During these crazy and scary times, America is trying once again to find itself. There are so many different avenues we can take but half the country doesn’t know which one is the right one while the other half wants to do away with any avenue that exists. That’s what’s being explored on Boston Americana act Kingsley Flood’s brand new album Another Other. It’s an album that examines what’s happening right before our eyes. Speaking of the latter, they’ll be celebrating its release at The Sinclair tonight (November 18) in the Boston suburb of Cambridge with fellow Bostonians Jenny Dee & The Deelinquents and Brooklyn indie-folk act Leland Sundries.
Ahead of the show I had a chat with Naseem Khuri from the band about the album’s mix of amplification and acoustics, the rise of xenophobia in America, being terrified of the McRib and how people should be doing more to persuade each other and not just listen.
Kingsley Flood’s new album Another Other brings a profound edge while possessing a mix of electric guitar and blistering string instruments. What was the band’s main goal heading into the studio to make the album?
Naseem Khuri: Musically, our goal for this album wasn’t too different from our goals for previous albums: be ourselves. Be as dynamic as possible and bring out all our personalities. And like any humans, we change. This album definitely feels like our most realized work, and captures where we are in this moment.
The other goal was to spend as much time as possible in the studio where we recorded this: a former disco turned porn theater turned masonic temple turned studio (we’re told). How could you not want to hang out with those ghosts all the time?
The album confronts the issues of income inequality and race head on. With the recent election of Donald Trump to the position of President of the United States it seems like xenophobia is at an all time high. Being a son of Palestinian immigrant parents how has life been for you recently? Have you had to deal with any bigotry being lashed out at you?
Khuri: No, and I attribute that to how I look. I look white. When we hear about that kind of bigotry, it’s almost always based on looks. No one is walking up to me in the street and yelling “I read your bio and I know your family history!” before throwing a tomato at me.
That’s what I’m exploring on this album. Identity, as Americans, as humans, isn’t so clean and simple. I come from a nice town, I went to nice schools, I look white. At the same time, I have a funny name and a family that comes from what many think is a scary part of the world. I’ve never really been comfortable with clean allegiances to tribes. I’m a hyphen, and I live in the gray area. I think many Americans live in that area, and I think the acceptance, and support of such ambiguity is what makes America great. We don’t all fit in a nice box, and I don’t think we should.
What do you think the main cause is for rampant racism and xenophobia becoming an apparent element in our political process and our social discourse?
Khuri: I’m not a social scientist or a talking head. I just know that I try to keep myself in check through my own writing. I’ve had to check my own biases, and I know that if I’m scared of something, I should probably try to learn about it instead of hating it. Except the McRib sandwich. That’s terrifying, and I’m okay with that.
Have you done any protesting lately? What do you think of the people who supported Donald Trump saying that the protesters should respect the Presidential office and not march in the streets?
Khuri: I don’t really consider myself the get-out-in-the-streets protest type anymore – I think it’s critical to keeping society in check, and a healthy reflection of democracy in action. It’s just not my thing, I always think I can be more effective at a table or at a bar, figuring out the differences and trying to work them through. I think we’ve done a pretty poor job in this country of not only listening to each other, but persuading each other. It’s not enough to just listen.
After the show at The Sinclair what’s next for Kingsley Flood? Do you have any holiday plans?
Khuri: Remember all those previous questions about race and politics and our divided society? I think it’ll be time for a drink.
Keep up with Kingsley Flood here.