Jim Matheos On The Future Of Kings Of Mercia ‘Steve And I Are Talking About Kom2 Already. I Think We’ll Start Writing Shortly”

Jim Matheos On The Future Of Kings Of Mercia 'Steve And I Are Talking About Kom2 Already. I Think We’ll Start Writing Shortly"...

Interview by: Chris Martin




I appreciate you taking the time to answer some questions for us here at MGM.

Kings of Mercia…what prompted you to do such a different project like this as opposed to a more straightforward Prog album?

JM: I already have a few outlets for anything I want to do in the prog field, with FW and Arch/Matheos. In fact, Fates had just recently released LDGN and AM had released Winter Ethereal the year before, so I was ready to do something different. I wasn’t quite sure what that was though. I just started writing and the first couple of songs that came out were in this more straightforward/hard rock direction, and that interested me a great deal because I’ve never really tapped into those influences before.

What does the name of the band mean? Why was it chosen?

@Photo credit: Jeremy Saffer/Scott Towns

JM: There’s no significance to it other than it was about the only one Steve and I could agree on. I think I started by trying to reference the fact that Steve is in England and I’m New England and somehow I stumbled upon the KoM Wikipedia page, which I’d known very little about before. I liked the sound of it and Steve did as well, and most importantly it wasn’t taken yet, which we couldn’t say about many of the other names that were floating around.

How did you hook up with Steve Overland? Had you known him prior? Were you familiar with his music?

JM: I’d never met Steve before but I am familiar with his work. I know about FM back in the day but hadn’t kept up with them. When a friend suggested Steve I went and checked out a lot of the back catalog and some of his other work and was immediately sold on the idea that he would be a great fit for what I was writing. After another friend connected Steve and me we talked about what the pairing might sound like. We both agreed it looked interesting idea on paper but thought it would be a good idea to do a trial song to see how we worked together and what the result what sound like. That turned out to be the song Humankind.

Let’s switch to the songwriting process. It seems you wrote most, if not all, of the music on your own, and then Steve came in and did the lyrics and vocals? Or was it handled differently? How did it gel working together with him?

JM: Yes, that’s pretty much how it worked. It was a pretty seamless and stress-free process with Steve. I had a lot of the music done by the time he came on board so I’d send him 2-3 songs at a time every few weeks and when he had time he’d get in the studio and work on them. Once he got in the studio, by the end of the day he’d have another 2-3 completely done and back to me then we’d start the process over again with the next batch. I was amazed at how quickly and efficiently he worked.

Now that the album is out, how has the reception been towards it? I personally think it is fantastic, but it was an easy sell being a fan of both your and Steve’s work prior.

JM: Thanks for that, we’re both very proud of it.

It’s early days and I don’t stay on top of those kind of things very well but it seems to be doing ok. People expecting anything like FW14 are probably going to be disappointed, but that’s nothing new for me.

Will Kings of Mercia create more music or is this a one-off project? Any chances of some live shows?

JM: Steve and I are talking about KoM2 already. I think we’ll start writing shortly. Live shows are a bit more tricky. It’s tough out there even for semi-established bands like FW. With a new band, even with players that are known, it’s an even tougher sell. So, while I’d be open to the idea it’s not something we’re actively pursuing right now.

I recently read the book Destination Onward by Jeff Wagner. What a lot of information and detail. How did the book come together and how did it come to be? Have you read it?

JM:  Jeff and I have known each other for a long time and in a few different capacities. I’ve read his other books, liked his writing, and knew he was a big fan. So when he approached me about the idea I felt comfortable that he would do the research needed, and treat all the different eras equally and fairly. He went beyond my expectations. I think he did a great job not only in the chronology and critiquing each album but going beyond the simple facts to understand and explain what was going on with the band personally, I appreciate that.

Now that it seems Fates Warning is done with the recording process, how does it feel?

JM: I’ve been careful to leave that door open, even if only slightly, so I haven’t had to think about that much yet.  At the moment, I don’t feel like I have another one in me. But I’ve felt that way before, numerous times, and it always passed, so that’s why I say, Who knows? On the other hand, if LDGN does end up being our last I’m comfortable feeling we didn’t outstay our welcome.

Since you seem to like to keep somewhat busy, any other projects you can talk about coming down the road? Are any more Arch-Matheos heading our way?

JM: I’m just finishing up something now that I hope will come out next year. As far as AM there’s nothing planned but I’m always willing to make myself available if/whenever John feels ready.

I got the chance to catch the Awaken the Guardians show at ProgPower a few years ago. What an amazing show! Any plans for anything like that in the future?

JM: Thanks! Nothing like that is planned right now.


Jim Matheos – Guitars
Steve Overland – Vocals
Joey Vera – Bass
Simon Phillips – Drums

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Photo Credit: Daisy Robinson

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