With a new album, a hefty grant from MusicNL, and an ECMA nomination within a few months, Cabbages and Kings are staking their claim as the local kings of hard rock.
The trio of bassist and vocalist Michael Kirby, guitarist Joshua Noble, and drummer Brandon Hopkins first began playing together in 2013 and found instant chemistry. Kirby had been writing and recording songs without a group to play them, but when Noble and Hopkins joined him, he knew he was on to something.
“The first time we all stood in the same room and jammed, we all knew. We knew this was the band going forward,” Kirby says. “Every musician worries and struggles going about finding a place in music. It was a good feeling to have direction.”
Despite ranging musical tastes, the band found common ground with their own brand of energetic rock and recorded their self-titled debut record together before ever performing live. The group quickly developed a following in St. John’s, but about a year ago, they made a move to Norris Arm, where the band recorded their latest album, Vale, in their home studio.
“We had been talking about getting out of the city for a while when the opportunity for me to buy my grandparents’ old homestead came up,” says Kirby. “It was like jumping into the lion’s den. We all uprooted our lives and made a move to central Newfoundland. When I look back now, I realize it had to be this way.”
The band say they put the anxiety and frustration of moving into the new record, and Kirby says that the change gave Vale an extra edge. Their music isn’t the only thing with an edge though. Cabbages and Kings say their name comes from a Lewis Carroll poem and represents a sort of counterculture ideal for them, exposing the disparity between good and bad, rich and poor. “It’s not that we’re a political band or anything, but we think there is a lot of context in our name,” says Kirby.
Political or not, the band has found success under the Cabbages and Kings name. They’ve become a regular act on St. John’s stages and will soon be taking their music to Trinidad where they will get to collaborate with a Trinidadian group and shoot a number of videos as part of the Club One International series.
The band has also received a substantial MusicNL grant and an ECMA nom for Loud Album of the Year, but they aren’t resting on their laurels. “It does feel great to get a bit of recognition for the work we’ve been putting into this, but at the same time we know we need to keep pushing,” Kirby says. “We see this as fuel for the fire and we keep asking ourselves what the next step is.”
The next step looks to be the trip to Trinidad, an appearance at this year’s ECMAs, and a tour through eastern Canada in April. For more info on the band, visit www.cabbages.ca.