Posts Tagged ‘Kevin K’

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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ricky99(1) Ricky, you’’ve just finished up a stateside tour with the Kevin K Band. How did the tour go ? The tour went great-although it wasn’’t a whole tour of the States, just shows in LA/Hollywood etc. Real great shows with Texas Terri & The Stiff Ones, Jeff Dahl, Leaving Trains, Street Walkin’ Cheetahs, Stitches, etc. (2) So what’s been happening with the Brats of late ? You had your first album from ’91 re-issued on I-94, which sounds fucking great !! Well, we’re trying to get the new album out – we have a few labels that want to do it, but lack of recording funds is keeping us from getting it done. But for now we got a new 7″ coming out in September on I-94 Recordings, and songs coming out on various comps including tribute albums to Flamin Groovies (Safety Pin Records – Spain) Dogs D’amour (Desert Inn Records – Italy) Forgotten Rebels, Hanoi Rocks etc, so there will be lotsa new Brats stuff coming out in the next few months and going into the year 2000. (3)The Trash Brats are about to go out on tour across the states in a double with Jeff Dahl right ?Yep. We are doing a midwest/east coast tour which starts on Sept 10 in Indianapolis, Indiana. We’re hitting a lot of cool cities including Chicago, Pittsburgh, NYC, Philly, Detroit (of course) Cincinnati etc. Should be a lot of fun ! (4) The Brats have been around for 10 years. Can you select a couple of highlights over that period ? Well, one of the big highlights was just recently we played here in Detroit with Joan Jett & the Blackhearts for like 8’000 – 10’000 people at this big outdoor place that we have always seen concerts at since we were kids. For sure the biggest crowd we have played to yet and in our hometown, so that was really fuckin’ cool ! Also the mini-tour we did with them a few years ago was fuckin’ great, I mean getting high with Joan herself in our beat-up Ford van ??! That was one of the great rock and roll moments for me for sure ! Of course other highlights were other shows where we got to play with so many of our rock and roll heroes and fave bands, like Johnny Thunders, The Dickies, Wayne Kramer, Teenage Head, Motorhead, Sylvain Sylvain etc…..(5) Why should touring Australian bands include Detroit rock city on their tour itinerary ?I think that speaks for itself. I mean doesn’’t just listening to Radio Birdman etc just make ya wanna see Detroit ?! But really it’s a town with such a great rock and roll history amongst other things. Plus if they’re a real rock and roll band, they’ll have a blast time here and the crowds will really dig ’em. (6) Favourite Australian band ? AC/DC for sure, with Radio Birdman and Rose Tattoo not far behind. (7) A Vegemite sandwich, kangaroo steak, or a can of Fosters ? Lots of cans of Fosters! (8) Kiss or The Sweet ? Yaaa…I love them both but I would have to go with Kiss as they were my fave band when I was a kid and the reason I got so into rock and roll to begin with – although Sweet’s ‘Desolation Boulevard’ is one of my all time fave albums!

(Archive Source: Cat Scratch Fever/Vicious Kitten Records Newsletter Issue 2: Sept 1999)

kk99(1) Let’s talk about the new album. When is it due out  & what’s it called ? It’s due out in March, 2000 on Freddy Lynxx’’s Sucksex Records from France. It’s called ‘Midnight Dragon’. The songs are more pop sounding than any of my other records. I’d like to be the new Shaun Cassidy or Rick Springfield of the 2000’s ! You know, nice clean image. (2) For the benefit of European readers, you are about to head over for your first tour there right  ?  In January, Ricky and Toni (Trash Brats) Karl (Road Vultures) and I will be on tour from January 5th to the 25th with Hollywood Teasze, all over Germany. I’d like to meet as many hairy German girls as possible ! (3) And there’s a ‘Live in Japan’ album due soon as well ? Yes, it’s due out in December. It’s 12 live tracks from my Japan ’98 tour, 5 acoustic live tracks from my Japan acoustic ’97 tour, and 2 studio tracks we recorded in Tokyo with the Golden Arms. It’s on Elmer Germack’s new label Elmer Records. (4) What’s in store so far  for 2000 ? (after the Euro tour) In February I’m going back to L.A to record a new single with Texas Terri, then to France in March and back to NYC in April to finish recording my new CD for Vicious Kitten Records. (5) What influences you as a song writer ? I have many influences. I love blues, Robert Jr. Lockwood, Cedell Davis, and country like Martina McBride. Yet I also listen to Iggy, Johnny Thunders and Sinatra. I think I’m a pretty honest song writer. I try to write for the people that never seem to get what they want, ‘cos I’m one of those people ! I also get many song ideas when I’m on the golf course. (6) Can you name a favourite Australian band ? Rick Springfield, who I just saw play at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. He was great ! (7) Bon Scott or Brian Johnson ? Definitely Bon Scott ! Good singer, good drinker. Brian Johnson is ok, but you just can’t touch the vocal on ‘Highway To Hell’. (8) A message for 2000 for all the Kevin K fans out there ? I guess we just gotta keep walking in this modern world. I was just telling Texas Terri how much I hate technology. I’m gonna get a rotary telephone and a black & white TV !  Hopefully I’ll grow old together with my fans and friends.

