Local Noise: Kings Highway

Kings Highway is the culmination of a musical partnership started when Jeff Pilgrim, lead vocalist, guitarist, and bassist, met drummer Cory Pedalino when they were attending college together. They started a band, but when their bass player, Bill Dwight, decided to pursue other options and moved to Miami, the duo briefly went their separate ways. At that point, Jeff moved to Hoboken and became a part of the burgeoning singer-songwriter scene. It was there he met vocalist/guitarist Kevin Gormley, and when they combined forces, Jeff was blown away by Kevin’s lead guitar ability. He immediately called Cory, and the trio started playing shows together. The trio clicked, and it wasn’t long before they found themselves playing a CD release party at The Stone Pony.

The group had brief dalliances with a few bass players, including Jeff’s high school friend Mike Gambino, who was a part of the CD and Stone Pony show. When Mike also left to pursue other options, Cory put an ad on Craigslist, and the first and only bassist they tried was John Sayson, who turned out to be a phenomenal musician and a great guy. However, this combination was also not meant to be, as John had other priorities. It was then the group finally linked up with Chris Szaro, who turned out to be the final piece of the puzzle. Jeff and Chris had met through a mutual friend, and Chris obliged when Jeff had asked for him to step in.

“Since Chris joined, the writing process has been a complete 25 percent contribution from each member,” says Jeff. “Chris comes up with a riff, Cory lays the beat, Kevin rips some nasty solo, and I finish off the song with some melodies and vocal hooks. Once we have a song structured out, we usually just record it with an iPhone; clearly not meant to be perfect, just so we don’t forget the song and different parts we had written for it. Whatever lyrics I make up on the spot usually wind up sticking. I’ll go home and pick out one line that I liked, and write the song around that. Since the addition of Chris, who is a great guitarist, I naturally started to grow a liking for bass. And the two of us will switch guitar and bass during the live show.”

The group has managed to grace the stages of some prestigious venues and festivals in a relatively short time, including Asbury Park’s Convention Hall, the Starland Ballroom, Penn State University, and the Meadowlands NY/NJ State Fair. “Our best show as a group would have to be Penn State,” exclaims Jeff. “Playing to hundreds of strangers and getting an awesome response is any band’s dream!”

Musically, the band comes from a few different directions, forming a combination of rock, jam band, and melody. “With the addition of Chris, the sound of our band has taken an awesome step forward,” Jeff adds. “It’s great having two lead guitarists capable of melting faces! And since Cory and I have been playing for the better part of a decade, that bass and drum combo makes for an awesome groove pocket.

“Our influences come from all over the place, and it helps create an original sound when all combined,” Jeff continues. “Cory’s hard rock background helps keep the Kings Highway songs upbeat. Kevin’s blues background helps give the songs a lot of character when he rips a solo. Chris’ eclectic background shows as he can float from one style to another with no problem at all. My singer-songwriter background helps tie songs together with melodies and meaningful lyrics. Some bands that we love are Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Led Zeppelin.”

The combination of guitar and bass abilities gives the band the opportunity to stretch out, and they take full advantage of that. “We strongly believe in the group we have now, and our goal is to see how far it can take us,” Jeff relates. “We continuously get better as musicians and our writing reflects that. I think our favorite songs are the recent ones we have written, in which I switch to bass and Chris can battle lead guitar riffs with Kevin. The fans have more fun, and the band certainly does too. Our next objective would be to jump on an East Coast tour, supporting a national act.”

You can listen to streaming music from Kings Highway, and also download songs, at kingshighwaymusic.com, kingshighway.bandcamp.com, or find them on Facebook.