Q&A Scene: Joel ‘The Animal’ Martin ~ The UGLY KINGS

Tell us about your new album? 

Friday 13th of August, 2021 we are releasing our sophomore full length album, ‘Strange, Strange Times’ through Napalm Records.

As a cohesive whole, the album feels solidly enmeshed. The journey it takes you on is a memorable one, in my honest opinion.

The album has an underlying theme of a dystopian society, that potentially the modern world is slowly moving towards. In my mind I see some of the songs as a ‘not too distant future’ possibility for humanity. This record is looking at one aspect of how the future may play out.

The last track on the record ‘Another Fucking Day’ speaks of the way that the world could be, should we not make changes in the way society operates in various areas.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, there is real hope on this album. This possibility of how humanity and the world ‘could’ become is only one of an almost infinite array of outcomes.

The title track, ‘Strange, Strange Times’ speaks to me about the anxiety and alienation of modern society. I see this anxiety and alienation as a definite motif throughout my networks and interactions with society in my own life.

However, there is hope coming through in Rusty’s (lead singer) words, ‘…close your eyes, everything’s alright in these Strange, Strange Times’.

I love that line, often thinking about the fact that when I have a moment to stop, close my eyes and breathe deeply. I realise that however strange the situation in my immediate world or the world outside of that, that inherently things will be okay.

So I have hope for the future, humanity and our part within it.

This album will hopefully instil that same hope and give listeners the positivity to get through these Strange, Strange Times, with some really catchy, sing-along rock songs!

What’s your favourite work at this point in time?

I think this new record is the most refined from the band and I’m super proud of how it sounds from a song writing and sonic perspective. It’s also the first studio album I’ve been involved in since taking up the sticks with the band (so, I’m naturally biased toward this record!).

Having said that, since first meeting the band a few years ago – I fell in love with their songwriting and storytelling ability straight away. It was so unique; being in the band now, I can see how this comes about :

For guitars and main instrumentation you have Christos and Nic’s ability and natural ear for melody and a killer rock-riff. They intertwine with one another like a metal chain-mail armour. They both have exquisite rhythmic ideas and sensibilities too, which keep me on my toes! They are super malleable when it comes to bouncing ideas off of too, which helps me get my drum parts in order. They serve the musicality, sourcing the best outcome for the song and musical journey. The song always comes first from any decision making.

Speaking of exquisite rhythmic ideas and sensibilities – lead singer Rusty, was the original drummer of the band (so has an innate sense of feel; particularly for odd time signatures and rhythms) so he can groove, hard! He also has the ability to make new musical ideas quickly with a vocal melody directing the way a song is structured harmonically and sonically. He has an amazing voice to boot!

Couple that with the fact that they’re all the loveliest guys ever, makes it a dream team to be a part of. It is truly inspiring to be a part of a group who possess such creative prowess.

I add solidity in a timing sense for the other and try to bring new ideas to the table as often as possible, either melodic/harmonic or rhythmic.

Back to the original question – I think The Ugly Kings debut full-length album is truly epic and has brilliant songwriting, as does the mini-album prior to that. Strange, Strange Times feels like a complete combination of songs to tell a cohesive story and theme.

The previous records have the amazing drumming of former member, Ryan Scoble – who set the standard for The Ugly Kings drummers. Andy Alkemade added to this standard as a phenomenal powerhouse for the band. They both set a standard that I endeavour to strive for.

How would you describe your sound in food form and why? 

Well actually, I had a delicious vanilla slice the other day and, my God! It was pretty much The Ugly Kings in food form. We play our music pretty hard and have heavy riffs. This vanilla slice was hard to put down and extremely heavy in calories! Same-same? Haha.

Tell us a quick, on the road or studio, anecdote. 

The sound wizard behind ‘Strange, Strange Times’ Julian Schweitzer repeatedly told me to ‘Lay The Law’. Laying the law meant not playing over the rest of the instruments and giving everything its own space.

I played a take of a track, pretty early in the recording and got a really great take. I can’t remember the conversation verbatim, so I’ll paraphrase. I asked him, ‘Should I do more fills in that end section?’ He casually replied with, ‘Are you trying to get a drum endorsement or make a great record?’

