Thursday, February 28, 2008


My buddy the Peacedogman was just kind enough to let me do an article on the roots of AVENGED SEVENFOLD. Check out it and a bunch more of killer new stuff on his rawkin' site at:

Sunday, February 17, 2008

SIGH's Does Matter!

SIGH – “Hangman’s Hymn – Musikalische Exequien” CD ’07 (The End, Jap) – You know, there are some places I really want to go in this world. And, before any of the smart-asses out there say “Well, you’ve already gone insane, mental, whatever…” you know what the hell I mean. I’m talking about traveling, baby, so play me some traveling music! How ‘bout some Native American folk (or hell, Wardog, for that matter) for the American West. Throw on some old Lizzy or Glyder and we’ll board the boat for Ireland. Play me Tony Bourge’s opening riff to “She’s As Hot As A Docker’s Armpit” and the flight leaves for Wales today. And brothers & sisters, whadya say to Japan? Hmm…let’s see, which Loudness disc or Bow Wow album is going to be the soundtrack for that voyage? Well, over the last couple weeks since I first heard “Hangman’s Hymn…”, I’m thinking it might end up being this shiny little piece of explosive auditory cranium crush by SIGH. Now about here, it would be easy for me to play the super-intelligent know-it-all reviewer & say that I expected a mighty text of earbending pleasure like this to burst forth from the guts of this Japanese juggernaut any year now. Truth be known, however, this is the first damn thing I ever heard by SIGH. So, I’ve been living behind the door the last umpteen years, you can crucify me but at least I’ll die happy as I may spend my last few minutes listening to this CD. Throughout the course of this disc, which is divided into 3 so-called “Acts” (of 3 or 4 songs each), SIGH take a powerful punch with a highly energized brand of black metal, augmented with echoes of related genres like death, thrash & even occasionally (but not often), trad metal. So what makes “Hangman’s Hymn…” so captivating, then? It’s the angles they come from and the imagination they bring to the table that makes this record not only stand out but fly to the top of the pack. Each song is laced with beautifully varied vocal deliveries, from very harsh screaming to way more melodic. And, rather than using this effect as a mere black & white dynamic as so many bands have done, SIGH blends things so seamlessly that the result is fantastic. Add to that the use of keys and orchestration that fits like a glove into the tapestry of the sometimes complex & yet always ass-kicking songs and it’s easy for the listener to see why they’ve latched onto a real winner. As the icing on the cake, the guitar work here is just awesome. Whether we’re talking about the hacksaw rhythms or the trend-setting, edgy lead work, “scintillating” is a good word to describe the fretsmanship on offer and when the guitars actually get into dogfights with the keyboards, well, listening nirvana (not Curt!) can’t be far behind. I often hesitate when it comes to recommending really extreme metal to those on the “periphery” of heavy stuff, as I’m concerned it’ll scare ‘em away. When I sit back with this baby, though, & dig hard on cuts like “Dies Irae/The Master Malice” or “Overture/Rex Tremendae/I Saw The World’s End,” I’m pretty damn sure it’s worth the effort anyone can make to open their ears to this masterpiece.

THE MARS VOLTA – “Bedlam In Goliath” CD ’08 (Universal, US) – I really have to hand Omar & Cedric of THE MARS VOLTA a lot of credit. To put it simply, what they’ve done is to take music that is very challenging and gotten it in front of a helluva lot of people. Doing that in 2008 is about as hard as walking in front of a freight train going full speed and still making it to work that day. The thing about THE MARS VOLTA is that their music is not only challenging to the listener, it also includes damn good songs and they don’t sound like anybody else…at all. They remind me of a band from back in the early ‘70’s, a bunch of really killer musicians who are also very creative and when they get together to write & record, it’s for the sheer joy of doing it. Of course, there are many bands today who do it for this reason…that’s what this site is all about. But what puts me in mind of the early ‘70’s with these cats is that they sell a lot of records. Back in the day, you’d amble into a record store & see new releases by groups like Nektar, Soft Machine & Return To Forever right on the front racks next to Sabbath, Zeppelin, Doobie Bros., ZZ Top…and people dug it. They were buying it, taking chances on expanding their listening horizons with music that pushed ‘em yet still stirred something emotionally. I could talk about the songs being more compact here, yet still bristling with vitality. I could talk about Cedric’s wonderful vocal range or Omar’s Santana-on-prog-steroids guitar ripping but wouldn’t that be so cliché? Yeah. So, for anybody reading, this one is easy. When your significant other drags you out to Wal*Mart or Best Buy today, grab this. You’re not going to have an easier time finding a great album all year.