(Archive Source: Cat Scratch Fever/Vicious Kitten Records Newsletter Issue 3: Dec 1999)

8165oFhMAHL._SL1500_If I have written one word about Kevin K over the years, then I have written a thousand. I can wax lyrical about the music of Kevin K forever and a day, and to anyone who cares to listen. Kevin K deserves every success. He has paid his dues time and time again. And again. Over and over. Yet this is what he does. He writes and plays rock ‘n’ roll – as he always has. And no one does it better. Listening to Kevin K rock ‘n’ roll always puts me in a good mood, it always has. Kevin K is my favourite rock ‘n’ roller of all time – past present and future. That fact will never change. I am biased when it comes to Kevin K, but so what, at least I’m honest. I’d like to think that after a lifetime of rock ‘n’ roll, I know a thing or two about what’s good and what’s not. Kevin K rock ‘n’ roll has been a constant in my life for close on 25 years now. I own all his records, and have followed his career throughout the years. He is, if nothing else, consistent.  In recent years, many of his contemporaries:  Jeff Dahl, Freddy Lynxx, Rick Blaze and Nikki Sudden have either faded from the music biz or (sadly) passed way, yet Kevin tenaciously keeps at it – and for that, we should all be thankful. Show some respect.

And so it is 2016, and I’m listening to ‘Manhattan Project’, the latest Kevin K offering, and in one word  – it’s great.  Thematically, for many albums now, Kevin has had a preoccupation with, and written about, different aspects of the Second World War and the occupation years that followed in Europe – Everything from the D-Day landings to East Berlin and the Berlin Wall. Kevin’s father is a World War II veteran,  so that has no doubt had an influence on Kevin’s writing too. Old Man Crack (whom I think is 91 nowadays) plays a smokin’ harmonica, and even lays down a harp solo on the tune, ‘Bar Stuck’. (Sounding good Mr K!) Theme wise, ‘Manhattan Project’ follows suit. The Manhattan Project was the research and development project that produced the first nuclear weapons during World War II, yet it’s also a nod to the Big Apple with Kevin acknowledging his past association with NYC, CBGB’s and all that’s now long gone….

With a whopping 16 tracks, there’s plenty to like. ‘Hey Hey Hey’ is a strong opener, and lyrically it has KK reflecting about life, and me thinks he must have been listening to early Coop circa early 70s as there are references to ‘muscle of love’ and ‘caught in a dream’. Catchy pre-chorus, and sing-along chorus. Rippin’ guitar solo too courtesy of Joey D, whose slashing solos add additional salt to the KK sound. A reworking of the Alan K tune ‘Nine Lives’ is welcome –melodically brooding, this version stays true to the original and gives the music of his brother renewed relevancy. And rightly so. I still think Kevin should release an entire album of Alan K penned tunes, but I’ll take what I can get – and this one remains on high rotation with me. (Go buy Kevin’s 1997 album ‘Rule The Heart’ which includes several great demos by Alan K). The faster paced ‘In The Cold’ heads down familiar ‘77 Dead Boys territory, as does an updated version of ‘Better Class Of Slut’. That’s a good thing folks. ‘Rocks Off Union’ is a good example of what I call the ‘Kevin K sound’ and what makes KK r ‘n’ r so great. Lots of hook, mid tempo riff, likeable vocal, catchy sing-along chorus and an oversupply of melody. Nod your head in time kids – this is the shit, and he has written dozens and dozens of tunes like this. I also have to make mention of Joey D’s rippin’ solo on this one – tasteful, melodic, memorable. It’s always music to my ears (pardon the pun) when Kevin pays homage to his musical past – giving life to tunes that were perhaps overlooked the first time around (and at the same time honouring the legacy and memories of his brother Alan K and Peter Cain). That way a whole new audience gets to hear ‘em. That concept continues with renewed versions of a few Road Vultures tunes, namely ‘Hangin On’ and the super catchy ‘Rosalene’ (from 1994’s ‘Ride’ album), and ‘OK Tonight’, ‘Hassles’ and ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Bar’ (from 1993’s ‘Fire It Up’ album). ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Bar’, probably Kevin’s signature tune, is an out and out classic, and this version (again with a blitzin’ Joey D solo) simply kicks ass. Whip it out Cheetah.  The melancholic ‘OK Tonight’ is probably my favourite all time Kevin K tune.  Contemplative, unassuming, brilliant.  The tribute to Alan K and Peter Cain continues with reworked versions of Lone Cowboys tunes  ‘Nothin From Nothin’ and ‘Skulls Have Eyes’, both of which originally appeared on 1985’s  ‘Streets Of Poison’ cassette.  ‘Nothin From Nothin’ is a brilliant pop/rock song. Melody galore and further evidence of what a gifted songwriter Alan K was. A great song is a great song – and time doesn’t diminish that fact. The music of Alan K deserves to be heard. It’s that good. There’s also some cool covers included in the mix for good measure. The obligatory tip of the hat to Johnny Thunders with a faithful rendition of ‘All By Myself’, and a likeable take of Bowie’s ‘Rebel Rebel’.

