Hot New Band: Queen Kwong

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When Queen Kwong singer Carré Callaway sat down with Wes Borland to discuss collaborating on a music video, she thought it was just another business meeting. The Limp Bizkit guitarist, though, apparently had other ideas…

“I thought, ‘Why is this guy so nervous? What’s going on?’” remembers Carré. “I was like, ‘This isn’t a date…’ And he was like, ‘Oh, it isn’t?’”

Wes laughs: “And then it was a date by the end of it, right?”

He grins, and the pair look at each other affectionately. They’re now a couple, and have been playing as part of a full band for Queen Kwong’s shows. However, the project is Carré’s brainchild, and has been gestating for a long time. Its beginnings can be traced back to Denver, Colorado in the late 80s, where the singer-songwriter grew up next to a goth-industrial-punk club that was run by her dad.

“My childhood birthdays were spent there, and then I started bartending there. My entire life was there, so that was part of my weird childhood,” she explains. “I guess I was around music at a really young age, even though my parents weren’t musicians.”

The summer before Carré was due to leave for college in New York, she travelled to New Orleans, where she happened to meet Trent Reznor, and went back to his studio to record some demos. She moved to LA and landed a support slot on Nine Inch Nails’ With Teeth tour in 2005. Retreating to refine her work, she returned for 2009’s Wave Goodbye tour with a band she’d put together. Since then, she’s made a string of EPs and settled on a live lineup featuring Wes, former Marilyn Manson bassist Fred Sablan and AWOLNATION drummer Hayden Scott. The quartet have played multiple shows in the US and London, and supported cult favourites Failure back in May. With centre-stage vocals that flit capriciously between emotional peaks and troughs, it’s not surprising to learn the songs for debut album Get A Witness were written firmly in the moment.

“When I made the record and everything was spur-of-the-moment, I was improvising lyrics,” recalls Carré. “I think every song came from a place of sadness, except for the single Cold Daggers, which was just super high energy, and a song called Bells On. They’re both very personal songs.”

Photo: Derek Bremner/TeamRock

The recording process was also personal, as Carré had dated producer Joe Cardamone [The Icarus Line] 10 years earlier. “We have a volatile relationship, and we’re not afraid to go at each other,” she reveals.

“You were upset a lot,” chips in Wes, who mixed the album.

“Yeah, I was upset the whole time…” she agrees.

“It was constant, but it made it what it was,” he concedes.

And what is Queen Kwong, anyway? It’s balls-out rock with more dramatic moments than an episode of Game Of Thrones. We won’t give you any more spoilers than that…

Get A Witness is out on August 28 via Dissention