Enough said! From that moment onward, I proceeded to lay the law with all my might.

What, or who, inspires you?

The drive to continually improve as a musician and artist.

Which song do you wish you wrote?

Bittersweet Symphony by The Verve. This track always takes me away to a weird time and place any time I hear it. The Rolling Stones riff that Richard Ashcroft crafted into this beautifully catchy – yet sombre and haunting piece is genius. The lyrics are on point and a poignant reminder as to the human condition and existence.

What’s next for you?

We’re really excited for this record to be heard by as many people worldwide. We can’t wait to start touring within our own country and then hopefully getting overseas when we’re able to.

What’s your scene?

My scene is arts, music and creativity. I love supporting other artists and love creating art and music. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Melbourne vintage rockers THE UGLY KINGS will release their highly anticipated new album, entitled Strange, Strange Times, on August 13, 2021 via Napalm Records.

Following 2018’s Darkness Is My Home, which was lauded by the likes of Classic Rock Magazineand Loud Mag upon release, with Strange, Strange Times, the four- piece is poised to turn heads and continues to infuse their foreboding alt-rock with blackened blues and gritty punk edge! THE UGLY KINGS may channel the flavor of groups like Queens Of The Stone Age and Danzig, but their revitalizing infusion of dark energy is evident while preserving razor sharp, daringly introspective control with clever lyricism, addictive riffage, catchy melodies and a heavy power blues flavor.

After THE UGLY KINGS just recently shared a first song, the punk-infused single “Technodrone”, today the band have released a second appetiser taken from Strange, Strange Times! On smoldering blues rock standout “The Devil Comes With A Smile”THE UGLY KINGS flex their musical muscles, taking you on a dusty road trip to the outback with the bitter taste of nicotine and whiskey in your mouth. Once more, the Melbourne powerhouse showcases their ability to distort hard blues rock into dark, unique territories.

Beware of false promises and easy answers,“ says vocalist Russell Clark about the band’s new single. The Devil Comes With A Smile is about powerful people that exploit our weaknesses and manipulate us with their charm; twisting the world in their own image.”

Each song on the band’s new album is about a different state of mind in this strange, strange time. Both lyrically and musically, THE UGLY KINGS have createda captivating and enthralling ride! In a scene in which gimmick-free, angsty, inspired rock n’ roll is becoming increasingly difficult to come by, Strange, Strange Times is a breath of welcomed, yet strange, strange air…

Coming out in LP, CD and Digital formats on August 13, 2021 via Napalm Records,
the album pre orders are available now from

Band Exclusive ‘Mind Decay’ Marble Vinyl Edition is available direct from their Bandcamp Store

Strange, Strange Times Tracklisting:
1. Strange, Strange Times
2. Technodrone
3. Do You Feel Like You’re Paranoid?
4. In The Shadows
5. Last Man Left Alive
6. Lawman
7. Electric Lady (My Kryptonite)
8. The Devil Comes With A Smile
9. Mr. Hyde
10. Another Fucking Day

The Ugly Kings are:
Christos Athanasias – guitar
Nicolas Dumont – bass
Joel Martin – drums
Russell Clark – vocals

Follow The Ugly Kings
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About Mary Boukouvalas 1576 Articles
Mary is a photographer and a writer, specialising in music. She runs Rocklust.com where she endeavours to capture the passion of music in her photos whether it's live music photography, promotional band photos or portraits. She has photographed The Rolling Stones, KISS, Iggy Pop, AC/DC, Patti Smith, Joe Strummer, PULP, The Cult, The Damned, The Cure, Ian Brown, Interpol, MUDHONEY, The MELVINS, The Living End, Foo Fighters, Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, The Stone Roses –just to name a few - in Australia, USA, Europe and the Middle East. Her work has been published in Beat magazine, Rolling Stone magazine, Triple J magazine, The Age Newspaper, The Herald Sun, The Australian, Neos Kosmos, blistering.com, theaureview.com, noise11.com, music-news.com. She has a permanent photographic exhibition at The Corner Hotel in Richmond, Victoria Australia.