Kings Go Forth: Bringing Back Soul Bassist Andy Noble and vocalist Black Wolf are leaders of the Milwaukee-based soul band Kings Go Forth. They're also part of an international soul revival that includes Duffy and Sharon Jones and The Dap-Kings. Kings Go Forth's debut album, The Outsiders Are Back, looks to hip-hop for inspiration.
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Kings Go Forth: Bringing Back Soul

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Kings Go Forth: Bringing Back Soul

Kings Go Forth: Bringing Back Soul

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(Soundbite of song, "One Day")

GUY RAZ, host:

This is the hyperactive soul sound of Kings Go Forth, a new band straight out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We're listening to "One Day." It's the first track off their new record, "The Outsiders Are Back." It's the updated sound of the '70s. It's music that makes you want to crank up that car's stereo, have you leave the doors open and dance in the streets.

(Soundbite of song, "One Day")

KINGS GO FORTH: (Singing) In my twist of fire, they tried to call me a liar, but (unintelligible) and my life is just a joke...

RAZ: Record store owner Andy Noble founded Kings Go Forth in Milwaukee. He joins us from the studios of WNYC in New York along with singer Black Wolf. Welcome to the program.

Mr. ANDY NOBLE (Record Store Owner, Creator, Kings Go Forth): (Unintelligible)

Mr. BLACK WOLF (Singer, Kings Go Forth): (Unintelligible).

RAZ: And I should mention, you have the entire 10-piece band there with you and we'll ask you to play some songs for us in a moment.

Mr. NOBLE: Yeah, absolutely.

RAZ: But before we get there, Andy Noble, how did you get the band together? I mean, I understand at the time, two years ago you were running a record store in Milwaukee. You're sort of known in Milwaukee, I read, as a kind of an expert on soul and funk and R&B. So, how did Kings Go Forth sort of come together?

Mr. NOBLE: Black Wolf and I met through the store. He wandered in one day from a studio across the street. That was the best thing about that store is that you just talked music with people you never met before all the time. So, Black Wolf had been around in Milwaukee. And he was a social person, you know? He knew a lot of the guys in all the groups.

Most of the groups that I knew about from that time I knew from a stray 45 that I had found one time in somebody's basement. You know, those groups that made one record in their basement and, you know, put up 500 copies in 1973. And so me and him had kind of been scheming together to try to find these guys to get copies of these records. And, you know, it didn't work that well but, you know, we became friends and started working together sporadically on things. You know, basically, forming the genesis of what would become Kings Go Forth.

RAZ: You know, Black Wolf, when I first received this record from your label a couple of weeks ago, I assumed that you were famous, that you were well known, because your voice is so incredible. It's so it's just unbelievable. And then I started to read about you, and I was so intrigued that you were basically unknown outside of Milwaukee.

But before I ask you about that, I was hoping you could sing one song that really I think showcases your voice, and it's called "Fight with Love."

Mr. WOLF: What do you think, Andy?

Mr. NOBLE: Sure, we can do that.

(Soundbite of laughter)

(Soundbite of song, "Fight with Love")

Mr. WOLF: (Singing) I don't wanna be lonely, but I don't want the one that's for me. Been there, done that and I (unintelligible). Some day I may change, but now is not the time. Oh, yesterday's gone by, (unintelligible). Can't handle no more. No, baby. Gonna get into a fight with love. Fight with love.. Fight with love. Yeah.

Look and see what the future holds. Come with me and nobody knows. And you don't understand, there's a heart in your hand. I give it all. (unintelligible), say my name. Don't fight with love. Fight with love.

RAZ: That's Milwaukee band Kings Go Forth with their song "Fight with Love." And I'm joined by band members Andy Noble and Black Wolf.

And, Black Wolf, you had sort of been on the scene in Milwaukee for quite a while. I mean, you had been performing in different groups. You performed in a group called The Essentials as well.

Mr. WOLF: Well, you know, to make this all make a little more sense to me, it was kind of a long road. I was born in Port Huron, Michigan - I don't know if you all are familiar with that, and I was a gospel kid. So, by the time I met Andy I was working on a gospel project. And I had got back to singing in church where you sing so hard, you know, you turn for the holy ghost and praying to go to heaven and then you wake up out of the song and you're kind of disappointed you didn't die and go to heaven. That's how hard we used to sing there.

Before I met Andy, I was recognizing soul in the sense of it's the seedling for all music actually. And the first thing I noticed about Andy, I said, oh man, he's got a little soul, you know? I hadn't even talked to him for about 10 minutes. And I was really, you know, fascinated with that.

(Soundbite of music)

RAZ: For the first single on this record, you worked with the legendary producer Tom Moulton. He's basically the guy who invented the dance mix. And I want to play some of this song. It's called "Don't Take My Shadow."

(Soundbite of song, "Don't Take My Shadow")

Mr. WOLF: (Singing) The time is so hard, talk with me. Everybody, everyone, needs some space...

RAZ: That's Kings Go Forth with their song "Don't Take My Shadow." And I can definitely hear that sort of playing on a dance floor. And I read that you sort of had the intention, Andy Noble, to be a dance band.

Mr. NOBLE: I'm a DJ. You know, I play music and I try to make people dance. It doesn't take a lot to get Milwaukeeans to start dancing and that's how we have fun. You know, I mean, everybody does that on the weekends. I think, two: it's just nice to do something and see a physical response.

Sometimes you play music and you see the sea of folded arms and you're kind of looking at them and it's not like a communication. I can't see what they're thinking. When they're dancing it's like a conversation between the band and the audience, you know?

RAZ: All the songs on this record are so energetic and they're so alive. And I was hoping you could perform another one for us from the record. It's called "You're the One."

Mr. NOBLE: Sure, yeah, we can do that.

(Soundbite of song, "You're the One")

Mr. WOLF: (Singing) The sun is going down, and I'm (unintelligible), with the sound of my heart blinking, I can hardly stand. Finally, I see, you don't, want me. You're the one I love. You're the one, you're the one I need, baby. You're the one, you're the one, you're the one.

RAZ: That's Milwaukee band Kings Go Forth performing the song "You're the One" off their new record, "The Outsiders Are Back."

So, how do you write the music? How do you put it together?

Mr. NOBLE: It's not brain surgery. We don't try to get too clever. I mean, honestly. Like, we try to stick to themes that are classic and universal and, you know, plague or pleasure people throughout the ages. Love lost, hope, poverty, all these different things.

RAZ: Andy Noble and Black Wolf are respectively the founder and singer of the Milwaukee-based band Kings Go Forth. Their new album is called "The Outsiders are Back." They joined me from the studios of WNYC in New York City. Gentlemen, thank you so much.

Mr. WOLF: Thank you very much. Peace.

Mr. NOBLE: Thanks for having us, man. Appreciate it.

RAZ: And you can hear more from Kings Go Forth at our website,

And, gentlemen, before we let you go, can you play us out with one more jam?

Mr. NOBLE: Yeah, we're going to play, this is the second song off the album. It's called "I Don't Love You No More.

Mr. WOLF: All right.

(Soundbite of song, "I Don't Love You No More")

Mr. WOLF: (Singing) Everybody, say what they say, (unintelligible). Don't get in my way. It's got me (unintelligible). It hurt me so bad...

RAZ: And for Saturday, that's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Guy Raz. Thanks for listening and have a great night.

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