Common Kings plays feel good music.
That’s not some PR pitch, although it kind of is and a good one. That’s the way the fans have chose to describe the reggae-pop band.
“Fans coined it as feel good music,” says bassist Ivan Kirimaua, who joins singer JR King on a phone call from Hawaii, where the band is doing studio work for its new album. They will finish the record up in Los Angeles before heading off to Germany for a couple tour dates with Sean Paul. In July, the band heads out on tour with Meghan Trainor.
Before all that, Common Kings will be at the Rotary Amphitheater as part of the reggae contingent at the 51Fifty Music Festival.
“We live for that whole festival vibe,” Kirimaua says. Especially a festival like this one, which is likely to draw diverse crowds. Common Kings will be joined on the bill by the Santa Cruz reggae band Expendables, but also hip-hop artists like Immortal Technique and Waka Flocka Flame.
“Any chance we get to gain a fan. That’s great.”
Common Kings are one of a growing number of West Coast bands that are popularizing reggae and island sounds. The band members are all originally from the pacific islands. While their contemporaries tend toward punk and rock influences (see Expendables, Rebelution), Common Kings have a decidedly more pop-music feel.
“Really what it comes down to is Junior’s voice,” Kirimaua says, referring to King, a Hawaiian/Samoan with a smooth voice and strong R&B influences.
And the band has gotten support from pop-music heavy hitters, including Justin Timberlake, who tapped Common Kings for the Australian and New Zealand legs of The 20/20 Experience World Tour in 2014, and Meghan Trainor, who co-wrote and sang on the band’s single “Before You Go.” The band has known Trainor since “before she was Meghan Trainor,” Kirimaua says. They met the singer- songwriter at a writing camp in Los Angeles in 2013.
Any pop-sensibilities are a natural extension of the band members, King says, and the music itself comes from a deep sense of brotherhood.
“These are my brothers ... Not in the literal sense,” he says.
Being with them, on and off the road, makes for good feelings all around.
“Playing music is the cheery on top.”
51Fifty Music Fest
- Noon, Saturday, June 18
- Rotary Amphitheater at Woodward Park.
- $20-$30, and $5 park entrance fee. All ages.