Kevin K Interview

Posted: August 2, 2017 by rockbrat in Uncategorized
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This is an interview Colin Gray (Australian Rock Show/Rockbrat Blog) conducted on September 3, 2010 with legendary NYC rocker Kevin K. At the time, Kevin was about to release his autobiography, ‘How To Become A Successful Loser’, and his 20th Studio album, ‘Joey And Me’. In this detailed interview, Kevin talks about the book, the ‘Joey And Me’ album, playing with Walter Lure in LA, the state of the music industry, his memories of NYC, the ‘Firestorm’ and ‘Deutschland’ albums, his brother Alan, Cheetah Chrome, Freddy Lynxx, the New Toys and a whole lot more. This interview originally aired on the Rockbrat Radio podcast (now defunct) at 10PM on 10 September, 2010.

With an absolute plethora of internet radio stations out there, one could say that the choice of stations open to the listener are infinite. Plenty of options yes, but more often than not the options presented are not offering anything new in terms of playlists. How does one differentiate the cream from the crap? Listen to TuneIn Radio or any number of similar sites – throw a dart and you will more often than not land on a “station” that is airing classic rock / AOR that is akin to AM radio. That’s fine every now and then, but sometimes I want to hear new bands, and guitar rock I haven’t heard before – or, deep cuts from classic artists. How about something from Ronnie Lane I haven’t heard in a long while,  a new Chuck Berry cut I haven’t heard, or something off the new Alice Cooper album? How about some new Americana/ classic rock / Alt county from Whiskey Myers or Tom Petty or Steve Earle? Borstal Boys from The Faces maybe? If the answer to this is yes, like me, you need to be tuning in to “From The Underworld”, (named after The Herd tune) one of the best radio shows out there, which is aired every Saturday night on Phoenix FM from out of Brentwood, Essex in the UK.  (By the way, the aforementioned tunes were just a few of the songs aired on the last couple of episodes). From The Underworld is kind of like the radio equivalent of Classic Rock Magazine for your ears – except better. I used to use that magazine as a source to discover new bands, now I rely on DJ Brian Ager to hip me to the latest sounds. Living in Australia, how else would I have discovered the great new album by Magpie Salute (ex-Black Crowes) or Fireroad, one of the UK’s best bands? Brian has his finger on the pulse and knows what’s cool – and so should you. You don’t have to listen live, as each show is available for free streaming/download, which means you can listen anytime. I get to work on a Monday morning, and diligently listen to Brian’s current show –and so should you. It’s the best out there. And while you are there, check out some of the other cool shows on Phoenix FM – there’s plenty to dive into. Recommended. Check out the current From The Underworld show here.

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484724d3d8927e1a593fda4ef95aa433595d95a2.jpgThe Undermines from Canberra have been at it for a couple of years now – shaping and  sharpening their sound and have just released a killer debut album in TENZEROEIGHT. With a sound that fits effortlessly between Radio Birdman and the New Christs, these guys are the real deal who unashamedly wear their influences on their sleeve – yet don’t for a second think that these guys are carbon copying the Ashton/Tek blueprint. Far from it. Points of reference are important, yet they only paint half the picture, or sound for that matter. For the Undermines have their own hi-energy sound that owes as much to the distinctive vocals of front man Mick Preiss and the melodic twin guitar attack of Jason Sharples/Dylan Webster as anything else. All guys who paid their dues and have a pedigree that extend back to some of Oz rock’s lesser known yet no less significant outfits (including Hell Yes, The Fools, Maui Waui Cowboys amongst others).