SAVIOURS – “Into Abaddon” CD ’08 (Kemado, US) – I saw these guys open for Witchcraft a few months back & when they did a few songs from their debut album “Crucifire,” they reminded me of what Bible Of The Devil would be like if they had a good bit less talent and WAY less impressive songs. SAVIOURS then went on that night to motor through a couple cuts from this (at that point unreleased) 2nd disc and my ears perked up a bit. Kinda like that Joan Jett-ish looking girl standing near me who had other things perking up…well, it was a bit cool in the bar that night. But, I digress. The new songs, as evidenced on this 2nd disc are surely better. Cuts like “Cavern Of The Mind,” “Mystichasm” and “Inner Mountain Arthame” are considerably more focused, giving SAVIOURS’ Maiden/thrash amalgam a boost in the catchiness department. One thing that continues to nag me about this band however is the fact that they have a pair of guitar players who come up with some very interesting riffs and yet the leads are often quite pedestrian & not very memorable or innovative at all. What’s that all about? In summary, better than they were but still a ways to go.

ICARUS WITCH – “Songs Of The Lost” CD ’07 (Cleopatra, US) – Now here is a band who has really improved a lot, from the last time I heard them. I had an EP by these guys from a few years back that, while decently played, fell quickly into the category of super-bland & forgettable metal. Imagine my pleasant surprise and delight then, when I loaded up this “Songs Of The Lost” CD and found myself totally enjoying it. As always, the main thing comes down to songs, and these dudes have stepped it up big-time, with tracks like “Written In The Stars,” “Devil’s Hour” and “Queen Of Lies” reaching into actual Manilla Road territory at points. Especially impressive are the vocals of Matthew Bizilia, much more intense and infused with melody than the vox on the group’s previous work. Also, the guitar presence of Quinn Lukas is really notable. I’m not saying he’s morphed into Akira or anything crazy like that, but the guy belts out some really nice riffs & surprisingly exploratory leads throughout the course of this disc. Bottom line is, ICARUS WITCH has come up with some serious goods on “Songs Of The Lost” & any metal fan will be making a good move by checking it out.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Making A Federale Case About This!

FEDERALE – “Federale” CD ’07 (Private, US) – My soon-to-be 14 year old son is a geography whiz. I’m not talking about somebody who can answer a hard question on Jeopardy every now and then, no, this kid actually nearly won the State Geography Bee last year & may be headed for the finals this year. Thing is, he tells me details about certain places all the time and one of the locales he talks about that I’d love to visit is Monument Valley, which straddles the border of Utah & Arizona. Through the wonders of the internet, I’ve sat for hours looking at photos of this massive land with huge, monolithic rock mesas rising out of the ground like behemoth, tribal altars. So, the $ 64,000 question is, what does all this have to do with a rock band from Brooklyn, NY called FEDERALE? What it has to do with them is the fact that these guys have managed to create an entire album laced with riffs every bit as towering and imposing as those mesas. It may be a cliché to say that this album is heavy as shit, yet it’s a simple fact. You don’t have to go any further than the opener, “Hong Kong Trails” to be yanked up by the collar and slammed head-first into a concrete wall by the sheer power of the riffing generated by guitarists Jesse Cohen & John Stendrini. Kudos go to the production work of Josh Clark, also because the guitar sound that dominates this disc is one of the most powerful I’ve heard since the days when bands like Montrose, Point Blank & Mountain trod the boards in their youth. But before you go ahead & think FEDERALE is about nothing more than tone, here’s the deal. Sure, these guys listened to their steady diet of Tony McPhee, Leslie West & Randy Holden but they also know how to write songs. Straight-up riff fests like the aforementioned “Hong Kong…” & “Transcendental Lunch” pave the way for a beauty like “Robin Trower.” I am not kidding you, they have a song called “Robin Trower.” That alone, my friends should be a reason for you to buy this. But in case it’s not, I’m here to tell you that the star of this song is actually the vocal work of Strendrini, who lays down a bluesy, heartfelt performance that calls to mind everybody from Chris Robinson to the guy in Throttlerod, with his golden yet powerful pipes. And then, investigate the sprawling 8 ½ minute “Quarter Roy,” a mid-paced crusher that morphs into a swirling Southern-rawk guitar blowout before coming back in for a smooth landing. Not enough? How ‘bout the slow boil of “Jessefron,” laced with it’s bubbling slide or the flat-out heavy boogie explosion of closer “Car Crash.” The interesting thing is, I received this disc in the mail probably minutes after I posted my 2007 Top 10 and it is just so damn good that I couldn’t have lived with myself if I hadn’t added it at #1. In truth, had I gotten it before the list went up it would’ve gone much higher…probably as high as one of those mesas in Monument Valley. I know it’s corny, but the disclaimer on the inside cover of this one is the damn truth: “This record is not meant to be played at low volumes. Seriously…don’t even bother.”

DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN – “Ire Works” CD ’07 (Relapse, US) – I have quite an admission to make. Ok, it’s not that I secretly listen to High School Musical or that Montana chick. I do that out in the open because I have daughters who are 5 and 10 years old. It’s not that I secretly wear women’s clothing. In a house with 2 adults & 5 kids, I unabashedly wear whatever I can find that’s clean. No, my dirty little secret is that, before I heard this album a couple weeks ago, I’d never heard DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN. There it is, news story: Underground music writer had never even heard one of the most name-dropped bands of the last few years. Why, you ask? Not really sure. I guess, with all the other stuff I get in the mail it was one of those things I never got around to. Plus, when you couple that with seeing their name plastered all over the front of every newsstand metal rag around, I kinda figured…ok, trendy, watered-down stuff, no need to bother. Well, upon hearing “Ire Works,” that was an incorrect assumption…mostly. DILLINGER ESCAPE PLAN, at least on this record, strikes me as a band of really good musicians. They would have to be, to play the kind of turn-on-a-dime, genre-leaping stuff involved here. I mean, let’s face it, from the jaw-dropping mathematics of “Fix Your Face” to the neo-electronics of “Acting As A Wave,” it’s a pretty impressive shape-shifting deal going on when you consider the fact that the material tends to have a real flow to it. Not only that, when “Mouth Of Ghosts” hits at the end of the album, you find yourself wondering if you’ve stepped into a lost Mars Volta session. Still, the reason for my “mostly” comment earlier is the fact that, as good as this is, there’s stuff out there like Japan’s SIGH that mows it under like a freight train and the mainstream people remain oblivious to it. My hope is that perhaps exposure to good, solid innovation like “Ire Works” will lead them to explore a little deeper.

IRON MAN – “Submission” CD EP ’07 (Private, US) – IRON MAN guitarist and long-time Iommi aficionado Alfred Morris III recently told me that, with the type of music on this disc and beyond, they are looking to garner mass appeal. I have a couple things to say about that. The first is that I hope they get it. Alfred has labored long & hard to bring his vision of doomy crushdom down hard on the public it’s high time they get some kudos for it. Secondly, I think he may be right, because after listening to these 5 songs, it’s obvious to me anybody into heavy music who has a grain of sense would dig ‘em. See, Alfred knows what the early Sabs knew: there’s something to be said for good songwriting and variety. Sure, “Black Sabbath” was slow but “N.I.B.” wasn’t. They mixed it up and did it with flair, just like IRON MAN does on this short but sweet record. From opener “Burn The Sky” to “Run From The Light” and “Among The Filth & Slime,” this 4-piece put on a clinic of simply killer heavy rock, laced with melody and memory. New vocalist Joe Donnelly has a commanding voice that fits the proceedings like a glove and of course, at the center is the pulverizing melting asphalt riff-machine called Alfred Morris. God, I wish this was a longer release but these 5 songs will do until the new full-length, coming later this year, hits the streets.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Top 10's For 2007: Ray & Readers Weigh In!

Well, I’ve sat around for too many long nights now, racking my brain and finally thought to myself: It’s simple, Ray. Just pull out the CD’s that came out this year that you’d put in your road case if you were going on a trip. Easy, right? Yup. Here they are. Sure, there was plenty of good stuff but to me, this was the cream. And, below that, we find you, the readers’ selections and, some damn fine ones as well! Just goes to show the really nice variety of stuff we talk about on here and it points out the wonderful world of music we explore each year and every day. Thanks to everyone for, once again, the largest turn-out I’ve seen around these parts and here’s hoping for a killer 2008. We’ve already seen some killer releases and I expect a bunch more. Be here to share ‘em with me!

