Widely known as the exuberant, bright and always smiling keyboardist and contributing vocalist of Stick Figure, Kevin “KBong” Bong has been hard at work on his follow-up effort to the 2014 release of Hopes and Dreams. The Pier was able to catch up with KBong in addition to premiering his new track “Good Lovin” from his forthcoming album…
Hawaiian and San Diego native KBong has been putting “Smiles on Faces,” without fail, for years. His upbeat, lively and energetic mood becomes immediately infectious when fans are able to catch his own live show or rock out for the night with Stick Figure. His debut full-length album, Hopes and Dreams, was greeted with a warm reception by many and featured collaborations with Hirie, Alific and Stick Figure.
In addition to a relentless touring schedule with Stick Figure, KBong hosted his own radio show — On the Rise Show with SoulShine KBong. Momentum has never been stronger, and KBong has recently announced that he is finalizing his second full-length album to include the new single “Good Lovin” — which The Pier is proud to premiere!
Song Premiere: KBong – “Good Lovin’”
“Good Lovin” is a strong debut for the forthcoming album and gels perfectly with the quintessential KBong style, derived from influences such as Bob Marley, Jason Mraz and Jack Johnson to portray an upbeat, sing-a-long, cheerful track for all to enjoy. The song was produced by Johnny Cosmic and features the horn players Chris and Andrew from Hirie.
We had the opportunity to catch up with KBong as he was able to shed some additional light on the track and his forthcoming album.
The Pier: Congrats again on Hopes and Dreams and all of its success! Regarding the new album, do you have a title and an anticipated release date? How many tracks will be on the new album?
KBong: It’s definitely still in the works. It’s going to be released this year in 2017 –- I know that for sure. I’ve been toying with titles a little bit here and there, still tweaking some ideas but I’m excited for the record! We’ve got 12 songs, and I feel like it’s the perfect follow-up to Hopes and Dreams as far as song writing and production goes, so I’m excited for it.
The Pier: Hopes and Dreams featured a few collaborations with Stick Figure on “Livin’ Easy” and HIRIE on “Opportunity” -– Can we expect additional collaborations to be featured on the new record as well?
KBong: Yes! And I’m really excited for it. We’ve got Raging Fyah on a track, The Movement on a track, of course Stick Figure will be featured on a track and then Johnny Cosmic will be featured on a track. Johnny Cosmic is the guy I’ve been producing it with and the most recent, newest member of Stick Figure.
The Pier: What was the overall writing process for the new record? The song “In the Mood” from your first album was written while you were hiking in Hawaii -– were there any specific moments that served as inspiration for the new tracks?
KBong: Yes –- the original idea for the album was about awakening. But it’s about moving on to the next chapter of our lives, and for me it was the next chapter of KBong music as far as putting out something that I’ve written. It was the next chapter of things that were happening around me in my life like getting to a new level with Stick Figure, and hitting this crazy platform of success. We had jumped sort of to another level with amphitheater tours, the “Set in Stone Tour” which featured a lot of sold out shows. So I was feeling that, I recently met a girl who I’m in love with now –- so it’s like that, the girl, Stick Figure’s level and me just writing about all these experiences kind of put me into this next chapter, you know? So a lot of songs, you’ll kind of hear about that. A lot of the themes are about love, experiencing the next chapter of what we’ve done with Stick Figure and what it’s like to be on tour and experiences on the road -– it’s a culmination of the last three or four years.
The Pier: Regarding the new track “Good Lovin” -– its upbeat, lively and a lot of fun! How long was that song specifically in the works and what was the overall messaging behind the track?
KBong: Yeah — “Good Lovin” is definitely a feel-good track, and you can hear that in the track. It’s about celebrating love between family and friends, nature, the experience of life and the blessing that this life is. So that idea kind of came out in the song. It’s fun, its catchy, the very first verse of the song was actually backstage at a Stick Figure concert in Los Angeles. My friend showed me this thing he was working on, it was actually Alific, who I’ve worked with on the previous record. So he was kind of showing me some new stuff, and I started free-styling the Good / Good Lovin’ chorus and took my iPhone memo out and recorded that, it was sort of an idea for a while. And then why I presented it to Johnny Cosmic as we were working on this next record. He was drawn to that and said we should move forward on that and see what we can come up with, which turned into the current sound it is right now. The horn section for “Good Lovin” is the guys from HIRIE -– Chris Hampton and Andrew McKee. It was really cool to hear their addition on it as well.
The Pier: How involved was the rest of Stick Figure in the creating/recording process of the new record? Also – when you are writing the new material do you ever differentiate between what will go on your album or present new material as potential tracks for future Stick Figure releases?
KBong: Yeah definitely, it’s a little bit of everything. We all collaborate as much as we can. A lot of the collaborations since we’ve started touring together is a lot of live transitions. Our main focus is collaboration but that’s also moved into helping Scott into any way we can with production. As far as my record goes – this record was pretty much written and produced on tour. It was a very fun process, because we had to get really creative on where to record. There were some nights where we were recording in the back of the tour bus, some nights we were recording in a continental breakfast room in a hotel, sometimes it was a hotel room. A lot of the times we’d have a couple days off and I would just go up to the hotel and say like hey, we’re staying here, we’re working on a record from the road, we’re not going to make much noise –- is there any place we could do that? A lot of the places would actually bring us to a conference room in the hotel or a meeting room. So Johnny Cosmic and I produced this record, mobile on his laptop setup and from the road, which led to collaborations with artists like The Movement as we were on tour with them last year, Raging Fyah we were on tour with them last year. So it was a great experience.
The Pier: Is Stick Figure working on any new material as well and can new music be expected soon?
KBong: Always! Definitely – especially with acquisition of the new studio space in Oakland, it’s made for a lot of progress already and hitting the ground running. Not even near a projected date or anything like that yet, but what I’ve heard so far is amazing! So when it hits, it’s going to be great.
The Pier: We saw that you’ve recently had the opportunity to play a few shows, most recently the Lake Worth Reggae Fest – are there going to be any instances this Summer where perhaps you would play a solo set opening for Stick Figure to perform and promote more of your new material?
KBong: That will probably happen sporadically, we’re working on some dates. We’re kind of getting those put into fruition as soon as we can and as they come. My main focus right now is getting this record out and getting it into the listener’s hands. I’m really proud of it, I’m really excited for it. The people that were adding on to it and collaborated on it, whether it was vocals, a drum beat or a bass-line, everyone was really talented that was a part of this. It’s going to be great to see it come out.
The Pier: Did you have a chance to premiere “Good Lovin” at Lake Worth Reggae Fest or other recent shows as part of the setlist?
KBong: Yeah we did! It had a good response, I’ve played that song a couple times now. Because like you said the upbeat, the catchy chorus – by the end people were singing along! And I’m like this song isn’t even available yet! So it was pretty cool that they were able to catch on that real quickly and sing along.
Thanks so much for the time, KBong! Again, enjoy the premiere of his new single “Good Lovin’” and we’ll bring you more information on his forthcoming album as soon as it’s made available to us. You can catch KBong on tour with his band Stick Figure where you can find upcoming dates below.
Listen: KBong – “Good Lovin’”
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