Top to bottom – Manhattan Project contains consistently strong songs – and with the year only half over, it’s safe to say I already have one of the THE album of 2016. As I’ve said many times before, whoever else it is you are listening to, whoever else it is you think is rock n roll – pales in comparison to Kevin K. Manhattan Project is another in a rich body of musical work that remains the soundtrack to my life. Kevin K is without peer. Become a convert today. Buy the album online or directly from Kevin here. 10 out of 10.

 

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.

We are indeed – blessed. 2013, and the great Kevin K is still releasing original, new rock n roll of the highest quality.  If you are a young’un reading this, dissatisfied by inferior, bland bands from your own peer group – Kevin K rock n roll is what you are looking for. Kevin’s music has enriched my life for 20 years, and in my opinion, there is none better. Kevin K is the definitive rock n roller – and is my favourite artist – past, present, and future. Why ? His songs are memorable, his songs are durable. No one has a better penchant for melody, no one writes songs with a better hook, and as ‘Allies’, his twentieth something album attests, his song writing / story telling have strong, instant appeal that engage the listener. Thematically, ‘Allies’ continues on from other recent Kevin K albums (Deutschland, Firestorm etc), which focus on the impact of World War 2, including key battles, the D-Day landings, the bombing of both England and Germany. ‘Allies’ is dedicated to the heroes of WW II, (including Kevin’s father, who was with General MacArthur when he famously returned to the Philippines). ‘Allies’ also refers to the various nationalities of the various band members who made this album – all Allies of rock n roll in the war against the jive. The album contains a whopping 23 tunes, 11 of which are new ones. A bunch of these were recorded with his Euro band line-up (Ricky Rat on guitar, stalwart Ritchie Buzz on bass and Laur Bomb on drums), a couple of the others were recorded with Duane Rollick and Billy Summer in Florida. The album opens with the call to arms anthem that is “Allies Of Rockin Roll” – a salute to the rock ‘n’ roll brethren across the globe that actually get what Kevin K rock ‘n’ roll is all about.  “This Time Around” follows up next – heavy on the melody, super catchy chorus, great hook – the Kevin K formulae for crafting archetypal power pop/punk – and after having written hundreds and hundreds of songs over the years, he is indeed, a master of his craft. The ruminating “Lost My Marbles” is a superbly crafted tune, menacingly melodic and hard to beat – another Alan K tune that is pure gold. “Red White and Blue” is another tell-tale tune about the courage of a Flying Fortress pilot – with a stunning solo and catchy riff. “Meet Me At The Party” is pure pop punk excess with likeable lead vocals by Ritchie Buzz. There’s a reworking of Kevin’s tribute to Jerry Nolan, “Countdown For a Doll” that originally appeared on his “From The Delta To The Bowery” acoustic CD, and sounds killer with a band behind it. I forgot how good this tune was. ‘Give Me Back My Girl’ is fantastic power pop, an ode to a former love resplendent with strings on the chorus. There is no one, repeat, no one on the planet who can pen catchy pop songs as consistently well as Kevin K.  Yes he should have been mega successful in the world of rock n roll, (go buy his book and read all about his life in rock ‘n’ roll here), but he just keeps keeping on, writing and playing his music to anyone who cares to listen – and listen you should. “Hell’s Kitchen” is all 77 style punk, before ‘Crazy For You’, the obligatory ode to Jennifer Love Hewitt comes blasting outta my speakers. Catchy, melodic and draped in pop sensibilities. This should justly be top ten ! How many songs has KK penned about JLH now ? Enough for a double CD release me thinks! ‘Cool Fools’ with its sing-along chorus rounds out proceedings. As a bonus, you also get the ‘13th Street’ album, (originally released back in 2001 on my old label Vicious Kitten Records) with all 12 tunes remastered with new sonic appeal, so crank ‘em up nice and loud! If you are a fan of Kevin K, you will dig this CD, if not, become an ally of rock n roll and discover what I have known for a long time now – Kevin K rock n roll is the best there is. If you buy only one album this year – you should make it this one. ‘Allies’ scores 10 out of 10. Buy it here.