RAY’S TOP 11 ALBUMS FOR 2007 (11? Yes...because I can)

1. AGAINST NATURE – “The Anxiety Of Influence”
2. HIGHBINDER – “Moreneverthanever”
3. CHUCK NORRIS EXPERIMENT – “The Return Of Rock & Roll”
4. MAWWAL – “Black Flies”
5. HAUNTED GEORGE – “Pile O’ Meat”
6. KEVIN K – “Hollywood”
7. IRON RIDGE – “Heaven Light Shining”
8. YOKESHIRE – “The Witching Hour”
9. GLYDER – “Playground For Life”
10. BLACK GASOLINE – “She Gave Us Magic”
11. FEDERALE - "Federale"


1. WITCHCRAFT – “The Alchemist”
2. THE HIDDEN HAND – “The Resurrection Of Whiskey Foote”
3. HIGH ON FIRE – “Death Is This Communion”
4. SLOUGH FEG – “Hardworlder”
5. CLUTCH – “From Beale Street To Oblivion”
6. BIG BUSINESS – “Here Come The Waterworks”
7. BLUE CHEER – “What Doesn’t Kill You…”
8. MOUNTAIN – “Masters Of War”
9. MUNICIPAL WASTE – “The Art Of Partying”
10. PRIDE TIGER – “The Lucky Ones”

Friday, February 8, 2008

The KEVIN K Interview! A True Rawk Lifer Speaks Out!

“Rock and roll” is a funny expression. What does it mean? The sound of a Chuck Berry riff while he duckwalked across the stage? A Little Richard scream!? Or is it more a feeling, the wind roaring in the window of a Z-28 while you cruise down the road with “Powerage” blasting? A spirit, a non-giving-a-fuck-moment in time of Keith Moon driving a Cadillac into the pool or Bonzo hurling a TV over a balcony? How about a bunch of guys banging out 3 chords in a dingy garage or a greasy little club just because they love it? Let me introduce you to a guy named KEVIN K. Over the course of many years and even more albums, not to mention shows too numerous to mention (huh?) in cities too widespread to map out, he has honed to perfection a wondrous craft of rawkin’ power pop that, in this writer’s humble opinion, defines the term rock & roll. (Check out my reviews in “Some New Reviews, Baby”Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Mr. KEVIN K.

RAY: Hey Kevin, how’s it going? I know that you’ve had a long history of involvement with music. Rather than guess what to ask or what’s important to you, why don’t I let you tell us? Take us back to whatever is your earliest interest or involvement with music and bring us where you are today. Don’t worry, we’ve got nowhere to go, we’ll sit back & listen….

KEVIN: Well, it’s a long story compared to a lot of my friends who aren’t here today… Alan, my brother and I played organized hockey in Buffalo for 5 years. By age 14, I never grew anymore physically…mentally, YES. I was a good fast skater, good in the corners, knew how to dig the puck out & get it to the open man. But man, that 1968 game when I suffered a concussion…that was it for me. I wanted to have a job that I could do for life and meet girls. It was either a jock or a musician. My parents made me and Alan watch The Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show and Elvis Presley, the comeback show where he was dressed all in leather. WOW! It was life-changing for us. These girls were going crazy. Unbelievable and you don’t have to get a concussion!! I took up drums and Alan guitar. And we got good FAST! Playing dances and playing clubs at age 17. I looked so young I would wear huge platform shoes & pencil in a fake mustache. Between sets I had to stand outside the bar. We loved the Stones, Hendrix. Cactus, Beatles. I remember seeing the New York Dolls on Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert in 1974. Man! We didn’t know what to think. They were great but out of tune & why does the guitar player have all that hair in his face? 1976 we heard the Sex Pistols & saw the Dead Boys live in 1977 and 1978. It changed our lives…this is it! It was the first time I was ever scared at a show. I mean we were nervous sitting in the front and Stiv Bators is having an epileptic fit onstage & Cheetah with that stare. Oh man! We never experienced this before. This is our music! We cut our hair off, colored it blonde. Subscribing to Rock Scene Magazine. We knew by 1980 we wanted to live in New York City, play CBGB, that was it. And what is amazing is all our heroes, we knew them all. By 1984 we opened for Johnny Thunders, Dee Dee Ramone, Cheetah Chrome, Dictators. So even though I have never become well known, Alan and I really accomplished what we wanted as kids. We lived in New York City for 21 years, played at CBGB I think 45 times, became addicted to drugs, lost everything. We were homeless a few times and in 1996, Alan died of a heroin overdose. It ended really sad. But, I try to keep Alan involved in my music today. When writing, I will ask myself “What would Alan do in this part?” And it works. I mean, I’m sure I’m damaged by everything that’s happened but life is for the living. Simple.

