Artist Name: Standing Before Kings
Song Title: Tonight
Release Date: 10/3/18
Standing Before Kings – Tonight
Standing Before Kings (or SBK) formed in 2002 in Minnesota under their previous band name Sika. Aleksey (bass), his brother Sergei (lead guitar), originally from Russia, joined Nate (rhythm guitar) to form the original line-up. Nate and Aleksey had met as teammates playing D1 tennis for the University of Minnesota, and the three of them formed the band out of Nate’s mom’s basement. Nate eventually asked his friend and former bandmate Dave to join the band on the drums. The band became complete with the addition of John as a keyboardist and programmer of electronic sounds.
From the beginning, the band set out to create a sound they had never heard before. The idea was to combine their various influences and integrate them into one style with no rules but their own collective taste. The band draws influence from such diverse sources as Muse, Radiohead, Sigur Ros, Nine Inch Nails, Depeche Mode, Rammstein, and others. So, in 2003, the band crystallized as a four-piece band, but they still lacked a lead singer. After auditioning many singers without success, Aleksey stepped forward and volunteered, despite having no previous experience as a vocalist. But through perseverance and a work ethic honed to a razor’s edge from a lifetime of tennis practice, he proved himself to the band beyond all doubt. Nate then moved to lead guitar duties in Sergei’s absence, and Aleksey continued playing bass in addition to his new vocal duties. In early 2007 the band released critically acclaimed “Phenomenon EP” featuring four songs and began playing more favorable spots locally with hopes to become a recognized band on the scene.
In 2008 the band came out with their second EP, “How To Dream With Your Eyes Open” which again was well received in the Twin Cities music scene. Further developing their sound, their musical taste and skill continued to climb with the release of their second EP. They began opening for numerous national live acts such as The Secret Machines and The Helio Sequence and found their way to #62 on the internet Cities 97 radio chart. In 2013 the band relocated from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in pursuit of better music opportunities. They played all over town as well as have done numerous west coast tours. In 2015 the band made its first mark on the international scene spending three weeks touring in Japan. In 2017 the band began working on new material with producer extraordinaire David Bottrill (Tool, Muse, Rush) as well as various other incredible producers in L.A.
In 2018, following the advice of their entertainment lawyer, the band made a hard decision to change their name from Sika to Standing Before Kings. Later that year, SBK finished mixing and mastering their new material and decided to release it as singles first of which “Tonight” is set to come out on October 3rd, 2018.
Brief us on how to impress fans during a live performance.
I think the two most important things here are: be really good at what you do and put some thoughts in the presentation. For example, we tour with two TVs and a computer that has 6 different old-school Russian cartoon compilations that we are able to set up at any venue regardless of size… we are not just a band playing songs like everybody else, there is production’s value. We also have microphone and instrument lights that further enhance our stage look. We also use moments in songs to do some fun stuff. Like in one of the songs called “Robin Williams” (Released under the previous name Sika) there’s a moment of silence between chorus and guitar solo. During our live show, all three of us literally freeze for about a minute during that stop and the crowd loves it. That’s a little strange but cool at the same time, then we go crazy into energetic solo afterward. It works perfectly!
List the names of your biggest supporters.
Too many to name; obviously our wives, extended family, and close friends. But we also have value owners who have us play at their spots and host and feed us every time we come through town. We also have people like Abimuser (Instagram name), a girl from Mexico, who has been following us for many years and helped us with our online presence.
Explain what has motivated you so far in your music career.
The desire to create something interesting musically that people relate to. That requires a great arsenal of skills that we are always in the process of expanding.
Discuss your experience as an artist.
Have fun playing and creating music >>>> take a really long time to record/mix/master and capture the idea and the mood of the song >>>>> release and gather feedback >>>>> play super fun live shows and meet people who like what you do (and some that don’t) >>>> repeat the whole process again.
Tell us the biggest mistake you have ever made in your music career.
Have untrustworthy bandmates, spending too much money on recording and PR where you can do that yourself nowadays, and not starting to sing earlier.
Discuss the story behind the song.
This song was born due to a combination of our romantic mood at that particular time, a rare rainy day in L.A., and our curiosity of what a child of Muse and Twenty One Pilots would sound like. Rainy days are super rare in L.A. and when they happen, it is our favorite time to get into the studio and create. Rocky (guitar, keys) had this piano riff and we jammed it for a while and had the song more or less put together. Then, after jamming it so long and becoming a bit delirious, I just sang the vocal melodies almost exactly as they are in the final draft. Later I wrote the lyrics to that melody. More romantic and mainstream than I usually write, but I felt like that’s what the song itself wanted to say. I just channeled it.
Tell us how to fund a music project.
