A dynamic four piece rock outfit, London Ontario’s Texas King is getting people’s attention with their high energy live shows, catchy riffs and unique sound. The band is comprised of lead singer/guitarist Jordan Macdonald, guitarist/vocalist Colin Gray, bassist Phil Spina and drummer Melvin Murray. The band is coming off a big 2019 in which they opened for Boston rockers Big Wreck on their “but for the sun tour” and toured extensively across Canada and The U.S. We talked with founding member and lead singer Jordan MacDonald about the band’s past, present and what’s in store next for them.
2019 was a good year for you and the band. You opened for some major acts like Glorious Sons, The Sheepdogs and you toured with Big Wreck. How did the Big Wreck gig happen?
Well we actually played with them in the summer at Sarnia Bluewater Borderfest along with Tokyo Police Club which was cool because Tokyo Police Club was one of my favourite bands growing up. We ran into Big Wreck after the show and thanked them for having us out. I was chatting with Ian Thornley and he asked us what we had going on and I told him our booking agent actually submitted us to the list of bands applying for the Big Wreck Tour. We had been waiting for a while to find out if we were going to get it and that was Friday night, Monday morning we got the offer.
I saw a photo of you from the Washington show lying on your back with your guitar broken at the headstock, what happened?
I can laugh about it now but it wasn’t funny at the time. I tripped on my monitor in DC and that was a guitar Heritage Guitars had just so graciously given me and it was only our third show. It snapped, and thank goodness Ian’s personal guitar tech Shane was able to fix it within a week, he just did it in his hotel room. It’s still a little rough around the break area but he sanded the back of the neck so you can’t really tell when you’re playing it. I honestly think it plays better now, a little looser.
Did you pick up a lot of new fans on that tour?
I think so, it’s hard to gauge but we got a lot of good feedback at the merch table and I always made a point of saying, you gotta come back next time we come alone, jump on board for our team, you know? That’s why we’re heading back to the U.S. again in a few weeks and hitting Philly, Boston, Asbury Park, Buffalo where we got good feedback and get back right away while we’re still fresh in their minds.
Is the band a fulltime gig for you?
All of us sort of do stuff on the side for example, Colin (Gray) and Melvin (Murray) have a screen printing business so they have a bunch of clients of their own and they also do all the work for the band. It cuts costs a lot and it’s convenient. Phil works in production, he works at London Music Hall and for a couple of freelancers setting up staging at events. For me, I do a lot of acoustic gigs, private parties, corporate gigs and a couple of residencies at bars in London.
Are your acoustic gigs solo or with Colin? You and Colin started out as an acoustic duo while at Fanshawe, is that right?
Actually Phil, Colin and I all met at Fanshawe in the MIA program, only our drummer has changed since then. Colin and I sometimes work together if there’s a request for an acoustic version of Texas king but most of the time he and I do our own solo acoustic shows. In contrast to my antics with the full band, I’m usually sitting on a stool for my acoustic shows.
It must be difficult for you to sit still, you’re very animated with Texas King. Were you a hyperactive kid growing up?
I was always bouncing off the walls as a kid, class clown, getting into trouble at school. It’s funny now because a few of my high school teachers have come out to shows and I’ve had beers with them after the show and asked, “So, do you think I turned out ok?”, and they’ve said yeah, I think you put all of that energy into a good place. My English teacher used to send me to the office all the time and she came out to a show once and brought her daughter with her, it was pretty surreal.
When did you start playing music as a kid?
I started playing drums in my dad’s church when I was six. When I was 13 I was getting bored with sitting in the back so I started learning guitar at home and singing a little bit. In grade nine I got in my first band as a drummer and after about 5 months, the lead singer and I switched spots. Once that band broke up I couldn’t find anyone I really liked to play with until I moved to London for school. I didn’t get in to the MIA program the first year so I just took general arts, but it turned out for the best because the next year I met Colin and we gelled right away and then Phil’s bass playing was the thickening agent we needed.
Your first EP was released in 2013 just as you were finishing college. Was there much response to it?
Not really, the good thing about the EP was it gave us an excuse to go play a lot. Spotify wasn’t a big thing yet and we didn’t get a lot of downloads on iTunes. The best thing off of the EP was probably the song Come Find Me, one of the first songs Colin and I wrote together. Who knows, we might re-release that song some day.
Do you and Colin write a lot together or do you write most of the band’s music?
I would say I write most of it but it’s definitely a collaborative effort with the rest of the guys. We go through the form a lot then change the structure together. I’m never saying you should play this or you should play that. If we do have ideas we can share it. I usually write the main bones of a song then bring it to the band.
I like your video for the song Only One. Who came up with the concept and who produced it?
It was a collaborative effort between the band and Ed Platero of Platero Visuals out of London ON, we had a great time working with him. I had the idea that it should be a house party and he thought it would be cool to do it in one continuous shot. The first day we had a lot of extras and it rained a bit and we cancelled the shoot. We were going to have three sets of gear set up originally to do it in one take and it became too big a deal. It worked out for the best on the second shoot.
Where did the name Texas King come from?
I was adopted at 5 days old and my birth name was Austin James. I was trying to think of a name for my solo projects before we formed a band and I went with a play on words, “Austin Texas and King James”
Beer or whiskey?
Why do I have to choose?
What is your favourite place you’ve played?
We played an amazing place with The Sheepdogs in Banff once. That was probably the most beautiful place we ever played, it was surrounded by mountains. The Imperial Theatre in St John, NB. was my favourite place we played on the Big Wreck tour.
What’s next for the band? Do you have some new music coming out?
We’re going to go back to the vault. We have a bunch of stuff demoed out already and there’s some new stuff that we were writing during sound checks and stuff like that during the Big Wreck tour we just finished. We’ll get together and see what we can put together but there will definitely be some new music released in 2020 whether it’s an EP or album we don’t know yet.