RAY: I know this is an age-old question and one you’ve probably heard a million times before but who were some of your biggest influences from the past, possibly some of your contemporaries? Also, is there anybody out there today who impresses you musically, lyrically?

KEVIN: Well, of course The Ramones, Iggy Pop, The Stones, Bob Dylan. New bands, I don’t know, this band Click Five is ok.

RAY: The one thing I’ve gotten from listening to the discs you’ve sent me is just a sense of pure rock enjoyment…if that makes any sense. With “Mr. Bones,” “Hollywood” & “Cool Ways” I just get the sense of wanting to get in a ’72 Camaro, rolling the windows down, cranking the shit to “11” and ripping down the open road. Any commentary, or am I just having a mid-life crisis?

KEVIN: Yeah, I try to keep things enjoyable. I think I’m pretty good at writing things that people can hear and relate to in their own lives. My songs are real. I have lived them. Never do I have writer’s block. I really think “Cool Ways” might be the best collection of songs I have done. I was feeling good about my life. NOT my bank account, though!

RAY: How in the hell do you write songs that have as great hooks as “Story Of A Girl” or “Cool Ways?” Does songwriting work a specific way for you, that is hear a hook in your head & figure it out on guitar? Do you sit for hours cranking out stuff, looking for something that sticks? Is it always different?

KEVIN: I think it’s a combination of everything. I just can’t seem to get what I want. By writing, it’s my therapy. I would for sure be in the nuthouse if I couldn’t play guitar and sing. Plus, I’m good at taking ideas, either chords or lyrics from the greats like Iggy or The Ramones or The Beatles. I think it helps me because I have a large range of music I listen to…blues, rock, country, I even have The Spice Girls CD. I love Frank Sinatra. I saw him at Radio City Music Hall with Don Rickles. When Frank sang “New York, New York” I was in tears. If it’s pop, I’ll listen. I’m open to all kinds of songs. I love Grand Master Flash, takes me back to my cocaine years in NYC and actually going to Studio 54. Plus, we always had to be as stoned on drugs as Johnny Thunders was and we saw him play at least 30 times in the city. It’s hard to write when you’re happy and rick and dating Jennifer Love Hewitt. At least for me it would be.

RAY: Do you consider your music to be a particular genre? Or do you just roll with whatever comes out & call it “KEVIN K?” For instance, “Mr. Bones” strikes me as a killer, metalized hard rawk direction while “Hollywood” & “Cool Ways” are stick-to-your-brain, magnificent power pop gems. But, each still has an inkling of the other, the KEVIN K Factor, I guess?

KEVIN: No genre. It’s just another KEVIN K outlook on life at that particular year.

RAY: I know you’ve been all around, from Buffalo to Manhattan to LA to Florida. What has that kind of traveling, moving around, done to your music, do you think? Do you think your stuff would sound the same, the same ideas would come out of your brain, if you’d stayed in one place?

KEVIN: NEVER! By touring different countries and seeing and talking with kids from around the world, it has opened my mind from just being American. Example: I have done 3 tours of Poland which were some of the craziest audiences. I mean, stage diving, slam dancing, incredible! They really like me because I’m 100% Polish. My grandparents came over on the boat to Ellis Island from Warsaw, so I have been in a lot of Polish music magazines. These kids have had NOTHING. One kid would by, say a Ramones cassette and make copies for his friends. Nobody had CD’s or band t-shirts. In fact, 2 of my CD’s have been released in Krakow Poland on cassette! I love that. Sometimes I think we get lost in OUR world of the definition of success is how much money you make. I always tell people, in America I’m just a loser, a nothing, a zero. But in Europe I’m known as a survivor and that’s what makes it so nice for me touring there. If I didn’t have my tours of Germany, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, etc. I would probably be dead. And I love playing in Berlin. Probably my favourite city in the world besides the OLD New York City of the 1980’s…Iggy and Bowie completely captured the feeling of life in Berlin with “Lust For Life” and “Heroes”…those records are perfect. I just finished writing and demoing 10 new songs to be recorded in Berlin later this year. This one will be really dark sounding, lots of keyboards. I read two great books, “The Fall Of The Berlin Wall” by William F. Buckley, Jr. and “The Wall Came Tumbling Down” by Jerry Bornstein. I put myself in another state of mind. Two weeks of very intense late nights with my guitar, keyboard, vodka and Vicadins. I conducted an experiment on my brain…and it worked.

