Like most great ideas, the concept of transforming their band from informal jam sessions to professional tours with the likes of Justin Timberlake and Meghan Trainor, came for the Common Kings while chowing down ice cream and waffles at 3 a.m.
“We had just played a gig out in a Long Beach club and headed out for some late night Denny’s,” explains Common Kings’ bassist Ivan ‘Uncle Lui’ Kirimaua during a June phone interview. “Our friend Tautua Reed just shot straight with us and told us we needed to take it serious. We figured since he was coming from the promotions side in Hawaii, he would be the perfect manager. Of course he said no but fast forward five years and he’s still our manager. He just has an amazing vision for us.”
Kirimaua credits Reed’s vision and the silky smooth vocals of front man Jr King, as the reason the band catapulted from jam band to opening up for some of the world’s biggest performers in only 3 years. Well, that and the fact that it’s hard not to get swept up in the warm waters of the Common Kings’ friendly demeanor.
“You know, it’s all about songs and what songs are going to hit a chord with people and make them fall in love with you. I mean we are pretty fun guys, if I say so myself. Pretty much every door we walk in, people like us and we don’t take ourselves too seriously and hanging out with us is kind of like being in a frat. So there are a lot of other musicians who just like working with us,” Kirimaua loudly chuckles. “When fans hang with us, hear our music and then see us live, there’s pretty much no way they won’t love us and if they don’t, then they must have a heart of stone.”
Not surprisingly, Common Kings have been able to soften even the hardest of hearts and garnered over 350,000 downloads of their EP's and singles before releasing their first album Hits and Mrs in 2015. The album was packed full of feel good reggae-pop mixed with a little R&B.
“Jr’s voice on its own is just crazy because he can really sing! So we usually try and go down the R&B route because it’s Jr’s stronghold and it kind of adds a really nice texture to our more edgier influences,” says Kirimaua. “Our drummer [Jerome Taito] grew up loving 311 and Rage Against the Machine, I listened to Red Hot Chili Peppers and our guitarist [Taumata Grey] listened to classic rock. So obviously we have roots in reggae but when we mix it with our influences it creates something special.”
Although the band has released numerous EP’s and even dropped an album, the Feb. 3 release of Lost in Paradise signaled the band’s first full-length album. The album was an instant hit within the reggae community and currently sits at number 4 on the Billboard Top 40 Reggae Albums.
Despite the band’s continued commercial success, Kirimaua insists that Common Kings are still the same humble, fun loving band they’ve always been.
“We like to get intimate with our fans and interact with them so it’s going to be fun playing in Alaska again. It’s going to be a party,” Kirimaua exclaims. “We’ve had a ton of messages from fans who wrote to tell us they got married to our song or they met at our show or they proposed at our show. I think our shows go through the whole gamut of emotions and there really is something for everyone.”
*Originally published bu t