Track By Tracks: Little King - Amuse De Q (2023)

To Make A Decent Album, you have to have Decent Songs.

2020-21 was a disjointed mess. Our little EP, Occam's Foil, was kinda good. (I don't know, I'd definitely do some things differently, but it really does still stand up 3 years later.) We released that in October of 2019, and somehow a few people got a hold of it and seemed to dig it. Amazed and gratified.

But calamity struck worldwide, and our path to festivals and clubs in the 2020 summertime was kaput. The ONLY thing that made sense to me, at that point, was to channel my narcissistic angst into a new album. Thus, Amuse De Q...

We always track drums first, but prior to that, I lay down a scratch guitar track to a metronome that Eddy can listen to and jam along with. He is FAST, yo. The dude picks things up hyper-quickly and creates some really memorable parts. I love that there is an air of spontaneity to our arrangements precisely because Eddy doesn't write his parts until I get there.

Guitars varied a bit, but the primary rhythm is a Rockmoore (no, you can't find one) and a PRS CE24 from 1993 (yes, you can find one) played most of the leads. Guitars went through a Roland JC-120, a Marshall JCM 800 lil 50-watt, a Fishman Loudbox, and a few other direct toys. Manny used a Spector bass and some different amp configurations as well.


My son and I had just relocated from Delaware to Tucson, AZ. I went to school here in the early 90s and my mom settled here a few years later, so although I hadn't lived in AZ since 1992, it was certainly still familiar.

"Bombs away, down Broadway" is a reference to driving past the airplane graveyard and towards Broadway Ave in Tucson. I figured this to be a good starting point into the Q (which stands for, among a few other things, "quarantine.")

As a reflection of the times, I sing about isolation, the abstraction that causes, and how it just seemed normal to doom Scroll, fight it out on the Socials, and build a bunker. True to an optimist's nature, though, there is a triumph for the protagonist at the end, as the move to Tucson proves fruitful and welcome. But there are darker forces at work and some necessary musical exorcism. Thus we dive further...


Tough guy. Sooooooo is easy to just have a full range of permission to be an asshole. How brave it has made the masses, regardless of their level of information or cognitive ability. Take it to the Streets (Mike Mc!)

The punk feels with some odd time signatures make this song one of my favorite Little King tunes ever. Took no time to feel comfortable in the pocket with this song live, because I think it just makes sense structurally, even if the bits are a bit, well, not bitter. We actually kick our set off with this now, and you can find a little lo-fi video of that here:


Seriously? Like, you think it's okay to physically assault a woman over and over and over again and then just go about your business? What part of your brain permits cognitive dissonance and abject evil to manifest? I can't fucking stand it. But I couldn't sing it, either, so my dear friend Jessica Flores made it come to life. She's a gem! Plays sax live with us on the set closer, too...just beats the solo.

I feel comfortable that the music supports the words properly. That's hard, sometimes, because I definitely always write the music first. Or at least until this year, but that's another story. So, when the music is over, and I have to write the words in meter, key, and time, there is a lot of guesswork as to what sounds best. For this song, though, it all feels quite lovely. And poignant. And hopefully powerful?

4. SET IT DOWN - (As coined by my good friend and crazy good guitarist and Coach, Mr. Mathew Lynch...sometimes, you've just gotta "set it down." Indeed, Mat, indeed...)

DUI is no joke. For me, it took my license, a good bit of my dignity, and certainly a chunk o' change. What I did, though, is use it as an opportunity to get better. I'm fucking HARD on myself. This was a bad slip. So, I stopped drinking the day I was busted, and I haven't looked back. Proud of that...but being a stubborn Taurus has its advantages sometimes.

Becca Gonzales sings this with a sort of Amy Winehouse drawl that is sooooo fitting. She nailed it, and she's also been a good friend of the band for a long time. El Paso is a small town, and it's pretty amazing the level of talent that remains untapped. I love Ed's drum part in the bridge "I can kick it with the greatest of ease..." Bouncy, groovy, complex, and pretty much just a sick drum part. I can't imagine hearing that if I was a drummer (I'm NOT) and not thinking it's awesome.


