As they were on the brink of achieving mainstream recognition, London based music collective KINGS OF THE CITY were struck by tragedy when their lead singer and key songwriter Danny Wilder was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. Determined to continue doing what came so naturally to him, despite his illness, Danny carried on writing and recording music with KINGS OF THE CITY, managing to complete an entire album's worth of material before he became physically unable to visit the studio or even pick up a guitar.
After a year long battle, which he fought tooth and nail until the end, Danny died on 3 October 2013.
This campaign is to ensure that Danny's legacy is preserved, to ensure that he did not throw everything he had at finishing this album for nothing, and to ensure that these deeply personal yet universally appealing songs are heard by as many people as possible.
SBTV's Ash Houghton interviewed the band and close friends shortly after Danny's death. He learns about the band's story and more importantly, how Danny was a great loss to the world.
Who are KINGS OF THE CITY?
We are a group of friends from London who grew up together and starting making music under the name KINGS OF THE CITY in 2009. In our short journey as a band, we managed to release a steady flow of singles and EPs, gaining support from BBC Radio One DJs such as Charlie Sloth and Zane Lowe. We also had the honour of supporting Maverick Sabre on his debut nationwide tour.
When Zane Lowe premiered our last single 'Please Tell Me' on 3 October 2012, things were really looking up. We were on top of the world, convinced that all our hard work was about to pay off. We had only one day to savour the moment and celebrate this milestone before we heard the news that would change everything.
On the 5th of October 2012, our lead singer, our King of Kings, Danny Wilder was diagnosed with cancer. He shared this news with us via a group Facebook message – it was the most surreal Facebook message any of us had ever received. He told us not to worry, he would overcome whatever life had to throw at him, and he would be the victor.
Suddenly our ambitions were put on hold. The only priority was Danny's full recovery. We soon found out it was even more serious than we had originally thought. Stage 4 lung cancer. We went from rehearsing and drinking beers to Googling survival rates and trying to suppress our tears. We had not yet managed to release an album, and it soon became clear that time may not be on our side.
Danny was determined to record as much as possible in-between his chemo sessions. Towards the end it became clear that he wasn't going to make it. We said our goodbyes and on 3 October 2013 – exactly a year after our first Zane Lowe radio play – he passed away peacefully.
Who was Danny Wilder?
Summing up the character and force of someone like Danny in a short passage is almost impossible. He was an artist through and through. Musician, lyricist, painter, photographer, film maker, he was completely absorbed in creativity and producing challenging, often dark works of beauty. He was selfless until the end, forever making sure others were OK, reassuring people that he would be fine, never complaining about the unimaginable pain and mental trauma he had to endure on a daily basis. Music was his driving force. He WAS going to get better so that he could continue to write songs. He wasn't going to let cancer beat him because he NEEDED to carry on making music. And so he immersed himself in recording, in sitting on his bed writing and playing guitar, rehearsing, even playing live, and refusing to break the habit of a lifetime because of his illness.
Danny was a perfectionist with strong opinions. He was scatty and forgetful, eccentric and erratic, occasionally infuriating, and almost always late. But his talent was undeniable and his passion was infectious. If you were lucky enough to have met him, you will never forget him.
Before Danny's diagnosis, we had started having meetings with different record labels. Once the news came in, we had to take a step back from the industry. As labels won't see profitability in a band in our situation, we have to be fully independent in securing a legacy for our fallen brother. Kickstarter is a great platform on which to do just that.
What do we want to do?
Danny dedicated his remaining time to making this album, and currently it's a diamond in the rough in need of polishing. We want to raise funds in order to finish the record and get it to a professional standard.
Why are we calling the album 'No Snake'?
Danny would describe his ordeal as 'riding the snake', a reference to Jim Morrison's lyrics in the song 'The End'. Whenever he felt down, we would say to him ‘keep riding the snake, the snake is long, 7 miles.’ Towards the end of his life, he wrote a song called 'No Snake', which was all about his experiences with cancer and the effects of chemotherapy. We always intended to record the song, but tragically time ran out. There is a phone demo of him singing and playing the song all the way through. We plan to incorporate this demo into a track for the album, and for that track to be the album’s eponymous song.
Below is a section of the lyrics:
6 red skinned medusas with blue snakes in their hair, burnt my golden roses and tied me to a chair, they cursed me till I feinted and sung pain in my ear, they said for every time I woke that they would reappear, but I awoke this morning alone and in no pain, I reached out for an answer, can anyone explain, the sirens had all vanished like shedding skins of scales, I got up from the old chair and cut the rope that tied me with my teeth and nails. No snake can squeeze my body, no bite can cut my skin, no song can test my young mind, or torture me and win.
'Lonesome Dog' is an unreleased track off the forthcoming 'No Snake' album.
Where is the money going to be spent?
• Mixing and Mastering
Paying for a top mix engineer and mastering suite will enable us to give you the best possible listening experience, taking the songs to a professional standard. Danny only has this one album to his name, it has to sound right.
• Physical Copies
We never had official hard copy releases of our previous work, so a large chunk of the money will go to pressing up the album on CD as well as a Limited Edition numbered double LP vinyl. Danny always spoke of music sounding better on wax.
We want to give fans an opportunity to collect KOTC merchandise, which we never managed to produce before. There will also be prints available of Danny's artwork.
• Release three singles accompanied with music videos
Traditionally an album release would be accompanied by three single releases. We want this record to be no different. We have previously managed to make some incredible music videos on a low budget and are no strangers to getting the most out of something. We also want to allocate some of the budget for promotional costs to give Danny's voice a chance to be heard.
• Tribute Show
We intend to host a one-off tribute show in which we would perform the album in its entirety, mixing elements of Danny's vocals and video footage of him at previous gigs during the live performance. This will also be filmed and released on our YouTube channel.
What are the rewards?
• Digital Download Album
• CD Album
• Vinyl Album
• 'Shark vs Snake' album poster by Ruben Dangoor
• 'No Snake' Album T-shirt
• Print of Danny's "Three Sharks" artwork
• Contributing musically on the record
• Attending the official 'No Snake' listening session with the band in London
What's going to happen after Kickstarter?
As much as we would like to continue as a band, we felt it wouldn't be right without Danny. We feel it would best to let it rest with his memory, and more importantly this record. We have also been filming a documentary since his passing, a mini-version of which has now been released. We hope to be successful with our campaign and to continue to film the story as it unfolds, including finishing and releasing the album and what happens with it after. When the time is right and there is no more story to film, we will release a full length documentary about the band.
Quotes about Danny's passing:
Risks and challenges
As we will be working to make every penny count, there will naturally be hurdles on the way. However we are 100% certain of accomplishing our objectives and releasing a great album for our friend and hero.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (40 days)