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The Explosive Sounds of Atomic Kings

The Explosive Sounds of Atomic Kings

The Explosive Sounds of Atomic Kings

Atomic Kings is a Phoenix, Arizona based group that consists of Ken Ronk (Paul Gurvitz) on vocals, Ryan McKay (Crash Street Kids, Louie Prima Jr.) on guitar, Greg Chaisson (Badlands, Red Dragon Cartel) on bass, and Jimi Taft (Rag Doll) on drums.  Atomic Kings have created quite a buzz in the music industry with their debut album. The powerful rhythm section of Chaisson and Taft, the riff based, yet melodic guitar work of Ryan Mckay, and the unique, soulful vocal style of Ken Ronk highlights the bands very diverse and deeply anchored roots in the style of the 70’s supergroups like Free, Humble Pie, Bad Company, Led Zeppelin, and Robin Trower. But, with a modern twist all their own.  With an amazing Self-Titled endeavor out now via FireRockMusic Group and even more music on the horizon, Atomic Kings are ready to blast into your world in an epic way! Highwire Daze recently interviewed guitarist Ryan McKay to find out more about the explosive sounds of Atomic Kings!  Read on…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in Atomic Kings, and how long the band has been together.
Greetings, I’m the guitarist Ryan McKay. This incarnation of the band has been together for about 2 years. Originally, Jimi, Greg and I had a different band with a different singer.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
We live in Phoenix, Arizona. The scene here is very pocketed, some areas are metal, some are indie rock, some are country. It’s a growing market so there are plenty of opportunities.

How did you wind up signing with FireRock Music Group?
They reached out to our bassist Greg Chaisson after the original label we signed with folded.

Select two songs from the Self-Titled Atomic Kings album and what inspired the lyrics?
(Answered by Ken the vocalist)
Live – The guitar riff and the overall feel of the song is a very up tempo with a celebratory riff/rhythm. The music instantly conjured up the euphoria of a live concert. It is also a nod to the great fans of music and concert goers that make the work that a band puts in worth every minute when we are playing our music “Live” (pun intended). Somewhat of a love affair between band and fans.

Escape” – Once again the lyrics to this track were very much inspired by the music itself. The guitar riff created visions of a getaway of sorts, an Escape. Like Bonnie and Clyde without the crime spree. Two longtime lovers determined to take back what they feel was taken from them and escape from it all and live life happily ever after with each other. It’s an escape from reality.

Who produced the Atomic Kings album and what was it like working with them?
We more or less self produced and mixed the album. Although Jason at Tonehouse Records was very instrumental getting the tones.

How did Greg Chaisson of Badlands and Red Dragon Cartel become involved with Atomic Kings?
Greg started this project over 10 years ago. It has gone through various lineups with different band names over that stretch. The concept has always remained the same. A throwback to 70’s hard rock. Jimi jumped in around 2018, I was officially on board in 2020 after contributing some guitar tracks to an earlier album, and Ken was added in 2021.

How did Ryan McKay from Crash Street Kids and Louis Prima Jr. and the Witnesses become involved with Atomic Kings?
I met Greg around the time he started the project, about 10 years ago. We remained friends, he wanted me to join but my schedule was very busy with Louis Prima Jr. We were a touring band so during the pandemic we were out of commission. I wound up stepping down from that band. It was perfect timing because Greg once again found himself in need of a guitarist. So, I jumped in!

What could one expect from a live Atomic Kings show?
Lots of energy! We play the record note for note, but we aren’t afraid to throw in some surprises. Greg, Jimi and I enjoy improvising during some spots in the show. That again is keeping with that 70’s rock tradition. Bands would sometimes stretch out a little bit. So the show is not the same every night.

Has Atomic Kings ever played here in the Los Angeles or is that something you would like to do in future days? If so, what was the experience like?
We have not played in LA yet. Looking forward to playing there. I played the Whisky with Crash Street Kids and it was a blast. Greg of course lived in LA for the 1980’s so he’s been all over Southern California.

If Atomic Kings could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why?
I’d say Humble Pie at the Fillmore in the early 70’s. The album “Rockin The Fillmore” is TITANIC! I’d love to be backstage hanging with Steve Marriot and Peter Frampton and the guys. Then with my ‘all access opening band pass” I’d go sit in the front row!

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of Atomic Kings?
Yes, I just released a second solo album “Gadzooks“. It’s more of an indie power pop album, not unlike Crash Street Kids. You can hear it on the Ryan McKay Bandcamp page.

What’s up next for Atomic Kings?
Right now we are writing for album #2. But more importantly we are doing our best to get the word out about our debut record. We feel that it wasn’t promoted properly by the original label. Now we have proper distribution and promotion. We are really proud of this record and are working hard to get the word out!

Any final words of wisdom?
Take a break from social media and go listen to some music. Preferably Atomic Kings, but if not us, Humble PieRockin The Fillmore“. Cheers! 🙂

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Atomic Kings on Instagram

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