Posts Tagged ‘Road Vultures’

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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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.

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).

Kevin K / Lester And The Landslide Ladies – Frantic Tales For The Fast Living’ (Split CD)

As the old saying goes, you just can’t keep a good man down – and after listening to this new split CD from Kevin K and Lester & The Landslide Ladies, the great Kevin K is still crafting top notch melodic punk rock ‘n’ roll better than all the rest. Tired he might be after 35 years at the rock ‘n’ roll game, these 6 new Kevin K tunes firmly attest it ain’t time to put down the old yellow Gibson Jr. just yet. What you get on this split CD are six tunes from KK and six from Italy’s Lester & The Landslide Ladies. New Kevin K rock ‘n’ roll is always cause for rejoicing, and of these new half dozen tunes, there’s much to like. It’s all 77’ era punkisms  on ‘Too Much Too Soon’, which lyrically tells the story of the Dolls demise. This is a killer tune and would sound great live. There’s a likeable reworking of the Road Vultures ‘La Vida Loca’ and a choice cover of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’ which with a harder guitar edge to it, sounds much better than the original! This tune also features Florida’s legendary blues man Old Man Crack on harmonica and chorus vocals. At 85 years young, Old Man Crack is still out there showing the younguns’ how it’s done.  I have written thousands of words about Kevin K over the years – yet at times am still lost for superlatives to describe how good his brand of rock n roll is. Which brings me to my two favourite Kevin K tunes on this CD. ‘Crazy Squeeze’ and ‘If I’m Alive’. ‘Crazy Squeeze’ is aces all the way. Likeable vocals, a big, catchy and distinct chorus. No one plays mid tempo melodic rock ‘n’ roll better than Kevin K – and in my mind, there never will be. This tune is as good as anything he’s done – and illustrates perfectly the KK signature sound. With its melancholy vibe, ‘If I’m Alive’ is lyrically provocative but further evidence of Kevin K’s ability to craft memorable tunes. At times it’s downbeat, but is balanced with pleasant femme vocals courtesy of Natty Moss Bond. So for the KK tunes on this CD, I give a definite Fonzie thumbs up. There are also six tunes from Modena, Italy’s finest – Lester & The Landslide Ladies. These guys have been around since 2002 and ply a hybrid brand of early glam rock, 70’s era Brit punk, and power pop. The result is a sound of infectious, high energy punk. These guys have played over 600 European show and played with the Dolls, Backyard Babies, Vibrators, Cockney Rejects, Sham 69, Angelic Upstarts, Hanoi Rocks, U.S. Bombs and a stack more. The first thing you notice is how much energy/passion these guys have for rock n roll! ‘F**k Me Mommy’ is a great album opener, three minutes of infectious, catchy and melodic pop punk. ‘I Don’t Wanna Be With You’ is another slice of catchy pop punk, as is ‘Cherry Stitches’. Sheesh, all six tunes here are GREAT! Whilst the sound ain’t exactly original, it’s certainly not derivative and it’s rooted in the right kinda rock ‘n’ roll, and for me, that’s AOK. I can also hear elements of Duane Peters or Social Distortion here, particularly in Lester’s vocals, yet comparisons aside, these guys are creating great punk rock ‘n’ roll with a capital F for FUN! All up – this is a great CD and a no risk buy!  You can buy this CD online from Tornado Ride Records.

Check out this recent video of Old Man Crack and Kevin K as they carve up Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’.

 

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

In recent years, Florida based singer/songwriter Kevin K has penned albums that have largely reflected his experiences of touring throughout Europe, and Germany in particular. 2009’s ‘Deutschland’ and last year’s ‘Firestorm’ CD gave the listener strong thematic images of cold war Europe and post war Germany. With consistently strong, original and evocative material, these albums took Kevin K’s music to a new level whilst not forsaking his Johnny Thunders / Dead Boys / Iggy roots . Early 2011 sees the release of his eagerly anticipated ’Joey And Me’ CD, and it does not disappoint. Dedicated to his departed and much loved cat,  Joey, this 10 tracker further illustrates that after 30 + years in the biz, Kevin K is at the top if his game. The album kicks off with ‘Omaha’, an earnest acoustic number about Omaha Beach in Normandy and the D Day landings, with the lyrics again painting a clear picture for the listener.  As anyone who has ever owned a pet will testify, the family cat or dog give a lot of love without asking for anything in return. Happy to see you when you come home from work, Fido doesn’t give a shit what kind of day you had, with tail wagging he’s just happy to see you. That’s true loyalty my friends. When they pass away, the loss, much like losing any close relative or friend, is immense. Kevin K’s heartfelt and moving homage to his cat of 15 years, ‘Joey And Me’ is sad and emotional, and a fitting tribute. Resplendent with harmonica and strings, this song is a highpoint of the album. ‘Smack and Swastikas’ is a gritty guitar pop tune that oozes melody and early 70’s Stones debauchery, iced with jack booted imagery. Another catchy three minute classic from the man who has now penned hundreds of ’em. I can’t find too much wrong with the rockin’ ‘Big Tits’, but then again, like most red blood males I never could:). This is something I could see Bon Scott writing and singing. Great guitar solo too. ‘Still Miss You’ is an up-tempo punk/pop tune that features a catchy chorus complete with a tasty Mike Monroe style sax lick. (This song is a good example of why I think Kevin K’s recent albums are so effective with their use of musical creativity. He’s not afraid to try things, such as adding saxophone to a tune and breaking away from the expected formulae. Go listen to ‘Deutschland’ for further evidence of this). ’Out With The Wrong Girl’ and ‘Cried Over You’ are both infectious and catchy, with the use of sax on ‘Cry Over You’ making it even more appealing to my ears. ‘I’m Dead Already’ is almost a reprise of ‘Joey and Me’, and is about death, closure, life and reflection. Lyrically it’s thought provoking and musically, a nice acoustic tune. That expressive sentiment is continued on the bonus track ‘Windows Of Time’, which is my favourite track on the album. The way the verse breaks into that big, evocative chorus just hits me to the spine.”Running, running, until the end of time”. Sure, it’s again got the thought provoking ‘big picture’ lyrics about life and death and what it all means, but it sure speaks to me. It sounds very much like an Alan K tune, which can only be a good thing, and reason alone for you to go and buy the album. After writing hundreds of songs, as ‘Joey And Me’ testifies, in 2011 Kevin K is still producing the goods and creating inspired rock ‘n’ roll that none of his peers come close to matching. The bass player on the album is Freddy Villano, who in the 90’s played with Quiet Riot and Dee Snider’s Widowmaker. 10 out of 10. Buy it from CD Baby

If you ain’t done so already, tune into Rockbrat Radio and here an interview I conductede with Kevin last September. Check it here.