Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Thunders’

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.

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Nerd is the word …..

Are Talking Heads the most overrated band of all time ? They are certainly up there. I never understood Talking Heads. They were a band whom never spoke to me – and as a consequence, were a band I never had any time for. Nerds. Art school nerds. History as shown that they came up as part of the NYC punk scene and were a CBGB’s band – but they weren’t a Ramones/Dead Boys/Blondie CB’s band – no leather jackets and ripped jeans rock ‘n’ roll – Polo shirts and tucked in jeans – they were art school geeks with quirky lyrics, thinking music for listeners with Asperger’s – Arty farty crap. Nerd Rock. They came up through the punk period – but they weren’t a punk band. Art punk ? Punk bands of that period were bands like The Boys, The Lurkers, The Damned. Whenever I bought a punk compilation LP and Talking Heads were on it, I skipped the track.  Its arguable that had they come up as part of the UK punk scene, they would not have made it. According to Wikepedia, “Talking Heads helped to pioneer new wave music by integrating elements of punk, art rock, dance, pop and world music with avant-garde sensibilities and an anxious, clean-cut image.” Really? Who wrote that dross?  Their breakthrough song – “Psycho Killer”, was so at odds with everything else being released by their peers. Byrne’s annoying screech on the chorus ‘Run Run Away, I , I , I , ay” – is painful to listen through. I read a review once that called him a ‘Genius’? Genius ? Hardly. Even Byrne himself said in recent years that he was borderline Aspergers. Looking back, that’s pretty apparent. Which is neither good nor bad – just how it is, and not a

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The result of consulting Liberace for costume ideas…….ghastly.

criticism or judgment. A big deal was made of the fact that they had a female bass player – they became known for that. Who cares ? I think she originally was only in the band cos she was the girlfriend of David Byrne, she couldn’t play bass. Apparently, Byrne “unable to find a bass player in New York”, persuaded her to learn the bass. David Byrne was a complete nerd. He must have been intimated by his peers of that time – Joey Ramone, Stiv, Debbie Harry and the like. He had an awkward style, dressed like a nerd, and was geek personified. That they became big in the mid 80s was odd to me. Stop Making Sense? Not if they were the other option. Baggy suits, burning down the house. Just shows you what a shit time this was for music. As the late 70s and mid 80s rolled through, Talking Heads were all about African beats / disco funk. Ugh. In the mid 80s you couldn’t turn on MTV without having that Stop Making Sense nonsense forced down your throat. Songs like “And She Was” and “Wild Wild Life, ‘Burning Down The House’, were irritatingly given unnecessary exposure – and subsequently became hits – yet this was a time when the charts were filled with this kind of nonsense. Whenever I hear ‘Like Humans Do” or “Once in a lifetime”, I feel like puking. Looking back, that the band had major international success was an anomaly to me. They must have been tedious to see live. That David Byrne has had a sustained career and enjoyed an international profile doesn’t say much for peoples tastes. Same reason why people bought records by Simply Red or Phil Collins records I guess. Passé. That Talking Heads are also in the banal ‘Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame” says more about what a redundant organisation that truly is. Kudos to Steve Miller for calling them out for what they truly are. I’d love to know if others think I’m being somewhat harsh here. Prove me wrong! Maybe there are other overrated bands Ive missed……..

