Just less than a year ago, three Ahwatukee Foothills residents decided to get serious about music and form a band. This month, that band, All is King, will represent Phoenix at an international music festival in Chengdu, China.
Ben Valdez, 19, Lucas Blanchard, 20, and Dylan Skaggs, 21, will leave for China on July 21 and spend 10 nights there. They’ll perform for three nights at the Chengdu International Youth Music Festival for crowds of 6,000 to 8,000 people.
“It’s all new,” Valdez said. “The fact that it’s all new and moving so fast — I mean some bands take years to be exposed — it’s all about the people we’re surrounded by and the community we’re in. It helps a lot. We’re very fortunate to have people that are so easy to reach out to.”
All is King began pretty casually. After attending a particularly inspiring concert by Muse, Valdez said he just felt like he needed to start a band. He convinced Blanchard to join him, though Blanchard had never played bass before. They began studying musicians and bands, watching documentaries and live performances and gaining knowledge from their experience. In October 2013, the group’s final member, Skaggs, joined on drums.
Since then, the group has written more than a dozen songs. Valdez self-recorded an EP for the group, which allowed them to hear themselves play for the first time and perfect their sound from there.
“We had to get used to the sound of ourselves,” Skaggs said. “At first, it wasn’t cohesive, but now we’ve been together long enough to know how each other plays and what we do. Now when we listen to it, we’re fans of it. We like to listen to it. That’s awesome.”
The group is a mixture of different styles of rock. Their music has hints of blues, alternative, funk and punk. Their style is somewhat inspired by their name. They chose the word “king” to represent something great or powerful and “all is” to say everything is good and of worth.
“As musicians, we like to create something in an album that’s well-rounded,” Valdez said. “Every song will have its own feel. That’s a comment I’ve gotten is that you can take a fan of any style and they’ll all enjoy it. Hence back to All is King. Everything is good, everything is of high value and everything is important. We try to put the music into that mindset.”
In March, All is King had an opportunity to record a full 11-track album at Tempest Recording with the help of Clarke Rigsby, who has worked with musicians like Paul McCartney, Alice Cooper and Glen Campbell, to name just a few.
“I just met this guy who’s shook Paul McCartney’s hand and pressed record and helped me out in studio, and by the way, two months later we’re going to send you guys to China to perform on stage,” Blanchard said. “That’s a dream … Nothing so far compares to what we’re going to do. We’re going from playing for 80 people to 8,000. There’s no smooth transition. Let’s go for it.”
The opportunity to go to China was set up by Ahwatukee Foothills resident Alex Sipes, whose own band, Gram Negative, has attended international music festivals the past two years through the Phoenix Sister Cities organization. Sipes created a new committee within Phoenix Sister Cities to help organize future musical exchanges. His first assignment was to find a band to go to China this year and he offered the gig to All is King.
“We’ve been staying confident, staying calm and practicing as much as we can,” Skaggs said. “Confidence is key to be able to perform well, but we also know it’s important to be humble about it. We’re so grateful for all the opportunities that have come our way. We’re trying not to get inflated or get ahead of ourselves.”
The group is still working on some fundraising for the trip. They’ve started a Kickstarter campaign to raise the final amount they need to get there. For more information on how to donate, visit www.kickstarter.com/projects/598642513/help-all-is-king-go-to-china.
To follow the band’s progress and hear some of their music, visit alliskingband.blogspot.com/.
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