Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Kings of the road capture tour life in rock documentary

Even by a touring band's standards, King of Prussia has a serious case of wanderlust.

The group once resided in Athens, Ga. — home to acts like Neutral Milk Hotel and The Olivia Tremor Control that mirror their multi-instrumental, semi-psychedelic indie-pop sensibilities. After about six years, frontman Brandon Hanick moved to Barcelona.

Then he went on the road selling posters. Then he decided to record an album while traveling. Then he decided to document it on film.

But before that, he lived in Tampa Bay. "It's still home as much as any place could be, really," said Hanick, who's been traveling the U.S., Panama and Europe the past seven months.

Now he'll have a homecoming when the documentary Poster Boys or: The Art of Mobile Recording makes its world premiere at the Gasparilla Film Festival on Saturday. The band will also play a free show at Microgroove on Friday.

Hanick attended Dunedin High School and said he often visits and his parents still live there. It was in Athens that King of Prussia first came to prominence, earning positive notes from outlets like NPR. But then Hanick moved to Barcelona to teach English.

Because Spain's summer breaks were so long, Hanick said, he returned to the U.S. and traveled selling celebrity icon posters. He would bring along King of Prussia member ­Nathan Troutman.

On one such poster tour in 2012, Hanick and King of Prussia member Nathan Troutman decided to make a record on the road as side project Cool Moments and thought it could make for an interesting film as well.

"It kind of gave it that narrative arc — some sort of goal we were reaching towards, as opposed to driving to the next town and selling more Bob Marley and Belushi posters," Hanick said.

Along with director Patrick Burke, they hit the road. The idea was to start out with minimal recording equipment and accumulate instruments and performers over time. "We expected to meet a horn player here, a piano player there, but meeting a hand drum player that could play on this tropical-sounding song we had was really great," he said.

Yet the tour didn't always go smoothly. In one week, Troutman said he managed to back into two different light poles at two different colleges with his car. "They were trying to tell me that I'm going to have to pay for it," he said. "And I'm telling them there's absolutely no way I can pay $4,000 for a light post — I'm a broke musician."

Over about seven weeks, the album was recorded in hotel rooms, stairwells and practice spaces. King of Prussia has since finished a double album called Zonian Girls & Summer Spooks that, fittingly, was recorded in Athens, Barcelona and Bordeaux.

They're also submitting Poster Boys to festivals in familiar locations. Among their hopes: a Barcelona film festival devoted entirely to music documentaries.

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