After being contacted by a music label in Los Angeles, the Krooked Kings packed up a U-Haul trailer and embarked on a road trip from their hometown of Salt Lake City, Utah.
The music label, Nobody Gets It Records, stumbled upon the band’s talent through their newest single “‘96 Subaru.” When the Kings—Matt Monosson, Quinn Casper, Paul Colgan, Dave Macey, and Oli Martin—thought about making a video to document their quest out west, the use of that single became clear. After all, it was that track that had brought them to where they were.
The video alternates between vlog clips and other shots of the band performing. Inside the car, there are artsy visuals of light flickering across the steering wheel and of passing green signs on the expansive highway. When paired with a desolate desert performance and other candid moments, viewers are inserted right into the Kings’ free-spirited narrative.
“It wasn’t really planned,” Martin said of the video-making process. “We were just planning on making it ‘music video-esque.’ When we were in the car, I was like ‘Oh, we should make a vlog or something!’ We did some of those clips and they ended up making the cut into the music video. It ended up being cool just with the vlog and music video combined.”
Even though the video is fun and fresh, the lyrical content is deeply reminiscent:
“I’ve been stuck on the same old tunes /
Oh the ones that make me think of you”
In their new visual piece, the Krooked Kings are able to contrast their previous work with their current success, all while staying true to their roots.
“The song itself talks about a girl and a guy and a relationship past,” Martin explained. “That’s how I envisioned the music video when we wrote this song. ‘‘96 Subaru’ and this next step [with the label] is like the next chapter. We just wanted to illustrate that with the video. We’re still Krooked Kings.”
The Kings Process
The band has gone through several iterations but has now settled into a solid group. Typically, the creative process is sparked when Martin comes across a melodic chord progression or other cool combination of sounds.
“I’m not too educated musically, so a lot of my stuff is just based off of what sounds nice,” Martin said. “Usually I’ll do that, come up with a verse or so of lyrics and get a vibe of the song. Then I bring it to the rest of the band and we just all layer on pieces. Once I show it to the rest of them, that’s when it becomes the band’s and not just something I wrote.”
The resulting songs have a few indie influences—one of which is Bon Iver. Martin tries to replicate the band’s honest lyrics into the Krooked Kings’ music.
As a whole though, the band adores Peach Pit. The way in which Peach Pit has structured their songs has influenced Martin’s songwriting.
“I used to write kind of systematically,” Martin recalled. “I always wrote the same. And then while learning Peach Pit’s songs I saw that they had a narrative that they follow which I found was very interesting.”
More From Martin
Martin is the only member of Krooked Kings that has been present since their first live show. After playing the cello in middle school, he revisited music years later by picking up the guitar teaching himself some basic songs on YouTube.
“I learned to play guitar on my couch in my living room living with my mom,” said Martin. “And my mom would just be working all day, and I would just be playing all day. It was just fun. She would beg me to stop. She’d be like, ‘You’re fine, don’t fret.’ And I was just like, ‘No, I want to, I need to [keep practicing].’”
So Martin kept practicing. And after watching YouTube video after YouTube video, he started making his own videos. While that phase has now faded, the presence that he and the Krooked Kings have started to develop on TikTok has only just begun.
“TikTok reminds me of when I first played guitar because I had an Instagram and I would just do a bunch of covers on it,” Martin said. “I would do like one a day. And now it’s just gone full circle and I’m back to doing that just on a different platform. One thing that makes me, and us, better as a band is learning covers and learning how other bands make great music. There’s no one recipe.”
Returning to Utah
The Krooked Kings have since returned from their trip to California after meeting their label, and are all settled back in Salt Lake City. They’re planning on going to a local mountain lake to start working on an album.
It’s fair to expect that this new project will maintain the band’s sound that they have been able to establish through their previous work.
“I’d like to think that our music is lyrically just honest and nothing is held back,” Martin said. “It’s not necessarily glammy. It’s not pop. It’s not like everything is going awesome all the time. Life’s real, you know? Sometimes there’s ups and downs, and I think being able to write about all of it is important.”