Interview by Ed King
Cast your mind back to the heyday of Brum’s Indie scene; The Hummingbird, Plastic Factory, Doc Martins from the Rag. And of course, The Jug of Ale.
But floating out of the flotsam and jetsam rose King Adora; you remember, pouty-face-big-hair? No? Well you should if you were old or sober enough.
Soaking up a sizable chunk of the local limelight, King Adora looked like they might get somewhere; with an album in the charts, a cache of label interest, ferociously loyal fans, and enough swagger to actually pull it off.
But like many before and after them (Cooler than Jesus, Blowfly, Honeyman…) King Adora’s rise was meteoric but short lived. Splitting up in 2005 the Birmingham four piece went their separate ways, reforming for only two ‘reunion’ gigs in 2010.
Then seven years later the Birmingham Review receives a press release, saying ‘KING ADORA ARE BACK’.
No, they’re not.
What’s actually happening are the first screenings of ‘Who Do You Love – The King Adora Story’, a self financed documentary by Ben Lewis; named after King Adora’s second/last album, and covering the band’s rise, fall and subsequent (albeit short, short lived) reunion.
So my second question also came in one word. Why?
“It started off as a pet project,” tells Lewis, “I’d spent a lot of time working at Apple and wanted to get back into making films.
I’d followed King Adora when they toured up in Scotland, where I was living at the time, and wanted to interview the guys; plus the other characters that’d played a part in their journey.”
A close friend of Martyn Nelson, King Adora’s lead guitarist, Ben Lewis had a comfortable link to the band. And with a background in film production, alongside half a decade training people for Apple’s video applications, he wanted “to start making some of this stuff I had all these ideas for.”
So, armed with a salary, over 100 hours of stock footage, and a “romanticised way of film making”, Ben Lewis put the King Adora story into production in 2010.
“What you have (with King Adora) are these four guys who have tasted success – but essentially lost it,” says Lewis, “and I wanted to show how that affected them.
But I also wanted to cover other themes that the band experienced in the music business at that itime. This was really pre social media; MySpace was only in its infancy, and the industry was in flux. Artist development was a becoming thing of the past.”
But King Adora split up in 2005, playing only a further two gigs in 2010. How do you effectively document such a retrospective topic?
“I was present throughout that process, so when the idea came about (for the two ‘reunion’ shows in 2010), I filmed the gigs and got vox pops form the fans,” explains Lewis. “Plus the band had often filmed their own concerts, so I got a hell of a lot of archive from King Adora tours of the UK and Japan.”
And how accessible were ‘the other characters’, the extras that ‘played a part in their journey?’
“The fans were easy enough to find,” says Lewis,” and Steve Lamacq, who had pushed Kind Adora in their early years, was happy to appear on camera.”
Anyone say no? “There were people I wanted, but just couldn’t get;
their sound engineer who used to tour with them, and I wanted to interview some of the music video directors but I couldn’t track them down.
Getting in touch with John Cornfield at Sawmill Studios also took a long time to arrange.”
Filmed on Red and 5D Mark II cameras, ‘Who Do You Love – The King Adora Story’ follows in the footsteps of Jason Reitman’s award winning independent ‘Juno’, and Steven Soderburgh’s last three releases: ‘Magic Mike’, ‘Haywire’ and ‘Contagion’. And at times, during the two year production process, Ben Lewis’ self financed documentary cost him around ₤1000 a day.
Ironically documenting a band surfing the break before the digital music wave, ‘Who Do You Love’ is facing similar commercial contentions.
Online broadcasters, such as YouTube and Vimeo, have established a quick, easy and free world of angry kittens, old TV shows and bedroom recordings. And film making ‘aint cheap – not if you do it well. So, as an independent production, how can you afford it?
“In my last few months at Apple I was spending my wages hiring Red cameras, Zeiss primes and other equipment. And I called in a lot of favours,” including the time of cinematographer Laura Howie (Aardman, Curse of the Were Rabbit, Fantastic Mr Fox).
“Now it’s completed, we’re hosting a series of screenings and will be looking at releasing a DVD. There will probably be an online release too, and I’m currently looking into iTunes and other distributors.”
‘Who Do You Love – The King Adora Story’ is also fundraising online, through Indiegogo http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/225131
‘Who Do You Love – The King Adora Story’ will first be screened at the Hare & Hounds (Oct 24th), with subsequent screenings at Muthers Studio (Oct 27th) and the Worcestershire Film Festival (Nov 3rd).
For more information, and to buy tickets for each event, visit www.kingadora.com
‘Who Do You Love’ is released through Siwel Productions – www.siwelproductions.co.uk