In today’s day and age, it’s harder than ever for original Oz guitar rock to get a fair hearing ( I wrote a recent article that broached upon that subject here), less so for those playing Detroit-inspired garage rock. Yet cop the tip from me. The Undermines play unpretentious rock n roll the way it was meant to played – full tilt and in your face, not unlike way the Lazy Cowgirls used to ply it, albeit with a little more finesse that the Cowgirls. The band’s press blurb is also pretty accurate when describing TENZEROEIGHT. “The album offers a melodic, hard edged guitar driven collection of rock ‘n’ roll tracks underscored by a heavy rhythm section with vocals and lyrics inspired by dejection, betrayal, and vindication. TENZEROEIGHT is influenced by the angst and revolutionary attitude of 1970s US Garage Rock with the power and edge unique to an Australian guitar band. All true. TENZEROEIGHT has been quietly released without much fanfare, but I’m here to tell you this is a MONSTER album, with all 12 tracks scoring big points for sheer power, melody and intensity.

From an album chock o block with strong tunes, it’s hard to pin point favourites. The album opens with ‘Get Down Or Lay Down’, foot to the floor garage rock intensity that does not forsake the melody.  ‘Self-Sabotage’ is pure hi-energy, highlighted by some splintering lead guitar work an catchy chorus. Top shelf. There’s the hi- energy action of ‘Shake It’, and ‘Long Gone’ stands out due to its super catchy chorus and melodic lines. Total New Christs – and that is a good thing. Vocalist Mick Preiss has a strong voice, and he sounds great up front and centre in the mix, as he does on ‘Ghost’. Harmony vocals abound and that only adds further value to these tunes. Many other great tunes on display. There’s the brooding ‘Prey’, and ‘Caged And ‘Broken’ probably the album’s plumb for mine. This is garage rock supreme. This tune, like others on the album is highlighted by some searing lead guitar, neat time changes and a memorable vocal delivery. It ain’t ‘Born Out Of Time’ or ‘Face Of  A New God’ , but its heading down that highway – and that is not a comparison I make lightly. High praise but justified. ‘Caged And Broken’ is one hell of a song.

There’s a few key elements that make this is quality album. I have never heard Mick Preiss sound better. His vocal delivery is strong and distinctive.  I must also mention the guitar interplay between Dylan Webster and Jason Sharples. These guys are both ripping players who built a chemistry when they played together back in 1990’s Newcastle outfit The Fools and their fretwork on this record is killer. There are some truly blistering riffs and solos on display. TENZEROEIGHT has great songs, and by that I mean tunes that are catchy, memorable and have melodic lines. Plenty of bands have great riffs, power or intensity – but no hook. No hook, no song if you get my point. Melody is just as significant – and this album has it in spades. Whilst the Undermines clearly know where Birdmen flew, there’s also an originality to the material that makes it distinct.

Any rejuvenated interest generated as a result of the recent Radio Birdman documentary and current tour should justly point those fans towards the Undermines –a band who should be on your rock radar if not already. TENZEROEIGHT is a good starting point, and scored 9 out of 10 from Cowboy Col. You can buy CD copies of the album via the band’s website for $15 or digital copies for $9.99. Money well spent.  For more information head to www.undermines.net

Take a listen to the tune ‘Transcontinental’ below.

143814-L-LO.jpgFestival Records thankfully continue to reissue/repackage and reinvigorate great Australian rock ‘n’ roll that would otherwise be lost to time. ‘When Sharpies Ruled’ is a 23 track compilation CD with exhaustive liners notes, a superb photo book and a wealth of first hand insight – not just into the music – but the whole Sharpie sub-culture as well. Vicious Sloth Collectables from Melbourne ably assisted in this compilation – with head Sloth Glen Terry providing insightful liner notes. Sharpies, or Sharps, were members of suburban youth gangs in Australia, most significantly from the 1960s and 1970s who were particularly prominent in Melbourne, but were also found in Sydney and Perth to lesser extents. The name comes from their focus on looking and dressing “sharp”. Sharpies would often congregate in large numbers, regularly attending live bands at town hall and high school dances and early discos. They were identified by their distinctive close cropped haircuts and attire of Lee or Levi jeans, cardigans, jumpers, and T-shirts.