Christmas has arrived early! October 2014 and a new Kevin K album. That’s cause for celebration folks, for the man with the best voice in rock ‘n’ roll has yet again delivered the goods with his new album, ‘Hurt You’. I’ve always loved Kevin’s acoustic tunes. He has an earnest voice suited to the stripped back style, with an infectious appeal that’s hard not to like. Kevin K released a bunch of acoustic tunes back in 2001 with the excellent ‘From The Delta To The Bowery’ CD, and ‘Hurt You’ takes more from the top shelf. As a concept, ‘Hurt You’ is in many ways a tip of the hat to Johnny Thunders’ 1983 solo album ‘Hurt Me’, both in look (cover art) and sound (stripped back acoustic), with many of Kevin’s best known rockers given the acoustic treatment. The album opens up with the pondering ‘Intrusive’, awash with reflection and a catchy chorus, before a pared back version of ‘Joey and Me’ follows. Kevin’s heartfelt tribute to his pet of 15 years, this song continues to move me, and anyone who has ever lost a lifelong pet or someone close will relate. I was listening to this tune a lot in May this year when I had to put our dog of 14 years to sleep. A powerful and evocative song.  Up next is a peeled back version of the now classic tribute tune to Jennifer Love Hewitt,  ‘Jennifer Love’, with the acoustic guitars right up front. Catchy, sing-along classic. Kevin K is a guy who has always worn his heart (and influences) on his sleeve, with nods to Thunders, the Ramones and Stiv Bators evident here. If there’s been a better tribute to the Ramones than KK’s ‘Joey and Dee Dee’, I am yet to hear it.  No Ramones indeed. The take of Thunders’ ‘It’s Not Enough’ is as expected, spot on, whilst his cover of the Lords ‘Russian Roulette’ also hits the bullseye.  There’s an extremely likable renewed version of the Road Vultures ‘Call’ that sounds great to my ears, melodic sensibilities in overdrive. Hot summer days, ice cold beer and the two Road Vultures albums blasting from my speakers. A practice I subscribe to often, and so should you. A pleasant surprise to hear long time KK bass man Ritchie Buzz sing lead vocals on a couple of tunes, with ‘Waitin For You’ a particular highlight. With right hand man Ricky Rat sounding as rock solid as ever on guitar, ‘Hurt You’ is the one album you need in 2014. The CD comes with a remastered bonus – Kevin’s ‘Story Of My Life’ CD , which was originally released back in 2002 on Freddy Lynxx’s Sucksex label. This album still sounds as vital and relevant as it did back then, and kicks major ass. Effectively, you are getting two Kevin K albums for the price of one. Kevin K has a back catalogue of musical riches that is an Aladdin’s cave – so if you ain’t done so already, go forth and discover the enriching music of Kevin K, the one and only rock ‘n’ roller who consistently delivers. Kevin has a DVD out that is a visual bio of his life in rock ‘n’ roll, and a book about his life too called ‘How To Become A Successful Loser‘.  ‘Hurt You’ is another in a long line of great Kevin K albums, and is out now on Realkat Records. Get it today! 10 out of 10.

Satoshi Silvers was a guitar player with 1990’s Japanese glam punk band The Golden Arms. He passed away on 17 June, 2011. To honour his memory, in this special show we will talk about the man and play nothing but Golden Arms rock ‘n’ roll. If you are a fan of Johnny Thunders or The New York Dolls, tune is as well. Don’t miss it! Sunday 3 July, 2011. Tune in here

I can still remember when Thunders died.  At that time, I had only recently re- read Nina Antonia’s ‘In Cold Blood’ autobiography, so news of his death, although somewhat expected, still came as a shock. Anyway, it’s hard to believe taht 20 years have passed since that time. Since then. there’s been a bunch of re issues, the Lech Kowalski film, some tribute CD’s etc. Is enough done to preserve his memory ? I guess so. Should a kid of 25 in today’s age care about Thunders ? Maybe, but maybe not. He was for people of previous generations, and he was of that time, of his time. There was (and still is), conjesture about how he died.  Many rumours surround Thunders’ death at the St. Peter House in New Orleans, Louisiana in April 1991. He apparently died of drug-related causes, but it has been speculated that it was the result of foul play. According to the autobiography Poison Heart: Surviving the Ramones, Dee Dee Ramone took a call in New York the next day from Stevie Klasson, Johnny’s rhythm guitar player. “They told me that Johnny had gotten mixed up with some bastards… who ripped him off for his methadone supply. They had given him LSD and then murdered him. He had gotten a pretty large supply of methadone in England, so he could travel and stay away from those creeps – the drug dealers, Thunders imitators, and losers like that.” What is known for certain is that Johnny’s room (no. 37) was ransacked and most of his possessions were missing (passport, makeup, clothes). Friends and acquaintances acknowledge he had not been using heroin for some time, relying on his methadone prescriptions. The police did not open a criminal investigation. An autopsy was conducted by the New Orleans coroner, but served only to compound the mysteries. According to Thunders’ biographer Nina Antonia as posted on the Jungle Records web site, the level of drugs found in his system was not fatal. And according to the book “Rock Bottom: Dark Moments in Music Babylon” by Pamela Des Barres who interviewed Thunders’ sister Marion, the autopsy confirmed evidence of advanced leukemia, which would explain the decline in Thunders’ appearance in the final year of his life. At the end of the day – how he died is not the issue. (Go check out wikepedia for more info on his life). I also wrote a synopsis of his life back in 1995 that appeared in Vicious Kitten fanzine. You can check that out here.  In anyones terms, and despite the full on life that he led, 38 is still far too young to die. So today, 20 years after he left this earth, remember, the late , great, and truly original – Johnny Thunders.

