the music. In 2012 TMK did a self-release 5 song EP called Sunrise and toured the past two year throughout Minnesota and Wisconsin. Currently the Band is in the studio working on their 2nd EP and will have a tour to follow!