Guitarist Kaki King is “pretty much done” with her fourth studio album, due early next year via Velour. The set was produced by Malcolm Burn (Bob Dylan, John Mellencamp), who pushed King to “be creative in the moment,” she tells Billboard.com.
“He said, ‘I’m not here to recreate your demos. We’re here to get creative.’ There were some directions that were taken that were so unbelievably far off from where the songs began,” King says. “Some of the songs became ’70s groovy sex music somehow.”
In contrast to mild-mannered Tortoise/The Sea & Cake drummer John McEntire, who produced King’s 2006 album “Until We Felt Red,” Burn was not afraid to challenge King when he thought she needed a kick in the pants. “I am so not the fighting type,” she says. “But he’d be like, ‘Look … this f*cking music sounds dorky! It’s in 5/4 and there’s no melody and I don’t understand it.”
Among the songs expected to make the cut are the aforementioned “The Song in 5/4,” “Montreal” (which King has played live by looping the guitar and bass parts) and “So Much for So Little” (which King says “sounds like an Air song”).
“There are a couple of other songs where I’m doing the most traditional guitar playing I’ve ever done,” she reports. “They’re still in odd tunings, but through the process of just staying up late at night and grabbing instruments, the songs became totally different pieces of music.”
King can also be heard in the new Sean Penn-directed film “Into the Wild,” which features a couple of her previously released songs and some newly recorded instrumental passages. “Creatively, it was really interesting,” she says. “Most of the time with film, you write the score, but there is a lot of re-editing. This was more, ‘Here’s the scene, now sit there and play.’ Sean even came to some of my gigs. It was a great opportunity.”
Another fan, Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, drafted King to guest on the band’s new RCA album, “Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace,” and previously gushed to Billboard.com about how she “shredded” him during the session.
“He has been amazingly kind about giving me props for that,” she says of her turn on “The Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners.” “We did that one really quick. I didn’t realize it would happen because they were mixing and I invited myself over. I mean, they were mixing! He had this piece of music and he was like, ‘Let me play it for you.’ I started playing along and he was like, ‘Let’s record it!’ In a weird, odd way, it brought me full-circle to this traditional guitar finger-picking style of playing.”