Chris King And The Gutterballs aim to bring back saga-style music to help alleviate existential pain through their emotional Americana folk-rock sound. They’ve spent the better part of the last year recording a new record under Bop Street Records in Ballard, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Seattle. As a whole the group aims to “spread love in Seattle” with their existential and emotional sound.
Chris King began playing music when he was 15-years-old at his church where he grew up in Santa Cruz. Here he began orchestrating harmonies for people to sing and even lead his own musical worship sessions. This turned into joining local bands until starting his own folk project called Acorn Tribe. His musical career eventually brought him to Seattle around 2014. He picked Seattle over Grand Rapids, Michigan which also has a blossoming local music scene. King united with The Gutterballs upon arrival and they’ve been making music and rocking shows around the city since. They’ve found success in many avenues including radio play on 90.3 KEXP and a residency at Blue Moon Tavern.
King has fallen in love with Ballard after touring through most of the city’s popular venues. Sunset and Tractor Tavern have given them great environments to perform at regularly and Bop Street Records has become like a second home for the band over the last year. King has found a little to love in each of Seattle’s neighborhoods, mentioning Fremont, Capitol Hill, and Jupiter Bar’s pinball selection down in Belltown as consistent go-to’s.
King’s music is lyrically driven and revolves around existential themes of joy, love, and pain. In a time where anyone has the ability to express how they feel, King chooses to do so through his music. Rather than ignore the pounding life can put on you, King wants to reflect it in his music to help other people who might be going through similar issues. “For my health, I need to keep writing, that’s what I love to do,” King said.
A Chris King and The Gutterballs show contains a dynamic range of short and long tracks, but King really enjoys playing long-form music, something that is far from a trend in 2018. King believes playing eight, nine, 10-minute songs take on a life-form of their own during a live performance. King believes tracks like “Saga” from their record Cocktails can transcend reality. He said it takes the audience into a “different realm” where they “speak to each other in languages unspoken,” King continued, “I think that’s what people go to shows for, to have a little bit of a trip.”
Pain Waves is the new album King and The Gutterballs have been working on for the better part of 18 months. The new album “dives into the dark side a little bit,” King says. The album roots itself in a tumultuous year the entire band experienced. From being kicked out of their studio to various personal tragedies like a messy breakup, one member’s dog dying, and another’s father’s death. “All this bullshit happened,” King said.
“I think that’s what people go to shows for, to have a little bit of a trip.”
The importance of this album weighed on King enough to get him sober for eight months while writing the album. Out of 30 songs he wrote, 12 made the cut. Each song stands on its own with an overlapping theme of existential pain and hope. Pain Waves will be released sometime in April 2019. You can catch Chris King and The Gutterballs at The Crocodile during night three of the second annual Seattle World Tour.