Most sane people would think that restarting a band that only released one single when they were young, single and hungry would be a bad idea 15 years later when they are fat, married and have kids. But then few Magic City rock and roll partnerships have been as fruitful as the one between singer Jeff London, drummer Andre Serafini and bassist Tony Roke.
King Friday started in 1994 just as Serafini's pop punk band Quit broke up just as all of their contemporaries were hitting big on MTV, Serafini, Quit bassist Tony Roke and guitarist Pablo Gomez began showing up at Churchil''s to play King Friday instrumentals sans London who was living in Gainesville at the time. Soon afterwards, London showed up at Tapeworm Studios in Little River with his bandmates and commenced one of the drunkest recording sessions ever - which ended with Rocha asleep under the mixing board and London passed out in the vocal booth.
The resulting single, "Haldol", and a few proper King Friday gigs where London actually showed up began making some waves with their seemingly contradictory formula: Gomez's laid-back, jangly interpretation of Chapel Hill, North Carolina bands like Archers of Loaf and Superchunk and London's crazy hardcore frontman antics - danced to the punk rock stomp laid down by Serafini and Roke. Considering that London's worked as a Social Worker by day (he's now a college professor) , his penchant for getting wasted and doing back flips into strangers - once while wearing a giant cast attempting to protect a gaping hole in his arm where a tumor had been removed. - seemed to have made his night job "anti-social worker."
Unfortunately for Gomez, he picked up the crack pipe and put down his guitar and the remaining members of King Friday joined forces with Cell 63 guitarist Rob Coe to form Fay Wray , who released two albums on no idea records and may be the best rock band in Florida history.
As Fay Wray broke up following their 2000 release "I love everyone," Roke long out of music and London far away rasing kids in Colorado - a King Friday reunion sans Gomez was the last thing on my mind when this disc was handed to me by Serafini. But damn - it is undeniably good.
One instant improvement is Gomez's replacement - original Quit guitarist Russell Mofsky . Mofsky graduated from the prestigous Berklee school of music iin Boston, and thus missed most of his old bandmates music career -- but before relocating here in 2007, he did participate in Quit's brief 2002 reunion, where the southern california pop punk of their youth had been replaced by a diet of Husker Du and Replacements - the Minneapolis acts who directly influenced the aforementioned North Carolina bands that London worships.
The opener, "married alive" could be the theme song for a FOX sitcom of the same name: "I've been walking on eggshells / I've been keeping my real thoughts to myself / I've been walking a fine line and I know it's all my fault /I've been trying real hard to pull my head out of my a** / I know I'm in the doghouse, but last night was a blast." It's theme is universal and clever, the music is catchy and if radio didn't suck, it would be a perfect morning drive song.
The rest of the album, which can be purchased from their label, San Diego's fast crowd records is similarly good. If it has one flaw, its London's overly-restrained vocal performance on "Favorite Color" - the one King Friday song that was a staple of Fay Wray sets and perhaps the best song he has ever written. London has two vocal gears, the first, a Bob Mouldish croon has gotten better with age. The second - a high tenor manic wail that signaled when the song was kicking out the james. That gear, present on "HRS" and "North Carolina" -- is missing on "Favorite Color" -- but somehow I'm guessing it will return at the the fest in gainesville on October 30th, which save for a warmup gig in Tampa, is the to Miami closest King Friday will perform. Perhaps a few emails to the King Friday myspace page could convince them to play down here over the holidays. Even the Werewolf of Jeff London has to come home for X-mas.