Though the swing revival is two decades in the past, King Salamander are making sure the spirit of that movement and jazz are still alive. Their smooth, swanky sounds are evident on their recent album. On Salamander Lounge, the band continued to further their burgeoning rep as the go-to smokey, lounge band in Orange County. Their album was intriguing, and Salamander Lounge explores that sound a little bit more.
Acutely aware of the area’s reputation and history as a not-quite hotbed for their type of music, King Salamander established a schtick that doesn’t stray too far from their sound. Knowing that their sound is conducive as lounge music, they managed to lasso in a bunch of sponsors. Instead, sticking with their smokey, hotel bar vibe, the quartet wisely enlisted some alcohol sponsors — since after all, you do drink at lounge bars, right?
“I didn’t necessarily go out and seek it,” frontman Sterling Musk says. “Due to our style and aesthetic, and reflect the bar scene. The alcohol companies got interested in us and we started to seek out companies that we really liked and we were lucky enough to land most of them.”
It made sense. Musk says the music that he and his bandmates make reflect a sound that would be played at a bar or lounge they would play, own or frequent. The ambitious courting of these sponsorships allowed them build out an elaborate stage setup. Now, this doesn’t mean a laser show with a huge backdrop since that would go against the mantra of a lounge act.
Their set up, due to these sponsorships, includes modified and custom instruments. This includes their bass drum shaped in the form of a mini-bar, the guitars as cigar boxes, the amps are liquor cabinets, bourbon barreled guitar and Musk’s mic stand is all wood and takes on the form of a pool cue. This flair for the dramatic wasn’t cheap, so finding sponsors to lower the financial burden was a necessity. Instead of DW, Gibson and Orange, Ketel One, Nolet’s, Guinness have lent their support and finances to the band.
“The whole reason this started is that I went to one company and jokingly said you should sponsor us for our listening party,” Musk recalls. “A week later they called us back and said they wanted to partner with us.”
At first it seemed crazy, but ultimately they’ve been able to pull it off. It’s allowed them explore different avenues that traditional rock bands wouldn’t be able to explore.
“All of this stuff we have is stuff we’ve made through our endorsements,” Musk explains. “It’s really cool and unique.”
Ahead of the King Salamander’s upcoming intimate show on July 8 at La Cave, which could preclude a residency in Las Vegas, they’re going to bounce around Orange County on a libation tour. Stopping at places like Bosscat Kitchen and Libations and Envy Lounge in Newport Beach, Cigar & Spirits in Aliso Viejo, each night will be sponsored and depending on the type of drink, there will be a concurrent theme along with various drink tastings/specials. The sharp dressed band will be on-hand to promote product and the show-off some of the band’s instruments.
The intricately customized drinks will be a collaboration between Musk, the bars and spirit companies, and will fit the theme of each respective night. There will be additional fun surprises, Musk says, are in the works, but wouldn’t the divulge those secrets quite yet.
“We’re putting the finishing touches on this,” he says. “We want people to come out and have them say it was worth it and cool. Hopefully it will get them to come out to the show on the eighth.”
Daniel Kohn is a writer based in Southern California. With bylines in an assortment of outlets, Kohn primarily specializes in music with other interests ranging from sports to food. As a transplant, Kohn loves the beautiful weather and is glad he no longer has to deal with brutal winters. If you see him, say hi and of course, he’s always willing to down a beer or two…if you’re paying.