King Friday shakes up campus bands scene

caitlinhardee

Credit: Hardee
Credit: Hardee

A couple weekends ago, I was held prisoner in the basement of the Palace. On that typical Whitman Saturday, there were about five events going on. I needed to move to the next party. But as student band King Friday played through a set, I was too captivated to leave.

It’s hard to pin down the appeal of this band, because their style eludes neat categorizations. King Friday, comprising sophomores Matthew Sweeney and Alex Folkerth, first-year Boris Sagal and junior Bailey Arango, joined me in-studio for a live acoustic session and interview, where we discussed the nature of their sound. I proposed the label “indie rock with a lot of soul.”

“I’ve never identified with either of those,” Sweeney said.

“I’ve identified with indie rock,” said Folkerth.

Listen to King Friday

Interview with the band
[audio:http://whitmanpioneer.com/audio/fall2009_issue11/kingfriday_interview.mp3]
King Friday Live
[audio:http://whitmanpioneer.com/audio/fall2009_issue11/kingfriday_live.mp3]
King Friday on KWCW
[audio:http://whitmanpioneer.com/audio/fall2009_issue11/kingfriday_radiosegment.mp3]

“I’d describe it as ’60s slash ’90s alternative, but then there’s Bo [Sagal],” said Arango, laughing. “Bo likes metal. Bo’s the armor on the King.”

King Friday are nothing if not diverse. Sweeney plays guitar and sings, as does Arango. Sagal plays bass and sings, and Folkerth plays drums and other improvisational percussion instruments: everything from an instrument case to a trash can to a tambourine. During our brief acoustic session, the guys frequently swapped instruments with each other and alternated lead guitar and vocals. The number of capable singers in the band affords them harmonizing and layering opportunities beyond the range of most live bands. The overall sound, funky and raw, seemed too powerful for these four unassuming guys and the tiny KWCW studio.

Some of that depth springs from their long involvement with music. Sweeney and Folkerth have known each other since fourth grade, and recorded King Friday’s first album, Enter The King, last year at Whitman. All members of the band have been playing their instruments since grade school or middle school.

Additionally, all members are intensely involved with the creative process. Although they enjoy playing covers, the band has a vast repertoire of original songs.

“[Sweeney and I] did an album last year that has 12 songs on it,” said Folkerth, “and then Bo’s got entire albums written and recorded himself.”

Sweeney and Folkerth released Enter The King digitally, through small label Broderham. The album can be downloaded through the label’s Web site, or purchased through the band’s MySpace page.

The guys also addressed some of the challenges they face as a student band.

“Practice space, and drugs,” Folkerth said with a straight face.

His bandmates cracked up.

“Come on, dude!”

“Practice space. Our building is remarkably kind about us practicing in it, but it’s really loud,” said Arango.

“Actually my biggest barrier is, like, going to college,” Folkerth said, laughing.

King Friday are mostly occupied with gigs here at Whitman, but have made occasional forays into other venues. And how far do they hope to take their music?

“Boyer Avenue,” Folkerth deadpanned, eliciting laughter from the guys.

“Whatever’s possible,” Sweeney said.

King Friday rounded out the week with performances at Marcus on Thursday, Nov. 12, and Coffeehouse on Friday, Nov. 13.