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After nine years, ten tours (450 shows), and four albums of reinventing the pop-punk aesthetic with no remorse for timid ears, downtown Denver’s King Rat sound like endorphin-crazed, ex-altar boys with machine guns instead of instruments.
Founded in 1996 by Luke Schmaltz (guitar/lead vocals), these recovering Catholics, Zeth Ian Pedulla (drums), Mike Makkay (lead Guitar/ backing vocals), Anthony Delilli (bass/backing vocals), boast a lyrical cannon which include odes to backstabbing friends, evil ex-girlfriends, porn, booze and general contempt for authority and dishonesty, normalcy and sobriety.
Schmaltz began performing live at age 17 while living in Albuquerque, New Mexico where he sang for a band called Nothing Wonderful. Shifting his focus to martial arts, he switched from live music to kickboxing and Kata competition. He continued this pursuit until 1995 when he quit martial arts and began playing live solo gigs.
"I needed something to do with myself that was both physical and cerebral. I was tired of getting my nose broken, so rock 'n roll made perfect sense," says Schmaltz.
This was the beginning of King Rat.
Luke also began an acting career in 1998, which includes six independent feature films and over a dozen commercials. He balances his time between music and acting, but is adamant that King Rat remain his #1 priority.
"I've got to stay busy constantly. If I played music and smashed television sets 24 hours a day, I'd burn out. Acting distracts me from wanting to kill people. "
Scmaltz has independently produced four albums for King Rat and written most of the original material, collaborating most recently with drummer Zeth Pedulla, who began his musical journey in upstate New York when he began picking out tunes on the guitar at age 13. At 17 he picked up the drums.
Once bitter rivals, Pedulla and Schmaltz joined forces in 1998. One night after a gig Luke approached Zeth about playing for King Rat, recalling: "He was playing like a jack rabbit humping Buddy Rich's leg, so I had to have him in the band."
Mike Makkay began playing music at a young age after a cousin gave him his first Pink Floyd album. He moved from New Jersey to Denver upon finishing school to pursue a career in radio, and found a home at alternative station KTCL.
"I was turned on to tons of music I missed while growing up. I learned about lots of early alternative and punk rock. I also learned that working at a radio can make you jaded musically. Playing the same lousy song by the same untalented hack, over and over again was not as cool as I thought it would be. Besides, I could BE that untalented hack!"
Corporate control began to edit the content of Mike's radio airtime, thus he formed a show that is still known at KTCL as Locals Only. There he discovered the local scene and first met the boys in King Rat. After playing locally in bands Texas Arson Conference and Throbgobblin, Mike found himself on his own. He began searching for an already established band. One night at a show he bumped into Zeth. Mike recalls, "I said I was sorry and bought him another beer at which time I told him I was a guitarist. He told me where to show up for an audition and to bring more beer. I have been showing up ever since."
Anthony Delilli, 23, joined King Rat in January 2003. He toured with the band for the first time on the March, 2003 Roman Ruin Records "Punk As Hell" Midwest tour. Anthony also plays bass and sings in a band called Special Ed.
King Rat’s four albums are: The Town Liar (1996), Knockin’ Up Heaven’s Whore (1999), Big Plans (2000) and Beautiful Songs for Ugly Children (2001). They are currently in production on record number five — Duct Tape and Dreams — scheduled for release in early 2005, and followed by a tour through the Midwest, Southern California and up the West coast to Seattle. In the past, they have shared bills with national acts, Pennywise, U.S. Bombs, Bad Brains, UK Subs, Agent Orange, and X.
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