The most well-known of all ‘Sharp’ bands— were the Coloured Balls, and they are well represented here with three songs, ‘Time Shapes,’ ‘Flash’ and ‘Love You Babe’.  The Coloured Balls had the ‘sharp’ look, right down to the haircuts, and were the most identifiable of all sharp bands – and arguably the sub-cultures musical embodiment. Their hard rocking boogie sound was due to the distinctive guitar of Lobby Loyde, a player who still hasn’t got his dues for pioneering influence on Oz guitar rock.  From the Brisbane days of Purple Hearts right though to Rose Tattoo and even latter day material he recorded with Fish Tree Mother – his impact cannot be overstated. And let’s not forget the hand he played as a producer on many of Australia’s punk and post punk bands including X and the Sunnyboys.  Dig deep into his musical history – the Coloured Balls is a good place to start, and on this comp you get 3 top notch Balls tunes. Dig the solo on ‘Time Shapes’ and you will get a glimpse of why he is revered by so many – but not enough in my books.

Thorpie is also included here with ‘Let’s Have A Party’, a deep live cut from Sunbury ’74, as are Buster Brown with ‘Roll Over Beethoven. If you have never heard Angry pre-Rose Tattoo, this is a good starting point. As is well known, Buster Brown included future members of AC/DC and Tattoo in their ranks. The inclusion of Skyhooks, another of Melbourne’s early 70’s cutting edge outfits is noteworthy, as Greg Macainsh, as an art student, had put together a film on the Sharps called ‘Sharpies’ in 1974. Macainsh’s liner notes and photo stills from his film add greater authenticity to the CD as a whole. One of, if not the, song writer of his generation.

Finch are remembered most for having hot shot young guitar player Bob Spencer in their ranks, yet one listen to ‘Out Of Control’ or the glam punk hit ‘Hey Spunky’ reminds the listener that charismatic front man Owen Orford had a great set of pipes and were a great band who wrote great hard rock hits with melody aplenty. Yet its Orford’s stout vocal delivery that lifted the Finch material. I still think that ‘Hey Spunky’ sounds like ‘Bad Boy For Love’, at least on the verses. Hey Spunky sounds great given the digital treatment.  Finch were killer, as were there reincarnation, Contraband.

Rose Tattoo’s blistering ‘Remedy’ fits with the album’s theme, and sounds superb. The song belongs to Mick Cocks, the man with the fastest right hand. The precision, the guitar tone – it never sounded better than on ‘Remedy’. A song that almost 40 odd years later would still blow most others away for sheer power and intensity.

Timeline is important. Whilst sharps weren’t purely a Melbourne based sub-culture, this is where they were most prominent.  In today’s homogenised society, people forget that their once existed a Sydney Melbourne rivalry. The whole Speedwell Malvern Star thing. Melbourne had trams, they played VFL, Sydney was a rugby league town where Tooths or Reschs were the brewers of choice.  You remember the scene in ‘They’re A Weird Mob’ where the Sydney cab driver tells Graham Kennedy to get back to Melbourne? Lines were drawn –and this also extended, to a lesser extent, to rock n roll. Whilst bands like Hush, TMG and Newcastle’s Rabbit never sported any crew cuts, musically, they had broad appeal that attracted the sharp crowd – in the same way that a band like Slade did, with their infectious glam boogie stomp. The great blues player Kevin Borich also gets a couple of tunes on the CD, one with the La De Das and also with the KB Express. ‘I’m Goin’ Somewhere’ in particular is a lesser known Oz hard rock/blues classic and reason enough for you to buy this CD. Great tune.

Other prominent Melbourne bands to get a guernsey on the CD are Taste with ‘Tickle Your Fancy’, the title track from their debut album – and also La Femme, with the ’79 punk classic ‘Chelsea Kids’. La Femme may have sounded like they came out of Bromley, but they in fact had Sharp bloodlines, and included ex Sharpie gang members in their ranks. ‘Chelsea Kids’ is a classic. Fact. If you thought the Sharpie influence on music/fashion/culture had died out by the late 70s, you were mistaken. Some may recall Tracy Mann’s character ‘Samantha’ in the 1980 movie ‘Hard Knocks’. I digress.

