KING’S X (1988–PRESENT). Doug Pinnick (bass/lead vocals), Ty Tabor (guitar/ vocals), Jerry Gaskill (drums/vocals).
Perhaps the most criminally overlooked and underappreciated (though widely respected in critical and musical circles) rock band in the past twenty years, King’s X have had a long and productive, if under-heralded, career. Playing finely crafted rock that has evolved into more of a metal style, from its hard rock origins, the band has long blended heavy yet uniquely melodic guitar-based rock with rich, Beatlesque three-part harmonies, in songs that often feature lyrics that come from a spiritual perspective. A powerhouse live act, the band’s power trio format has done nothing to limit its live sound, with all three members singing harmony, and the band being renowned for their live performances.
Bassist/lead vocalist Doug Pinnick and drummer/vocalist Jerry Gaskill first came together when the two played in the Christian rock group Petra in the late seventies. Hooking up with guitarist/vocalist Ty Tabor, the three played on the Missouri bar scene in a cover band, the Edge, before changing their name to Sneak Preview, and working on all original material, releasing an independent, self-titled album in 1983.
Relocating to Houston, Texas, the band caught the attention of ZZ Top video producer Sam Taylor, who took the band under his wing, helping them to get a contract with Megaforce Records and suggesting the name change to King’s X.
Releasing their debut album, Out of the Silent Planet, in 1988, the band received critical praise, but the album seemed too diverse for immediate mainstream acceptance. Gretchen Goes to Nebraska, released the next year, was more successful, with the song “Over My Head” receiving some MTV airplay. The album also helped to build the band’s reputation among fellow musicians, as well as critics, a reputation that the band has continued to enjoy ever since.
In 1990, the band released Faith Hope Love whose single “It’s Love” received heavy airplay on MTV, and the band went out on tours with both AC/DC and Living Colour. After their followup King’s X in 1992, the band and manager Taylor parted ways.
With the release of Dogman, produced by uber-producer Brendan O’Brien in 1994, the band adopted a heavier sound, featuring detuned guitars. The sound worked well for the band and in many ways complemented their previous approach; while the album has a metal tinge, it also fit in well with the grunge sound that, was then at its peak. Featuring such standout tracks as “Flies and Blue Skies,” “Complain,” and the title track, the album did relatively well, cracking the top 100. However, Atlantic was disappointed with sales, and when the band’s followup Ear Candy did no better, the band left the label.
Returning to smaller labels (beginning with Metal Blade in 1998), the band has since continued to release standout material and tour regularly. Most recently, the band has collaborated with famed producer Michael Wagener on a pair of releases, 2005’s Ogre Tones, which was a return to form for the band, and XV in 2008.
Discography: Out of the Silent Planet (Megaforce, 1988); Gretchen Goes to Nebraska (Megaforce, 1989); Faith Hope Love (Megaforce, 1990); King’s X (Atlantic, 1992); Dogman (Atlantic, 1994); Ear Candy (Atlantic, 1996); Best of King’s X (Atlantic, 1997); Tape Head (Metal Blade, 1998); Please Come Home… Mr. Bulbous (Metal Blade, 2000); Manic Moonlight (Metal Blade, 2001); Black Like Sunday (Metal Blade, 2003); Live All Over the Place (Metal Blade, 2004); Ogre Tones (Inside Out Music, 2005); Go Tell Somebody (Avalon, 2008); XV (Inside/Out, 2008);