Louis XIV's reign as King of France spanned seventy-two years, the longest documented of any European monarch. He was also referred to as The Sun King because it was thought that, just as the planets revolve around the Sun, so too should France and the Court revolve around him.
So why would a San Diego Punk band known for sexually oriented lyrics and double entendres name themselves after a 17th century monarch? Well, the obvious juxtaposition was likely too good to let pass - Punk with regal airs. But there's a little more. Like their namesake, Louis XIV are un-apologetically their own biggest fans and think everything should revolve around them.
These days it's not hard to find somebody who is offended by something. The trick is locating them and turning it into band publicity. "When you hang out with us, you realize that we like having a laugh," said Jason Hill. "But Alabama banned usówe weren't allowed to perform in the state. I have no idea why." Yeah sure.
Doubtful the Alabama legislature passed a bill banning Louis XIV but somebody must have drawn the line and that's good enough. Alabama is seen as a cultural backwater. Like being banned by prudes in Boston, it doesn't hurt. But it's a little different when San Francisco's alternative, left-leaning paper, The Guardian publishes a rant called "10 Reasons Why You Should Not Like Louis XIV." "It was the greatest article I've ever read," commented Hill. "People don't realize when we're being tongue-in-cheek. But in some ways, the most negative press can also be the biggest compliment." OK, so Hill has Marketing 101 down - what else?
Louis XIV originally formed as a trio in '03. It was after their first recording session that James Armbrust joined. From there, the group released the EP "Illegal Tender" in '05 and followed that with their debut album, "The Best Little Secrets Are Kept," a couple months later. The title came from a line in the song "Pledge Of Allegiance" and the album cover had the track listing written on a naked woman's backside. Easy to see where they're at.
Two singles were released, "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" (a track also featured on the EP) and "God Killed The Queen." Neither song did much as the album stalled in the lower reaches (#159) of the Billboard 200 album chart. The lyrics to "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" did cause a bit of a stir.
Ah chocolate girl, you're looking like something I want
Ah and your little Asian friend well she can come if she wants
Hey, carrot juice, I wanna squeeze you away until you bleed
And your vanilla friend, well she looks like something I need
"I've even been called a racist when I used the terms "Chocolate Girl" and "Vanilla Girl," explained Hill. "I was trying to be playful and flirtatious."
Taking a different marketing approach, Louis XIV's video for "Paper Doll" was directed by porn legend Eon McKaiwas and released exclusively on the alt. porn Suicide Girls website. A little closer to the mainstream, Louis XIV covered Queen's "Flash Gordon" for the Sc-Fi channel's show of the same name. Queen's original was used as the title track of a wretched movie and despite Louis XIV's efforts, it remained a horrible song.
On a brighter note, Louis XIV released their sophomore album "Slick Dogs And Ponies" in '08 and hit the road opening for Hot Hot Heat. That'll work.
2003 Louis XIV
2005 The Best Little Secrets Are Kept
2008 Slick Dogs And Ponies
2004 PINK EP
2004 BLUE EP
2005 Illegal Tender
2007 The Distances From Everyone To You
Every time Louis XIV's name comes up there's a litany of acts they are compared toÖ old ones at that: AC/DC, David Bowie, Queen, T-Rex and so on. It raises the question, "why not just pull out those act's dusty CDs and be done with it?"
Well, Louis XIV may not be terribly original but they are fun. They're a group that likes to venture over the top and slam into the punchline. It's when they try to instill some drama as in "The Stalker" or "Swarming Of The Bees," both on "Slick Dogs And Ponies," that they really falter. But "Slick Dogs And Ponies" has a good romp in "Sometimes You Just Want To" and the title track is a pretty good stab at horror Rock. "Hopesick" does a nice job channeling Bowie while "Air Traffic Control" is a variant of the "Major Tom" saga ("every time the world goes 'round, the closer you get to the ground").
Though "Slick Dogs And Ponies" is good, Louis XIV are far stronger on their debut, "Best Little Secrets Are Kept."
With intimate vocals and a strident beat "Louis XIV" sets the stage with the lyrics "me, me, me, is all I really want to talk about." Nothing beats honesty. "Finding Out True Love Is Blind" and "God Killed The Queen" are sly fun. "Hey Teacher" blends Van Halen lust with the Stones' "suicide right on the stage." But it's "Illegal Tender" that just about jumps out of its skin.