Image: Sonic PR

“Anyone who says they’ve made it deserves a slap!” : Ryan Breslin from The K’s on grassroots venues, ‘making it’, and ‘I Wonder if the World Knows’

Right now, it feels like The K’s are on an unstoppable rise to stardom. From playing small, intimate venues less than a year ago to now having a slot on the coveted Reading and Leeds main stage for 2024, the band have finally had their well-deserved break. Their heart-wrenching guitar ballad ‘Hoping Maybe’ reached number 2 on the iTunes chart, topped only by Miley Cyrus’ smash hit ‘Flowers’.  Similarly, since its release in 2017, the band’s electric debut single ‘Sarajevo’ has amassed over 5.8 million streams on Spotify. They also sold-out Manchester’s O2 Academy in about seven hours. The most impressive thing about all this? The fact they’ve done it all without even releasing their debut album.

The plan, initially, was different. Forming in their hometown of Earlestown in 2017, The K’s rose to popularity partly through word of mouth about their explosive live performances. But when COVID put live events on hold, the band had to delay their plans. “We were talking to record labels and stuff just before the pandemic and we were having meetings,” guitarist Ryan Breslin recalls. “We were on a real rise.”

But while many bands died off, The K’s kept going, staying active throughout 2020 and 2021. From doing Facebook livestreams every Friday to doing “all kinds of stupid stuff online” to writing and releasing ‘Valley One’ when Breslin was ill in lockdown, the band didn’t stop.

“I think everything happens for a reason, on the music side of things,” Breslin notes. “And I think we did quite well and then we came out of it. We got a deal, and we got management,” he reflects. “It’s kind of worked out well, so we’re definitely happy with how it ended up.”

And now, years later, the band are finally releasing their debut album, I Wonder if the World Knows, on the 5th of April. So, although the moment feels long overdue, it’s naturally very exciting for The K’s to finally have their album on the way.

“It’s such a good feeling,” Breslin says while grinning. “We’ve grafted, d’ya know what I mean? Everyone’s asking ‘When’s the album coming? When’s the album coming?’, and now that it’s here, we’re dead proud of it and we love how it’s just going to become everyone else’s.”

We’re best at playing live so we pride ourselves on that

Ryan Breslin, The K’s

Making I Wonder if the World Knows also gave the band the opportunity to experiment. They stuck to their indie, rock, and pop roots but added a string section to ‘Valley One’ and ‘Hoping Maybe’. Although the original recordings were stellar in and of themselves, the strings added to them make them feel like these were missing all along. The album also opens the album with ‘Icarus’, a majestic string-led piece that rises to a crescendo of drums and booming guitars which give way to Jamie Boyle’s powerhouse vocals. “For them ballads in particular, you’ve got to pull on people’s heartstrings as much as you can (excuse the pun),” Breslin says. “We are experimenting a little bit and I think it’s probably maturing a bit in the music side of things.”

But apart from hard work and talent, part of The K’s rise can be attributed to their live shows. “We’re best at playing live so we pride ourselves on that,” Breslin notes. From playing small pubs and clubs to now selling out larger shows, The K’s have built up a devout fanbase most larger bands would be jealous of.  “I think because we’ve done that for so long, people just become loyal,” he reflects. “And it’s a sick show when we’re doing it, that’s what we’re best at, so we pride ourselves on that!”

Part of the appeal of seeing the band live also stems from their unmistakable charisma when the four-piece are together. “Taking the piss out of each other on stage, that’s what we do anyway, so it just works,” he notes. The band bounce off each other, running around and they clearly have as much fun as the people in the crowd.

Aside from being bandmates, Breslin, vocalist Jamie Boyle, bassist Dexter Baker, and drummer Nathan Peers are good friends. “We’re all best mates anyway, as opposed to just musicians chucked together,” Breslin says.

And some of The K’s most memorable moments stem from these shows. Playing Neighbourhood Weekender in Warrington, Breslin recalls, “They had to stop people from trying to get into the tent because it was that rammed! The hairs stood up on your neck and you’re like ‘fucking hell’. You can’t describe that feeling.”

The band are now veterans at playing shows, but the journey has not gone without its mishaps. “The most memorable thing that’s happened is that I fell off stage,” Breslin chuckles. “I completely missed the speaker in front of me, jumped on the barrier, and just went absolutely arse over tit. That really hurt!”

I think anyone who says they’ve ‘made it’ deserves a slap


Indisputably, part of The K’s appeal is the fact they are just normal people who happen to be in a band. “If that ever changed, I hope someone would give me a slap,” Breslin states. “We keep it real. We have a pint with [ fans ],” he says. “Having that sort of connection with the fans always helps.”

But despite their newfound success, The K’s insist on not forgetting their roots. Hometown pride is something central to I Wonder if the World Knows and The K’s’ music in general, with ‘Black and Blue’, ‘Landmines’, and ‘Hometown’ all touching on what it was like growing up in Earlestown, a borough in Merseyside. However, they refuse to rest on their laurels. “I think anyone who says they’ve ‘made it’ deserves a slap,” asserts Breslin.

As for Earlestown, Breslin asserts not much has changed. “The people who work in Tesco or Shell will have the odd joke when you go in for a pint of milk,” he laughs. “I would never say ‘oh, we’ve made it and we’re never going into a shop’ or ‘oh, we’ve made it and we’re not going to go into the pub’. I don’t think you ever can ‘make it’. We’ve not ‘made it’. We’re just at the start, so it’s a long career ahead. We’re just exactly the same as we always have been, and I think if that ever changed, I’d hope someone gave me a slap!”

But despite this, The K’s have, arguably, ‘made it’, and the band’s recent successes prove as much. But before they were selling out 2000-person-capacity venues, they were playing smaller, independent venues. However, now, grassroots venues are under threat. With a deadly combination of high rent prices, high electricity bills, and lower ticket sales, many of these venues have been forced to shut their doors. This could be catastrophic for the future of the music industry, because if new bands, like The K’s, aren’t given a space to grow and play their first shows, they may never be able to play these larger venues and festivals. There are charities set up to help these smaller venues, but there are still things people could be doing to keep local music scenes alive.

I can guarantee you’ll find some of your favourite bands in the future if you just keep following them


“If you see a band in a small venue, honest to God buy a ticket to it, because that was us a few years ago,” Breslin pleads. “Get in there and just experience it because people didn’t know us when we first came on, and we wouldn’t have the fanbase like we have now without these venues. I can guarantee you’ll find some of your favourite bands in the future if you just keep following them.”

The K’s are one of the most exciting up-and-coming bands, but they’re only at the start of their career. Aside from having sold out Manchester’s O2 Academy and having their upcoming slot on the Reading and Leeds main stage, the band are also playing some intimate, acoustic shows in the coming months as well as a full-fledged UK tour followed up by a slew of festival appearances all over Europe this summer.  “There’s always so much to learn,” Breslin concludes. “We’re just at the start, so it’s a long career ahead.”

The K’s debut album I Wonder if the World Knows is out 5th April.


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