Red Carpet Interview
Blues Album of the year – “Best Little Secrets are Kept” – 16th annual LA Music Awards
Louis XIV is an American rock band from San Diego, California. The band has released four EPs between 2003 and 2007, and three albums between 2003 and 2008, the latter two of which were distributed by Atlantic Records. The band broke up in 2009, but in 2013, in an interview with The Reno Dispatch, Jason Hill confirmed that the band had decided to reunite.
Lead singer and guitarist Jason Hill, guitarist Brian Karscig, and drummer Mark Maigaard formed the group in April 2003, while living in Paris, France. Bassist James Armbrust joined soon after.
Louis XIV, the band’s first album, was recorded in the Spring of 2003 in a basement in the Spanish district in Paris on a 16-track tape machine. It was released in November 2003 through Pineapple Recording Group, a label started by Hill and Karscig. The album sold over 22,000 copies in the first six months after release, despite being sold only at shows, on the band’s website, and in some independent record stores. The album became popular in the UK in 2004, after the band performed on the Jonathan Ross television show one week after Oasis. The band also performed on the Mary Hobbs show on BBC Radio 1. They were embraced by Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle and Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme at the 2004 NME Awards.
Illegal Tender EP and The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (2005-2007)
The band performed in the 2005 T in the Park festival. In reviews after the festival they were named “the best band of the festival. Hill recorded and released a music video for the instrumental song “The Hunt”.
Independent record label Stolen Transmission released a three-song CD featuring the songs “Hey Teacher” and “God Killed the Queen”. After the band returned to California, local radio stations, including XETRA-FM in San Diego, began playing an unreleased song from the band’s website, “Finding out True love is Blind”. This airplay led to the release of two simultaneous limited EPs, Pink and Blue. Eight major radio stations on the West Coast then named the single a top five song, leading to the band signing to Atlantic Records in late 2004.
The band released a self-produced EP entitled Illegal Tender in January 2005, followed in March by their second full-length album, The Best Little Secrets Are Kept, produced by Hill. The album depicts a half-naked girl with the song titles written on her back. A censored version of the cover was released in Wal-Mart, with a portion of the girl’s body cropped off. The album spawned two singles, “Finding Out True Love Is Blind” and “God Killed the Queen”.
In 2005 NME called the band “music to flunk rehab to”, and Rolling Stone and MTV named them as one of its top 10 bands to watch. The music video for “Pledge of Allegiance”, again filmed by Hill, featured the “The Best Little Secrets” cover model undressing in front of a camera. The music video for “Paper Doll” was released exclusively on the alt porn website Suicide Girls. The video, featuring various models in different stages of undress, was directed by alt-porn pioneer Eon McKai.
In 2007 David Bowie and Alicia Keys asked the band to play their BlackBall charity event for Aids in Africa. Bowie cites Louis XIV as one his favorite new bands in numerous Conde Naste publications. Hill and Karscig also sang on three songs on The Killers 2007 album Sam’s Town. In September 2007 violinist Ray Suen joined Louis XIV as a touring member. The band toured Australia, Mexico, and the USA with The Killers and played several AIDS in Africa charity events. Also in 2007, two of Louis XIV’s tracks, the titular ‘Louis XIV’ and ‘Finding Out True Love Is Blind’ were used as backing tracks on Jimmy Carr’s stand-up DVD “Comedian”.
The band’s next EP, The Distances from Everyone to You, was released through the iTunes Store on September 11, 2007. The EP contains the band’s cover version of Queen’s Flash Gordon theme, later used for the Sci Fi Channel’s new Flash Gordon television series.
Slick Dogs and Ponies and breakup (2008-2009)
Louis XIV toured with the Killers between February and April 2009. After a show in Manchester at the O2 Apollo Manchester, the Manchester Tribune called the band “criminally overlooked”. They released their third album Slick Dogs and Ponies on January 29, 2008 to largely negative reviews.
In an interview with NME on June 30, 2009, The Killers singer Brandon Flowers mentioned that he thought Louis XIV had broken up. The band confirmed this on July 3, 2009 on their MySpace blog, saying that Brian Karscig had left the band to start The Nervous Wreckords. Karscig did not rule out the possibility of future reunions, but stated that he needed to take an indefinite break, since “Louis XIV started to feel more like a business than a camaraderie, and in that, the music started to suffer and started feeling uninspired.
After performing a number of shows on their “Return of the King” tour in 2012 supporting The Killers, Jason Hill officially confirmed in an interview in March 2013 that the band has decided to reunite.
Louis XIV was known for their sexually provocative lyrics in a few of their songs. In 2005 the Hoover, Alabama board of education withdrew an invitation for the band to perform a concert at Hoover High School, The board cited complaints about the lyrics of the band’s songs, a recent arrest in California for drug possession, and “the likely possibility of irresponsible acts,” in determining that it was “not appropriate to have a band of this kind of nature” perform at the school.
The incident has given rise to the group being “banned from Alabama”. As Hill explained to Reverb Magazine on November 17, 2007, while on tour in Melbourne, Victoria:
When you hang out with us, you realize that we are constantly laughing and messing around. But Hoover, Alabama banned us – we weren’t allowed to perform in the city at the time. I have no idea why. We first found out about it on CNN, the night before after the VMAs in Miami, we still got paid to play the show so we just hung out in Miami another day, we needed the break anyway. It was really very idiotic, I thought. I’ve been called a sexist and a male chauvinist. There was a really great article in San Francisco’s paper, The Guardian which was called “10 Reasons Why You Should Not Like Louis XIV”; it was one of my favorite articles I’ve ever read about us. As it was all about the music being some of the best in the last 20 years, but that we were irresponsible morally, so everyone should avoid it. Its so far from the truth but I’ve even been called a racist when I used the terms “Chocolate Girl” and “Vanilla Girl”. I was being playful. But in some ways, the most negative press can also be the biggest compliment.
Jason Hill – vocals, bass, guitar,piano engineer,producer
Brian Karscig – vocals, guitar, bass, piano
Mark Maigaard – drums
James Armbrust – bass
Louis XIV (November 2003), Pineapple Recording Group
The Best Little Secrets Are Kept (March 22, 2005), Atlantic – No. 24 U.S. Billboard 200
Slick Dogs and Ponies (January 29, 2008), Atlantic
PINK EP (2004), Pineapple Recording Group
BLUE EP (2004), Pineapple Recording Group
Illegal Tender (January 25, 2005), Pineapple Recording Group/ Vice Records
The Distances from Everyone to You (September 11, 2007), Atlantic
Year Song U.S. Mod. Rock UK Singles Chart Album
2005 “Finding Out True Love Is Blind” 28 26 The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
“God Killed the Queen” – 68
2008 “Air Traffic Control” – – Slick Dogs and Ponies