RAY: You’ve got different musicians that you’ve worked with, from different areas. In fact, on “Hollywood,” you work with different people on different tracks, recorded everywhere from France to LA. The subtleties of their playing comes through (to these ears, anyway) and yet there’s an unmistakable flow that lets it work so well as an album. What made this work the way it did?

KEVIN: Well, it works because the people I work with all have the same taste in music. Plus I always come up with the framework for every song…bass, drums, backing vocal. I do all the pre-production on my 4 track cassette machine. No shit, I spend hundreds of hours on it. So when I get to the studio to record I have the basic foundation of what the song will sound like, no surprises. I don’t know how bands write in the studio! What a fucking waste of time. Plus, if I didn’t work like I do I would never have 17 CD’s out. I’d be working at Wal-Mart, bringing in the shopping carts from the parking lot. I still might someday be bringing in the shopping carts for Wal-Mart.

RAY: I know this may be a tough subject, and if you’d like to bail on this one, I’ll totally understand. You’d mentioned that your brother died during the ‘90’s. Was this something sudden or was it over time? Obviously, it affected you deeply as a person, I would think. How about musically? Was your brother involved in music?

KEVIN: ALAN K…Oh, I like talking about my brother. Well, we were in a few bands together for 25 years. From New Toys, Lone Cowboys and Road Vultures. We lived together, wrote songs and traveled together. I like to tell people we went through the war together. When he died I lost my left arm and half my brain. When your heroes are Johnny Thunders and Iggy Pop, chances are you’re gonna try drugs. It’s a fact. Alan just couldn’t deal with getting older & still not having a proper record deal. No money. I saw the good use of heroin when he wrote songs on the Road Vultures “Ride” CD. Very creative. And, then I saw the BAD side of heroin when he sold his clothes and his guitar. He went through 4 or 5 detox clinics in NYC and Florida. He was clean for almost a year when he went back to NYC. This was November of 1996. We weren’t talking and I didn’t even know he was back in the city. Then I got the phone call from the police. Kevin, this is the detective. We are calling you to tell you we found your brother. Found? Yes, he is dead. Just like that. But in NYC when they deal with 20 dead bodies a day it’s like a walk in the park to them. So I had him cremated and put his ashes on Johnny Thunders’ and Jerry Nolan’s graves out in Queens, NY. This was HARD for me. I didn’t know what to do. I started using drugs, drinking…just being really careless about my life. This went on for at least 6 months. But somehow, I had enough. I couldn’t be sad anymore. It wasn’t helping me at all. So I made the choice to jump in full speed ahead in writing, touring and recording…never taking a break. Now it’s almost 12 years. When I have time off, that’s when the demons start bothering me. Still, my brother visits me all the time in dreams. Also my best friend Peter who died while I was on tour in France a couple years ago. But I like it. These people are dead and they are not coming back. I accept it. Cheetah Chrome told me he really, REALLY misses Stiv. All the time. But he is gone. It’s done. I’m just happy we had many great, crazy times together and so many amazing songs Alan wrote. So, at least I have that!

RAY: Playing live has always been talked about by rock & roll bands as the driving force behind what they do. How do you feel about playing live as opposed to studio work?

KEVIN: I like both. The live is great when you have a great audience that doesn’t throw shit at you or spit. And after the show, they buy lots of merchandise and the girl factor, too. Studio I also love…just the start of a song and then the end, when it’s done, very satisfying.

RAY: What kinds of places are you and your band(s) playing these days? I suppose different size/style rooms are the order of the day, depending on where you’re at, eh? Where do you go over better?

KEVIN: I play anywhere and everywhere. If I can get pail I’ll play a show in your basement. These days you can’t be picky. Johnny Thunders would also play any club. He once told me at this club on East Houston Street (used to be a bad area of town), “I used to come down here to buy drugs…now I come down here looking for work.” My French guys saw Johnny play at some clubs that would only fit 50 people. That’s why Johnny was so popular in Europe, he would play anywhere.

