When The King Blues released their first EP in 2004 they became the darlings of the UK anti-war movement. Now, four albums, a disbanding and one solo career later, they are back on the road preaching their brand of resistance with a new album, The Gospel Truth. Murray Jones speaks to frontman Jonny ‘Itch’ Fox ahead of the band’s upcoming appearance at the Tunbridge Wells Forum.

PUNK AND POETRY ‘Itch’ (centre) with The King Blues

IT WOULD be fair to say that this band may not be on the playlist of your archetypal Tunbridge Wellian.

Fusing ska, folk, hip hop and punk into their anarchistic East London protest songs, The King Blues don’t care where you are from, they are simply happy to bring out everyone’s inner rebel.

“Live shows always bring people together from different backgrounds and tastes. You’ve got the metal guys, the hip hop kids, the punks – everyone. It’s not cliquey at all and I love that,” says lyricist and lead singer Jonny Fox, known by friends and fans as ‘Itch’.

After a raft of personnel changes over the years, the band features guitarists Dean Ashton and Ben Bridges, bassist Jack Emmings and drummer Andrew Mckenzie.

“In the wider world people feel embarrassed to talk about believing in peace and love. But at our gigs you can be yourself,” he adds.

With their fifth album, The Gospel Truth, the band have sought to bring that sense of honesty and true identity to the mix, with Itch focusing on his personal philosophy in the face of external struggles.

“If you don’t want to change the world then why are you doing it? I know people laugh at us and they still do but I’m OK with that, that cynicism drives us.”

“We didn’t want to just write ten songs about Donald Trump, you know? It’s definitely still political but it’s more of a personal and philosophical record.

“We asked fans to send in voice clips to us, explaining about the personal journey they had been on in the last few years and we’ve sampled them in some of the songs.

“The more open and vulnerable people were, the more universal their stories felt,” he said, adding that there had been a general consensus that 2016 had been ‘a terrible and dark year,” says Itch.

“We are living in a weird culture. Everyone is putting on a front so they feel anxious because they are comparing themselves to other people’s fronts. We are more connected than ever but those genuine connections seem few and far between.”

One way the band try to bring people together is through collective acts of altruism and since reforming in 2015, after temporarily splitting in 2012, they have made food drives a regular fixture of their gigs, encouraging fans to contribute non-perishable donations which they then deliver to local food banks or homeless shelters.

“It’s the music venues who are the ones who put their neck on the lines, it doesn’t take us much effort. If someone chucks a tin of beans at my head then their insurance will be screwed.”

Reflecting on 13 years since The King Blues formed, Itch comments: “Looking back, I still love that first album. We were just young kids and we genuinely thought we could change the world with rock and roll.

“We had that earnest belief and as naïve as that sounds I think it made our music pure.

“If you don’t want to change the world then why are you doing it? I know people laugh at us and they still do but I’m OK with that, that cynicism drives us.”

The King Blues will play The Tunbridge Wells Forum on Sunday, April 30. For tickets (£12), see www.twforum.co.uk