King’s X entered the hard rock scene with its debut album “Out of the Silent Planet” (1988) and immediately faced an uphill battle.
The Texas-based trio – Jerry Gaskill (drums), Ty Tabor (guitars) and Doug Pinnick (bass), and all on vocals – unceremoniously found itself lumped into many subgenres: funk, progressive metal and soul, influenced by gospel, British bands and the blues. The musicians tackled topics from spiritual to nonsensical as they toiled as a club underground act.
The band’s second release was the highly acclaimed “Gretchen Goes to Nebraska” (1989), and the success of the hard-rocking single “Over My Head” propelled King’s X into a higher profile, including as an opening act for arena tours and festivals.
Although early on marketed largely as a Christian act – an idea from the band’s early manager, Sam Taylor – the group never felt right using the moniker.
“In the beginning, we were very dedicated Christians,” said Pinnick, “but we got tired of the constant expectations from organizations.
“If anything, the music I was writing at any given time was about what I’m doing here, and I certainly wasn’t trying to tell anybody how to live,” he said. “I welcome any and all religions and encourage all our fans to help write their own story.”
Pinnick internally struggled for years and by 2000 had announced that he was homosexual. Christian stores pulled the band’s catalog.
“When I look back, I didn’t admit to myself how I felt,” Pinnick said in a recent interview. “It wasn’t until I was actually in my 40s that I did it.”
Health scares also complicate the trio’s story.
“Jerry had two heart attacks since 2012,” said Pinnick, “and I had two hernia operations, but we’re fine now, thankfully. We’re like teenagers again, and we’re ready to rock.”
The group’s touring schedule isn’t as ambitious as during the formative years, as each of the musicians has had solo and side projects.
“We’re all spread out these days since Ty lives in Kansas, Jerry lives in New Jersey and I live in L.A.,” Pinnick said. “Right now, we just do weekends and have this short run of shows. We realized very early on we can’t make a living touring in a tour bus.”
Sacramento-area fans are rejoicing, given the Kings of the Coast Tour is only visiting eight cities.
Although King’s X’s 12th and most recent album, “XV,” was released in 2008, the group isn’t in a hurry to write its next chapter.
“We have a lot of songs to choose from (for performances), and that’s probably why we haven’t done a record in so long,” Pinnick said. “In a way, we’ve kind of pulled all the tricks out of our bag.
“To this day, we’re perceived by our fans and outsiders as some huge thing even though we never had a really big hit. I just think we weren’t considered a good flavor so we were left on the shelf,” he said.