Interview – Underking

Underking is a solo project, made up by Maxwell Jeffries. Underlying are based in Nottingham, UK!

1. Your most recent single ‘Dragon of the West’ came out just a week ago, are you happy with how it’s performed so far? What has the reception been like?

I am indeed happy with how everything has panned out so far concerning the new single! A lot of listeners are saying it’s my best song yet and I couldn’t be more proud of how it turned out!

2. You released 2 different albums on the same day (April 3rd 2020). What made you decide to go for 2 separate albums rather than one deluxe?

Originally, ‘Amongst the Dead’ and ‘Ghosts of the Past’ were meant to be released as one loose concept album called ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ or ‘Witch Hammer’ but, in the writing process for it throughout late 2018 and all of 2019, I realised that I wanted some harsher vocals on quite a few of the tracks. So, instead of releasing one album that seemed to tonally shift every other song, I decided to split the record in half – one featuring vocals from Dustin Burmeister and one featuring vocals by me!

3. Back to DotW, what inspired the lyrics to this track?

The inspiration behind the lyrics of ‘Dragon of the West’ was the TV show – Avatar: The Last Airbender. It’s an amazing show with even better characters – one of which directly inspired the track was Uncle Iroh. For those who haven’t seen the show, he’s an ex-military general who you come to find obviously regrets his past ‘accomplishments’ in a war many feel to be unjust. He lost his son (Lu Ten) in the war and there’s a really famous scene in the show where he holds a memorial for Lu Ten and I knew I had to write a song about it!

4. You clearly have a very busy schedule with 2 albums + some singles out this year, was this made easier without being able to play live shows? Also, does this mean that we will have a 3rd album out this year?!

Unfortunately, I’ve never been able to play shows so far, being virtually a solo project at the moment – so my plans haven’t really altered from what I set out to do! I always planned to release the two albums this year but the singles were an added bonus! I’m off the belief that these days, especially in the year we’re having, that musicians should be releasing as much music as possible! So I released ‘The Throne’, ‘The Mask’ and ‘Dragon of the West’ as and when I wrote them and they happened to be some of my best songs! I’m really glad I’ve released so much music this year, accruing an ever increasing back catalogue so that any new fans have stuff to dig into but no! Sorry! No third album this year haha! It will be coming next year though and I’m really happy with how it’s coming along currently.

5. What is the song writing process like for Underking?

Well the songwriting process for Underking is quite solitary! It usually starts with a guitar riff and develops from there! I record directly into my computer in my home studio and get it reamped by a producer, I use MIDI drums at the moment and the vocals are also done at home! I then send it off to a mixer/masterer which for all my music so far has been Adam Buckley or SAW Audio (Steve Waltl) and they work their production magic ready for release! With ‘Amongst the Dead’, this process remained fairly similar, except I sent the tracks all the way over to Arizona for Dustin to record the vocals! For the new album, I have an ongoing series over on YouTube detailing the songwriting process!

6. What would you like fans to take away from your music?

I’d love for fans to take some joy away from listening. I’m really striving for my new stuff to evoke that kind of fantastical awe that a lot of my favourite music makes me feel! I’ve specifically written a lengthy instrumental that I really want people to sit and think about and hopefully come away with something special! My lyrics are also getting a bit more fantastical as time goes on and I’m excited to see how it pans out!

7. What was the original plan for this year? Was it planned that you’d write so much music or did it happen naturally? How has the plan changed due to the crisis?

The original plan was always to release ‘Ghosts of the Past’ and ‘Amongst the Dead’ and to continue writing another album! The crisis definitely altered my plans to include the three latest singles!

8. If you could tour with any artist (dead or alive), who would it be?

I’d definitely want to tour with Ghost – my all time favourite band. Everything Tobias Forge does with Ghost is just absolutely stellar and I think they’re one of the future festival headliners!

9. What would your last meal on earth be?

My last meal on Earth would definitely be some sort of curry or BBQ pizza if I had any choice about it!

10. Leave a message for the readers!

Thanks for reading this interview! I hope you can take away something about Underking and what I do over here!

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