Musicians get their inspiration from the funniest places. In the case of Ben Nicholls, Richard Warren and Evan Jenkins, theirs has arisen from the history of British whaling in the South Seas, and they've joined forces to set some remarkable nautical tales to music under the monicker Kings of the South Seas.
This trio of artists have quite a back catalogue between them, having worked with Seth Lakeman, Echoboy, Spiritualized and Mark Lanegan among others. This month they unveil a boundary-straddling folk album inspired by the adventures of 19th Century British whalers in the South Seas, and it'll be getting a launch in London on 18 November at Cecil Sharp House in Camden.
The epic journeys in search of whales that took place between Britain and the South Pacific make for extraordinary reading, involving the likes of Commander Frederick Coffin of the Syren, who brought 346 tonnes of sperm whale oil back to London in 1822. That's a lot of whale oil. The stories are not for the faint hearted, with disasters befalling crews and of course brutality against whales that would be regarded by many as completely unacceptable two centuries later.
The resulting Kings of the South Seas album is a mesmerising affair, delving into the lives of the ‘whale men’ and their culture. Thankfully we've no need to scrabble around for words to describe what all this actually sounds like, as the band have put together a 'making of' video for it including interviews with band member Ben and the record's producer, John Parish. You can watch the teaser below.
And they've also revealed a particularly jaunty track from the record, Eight Bells, which has us reaching for the phrase ‘the full Pugwash’, and you can listen to that for yourself below.
If whale-based yarns and traditional music take your fancy, you'll be interested in the special gig at Cecil Sharp House. The night is opened by acclaimed author Philip Hoare, winner of the Samuel Johnson Prize for his tale of whale obsession, Leviathan, so he's probably just the man for a talk on man's relationship with the huge sea beasts. The band's performance is accompanied by a film of found footage created by Bafta-nominated documentary maker Adam Clitheroe.
The gig is happening the day after the album is released on the D.Wink label, so you'll have 24 hours to acclimatise yourself to the sounds of the sea before the show.
The Kings of the South Seas album launch takes place at Cecil Sharp House in Camden on 18 November, and tickets are available via the English Folk Dance and Song Society website. The album is released on 17 November and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.