RAY: The video footage I saw of you at CBGB was very cool…the sense of history and the way you seem to have a palpable connection to the place. Do you think playing at clubs like this give the artist a different sort of feeling than, let’s say, pulling into some place in the middle of nowhere that you’ve never heard of to do a one night show, possibly never to return there again?

KEVIN: CBGB. That club and Hilly made Alan and I who we became. CBGB taught me a lesson fast. If you think you are a great singer or guitar player, you get to NYC and you ain’t worth shit. There are 100 better singers, 100 better guitar players. At CB’s you would move your amps and drums from the front of the club, right thru the audience and right up on stage. No sound check, nothing, when the lights would turn blue it was time to play your 20 MINUTE SET…that’s it. If you can’t do it good in that time and under those conditions, too bad for you. I LOVED THIS. No bullshit. It really toughened me up for sure. And some nights we would open for Cheetah Chrome…wooooo….I thought we were gonna get stabbed. ON STAGE! And if you didn’t watch your gear, someone would take it. I used to move my drums by cab and we lived at 89 Bleecker Street. Walking it would take 4 minutes to get to CBGB…I would pay the cab drivers $20 for that ride! And they were helpful, they would pop open the trunk while I broke my balls loading in my 24 inch bass drum. Some nights I remember leaving CBGB at 5:00 AM. The sun would start to rise. It was surrealistic.

RAY: What’s next on the agenda for KEVIN K after “Cool Ways?” Any new recording plans formalized? What is your status as far as a label goes?

KEVIN: The new project, it might be called “Berliner.” I hope to even record at Hansa Studios. That’s where Iggy did the “Lust For Life” record, right by the Wall. I’ll probably stay with the same label, Rankoutsider Records. It’s owned by Pat Todd (Lazy Cowgirls). We’re the same age and come from the same school of music, so we understand each other really well. VERY good communication.

RAY: Any big plans for touring/gigs? Have you ever played Baltimore? Will you? (Please!)

KEVIN: The February German “Hollywood” tour dates are up on In May I will be in Spain for 2 weeks. I think my first band called New Toys in 1981 played The Marble Bar in Baltimore (Man, The Marble Bar…such memories…RD).

RAY: Do you think you’ll ever get too old for this shit? Does this stuff make you a living? If not, how do you get by?

KEVIN: Well, I think as time goes by, I would like to get a good rhythm and blues band. Like a sax player, trombone, keyboards. I have been old for so long I don’t even think about it. I still sing young and that’s good. Well, I have not had any other job for 13 years, only music. I worked at Sounds Record Store at 20 St. Marks Place for 7 years. Then I was a foot messenger for 4 years. That was fun. I loved taking the subway, drinking a beer in a brown bag. How I get by? That’s easy. 1) No girlfriend. 2) No car. 3) No apartment. 4) No kids (at least I don’t think so). 5) No health insurance. So, I have no expenses. I stay with friends in LA, Detroit, NYC, France, Germany. I mean I live a very strange life. Like I’m invisible. I have not been to the movies in 20 years. The last movie I saw was “Pale Rider.” I never go to dinner. Sometimes I don’t even think I’m human. I’m like a lost cat looking for a warm place to sleep!

RAY: Quick Red-Light Challenge: RAMONES – “Ramones,” TELEVISION – “Marquee Moon,” MONTROSE – “Montrose,” NEW YORK DOLLS – “Too Much Too Soon” or TALAS – “Talas.” Which one do you take to a desert island?

KEVIN: RAMONES…and Jennifer Love Hewitt…can I have both?

RAY: With your long involvement in music, can you tell myself and the readers some sort of story about something that has happened to you (connected to the music scene) that is either uproariously funny, touching, unusual or just plain weird?