Kevin K – The Successful Loser DVD – Buy here

Kevin K – How To Become A Successful Loser Book Buy here

If I have written one word about Kevin K’s music over the years – I’ve written a thousand. Yet I still struggle to find the right words that do justice to his music. What I do know is that in 2012, you should all be damn thankful that Kevin is still around and creating top shelf rock ‘n’ roll that is nothing short of inspired, and shits all over anything else you’ll hear. Period. For those familiar with Kevin’s extensive back catalogue, ‘Tramp Stamp’ treads a line that is similar to his 1997 album, ‘Rule The Heart’. Recorded in St. Petersburg, Florida, ‘Tramps Stamp’ is Kevin’s 21st album and he has tapped into his past for inspiration on ‘Tramp Stamp’.  This includes having his old New Toys cohort Meat Cleaver on board, who is, as ever rock solid and steadfast on bass.  Much of the influence for this album came from Kevin’s revisiting his old haunts in NYC, a city  which he lived in for much of his life. He sings of how NYC has changed, and of times past and friends departed. How his old haunts have become yuppified and gentrified and squeezed out everyone except the rich and well to do. You can hear those themes on tunes like “Damage Control” ’ (The city feels like a cemetery) and “City Kill” (the ghosts walk with me down the Avenue). Can I just say before I go on that Kevin’s solos on these two tunes are killer!  In fact, the guitars sound amazing on this album – really out the front soundwise. His playing has never sounded better. Kevin plays all the guitars on ‘Tramp Stamp’, with his ‘64 Melody Maker giving a great, rich tone. He also gets a great sound playing his brother’s Fender Telecaster. Whilst thematically, some of the songs are darker, (and some heavier), all these tunes are still coated with his trademark penchant for melody. The darker theme to the album does not mean that he has forsaken those infectious hooks and melodic lines that he is known for. Check out ‘Dreamin Again’. Lyrically, it is reflective, but man, what a hook! Big catchy, sing along chorus! Another from the guy who has written thousands of ‘em! My personal fave of the album, (though I also dig the instantly likeable Ramones like power pop of ‘Just The Girl’). The darker gothic theme is further evidenced on ‘Love Crimes’, with a 1970 Sabbath like riff that would do Geezer proud. Significantly, Kevin also includes a version of ‘Nowhere Safe’, a tune that was written and recorded by his late brother Alan on his last demo in 1995. This is such a cool tune. Reminiscent of his work in Lone Cowboys, though I can also hear a little Lords influence here too. Great lyrics, great melodic lines, and further exampled of just how good a song writer Alan K was. Kevin even used the same keyboard on this recording that Alan did on the demo. Like all brothers, there’s a chemistry/symmetry that will always exist, and Kevin’s interpretation of ‘Nowhere Safe’ is superb. It’s always cool to hear Alan’s influence on Kevin’s work. ‘Rule the Heart’ also had some of Alan’s demos on it, so ‘Tramp Stamp’ really does sit comfortably next to that album. I would like to hear Kevin record a whole album of Alan’s tunes. A final highpoint of the album is the mafia themed ‘Wild For You’.  This one cooks, and like me, you’ll be crankin’ up the car stereo and singing your heart out! And why the f–k not ? F–k whatever else you think is rock ‘n’ roll. I’m here to tell you that it’s not up to par chum. This ain’t American Idol, this ain’t punk cut outs Good Charlotte – this is KEVIN K – the #1 rock ‘n’ roller on the planet and still the BEST voice in rock n roll. Half the year gone, and THE album of 2012 has arrived in no uncertain terms. What are you waiting for?  Show some respect. Go buy it now.  Go to CD Baby or buy it from Kevin (email: Kevinkband@aol.com).