“We want fans to know that The King of Mars is about music, not about an ego.”
John Bruner has been playing music and writing songs since he was about twelve years old, he says.
Having worked on numerous projects since middle school he was looking to start a new band upon arriving at Colombia College in Chicago.
“The biggest obstacle I had was finding full time, committed members who were serious about making a career out of this” he says.
After a few lineups, Bruner found guitarist Matt Gordon through a school guitar ensemble. Once Gordon heard a few of his songs, Gordon introduced Bruner to bassist JJ Frale. After the addition of Frale, The King of Mars was formed in 2015 and the band boasts seven of eight members depending on the show.
“After we added JJ, we started adding members until we could barely fit on a stage anymore” he says.
“Most of our songs were based off typical rock from the 90’s and early 2000’s” Bruner says. “I got bored of this sound because I felt like it had been done a million times before. So I started looking for keyboard players to add an extra layer.”
The band then found Randy Deadman, adding different synth sounds to help create their signature sound. In addition the band welcomed Jason Deran to arrange the horn lines.
“In my opinion, our horn lines are one of the most defining characteristics of the ban” Bruner says.
Bruner is an avid reader and says that he takes different ideas from characters. He also is a big fan of Charles Bukowski, using his poems as a source of inspiration.
“I draw lyrical inspiration from life, relationships, family, friends, world events, depression, addiction, anxiety, all kinds of good stuff.”
When drawing on lyrical inspiration he enjoys bands similar to Father John Misty and Modest Mouse.
“They’re (sic) words are heart wrenchingly hilarious as well as painfully genuine and I can only hope to compare to them someday” he says.
Musically, Bruner is inspired by Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, “for their vocal chops and the grooves they create.”
From their 2018 release, Bleach and Aspirin, “Hold Dear” resonates with Bruner the most.
“That song is extremely personal to me,” he says. “I wrote it about my own struggles with substance abuse and the impact it had on my loved ones. I don’t enjoy talking too much about personal matters in a public arena like that, so writing that song was very difficult for me.”
He was nervous to open himself up to the world and people’s reactions to that song.
“That was one of the first times I felt anxious about putting a body of work out into the world,” he says. “I wasn’t sure how fans and friends would react to that one, but I’ve received nothing but overwhelming support and positive feedback so far.”
After releasing Bleach and Asprin in the fall of 2018, The King of Mars has played in Illinois and Michigan. Over the summer they plan to play a few festivals in Chicago and more shows in Michigan.
They also plan to record more songs which Bruner says will “be a bit heavier and grungier than in the past.”
“I want fans to understand that we take an immense amount of pride in our craft and musicianship,” he says. “That being said, we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I’ve never seen so much talent in one band, but I’ve also never seen so much humility. We want fans to know that The King of Mars is about music, not about an ego.”