KEVIN: Oh man, there have been hundreds. In fact, I have been writing a book for 3 years now, just stories that happened to me. It’s gonna be called “KEVIN K…How To Be A Successful Loser.” In Spain, I had a guy interview me and he says, “So Kevin, was it fun playing in the NEW YORK DOLLS?” I said, “Yeah, but Johnny was a real pain in the ass!” Jerry Nolan was using my drums and one night at the Continental he is looking down and says, “Kev..oh..ah…do you have some drum sticks I could use?” Jerry didn’t even have drum sticks! But see this is why I loved these guys. They were real, no big star attitude. They would always sign autographs, take pictures. NEVER did I think these guys were losers. Jerry Nolan would talk for hours about clothes. He was my idol. In 1991 Johnny Thunders was at our apartment at 338 E. 13th St. and he says to Alan and I, “Hey you guys are the same size as me. If you each give me $100 I’m going to Thailand after my Japan tour and have some suits made. I’ll get you each one made.” We said “No, Johnny.” Sure enough, John dies after the Japan tour. We go to the funeral home, there is John in the casket with a nice black suit on. We were sitting with John’s mother and she says to me, “Doesn’t John look nice in his new suit? He had it made in Thailand!” So there you go. Back in the 1980’s, I got into a cab once and looked at the driver’s picture and the name on the glove compartment and it said Albert Bouchard…the drummer from Blue Oyster Cult! Gene Simmons from Kiss called us on the phone asking for a demo tape of Road Vultures. When he had Simmons Records. This guy is a total jackass. About 8 years ago I saw Jennifer Love Hewitt filming a street scene. So I called my roommate on the phone. I started walking down the street and hear girls talking next to me. And, it’s Jennifer with a friend. We walked down the street right next to each other and I couldn’t say anything, I was speechless. I mean, I was so close to her I could smell her perfume! So that’s how “Jennifer Love Song” came about. I sent it to her. I think she thinks I’m a scary old Polish guy with tattoos. That’s ok. The last time I saw Iggy live was at Irving Plaza. After a GREAT show, I get into the dressing room and I’m standing there with Iggy, Steven & Liv Tyler and Bob Gruen and nobody is saying anything…quiet…and Iggy smells like a goat! No shirt on like a caveman…classic…and this is 1 hour after the show. IGGY IS KING! The last time I saw Dee Dee Ramone, he says to me, “Hey Kevin, tell your friends I’m selling pot now! And it’s high grade!” The last time I saw Joey Ramone was at a club. He was leaving and I said, “Joey, man, it’s great to see you. And I gave him my “Party Down” and “Rule The Heart” CD’s. So he says “AAhhh…thanks man.” So I look out the window and see Joey walking up 3rd Avenue with the “Party Down” CD in the left hand and the “Rule The Heart” CD in the right hand, just looking at them. That’s a nice memory for me. At the record store I worked at, people would come in and give me a list of records and bring them to the cash register. So one day my boss says “Kevin, find these records for this guy and make it fast. I said “Cool.” So, I’m running all over the store, rock, classical, pop, dance. I get all the records, like 25 and bring them to the counter…the guy has his back to me. I say, “Sir here are your records.” The guy turns around & it’s LOU REED! Wow! He was nice to me. He said “Thanks.” I worked one year at Tower Records in NYC. I was known as the Tower Plower because I had sex with at least one girl from every department, rock, pop, cassettes, classical, soundtracks, video & dance…yup, that was good. Another time I’m working the cash register. My boss says “Kevin go outside & tell that guy that he cannot sit on the steps.” (At Sounds Record Store we were on the 2nd floor and there were like 15 steps leading to the front door. We would not let people sit there). I look out the window…sure , enough…GG Allin. And this is the 1984 GG Allin, the complete CRAZY INSANE GG ALLIN that just got released from prison. And he doesn’t look too happy. I said to my boss “Ahhhh, that’s GG Allin, I can’t tell him that.” My boss says “Look, either you tell him to move or you’re fired.” I said “Can I think about it for 10 minutes?” Well, I go outside. I sit down next to GG. He has on mirrored sunglasses and is drinking a 20 oz. beer in a brown paper bag. I say, “Excuse me, sir, can you please move? We don’t let people sit here.” He says nothing for like 3 minutes, then turns and looks at me. Gives me the look of “I will move this time, next time you ask me to move I’ll cut you’re fucking heart out.” He gets up, walks away. I go inside, I think I wet my pants.

RAY: Any final comments for the readers of RAYSREALM?

KEVIN: Please buy a KEVIN K CD. You will not be let down. If you want to hear real true rockin roll from New York City, this is it. If I’m in your town someday, come say “Hi.” Let’s have a drink. There really are not too many of me around anymore. Jenkooya (Polish for “thanks”).

Wow, there you have it! Timeless stories and a real, true insight from one of the real veterans of the very heart of rock & roll, KEVIN K. You want some true entertainment with hooks that go on forever and a real life feel that’ll take your breath away? Grab “Hollywood,” ROAD VULTURES – “Ride” or his latest, the scintillating “Cool Ways” and have yourself a slice of that lust for life called rawk. NOTE: KEVIN K's discs are available at