STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
It’s 4 a.m. in Brisbane, Australia.
After a night out at the pub during one of their tour off-days, instead of going to bed, the Costa Mesa, Calif. band Common Kings are on the phone talking about their first-ever headlining show in Philadelphia at World Cafe Live March 6.
Down under in February, it’s the dog days of summer. “It’s hot as hell” went bassist Ivan “Uncle Lui” Kirimaua’s weather report.
“Alooh-ha,” says lead singer J.R. King when asked which of the guys comes from Hawaii.
The band’s multicultural makeup certainly is interesting, and plays a role in shaping their reggae- and R&B-influenced, radio-friendly pop sound. Kirimaua’s heritage is Fiji/Kiribati, guitarist Taumata “T. Grey” Grey is originally from Samoa and drummer Jerome “Rome” Taito’s family tree can be traced to Tonga. “Culturally speaking, we love to have a good time. We’re easy going,” said Kirimaua.
They all agreed that being a California-based band also has something to do with their feel-good sound.
According to the World Cafe Live website, “the Kings’ individual musical journeys were inspired by artists like Musiq Soulchild, Raphael Saadiq, D’Angelo, Van Morrison, Stevie Wonder, George Benson, Jim Croce, Michael Jackson, The Who, Led Zeppelin, Gypsy Kings, Earth Wind & Fire, Maroon 5 and many traditional artists from the islands.”
Their 2014 single “Before You Go” features singer Meghan Trainor, who wrote the song for the band. For Kirimaua, it’s his favorite Common Kings song to play live, along with new track “No Other Love.”
“Congratulations, Meghan, on the (Best New Artist) Grammy!,” someone chimes in.
With three EPs — “#WeOnTour Soundtrack,” “Summer Anthems” and “Hits and Mrs.” — to their credit, the band has also toured and/or recorded with Justin Timberlake and Fifth Harmony (the band plays on their hit “Worth It”). “They’re all divas,” joked Kirimaua.
When asked about the upcoming first full-length album by Common Kings, he said: “It’s pretty much done.” At www.commonkings.com, fans have a chance to pre-order, with bonus options that include a digital download of the album and access to special content, like videos, behind-the-scenes photos, a Skype/Facetime social and more.
The last time the Kings were in this area, it was part of a multiple-act concert put on by Northfield, N.J. radio station SoJo 104.9. But what can we expect from their live act, now that they’ve been coronated from princes to kings? “Five guys that can move a lot of stage. We have a high energy show … a cross between punk, reggae and R&B. Be ready to have a good time,” said Kirimaua.
IF YOU GO
What: Common Kings with opener Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds.
When: 8 p.m. March 6.
Where: World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
Tickets: $18 in advance, $20 at the door.
Info.: Call (215) 222-1400 or go to www.worldcafelive.com.