BY TARA SMITH
Aptly named A Place to Rest My Head, King Neptune’s debut EP represents a moment to breathe after two years of nonstop writing for Malverne native Ian Kenny. The four-track EP is a solid introduction blending some of his favorite styles: ‘90’s alternative, surf rock and folk with Kenny’s knack for storytelling. And the 27-year-old isn’t slowing down anytime soon — he has plans to release another EP this summer.
Before that, he’ll play the Great South Bay Music Festival on July 13. Last week, he caught up with the Advance to discuss songwriting, what being a Long Island band means and what’s in store for King Neptune.
You’re no stranger to the GSB Festival stage. Last time, though, you were in a band called NGHBRS. Why the move to King Neptune?
We were all just kind of naturally moving on. Tommy [Fleischmann] was going back to college and Jordan [Schneider] got engaged and moved to Manhattan. I took that as a sign to branch out and do my own thing, but those guys were definitely involved in the early stages transitioning to King Neptune. I’ve always written my own songs away from NGHBRS that didn’t make it or didn’t fit with our sound. [King Neptune] is my chance to bring those songs to life.
What’s the story behind the name?
It was kind of a joke within NGHBRS. We would play these alternate versions of our heavier songs and play them in like, a jazz style. Our alter ego was King Neptune and the Crustacean Army. Naming your band is impossible [laughs].
You grew up on Long Island, so you’ve seen the success of other LI bands like Brand New and GSB headliners, Taking Back Sunday. How did that impact you as an artist?
This is why I do what I do. There’s this inspiration of seeing your friends go from writing songs in a basement to actually touring and putting out records. Being 13, 14 years old at such a pivotal time for I guess what you’d call the ‘emo’ or ‘pop-punk’ world that was coming out of Long Island … it was so formative and seemed tangible, so I couldn’t not start a band.
In 2016, you released your single Black Hole. What were you up to in the time between NGHBRS’ last release in 2014 and then?
I was doing a lot of writing for myself, but also writing for other artists. During that phase I just wanted to work on my songwriting chops, so I wrote for some hip-hop projects, pop stuff and folk projects. I’d take anything and get in a room with anyone who wanted to write music.
Black Hole was actually the first song written for King Neptune, but I didn’t release it for two years. It’s a lot about timing for me.
What’s your songwriting process like?
Whether I write something awful or solid, I try to give it time every day. I try to focus on songs that are really connecting with me emotionally at that time. So lyrically, I’m a writer. I have a ton of journals. I work in Manhattan for my day job so I have an hour and change of ‘me-time,’ commuting on the train from Long Beach, to write. Melodically, I do a lot of voice memos — I’m humming into my phone throughout the day.
What would I find if I peeked in one of your journals?
Just daily inspiration. It could be me describing the person next to me on the train, or something more emotional.
For my lyrics, I’ll go through notes from yesterday, last year or five years ago and pick out lines that I like enough to string together and tell a story.
Are you working on any upcoming releases now?
I have a ton of songs ready for release, but with how people listen to music now it’d be silly for me to put out 12 songs at once — they’d just get lost in the noise. I have like, 40 songs recorded. Some of them make sense and some of them don’t, but I’m always working on the next thing. I am planning on putting out another EP in August, which will be a little more upbeat and a little cheekier. It’s got more of a fun, sing-along vibe to it.
How has listening to music changed, in your opinion?
It’s sad, but people aren’t listening to albums. Especially being a ‘new’ band, I have less people who are emotionally connected with this project, so EPs are a way for them to get to know my songs.
I would love to put out a larger body of work, but right now I think it’s important to give people a taste of what I have in my wheelhouse.
Who are you most excited to share a stage with at the GSB Festival?
Taking Back Sunday and Saves the Day. I know they probably don’t play much of [their 2003 record, In Reverie] live, but I hope they do.
Photo Caption: King Neptune will be playing the Clamshell stage at the Great South Bay Music Festival on Thursday, July 13 at 7 p.m. To keep up with the next EP release and upcoming shows, visit kingneptuneny.com. Courtesy photo.
*This story was originally published in the Long Island Advance, July 6, 2017.