Locals: Former rock 'n' roll photographer Steven King enjoying life on other side of the stage
For years, Steven King labored on the other side of the stage, touring alongside bands like Cadaver Dogs and Foxy Shazam as an in-house cameraman.
"I was a photographer … and some of the dudes I was taking photos of started doing well, so occasionally they'd throw me a bone and let me come out on the road to shoot pictures," said King, 21, who performs at Ace of Cups on Thursday, March 12. "Meanwhile, I still want to play music more than anything. So I'm on the road, and it's all fun and good, but every night I'm taking pictures of these bands and I'm not up there on the stage. The stages are getting bigger, and maybe I'm making a little more money, but it's still not what I'm supposed to be doing."
In June 2013, King finally cast aside his camera and picked up a guitar, setting off alone on a lengthy West Coast solo tour. Shortly thereafter, he recorded his debut EP, Tamerak, a rowdy rock 'n' roll-steeped affair that opens with the musician swigging whiskey and includes an assist from Cadaver Dogs' Mat Franklin and Lex Vegas (events too closely aligned to be considered a coincidence).
For his full-length debut, Shakin' in My Boots, which surfaced in January, King slowed things down, incorporating elements of psychedelic country and dusty Americana. It's a shift further reflected in the lyrics, which dwell on broken relationships ("Best of luck surviving me," he offers on one tune) and a deep-seated wanderlust. "There was a time when the wild world would take me," he sings atop a jangly acoustic strum on "Jewelry," "East or south or anywhere or anywhere as long as it excited me."
"I've always traveled a ton," said King, who laid the album to tape over the course of three months at the end of 2014 in studios in Cincinnati (a professional space helmed by Foxy Shazam guitarist Loren Turner) and rural Loudonville (a comparatively rustic wooden room awash in creaks and groans that haunt the recording). "I've seen a lot of bands in a lot of other places start to do well at home, and that gets really comfortable. I don't want that. Moving all the time is what keeps me alive and keeps me going, and I don't think that will ever change."
Ace of Cups
8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 12
2619 N. High St., Old North
ALSO PLAYING: Pleasant Tense, Light We Loom, The Original Soundtrack