Thunders Amterdam gig poster from 1978

What: Johnny Thunders 9 July 1978 Amsterdam Gig Poster
Winning Bid: $51 GBP
Sale Date: 8 July 2007

Always great to see Thunders rarities and this one is quite unique. Not sure how many of these were printed but 1978 was an amazing year productively in the career of Johnny Thunders so gig posters like this deserve to fetch high prices. It is 20 years since his passing, so I imagine Cowboy Col, a greater Thunders afficiando than I was – will do some kind of tribute at that time….

So who is Kevin K, and why would you buy this book? Kevin K is a Florida based rock ‘n’ roller who for 30 + years has been playing street punk, NYC style rock ‘n’ roll. He counted Johnny Thunders, Jerry Nolan and Syl Sylvain from the New York Dolls as his peers and friends, as well as just about every other New York based rocker from the late 70’s onwards. Sure, he hasn’t sold hundreds of thousands of albums, no he’s never played Madison Square Garden (though he must have walked passed it a thousand times). No he isn’t a household name (though he is in my house). But he has written literally hundreds of underappreciated songs since the late 70’s, recorded 30 odd albums, and tenaciously niched out a career for himself by creating distinct, melodic and inspired rock ‘n’ roll – music that matters. If you are a fan of Johnny Thunders, The Dolls, The Dead Boys, Ramones, Iggy or punk rock in general, you will no doubt enjoy reading this book as it’s littered with great, real life stories that features all those guys. Yet this is more than a rock ‘n’ roll book. This is a human interest story about a life well travelled. It details his life as a boy and his youth growing up in Buffalo, high school, getting into rock n roll, living in NYC in the 1980s and 90’s as a musician struggling to make it with all the craziness that city had to offer at that time. There are many interesting stories in here. He came so close to ‘making it’ that he could almost taste it, yet he never signed that major label deal or had a video on MTV. He just kept plugging away, year after year, making new albums and touring in support of them. NYC, Detroit, LA, Japan, Germany, Poland, France, Spain. There’s great stories of the road from all those countries. There’s stories about living in NYC next to Iggy Pop, encounters with GG Allin and The Ramones, playing the clubs and moving to Hollywood. There’s stories about the death of his brother Alan (whose music was also way underappreciated), hanging out with Johnny Thunders and Cheetah Chrome, drugs, St. Mark’s Place, Jennifer Love Hewitt and much much more. It’s 2011 and the Ramones are long gone. CBGB’s has gone. Rock ‘n’ rolls glory days are gone. Despite it all, Kevin K has just kept on keeping on. I have been hipped to his music for 16 years now. For those of us in the know, this guy’s music has always been special. In an age when rock ‘n’ roll is manufactured, contrived, disposable and lacking in authenticity, the need for Kevin K rock n roll is greater than ever. This guy has more rock n roll credential than an army of Avril Lavignes. He is the last of his kind. Get this book now and discover what I’ve known for a long time now – Kevin K rock ‘n’ roll is the best there is.   

 At only $14 this is a MUST! But it online at Amazon here

Tune in to hear an exclusive interview with legendary Kevin K that was recorded on September 3, 2010. Cowboy Col talks to Kevin about all his new releases including the autobiography, his just released double DVD and current studio album ‘Joey & Me’. Listen here