Interview with PawnShop kings

PawnShop kings are the brothers Scott and Joel Owen who create their own style of roots Americana which blends in some rock, gospel, country and pop. This unique sound came to my attention in 2014 when I listened to their ‘PSk’ EP. This release showcased this great combination of genres but it was their vocal talents that stole the show for me. The way they harmonise and sing individually is amazing to listen to. This led to me discovering their previous releases which include ‘Locksley’, ‘Pawnshop kings’, ‘Gospel, ‘Beach and Bayou’. As their EP ‘PSk’ sounded so good it was featured on my site which you can read about HERE.

Scott and Joel are now back with their latest EP ‘Give Love, Vol 1’ and I couldn’t wait to hear what they had created. Before I talk about the new release I want to share a chat I had with the guys. We talked about the highs/lows of recording the EP, their future plans for ‘Give Love, Vol 2’ and a little more. This is what they had to say:

What got you both into music and is there a story behind the name Pawnshop Kings?

Scott: The short story about the band name is that we had very little money in the early days of “professional music” and shopped exclusively in second-hand stores. There was no eBay then. Just PRE-bay and you had to go out and find the diamonds in the rough. We were, by our own account, kings of the pawn shops.

Over time the name has come to embody our philosophy and belief that people depend on second chances in this life. A pawn shop is built on the concept of needing a second chance. We want our music to speak into life’s highs and lows, understanding that we are better when we lift each other up and press on together. We are better when we give love.

You have an impressive collection of releases, what is your secret of writing songs to a continuous high standard?

Scott: I think the high standard we set has been both a blessing and a curse. In trying to keep the quality as high as possible, we have inevitably put out fewer records over the last ten years. The upside is that I still like everything we have put out. I don’t cringe even on the things I would love to go back and change

Talking about writing songs, you have released your new EP ‘Give Love, Vol 1’. Can you tell us about the high and lows of working on the EP and how you felt listening to the final version of it?

Joel: Oh man, there weren’t too many lows this time around! We played through some tension on the last EP (story of our life), so we wanted to keep things simple and just play. Like we have since we were kids. Almost all the bass, drums, our two guitars & vocals, and a majority of the steel were done in one room with little to no separation between any of the instruments. You’re forced to live with what you get, and we’ll probably get a little more sophisticated next time, but there’s an energy on the record we’ve never had before. Normally, you get to the end here, and you’ve heard the tunes probably more than 100 times. You need a break. But I love so much of what’s going on in these songs, the performances from those days with some of our favorite players, that I still want to hear it. If you knew me, you’d know how big of a deal that is.

From the release, do you have a favourite song and why?

Scott: “Heart of a Sinner” and “Coming Home” and they were the last 2 we recorded for Vol. I. We both sensed the EP wasn’t ready, and then these came and brought the whole thing together. We pulled some of the melody & lyric of “Heart of a Sinner” from an old one waiting around and then went nuts with it! “Coming Home” came from a late idea that we ran with and had a blast pulling out images like the station wagon mom used to drive. Both songs were very collaborative efforts between the two of us and hold a cool balance of the themes we draw from: Life, Love, God, Hope, and Pain.

I see you plan to have another EP for later in the year. Can you tell us more about that and what other goals you have for your music?

Joel: Yep, Give Love, Vol. II will follow close behind this one. 3 months maybe? The whole thing took shape after we started recording. We set out for anywhere between 5-10 songs and ended up with 14, which is too long for a full length, unless you’re Ryan Adams, and not long enough for a double album (we would never!). Seems like no one has time for full lengths anymore, so we decided to split the higher tempos from the lower ones, like playlists, into 2 EPs.

And then after Vol. II we want to get right into another project we’ve talked about doing in one of the last few remaining old studios in L.A. Pretty excited about that one. Anything can happen, and we’re gonna do whatever we can to make sure it does.

We’re in such a great spot with our music right now. Been doing PawnShop kings for a long time, and it feels like we’re in the groove of what we’re supposed to be doing. How cool is that? Not only are we not slowing down, but we’ve more resonance than ever. We’re even starting a side project together at the moment haha. Add that to the 5 kids under 6 we have between the two of us, and you can see life is full. Rewarding and full.

‘Give Love, Vol 1’ is yet another collection of songs which showcase the songwriting and vocals talents that Scott and Joel have to offer. Each of the 8 tracks have their own sound which helps to give this release an impressive ever-changing landscape. For example, ‘Sound of your Name’ (feat. Deana Carte) has a country soul while ‘Heart of a Sinner’ has more of a funkier vibe to it. With so much to offer, there is something for everyone to be found here.

With an impressive depth in sound you need the right lyrics and delivery to match, this box is ticked with each song. As I mentioned earlier, I am a huge fan of vocal side that the brothers offer. They seem to genuinely connect to the their words and share the right level of emotion to reflect its content. ‘Give Love’ and my overall favourite ‘Call my Name’ show off exactly how good Scott and Joel can sing. They have depth, great range and more importantly soul when they perform.

Head over to their Soundcloud page to listen to ‘Give Love, Vol 1’ in full and understand why this EP needs to be part of your collection. If you agree and want to purchase a copy then you can find it at iTunes, Amazon or grab a CD from one of their shows. If you want to listen to more from PawnShop kings then you can listen to them at their Soundcloud and Bandcamp pages.

I am so glad that Scott and Joel have no plans of slowing down and I can’t wait to hear what ‘Give Love, Vol 2’ has to offer. As I know this EP will not disappoint, you can expect to read all about it here when it is released. I can’t wait to hear more about the new project but Joel has me curious as he also used the words ‘side project’ so I’m looking forward to learning more about that. To find out more about the world of PawnShop kings including upcoming shows then visit PawnShopkings.com or their social media sites at Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Don’t forget, independent and unsigned artists need the support of their fans so they can continue to do what they love; create music. I’ll be doing what I can to spread the word about PawnShop kings and if you are a fan, then you should do the same TODAY!