Good To Be Bad

By Andrew Gilhooley / 411

In the two short years since its inception, San Diego band Louis XIV has made a big international splash.  Influential British magazine NME has recognized the band with an award, and Rolling Stone named Louis XIV one of the 10 bands to watch in 2005.  The band is currently on the US leg of a tour that will visit France, the UK and Japan.  On Thursday, the tour stops off at The Catalyst in Santa Cruz.

Louis XIV was formed in 2003 from the remnants of another band, Convoy.  Best friends and former band mates Jason Hill and Brian Karscig (both guitarists and vocalists) began looking around for a new project.  They had recently written some new songs.  One song was called “Louis XIV” and decided to give their new band the same name.  The next step was to record the new material, so, together with drummer Mark Maigaard, Hill and Karscig flew to Paris and a friend’s home recording studio.

Sequestered in their friend’s apartment with a 60s-era 16-track tape recorder, the newly-formed band spent two weeks recording its new material.  The sound was rough and ready, recorded in as few takes as possible and reminiscent of great 70s rock bands like T-Rex. Returning to San Diego, the band posted MP3s of the songs on its website.  Soon, a local radio station began playing one of the tracks, “God Killed the Queen.”   To the band’s surprise, demand for Louis XIV’s music quickly began to grow.

The band at this point did not have a record deal, so they bought a CD burner and started their own label, the Pineapple Recording Group.  They initially pressed 500 copies of their self-titled debut CD, and sold them all within a month.  A copy of the album somehow made its way to the UK and BBC Radio 1.  Soon, Louis XIV was enjoying national airplay in the UK.  At the same time, the band’s fan base at home was growing steadily, and by the summer of 2004, they had sold over 10,000 CDs, including two newly recorded EPs.

A national tour with The Killers brought the band even more exposure, and in August 2004, Louis XIV signed to Atlantic Records.  The band’s major label debut, “The Best Little Secrets Are Kept,” was released in March of this year and has earned Louis XIV praise and criticism in almost equal measure.  One feminist critic wrote a vitriolic article about the band’s song lyrics, which she said were demeaning to women.  Hill is adamant that this is not the case.  “The article said that we hate women and that people had to stop this band now,” he said.  “I thought that was the funniest thing because we wrote an album in adoration of women." 

Negative press about raunchy lyrics seems to be doing the band’s popularity no harm, however.   Sales of the album are booming and the fans are packing the concert venues.  Louis XIV does indeed look like one of the names to watch in 2005.  See what all the fuss is about for yourself this Thursday.

First published in "411", The Salinas Californian, June 23, 2005

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