Often, the most impactful music is the type that harnesses deep emotion. It allows fans and listeners to step inside the mind of the artist and experience everything they were going through at that moment. On the Kings of the City's final album, No Snake, you can hear the pain which lead singer, Danny Wilder, went through during the recording process. Early on, you can hear elements of joy and happiness then as the album reaches the midway point, around the time when Danny was diagnosed cancer, listeners can hear the pain which was felt.

Lead singer, Danny Wilder, died as a result of lung cancer on October 3rd, 2013 and ever since then, the band has worked tirelessly to ensure his legacy will leave a mark on all those who listen to No Snake. The decision to make No Snake the final album and act didn't come easily, but to the rest of the group, it seemed the only option.

In Shoreditch's dimly-lit Juno bar, I sat down with Ali Bazrcar and Pedram Memariam of Kings of the City as they reflected on the band's journey, recording the final album and what it was like knowing Danny.

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How have you guys been?

Ali: Yeah yeah cool man, just been working hard non-stop to get this album done and really trying hard to promote it as much as possible and get the story out. Obviously due to the nature of the project and the fact that we were relatively unknown at the time of Danny's passing, it's been difficult.

Ped: An uphill struggle.

Ali: Yeah an uphill struggle, a true underdog story I guess. We put the album out for stream on Friday and it's been getting good response from the fans and it's touched a lot of people already. That's the main reason why we did it.

Taking it back to the beginning, so how did the band come together?

Ali: Danny, the singer who passed, I met him when I was fourteen at a Busta Rhymes concert. He was standing behind me and there was a support act on and they were pretty crap. He saying they should have someone like Klashnekoff on. This was like 2003-2004 and I turned around and was like 'oh yeah you like Klashnekoff' and this was in a big arena full of 10,000 people. We sparked a conversation and I told him that I did music then I took his number. I'd recorded with Danny for a good six or seven years before we even started the Kings of the City project. The rest of the boys we went to school with and we brought everyone together. It all happened from there.

Where were you playing back in the early days?

Ali: I started in the UK Hip-Hop scene and so did Danny, he was a rapper to start with. He used to spit pretty hard bars, he grew up on Eminem, Method Man and Redman. I kind of went off into the grime scene as I grew up in East London. He then joined an indie band then we came back together and mixed it all up. Originally, Kings of the City was more grime-like sounds and eventually we developed into our own kind of thing.

So when did Kings of the City start?

Ali: It started in 2010 and in 2011 we released a song called 'Make Me Worse', which was our first big underground song. Then at the end of 2011, we got asked to go on tour with Maverick Sabre and then we came back off tour. In 2012, we started getting support from Zane Lowe on Radio 1 and just after that happened, Danny got diagnosed with cancer so everything stopped. Out of nowhere we got the news and naturally everything came to a halt after that.

What happened next in terms of the band, did you guys stop completely?

Ali: I don't think we discussed that whilst Danny was alive.

Ped: Mostly because the priority was him.

Ali: Yeah it's funny because we were getting to stages where we were having arguments and disagreements on what direction we should take, down to little things such as what to wear. All that stupid shit that all became insignificant when death comes into play. In terms of disbanding we never discussed that and it was only after he passed. We considered whether it would be right to go on, but it just didn't feel right. So we just decided to finish this album which wasn't his dying wish but he really did push to record all of these songs and towards the end, he found it difficult.

So he still had heavily involvement including the final touches?

Ali: All of the songs were down and he sings all the choruses and played the majority of the guitars. The production side took the longest and that's what I deal with, but it was all done pretty much. After it was recorded, we didn't do anything for about a year.

Ped: We were too devastated.

What made you go down the crowdfunding avenue?

Ali: It's not about doing it half-arsed. The reality is that you need money to do anything and it was a good amount of money but in the grand scheme of things, it wasn't like a record label backed it. Funnily enough, just as he got diagnosed, we were sitting with labels and everything but as soon as they found out Danny had cancer, no one was interested. Obviously, no one wants to invest in death.

Ped: It's too much of a gamble considering we weren't established. When we got those first couple of plays from Zane Lowe it was the greatest thing ever because he's such a respected individual. I used to see him at gigs when I was thirteen so to hear him talk about us lifted our spirits.

When was it you found out about Danny's diagnosis?

Ali: It wasn't cancer straight away. We had a gig at Jazz Cafe which we had to cancel, but he told us that there was something seriously wrong with him. Originally he thought it was tuberculosis or something. He told us in a Facebook group chat which was really weird. Danny was a really interesting and weird guy and you could never compare him to anyone else. I guess that was the easiest way for him to tell us because how do you tell your boys that sort of thing.

Ped: It was very hard for him.

What was Danny like as a friend and bandmate?

Ped: He was the nicest guy. You know how no one likes to be called nice and it's not always a compliment but was genuinely this great human being. Always put people ahead of himself and always the peacemaker when band members were arguing. Super talented and you'd think that someone like him would have an ego.

Ali: He did and he was cocky. He knew he was the shit.

Ped: Yeah and I know people not as talented but ten times as cocky and arrogant.

Ali: Why have you got to talk about me, I'm sitting right here [laughs].

Ped: [laughs] Over to you, Ali.

Ali: A true gentlemen and if anyone really spent enough time to listen to the stuff he's done, he genuinely had talent. The hardest thing is that he never got to reach his potential

Listening to the album you can definitely hear that talent and potential. How would you describe the album?

Ali: The album's definitely a journey and it took a long time to get it right. Some of the songs we started just before he got diagnosed and in the beginning he believed he was going to beat it. After five months of chemo, we did a show at Jazz Cafe and we all thought he'd beat it. The album starts off uptempo, you could play it at a barbeque on a hot summers day but then halfway through it turns dark. For me, the second half of the album is the real pain and you can feel it. Some of the songs were written whilst Danny knew that his future was bleak and he's singing it, he could barely stand up at some points. There's a lot of pain in this album. It's a journey of hope and pain.

How did the Klashnekoff come about because you mentioned that you were both fans?

Ali: Because of my UK Hip-Hop links, I met Klash a few years back and I got to know him and became good friends. He featured on our second single which was called 'Darkness', which came out in 2010. He became really close with Danny as well and towards the end during the last week, Klash was speaking to Danny every day. Naturally, Klash said that he wanted to be on the album. I could've got other features, but I felt like I wanted the only two features on there to make sense. Mav because we got to tour with him, the one time Danny was able to feel like a rock star and obviously Mav sorted us. Klash is coming down to the show as well, he's like our older cousin and he's been guiding us since we were young. Big up to them for being on the album.


You can buy No Snakes here.