As a fan of Oz rock, what makes this an essential purchase is the inclusion of three songs by Fat Daddy, Bullet and Fatty Lumpkin. The singles by these three bands are near impossible to find, yet have been dusted off, digitalised and made available to all – and this is where Festival Records excel. No other Australian label has the dedication, devotion nor commitment to long lost Oz rock quite like the good folk at Festival – and they do it very well.

Fat Daddy released a great slice of boogie back in ’76 with their single, ‘Roll Daddy Roll’ on Brian Cadd’s Bootleg label. Its inclusion here is important as Fat Daddy were popular with the sharps. On a side note, Fat Daddy morphed into another great Melbourne hard rock band called Texas. (I interviewed Ken Murdoch of Taste/Texas a couple of years back and we talked about these bands and this time period in Melbourne rock. Listen to that interview free here). Perth’s Fatty Lumpkin released four singles in their four year existence yet never an album. ‘Movin’ from 1976  is great, original hard rock with John Meyer’s distinctive fret work prominent. Meyer later turned up in Perth HM band Saracen and then Rose Tattoo. The inclusion of ‘Movin’ on this CD is gold – a nugget that deserves to be heard.

The inclusion of the glam-edged ‘Rock My Lady’ from long forgotten mid 70’s Sydney hard rockers Bullet is further reason to pick up the album. Bullet only released one single on the Atlantics label, Chicago Records. Man this rocker has groove with a capital G and sounds revitalized given the digital treatment. Festival could also have gone with ‘Mover’ the equally rockin B side, and lost no slack. 23 tracks in total – and no filler in sight. I must also mention the artwork and packaging that accompanies this CD. Festival have really gone to town with this one. Nice slip case and two booklets laden with information, reminiscences, facts, musings and a stack more. One booklet is 28 pages, the other a whopping 60 page photo book stacked with original images provided by sharpies from the period. All in all – a no risk ten out of ten from Cowboy Col. Available where all good CD’s are sold, including here. Thoroughly recommended.  

For over ten years Gigi Hangach fronted Los Angeles outfit Phantom Blue. Both Phantom Blue’s debut album from 1989 and their second major label release – 1994’s ‘Built to Perform’ have long been favourite albums of Mr Rockbrat. Tune in to hear an interview which Denis Gray conducted with Gigi in Las Vegas on 22 December, 2010 – where she discusses her life in rock n roll, Phantom Blue and much, much more ! This interview originally aired on the Rockbrat Radio podcast (now defunct) at 10PM on 24 December 2010.

Tod Howarth first surfaced on our rock n roll radar in the mid-80’s, as a member of Frehley’s Comet. Yet Howarth’s time spent working with Ace Frehley is only one chapter – in a lifetime spent producing catchy and memorable rock tunage. Currently with Four By Fate (who recently did some Australian dates) – he has also done time in 707, Cheap Trick and Ted Nugent among others. On show #73 of The Australian Rock Show – we caught up with Tod after a recent gig for a chat – and looked over some of his many career highlights. If there’s a message in the rock and roll you’re gonna find it here ! Play loud.

Check out this episode!

Episode 72 – Dave Tice Interview

Posted: May 25, 2017 by rockbrat in Uncategorized

On episode 72 of the Australian Rock Show, Steven Danno sits down with Dave Tice, front man for Australia’s heavy rock pioneers Buffalo. In an exhaustive interview, Dave digs deep into his rock history and details the stories behind some of the most iconic Buffalo songs. Influential, iconic and rightly revered as one of Australian rock n roll’s greatest vocalists, this is an interview you don’t wanna miss. Play loud !

Music by: Buffalo

Check out this episode!