"The Goddess of Sorrow and Song" is a lady on the cover, and it is also a street name, oddly enough, 1 MILE FROM MY NEW PLACE IN TUCSON WHERE WE HAD JUST RELOCATED AND HAD ALREADY NAMED THE SONG!
So there's that.

David Hamilton writes Little King's Strings. He's a wonderful bassist and cellist, and he also is the nicest guy. Love Dave. He and Christina Hernadez (violinist extraordinaire) have played on the last 2 albums, actually. Dave got the scratch guitar in the digital mail and absolutely crushed his part. No doubt, his cello part in this song is one of the most emotive and beautiful things I've ever heard. Thank you, Dave.


The title song choice is always a thing, to me. If you're gonna name a song after the Album Title, it has to bang. Now, "Amuse De Q" is definitely my favorite song on this record, but it didn't start that way. It actually was left over from the previous record, at least the main 2 riffs were. It just didn't fit Occam's Foil, and I wasn't playing it well at all back then anyway. Glad we shelved it until 2021.

Our mixing engineer, Daniel Salcido, sent the first batch of mixes to me in April of 2021. He kind of knew what I wanted to hear, but he also brings some freshness and vibrancy to the production. I'm grateful to him, for sure. And when he sent this mix, he said it was his favorite song of the bunch. That was cool to hear because during tracking I really was unsure. His mix is killer, too.

Isolation is an illness. It changes things, both in the manner of the pandemic, and also self-inflicted. Particularly as it comes to romantic really can bend one's perspective easily and freely. I have to own that, and I'm fucking working on it. Been burned a bit in my past, so sometimes I just quit and go back to my private life, which is pretty okay.

That riff SPEAKS to me! Haha...I really do love it. It's so fun to play and sing around, too. Like, there's just enough space between phrases to allow the lyrics to breathe. Vocally, it is a challenge to decide to live to go high or low! Manny and I just kinda do it, and it is what it is. But I do a few falsetto lines towards the very end that are hard and rewarding.

I hate my voice, but I can definitely live with this performance.
So there's that...


Tucson taught me how to walk and sing at the same time.

My mom's place is on the far NE side of Tucson, towards the Catalina Highway and Mount Lemmon. It's really spectacular, honestly. I am an inveterate nature photographer, and her neighborhood is overloaded with goodness.

My regular walk took me up a good-sized hill that led into the Catalina Mountains. The land was thirsty as hell, but somehow the millions of years of conditioning allow this desert ecosystem to continue. Adaptable and remarkably resilient. But what if it can't hold out much longer? That would be such a preventable shame. Looking back from that hill off of Snyder, I saw the end of the world. And the end of the Pandemic. And I sang, alone. Not sure that's what I want, so I manifested that wish at the end of the record. "When the end is near...we'll vanish with the tide...high on unknown, you'll never go alone...we'll saddle up and ride."

Oh, also that stupid hard riff. I have small hands, dudes and dudettes. I really fucking do. It's not that big of a deal, but it makes me approach chords and riffs a bit differently for sure. Lots of workarounds. This song has some stretching that would be normal and no biggie for like Alex Lifeson or Jimi, but for Ryan they are WORK.

I sure do love those choruses with the big open G, too. That is almost my favorite Little King thing ever, for sure. Sometimes I step away and forget that's us when I hear that part. Both guitar solos will endure for me, too. The middle lead was constructed meticulously, but of course, I improvised half of it! The clean solo over the second chorus is different...that was 100% improv. The tone was so fun, too.

Please check out our work at and on all social media @littlekingtunes or YouTube @Little King Official.

"I cried when I wrote this song Sue me if I play too long" -Deacon Donald

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