King Kong Company going from strength to strength

King Kong Company, who have created one of the most original sounds in Irish music for many years, have just returned from a sell-out gig at the Camden Assembly (North London), months after their sold-out show at Dublin’s Olympia Theatre. Having played to their largest ever audience at last year’s Electric Picnic, it’s clear that the group, fronted by Mark Graham, remain firmly in the ascendant, having played to a raucous Camden audience on Saint Patrick’s Night.

King Kong Company have become a firm festival favourite across the country in recent years.  					 			| Photo: Noel Browne

King Kong Company have become a firm festival favourite across the country in recent years. | Photo: Noel Browne

Local audiences will next get to see the group perform at the All Together Now Festival in Curraghmore Estate next August, and at the time of writing, the short trip to Portlaw remains their sole pencilled-in gig for the South East in 2019.The band will also perform at Vantastival in Drogheda over the June Bank Holiday Weekend with further gigs also planned in the UK this year, including the Boom Town Festival and Nozstock in addition to the rock and pop Vestrock Festival in Hulst, situated in the Dutch province of Zeeland.
During 2018, King Kong Company also played in The Netherlands, Belgium and the Czech Republic. Speaking to The Munster Express, Tramore native Mark Graham said there were many Deise natives in the Camden audience, while some Waterfordians also travelled to London specifically for the gig. While well-known promoter Vince Power believes the group ought to base itself in the UK but Mark has cited the high costs of remaining cross-channel as the most mitigating factor against such a move.
The band, which has a “dubby electro rock” sound according to Mark, has geared itself up as a festival act as opposed to a year-round, day-to-day working group, and engage in other income earning pursuits outside of those festivals. While working on “new sounds all of the time,” no timeline on the band’s next album has yet been publicised. The group was initially founded in WIT in 1997, with Mark joining the band after it was established. During a 10-year hiatus, Mark played with several Ska bands but since the group got back together, Mark believes they’ve added new sounds, having also embraced technology into their set. “It’s not that we’re different,” said Mark. “We’re just better.”
Mark, who is also a music teacher at WIT, recently got the IMRO-supported Irish Music Industry Podcast off the ground and has described it as having “something for everyone,
with episodes tailored to appeal to music industry professionals, those hoping to get a start in the sector and those interested in sussing out what goes on behind and around music in Ireland today”. He added: “There was a slow burning realisation that many prospective music industry professionals aren’t privy to a full and frank picture of what to expect from their chosen career. It’s not just people starting out in the music business either. Many of us who’ve been doing this for years still aren’t clued in about lots of different aspects of the industry. When our band began to enjoy a modest amount of success a few years ago, we were signing contracts with management, record labels, merch companies and a host of other concerns, and we didn’t have a clue. In 2017 we turned over more than €100K in performance fees, but none of us got paid that year. In 2018 we sold out The Olympia Theatre and that gig ran at a loss due to decisions made by ourselves. We’ve been making music most of our lives, but there’s so much we don’t know about all the other stuff.”
King Kong Company (who rehearse in Waterford) is composed of Alan Aylward (Kilkenny, guitar), Mark White (Dublin, bass guitar), Colin Hoye (Westmeath, trumpet), Tom Stapleton (Tipperary, keyboard), Trish Murphy (Waterford, stage dancer), Mark himself (vocals and drums), with ‘Stress’ on lights and Matt and Andy on sound.
Mark’s Irish Music Industry podcast (supported by IMRO) is available on