Work, mostly. Being professional tennis players, we also trade tennis playing time with music industry people for recording, mixing, or mastering services.
Discuss your opinion on the safety of fans during shows and live performances.
I think it is an issue. We once attended a Metallica concert and we felt like if we were to fall on the ground, we would probably die. People get so pumped and focused on their idols that they forget their fellow fans next to them who might be in trouble. It happens all the time though.
Tell us the greatest piece of advice someone has given you as an artist.
Believe in what you do and stay true to yourself and your art.
Tell us what you will improve or change in your music.
I always work on my voice and try to expand my vocal arsenal so that we can do more interesting things. Songwriting, arrangement, and lyrics are always what we try to keep our focus on and get better at that. Catchy melodies and lyric lines are probably something we definitely can improve on as well.
Discuss vocal training and how you protect your vocal.
Vocal training is absolutely critical not only for tone production but for your voice longevity. I’ve taken voice lessons in the past, for the past 7-8 years though I’ve been expanding my vocal abilities through singing songs by other bands and artists. My current singing playlist includes SIA, Muse, Dave Matthews Band, Sting, and the Police, Keane, Sigur Ros, Incubus, Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Radiohead, Lana Del Rey, and AFI. I also just started to attempt singing with Queen, that one is really on a different level vocally so it’s a great challenge. When we do a lot of live shows on the road, I hydrate like crazy all day, and of course, during and after the show. When my voice gets really worn out, I try to have vocal rest and not speak at all.
Discuss your best mood during a performance.
Staying in the mood and in the moment of the song we are playing at that moment, and try to relate that song and lyrics to the people listening.
State your artist’s name and elaborate on it.
We have just undergone a name change and went from Sika to our current name Standing Before Kings. We had the name Sika since 2002 and weren’t aware of any other Sikas out there. However, that changed in the last few years, and there appeared 4-5 artists with the same name and it became quite difficult to find us on Spotify and other streaming platforms. Our entertainment lawyer suggested we switch our name ASAP and one day while attending SXSW Rocky (guitar, keys) came up with the name Standing Before Kings that comes from Proverbs 22:29 which says “A man who is skilled in his work will stand before kings, he will not stand before mere men.” However, that’s where it gets interesting. On a first read, it seems like we claim (at least on our name) that we are an amazingly skillful band that should be playing huge venues (one day hopefully), but that’s not how we see it. We feel very so privileged just to perform our music for people that to us our fans are our kings and our queens. So, every time we perform, we stand before kings.
List your best artists with reasons.
Tool: incredible out-of-the-box musicians with some of the most unique musical ideas out there. Very creative in terms of time signatures, melodies, lyrics, and song arrangements.
Radiohead: very nuanced, creative, and yet very accessible. A very powerful combination for critical acclaim as well as public respect and popularity.
Muse: Great musicianship and songwriting. Great vocals and interesting instrumental tones and arrangements.
Sigur Ros: one-of-a-kind band with amazing musicality and their own unique mood and ideas.
Queen: Powerhouse vocals and arrangement. Ability to cross and combine genres seamlessly.
Discuss your existence as an artist.
It’s a roller coaster between high highs and low lows. From fun creating and performing music to dealing with the tedious and expensive recording processes. Or just spending time on a business side of things that are full of so-called “critics” and experts who probably can’t play an Em chord on a guitar.
Tell us the greatest problem you think is facing society and the solution.
Globally I think it’s the inability for nations to work on a win-win premise. It’s more dominance of the strongest and bullying on the weaker. In the US, where we live currently, there are serious issues with younger people who are indoctrinated to be their own gods and their inability to deal with anything that they disagree with. They are the future of this country and it’s quite troubling, especially because they share views and goals with the whole major political party. Not to mention, technology has changed people into impersonal button-pushing machines who are unable to communicate face to face. Most mainstream news are complete trash! The solution to most of these problems is a proper education system that unfortunately is a snake pit of anti-American ideologues. Not sure if these are the biggest issues, but the ones I feel very strongly about
Discuss your songwriting and recording.
We start with a riff that we are excited about. Luckily we have plenty to choose from, my voice memos on iPhone have hundreds and hundreds of ideas. We then try to fill in the missing parts verse, chorus, or bridge. In doing that we try to insert cool creative touches that would take the listener on a journey. I am doing all that we experiment with different arrangements and sounds, which frequently leads the song in a totally different direction. While we are working the music out, I noodle with some vocal melodies and lyrics and if we like something, we quickly record it so we don’t forget it. When the music is completed, I take it and fill in all the gaps in vocal melodies and lyrics frequently when walking my 100lbs pit bull around our neighborhood or sitting in L.A. traffic. I then show it to the rest of the band, if they like it, we are ready to record!