As hard as he tried, David King could never push around his younger brother, Peter. But that didn’t stop Peter from following in David’s footsteps.
After four albums as a member of Mary’s Danish and two more for Rob Rule, David King assembled Thermadore, an unencumbered side project that has bloomed into a full-time gig.
Thermadore, featuring ex-Mary’s Danish bassist Chris Wagner and Rob Rule vocalist-guitarist Robbie Allen, was a meeting of rock minds last year. They phoned some friends and told them to meet at a studio in Hollywood, Calif. Among those who showed up were Pearl Jam guitarist Stone Gossard, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and backup singer Rain Phoenix and former Mary’s Danish vocalist Julie Ritter.
Their Holiday/Atlantic album, “Monkey on Rico,” was issued in March and is poised for another big label push with the release of the second single, “Three Days.”
Meanwhile, world-class surfer Peter King – host of MTV’s “Sandblast” – was forging ahead with his underground punk-rock band Dakota Motor Co. Their first two independent albums sold more than 120,000 copies.
Their Holiday/Atlantic debut LP, “Railroad,” was released May 14.
Which brings us back to the King family. What was it like in their San Diego household? “If you looked in our kitchen, it seemed like we had no food, but if you dug behind mom’s liquor cabinet, there were the Cheerios and the Lucky Charms,” David King said recently. “And if you went deeper into another section, you’d find the peanut butter. It was survival of the fittest.”
Joking aside, David King said the King home was always filled with music. His interest in the guitar was handed down from his older brother, John, and he passed it on to Peter.
“My older brother always had me running,” David King said. “He’d say, ‘David, go get me a glass of milk,’ and I jumped. I had the fear of god in John. I tried to use that on Peter, but it never worked. He’d always say, ‘Go away. Buzz off.’ ”
But when Peter King wasn’t surfing and appearing in TV commercials, he was dreaming of doing what David did.
“When David was in Mary’s Danish,” Peter King said, “he said if I could get a band together and make some songs, that we could open for them, so I thought there would be nothing funner than getting up there on stage, and we’ve been doing it for five years now.”
Weaned on Bad Religion and the Ramones, Peter King had a simple vision for Dakoda Motor Co.: Get that live sound down pat.
“I’m so sick of bands who don’t sound like their albums when you hear them live,” he said, “especially bands who fake it and use tracks and crud like that. We wanted to sound very real, gutsy and raw. Once we found Melissa Brewer, a singer who was really in line with where we wanted to go, I knew we had it made.”
Peter King said he and bandmates Brewer, bassist Derik Toy, guitar Elliot Chenault and drummer Chuck Cummings aren’t afraid of success and welcome it with open arms.
“We’re not going to be upset if we make money,” he said, laughing. “You won’t see us brooding and doing drugs and being upset with our success. Nor do we really think that’s going to happen, but it won’t stop us from playing for people.”
Thermadore, power pop mixed in with Americana, is the best thing that happened to David King. He said he has never had more fun in a band.
“We’re having a really good time live, and it seems to come through,” he said. “At the risk of being egotistical at all, we seem to win every night. Be it 30 people or 700 people, we come off stage and people respond. It’s really sincere what we’re doing. I know it sounds so cliche, but it really is.
“There were no expectations for this band. We were making this record when every one of us was signed to record labels and making records. We had nothing to gain. It wasn’t like we were looking for a deal. We were there to actually make music, try to make some really good songs and have a good time doing it.”
David King sees some striking similarities between Mary’s Danish and Dakoda Motor Co., but he said Thermadore is a whole different beast.
“People are really surprised when they hear us,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Hey, Stone Gossard played on the record. Hey, Chad Smith played on the record.’ Then they pick it up and they go, ‘What? It sounds like a country album.’ Well, believe it or not, that’s how we sound.”
Thermadore has a full slate of dates ahead of them, opening for the Chili Peppers, Dishwalla and Seven Mary Three throughout the country.
“I don’t care where they put us,” David King said, “we’re just going to do our thing.”