Local Sounds: King Niko to release new album on March 16

Local sounds • Quintet will release new album on March 16.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In October 2011, the headliner of the X96 Big Ass Show was Panic! At the Disco.

Right before the show, lead singer Brendon Urie had to be hospitalized for a temporary but serious matter.

Instead of canceling the gig, the rest of Panic! At the Disco performed, with different singers filling in for Urie. Tyler Glenn of the now-world-famous Neon Trees was one of those fill-in singers; so was Ransom Wydner, the frontman for local band King Niko.

Since forming in 2009, the Salt Lake City quintet known for its dance rock has had similar brushes with fame, opening for Loverboy, Rooney, Say Anything, 30 Seconds To Mars, Switchfoot, Anberlin and Grouplove.

The band's highly anticipated new album will be released at an Urban Lounge show on March 16.

Besides Wydner, the band includes Benjamin Moffat on guitar, Reid Laitinen on keys, Tim Rawcliffe on bass and Zachary Sloan on drums.

They recently answered some questions about their inspirations, musical training and jokes they've heard lately.

What musical training have you had?

Moffat • I took some jazz theory classes in college. However, all my real chops were learned from the school of hard knocks.

Wydner • I've been singing my whole life. As a kid, my dad made us kids — me, my brother and sister — sing songs in different languages for prospective investors in his translation company. My big sister told me to try singing Jackson 5 when I was 9, and I started writing terrible songs at about 10. Besides choir classes, I've had no formal training. It's a band joke that I really don't know anything at all about music — I just sing.

What inspires you?

Wydner • I'm inspired by surprise and the unexpected. That's what I wanna sing about — stuff that you maybe hadn't considered. I'm also inspired by patriotism, excellent magic tricks and animals who are friends, so I suppose I inspire easily.

Laitinen • My main inspiration is the guy from [Nebraska rock band] The Faint. After seeing them for my first time, I thought, "I gotta get a synthesizer."

Rawcliffe • I'm inspired by great musicians and good songwriting. It makes you think, "I wanna do some of that too!"

What is the most musical thing in the world?

Moffat • Michael Jackson.

Wydner • Struggle. Whether it's about winning or losing, the fight is what we like and the best music of any sort is about some kind of struggle.

What are some band highlights?

Moffat • Getting our songs played on X96, meeting Jared Leto, chilling with the dudes in Royal Bliss, and most important, getting to hang out and play music with my favorite bros in the entire world.

Wydner • Jared Leto wandering into our green room in his sleeping clothes; headlining the Arts Fest; the mechanical bull and afterparty in Boise following our Knitting Factory show; the first time hearing ourselves on radio; talking Latin and music with Doug Fabrizio on RadioWest; dozens of hotel room shenanigans with my good friends and bandmates; singing with Panic! At The Disco.

What does your upcoming album say about you?

Moffat • That we like disco just as much as we do rock. I also think Ransom's lyrics are unlike anything else other bands are doing. We're not afraid to tell the story of the universe using the 3:30 pop song formula.

Wydner • We try not to take ourselves too seriously. I'd say that's the theme. Everything's a bit off, a smidge strange, a little weird. There's a place for serious, sure, but we're at our best a little weird and having lots of fun.

What is the funniest joke you've heard lately?

Moffat • Tim and Ransom are the funniest dudes on the planet. Every time we hang out, or practice, they make up these stupid songs about food. I would say their food parody songs are the funniest things I've heard lately.

Wydner • King Niko only knows a handful of jokes fit to print. RenĂ© Descartes walks into a bar. Bartender asks, "Can I get you anything?" Descartes says, "I think not," and vanishes.


Twitter: @davidburger —

King Niko CD Release show

With • Hang Time and Cathy Foy

When • Saturday, March 16, at 9 p.m.

Where • Urban Lounge, 241 S. 500 East, Salt Lake City

Admssion • Free

Info • Show will also stream live at gigviz.com