Eddie Veliz was “born in East LA,” the area infamously name checked by Cheech & Chong in song. As Veliz explains in his SoCal vernacular, in his ‘hood, kids “were either in a thrash metal band, a super scum punk band, or listening to regional mariachi music. Or maybe a hip-hop kid. We only had (alt radio giant) KROQ, or KLOS, where you’d constantly be listening to ‘Jungle Love’ by Steve Miller Band.” Eddie’s inspiration came from further East–Birmingham, England, birthplace of Black Sabbath. So it makes perfect sense that Kyng’s musical mantra is “What would Tony Iommi do?” in homage to Sabbath’s legendary axeman.
Still, growing up in the musical mecca of Los Angeles provided ample fodder, and actually imbued Veliz with an “I can do better than that” intent once he started hitting the Whisky, Roxy, and Viper Room as a teen in the mid ’90s. “I was super-stoked to be there,” he remembers, “but I’d see the bands who were playing and they were fucking shitty. They sucked.”
See also: The 10 Best Metal Albums of 2013
The burgeoning rocker locked himself in a room “played guitar, and kept writing and writing until I had some good songs.” A fan of Fireball Ministry and digging Cali “desert scene” bands like Fu Manchu and Queens of the Stone Age (not to mention Nirvana, Metallica, Jackie Wilson and Jethro Tull), Veliz formed Kyng in 2008 with Pepe Clarke (drums) and Tony Castaneda (bass, backing vocals). Their sound, in a nutshell: “hard rock, cusp of metal and rock ‘n’ roll; we wanted to teeter this line of rock ‘n’ roll and hard, heavy stuff.”
On 2014’s Burn the Serum, their second album, they do just that. Clearly influenced by late ’60s and early ’70s rock, Eddie furthers worshipfully… “Tony Iommi is God–and so are Geezer Butler and Bill Ward. I typically rip off early ’70s Iommi; Our ‘Electric Halo’ song was a nod to the ’80s Iommi, Dio-style Sabbath.” While Kyng aren’t yet giving Steve Miller a run for his money on the radio, live shows are drawing raves, and Veliz says, “I know everyone [at the label] is really trying [to get us airplay] and we appreciate it. We have good songs, but are they radio songs? If it was really pressed, maybe ‘Electric Halo.’ It’s a head-bobber, but we’re not used to playing songs like that. We dig ‘In the Land of Pigs,’ and the heavier stuff, but we’ll go with the flow and see where we fit in.”
They fit in between Monster Magnet and Clutch, and have toured with The Sword, Clutch, Trivium and Megadeth. The heady trio are presently jamming econo in a van to gigs and festivals including Rocklahoma and Rock on the Range. In a tone that’s at once slightly bitter but fervent, Veliz concludes, “We’re still doing the ‘give the monkey a nickel’ song and dance.’ But we’re doing what we can and we’re happy. We work REALLY hard, is all I’m saying,” he concludes. “I’m not gonna say we’re the hardest working band out there, but we’re pretty damn close.”
Kyng play Tuesday, May 6, at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room with Crobot, Anti-Mortem and Brand of Julez, 7 p.m.. $10. Ages 19 +.