It’s broad daylight and Jason Thomas Gordon, lead singer and drummer of a new LA rock band, hangs over the rooftop of Tower Records on Sunset Blvd. Like so many independent stores along the way, not even this giant landmark record chain could stave off the crumbling music business. Dressed in workmen’s clothes, Jason has commandeered a ladder and climbed to the top of the vacant record store. He quickly ties knots along the ledge then unfurls two 17-foot banners from both sides of the building. A message from the band now faces the city streets: SAVE YOUR RECORD STORES!
This is the band at their core. Romantic and defiant. Their sound is a ramshackle mixture of classic rock ‘n roll combined with the darkness of the post-punk era. Listening to these guys it’s easy to understand why they’d be so indignant about watching another record store fall. They remember when music wasn’t so disposable, when every new release was an event, when fans thrived on the mystery about a band instead of the neediness of social media. Jason sings, “We’re awake tonight and we will never cave!” And their live show proves his point. The energy is frenetic but focused. The music is raw but glorious. This is Kingsize.
It wasn’t just record stores closing or the watered down fluff on the radio that would become a defining moment for the band. “The music scene here sucked,” states guitarist Cary Beare. With his trademark long hair, he looks part 70’s rock god, part Tolkien character. “I was ready to hang up my dreams and move back to the mountains in Idaho.”
But, right before Cary left town, his old friend Jason, asked him if he wanted to jam. The sound and the songs they created convinced Cary that the dream was far from over. Cary explains, “Jason immediately wanted to form a band with him on drums, me on guitar but, I loved how his voice sounded with the stuff we were writing. I didn’t want anyone else ruining it so I said, ‘I’ll only do this if you sing your own lyrics.’”
Jason spent the next week sick to his stomach. “It really felt like a life or death decision for me,” recalls Jason, “ I was serious about forming a band but not as the singer!” So, how did it happen? “Cary acts like he’s this peaceful old hermit in the hills but, he’s a punk ass kid when he plays guitar. He can also write beautiful melodies that’ll crush your heart. I wanted to be in a band with him. So, I said, ‘Screw it. I’ll be the singer.’ Sold out on day one!”
At first, Jason and Cary played all the instruments themselves. Then they heard Matt DelVecchio playing bass in a friend’s band around town. He could groove, he could sing, he was creative and solid. He was also a card-carrying ambassador for Maker’s Mark whiskey. Kingsize swiftly put their friend’s band on notice, “We’re stealing your bass player.” They consider it one of the best moves they ever made.
Kingsize released The Good Fight EP on their own Good Fight Music label in 2008. As the title suggests, these were songs that had come looking for a fight. Songs like “Elevator,” “Miss America,” and “House on Fire” do just that. The message of the music was driven home by the striking image on the album cover — the world famous 1989 photograph of a lone man defiantly standing up to an onslaught of tanks in China’s Tiananmen Square.
Over the years, many bands had been told they couldn’t use the iconic image as album art but Kingsize wouldn’t take no for an answer. They appealed to photojournalist Jeff Widener personally. “I wrote him a letter and asked if he’d take a listen to us,” says Jason, “I told him I wanted the band to sound like that picture.” Soon after, they got a call from the Pulitzer Prize nominee. Widener said he loved what he heard and Kingsize became the only band to ever receive permission for its usage.
A few months later, Kingsize released a sister EP to The Good Fight. The Bad Night EP. From the opening bars of “Nice Dress Pt. II” to the final fade of “Tourniquet Queen,” these were songs that spoke of the loneliness of the city and the mistakes we can make while trying to escape it.
Thanks in no small part to their emotionally charged live shows, Kingsize has quickly become a force on the Southern California music scene. Three songs off their EPs are available for download in the popular videogame Rockband 3. They’ve written the theme song for the CBS sitcom Gary Unmarried and are featured on the soundtrack of Philip G. Flores’ award-winning film The Wheeler Boys. Their song “Rabbits” was recently added to 32 Clear Channel stations from Nikki Sixx’s radio show The Sixx Sense, and “Sweetheart, I’m Only Stopping to Start” just earned a spot in the new Robert DeNiro movie Freelancers co-starring Forest Whitaker and 50 Cent.
But, their most important achievement is the huge part the band plays in the lives of children battling cancer and other catastrophic diseases. Music Gives to St. Jude Kids is a new campaign created by Jason with the sole purpose of raising money and awareness for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through music-based initiatives. Jason’s grandfather, Danny Thomas, founded the hospital in 1962. So far, Music Gives to St. Jude Kids has been lucky enough to partner with artists like Sheryl Crow, Kings of Leon, and Stone Temple Pilots and has garnered the sponsorship of both Live Nation and Ticketmaster to name a few.
Both Cary and Matt have joined their friend, taking on his family’s crusade as their own. “It’s been great to reach a lot of younger people who might not know about how St. Jude is finding real cures for cancer,” smiles Matt. Cary nods in agreement, adding, “The two things we’re most proud of are Music Gives and the fact that we’ve finally finished our record.”
Plagued by false starts, chaos, heartbreak, and setbacks, the band has finally finished recording their debut album All These Machines. Billboard Magazine’s discovery department wrote, “Kingsize is individual enough to take on the music world with eight cylinders blasting. All These Machines should be just the ticket to propel these guys to the top of the heap.” But, all that matters to them right now is that they’re somewhere new. They’ve made it here together. And besides that, there’s still nothing like a good fight.