Suicide Kings put on the Crown of Thorns [Interview]
Calgary, AB – The Suicide Kings duo is fresh off the tour life from Snak the Ripper’s Stealth Bomb Records Tour. The guys are heading down to tour Europe this summer, following the January 2014 vinyl release of their Crown of Thorns album via the Paris-based Knives Out Records label. And next Monday (that’s Dec. 2, by the way), the Kings are debuting some sweet new visuals for the track “I Got This” via HipHopCanada.
We recently caught up with Joe “Joey Knuckles” Hyde and Cole “King Cole” Young to touch base about Snak the Ripper, the insanity of French hip-hop, dark religious album art, and more. Check it out after the jump.
“Those days of record labels and waiting for a deal are dead. These days, you gotta create your own lane, stay in it, and stick to what you do best.” – Joey Knuckles
Suicide Kings: Q&A
Interview conducted by Sarah Sussman for HipHopCanada
HipHopCanada: You guys are fresh off your tour with Snak the Ripper. What was it like to be expats in the Stealth Bomb family?
Joey: We just got off the Stealth Bomb Records tour with Snak the Ripper, Young Merkules, and Jaclyn Gee. And it was great. It was good for us to get out for a bit before winter to tour on our new album, Crown of Thorns. And playing to a lot of the Snak [and] Stompdown fans was a really good fit for us. Everyone was really cool – Snak, the Ephin crew, etcetera. We all clicked up really nice.
HipHopCanada: What’s the most important thing you learned from Snak?
Joey: Snak is a workhorse man. Dude has got his own thing going on and he’s worked hard for it. That’s the way it is and I think a lot of newcomers to the game (touring, recording) that choose this career path have a lot to learn about how things really go down. Those days of record labels and waiting for a deal are dead. These days, you gotta create your own lane, stay in it, and stick to what you do best. And Snak does that well.
HipHopCanada: So tell me about this new video you’re dropping on Dec. 2. What do you have in store for us on it?
Joey: We’re super stoked about the new video and we decided to premier it on HHC first. The video is for the first track off of Crown of Thorns, titled “I Got This”. The track is pretty special to me because for the most part, it’s a statement to all my friends, family and supporters. It’s about how I appreciate everthing they do for me and that I will succeed and give back. It’s sort of my “refuse to lose” anthem. It directly speaks to all my fam in Detroit, the shiftyness of the music industry, and anybody hating. I feel really guilty sometimes that I’m living in Canada doing well (for the most part), and all my friends and family are back in Detroit just struggling to keep their heads above water. It’s more to let everyone know to keep ya head up. Things will change. I would love to be able to have the financial opportunities to help out friends and family more in Detroit. One day I will. Mike McLaughlin (from City Bird Films), and Dylan Atkinson (from Married to Giants Editing) were on board for this video, as well. [They’re the] same guys who shot the video for “Shotcallaz” [with] Apathy and Celph Titled. Huge thanks to Dylan and Mike. You’re gonna see our everyday life in this video. It literally was shot in a few hours, while Mike just hung out with us. We got some shots of my 1980 Monte Carlo (yeah, the same car in [the movie] Training Day), and a lot of shots with all of our homies, hanging at the b-ball court, smoking trees, etcetera.
HipHopCanada: Can’t wait for it. Now Crown Of Thorns is getting released on vinyl via the French label, Knives Out Records. How did that all go down?
Cole: Joe and I found our roots playing hardcore music and touring in hardcore bands. Through our connections with that scene, we managed to link with Knives Out CEO, TONR (who was thankfully just as amped to work with us as we were to work with him). Joe and I always planned on doing a vinyl pressing of COT, so once this opportunity came along, the decision to sign with Knives Out was obvious for all parties involved. Knives Out will be pressing a full picture disc 12-inch vinyl, complete with screen-printed cover and dope packaging. We’re including some extra goodies on it, too, for the European limited press, including a bonus track with Snak the Ripper, a new joint with Danny Diablo [of] Queens, NY, and some instrumentals.
HipHopCanada: Sounds pretty dope. And speaking of France, French hip-hop is insane.
Joey: Yeah. Obviously it’s in another language. But it’s pretty wild. Honestly [I] don’t know too much about France hip-hop, but the stuff I heard is interesting, to say the least. I’m sure once the vinyl is released and we tour over there, we will start working with more French artists. I think it’s inevitable.
HipHopCanada: And European touring always seems like such a great ego-boost because the Europeans love hip-hop. Especially North American hip-hop.
Joey: Europe is really fun. I don’t know so much about an ego-boost, though. I guess it depends on who you are. Don’t get me wrong: it will be great to be in Europe to play and hang out with friends. But we try to stay pretty humble when it comes to that kind of stuff. We try to just stay focused on the goals in sight. Again, I think a lot of cats get caught up in touring for the first time. They get a little bit of shine and forget who they really are. I’ve toured Europe a few times and they are very much into North American music in general. It almost seems like they appreciate it more than the North Americans do.
HipHopCanada: What are you hoping to see and do while you’re there?
Cole: Joe has been to Europe a couple times with previous hardcore bands. This will be my first time touring Europe. We’re just excited to get over there, to be honest. All aspects of Europe seem really dope. Especially their thriving music scene. We’re hoping to see some sights, eat some food, meet cool people, and – of course – rock shows in support of our new album and the Knives Out release.
HipHopCanada: So what’s the deal with the name “Suicide Kings”?
Cole: To sum it up, Suicide Kings is just a dope name. It is not a new term, either. The name “Suicide Kings” has been used on anything from movies to a playing card. We never intended for “Suicide Kings” to have a deep meaning or anything like that, so don’t look too into the name. If your interested more the name Suicide King and the number 13 have direct meaning to Charles Vll of France, there is quite a story if you wish to research.
HipHopCanada: I’ll definitely have to do just that. So are you guys going to do a video with M.O.P for your “Savages” collaboration track? Because that would be downright savage.
Joey: Ah! I like your slick play on words. Well with M.O.P being so far away and so busy, I doubt we’ll see a video for that track off this record. I stay in good contact with Billy Danze. But unless we get out to Brownsville, NYC anytime soon, I don’t think so. But you never know.
HipHopCanada: You guys have Jesus on your album cover – I love the album art, by the way. And the album is called Crown Of Thorns. Is there religious affiliation there? Please don’t tell me you’re going to pull a Kanye and start referring to yourself as Suicide Kingeezus, or something.
Cole: [laughs] We won’t be changing our name to Suicide Kingeezus anytime soon. As far as the album art goes, we wanted something dark and engaging to reflect the music we put on the album. I have always enjoyed dark religious art and imagery. But by no means is there any religious affiliation. We originally thought of the name of the album first, so the thought of having an actual crown of thorns on the cover made sense. We came up with the idea for a gruesome three-eyed Jesus, along with some other interesting imagery and passed the idea onto Matt Worthey of Overcast Design. He put our ideas together, along with his talents, and there you have it. The album art is thought provoking, for sure. But there is absolutely no religious affiliation.
Photography by EJ Ybañez Negre
Suicide Kings in Concert: December 7
The Suicide Kings perform at True Rhythm’s Hip-Hop Showcase on Dec. 7 at Republik Nightclub. It all goes down at 9 p.m. Admission is $10. For more information, hit up the True Rhythm Facebook page.