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Friday, 18 October 2013

In Conversation with Folk Grinder

Good evening.

KJ: Greetings Mr M...

Hope all is ship shape and I promise that's the last nautical comment I will make. So how are you Koozie? How is the good ship Folk Grinder? 

KJ: hahaha All's ship shape tip top and dandy, thank you for asking..... and all's well aboard the good ship Folk Grinder too heave ho!!!!

Okay that really is the last one.

KJ: Promise.....

Now that the tour with Kirk Brandon is done and dusted and you have been up and down the country to promote 'Any old trollop, same old port' how are things looking for the band? You appeared to impress wherever you played.

KJ: Yes all has gone very well on the last tour, the two acts have worked well together and we have a lot of new fans on board now. KB's audience have been very accepting and welcoming. They have got into the spirit of what we are doing from the off and have been buying the album and have given us a warm reception wherever we have performed.

Did you enjoy the tour?

KJ: Yes very much so. We have met some lovely people that have shown great support and hospitality. It has also been a good laugh too as we all get on very well, having known one another for a number of years now and have a great deal of mutual respect for each others craft.

It's obviously a great deal of hard work. In one incarnation or another who have been globe trotting for decades now. Do you ever feel that you have played on pretty much every stage there is?

KJ: Yeah i've played a lot of stages over the years in many different countries but there are still many more to play and replay. New venues are appearing as well as older established venues are being revamped and improved on all the time. I love traveling and playing live, i love meeting people and experiencing new places. Any old port..........bring it on.

What is it that keeps you going?

KJ: It's what i do it's my passion, and if i'm not out there playing somewhere i feel lost and restless. The hunger to write and perform music has never left me and it's a necessity too, as like everyone else i need to make a living. Music is my sanctuary and without it i'd go insane though others might think i already am hahaha......

I've been joining you as you have been revisiting your past and posting photos of the bands you have been in on social media. Give us a run down of the the ones that you loved being in, and the ones that you look back on with less fondness.

KJ: Well yes there's been a few and far too many to mention all, but prior to FOLK GRINDER i have played Bass and Guitar in various bands as well as fronted a couple of bands.  
LAUGH IN FEAR (83-85) which was my home town band back in Gloucester when i was 17 and included drummer Darrin Stevens, who played skiffle snare on the album and gets up and guests with fG on our live shows. SHOT (91-93) that i'd formed with former Cortinas/Clash mk2 guitarist Nick Sheppard and Singer Colbert Hamilton and were signed to IRS and managed by the legendary Miles Copeland. WILD CRASH 500 (93-95) that featured former Tenpole Tudor members, drummer Gary Long and guitarist Bob Kingston as well as guitarist Ray McVeigh who was in the Sex Pistols off shoot band The Professionals with Steve Jones and Paul Cook. OBLIVION DUST (96) based in Tokyo and ended up becoming a very big and successful band in Japan. TYLA/DOGS D'AMOUR (96/97) playing with Tyla was a good laugh and was crazy at times a very good song writer too. SINNERSTAR (2001-2005) a band i fronted that had a bit of a revolving door line up and featured in it's last line up guitarist Kien Lim and former Thunders/Strummer/Matlock drummer Chris Musto as well as bassist Paul Slack of UK Subs fame. GLEN MATLOCK & THE PHILISTINES (2004-2007) featuring original Sex Pistols bass player and my old band brothers Chris Musto and Ray McVeigh. A high light show for me being in Hollywood at The Knitting Factory when Steve Jones joined us on stage for 'God save the Queen' and 'Pretty Vacant'.

And now tell us how Folk Grinder measure up?

KJ: Folk Grinder has been a breath of fresh air for me and completely different from anything else i've done in the past. I enjoy the simplicity of it and at the same time the challenges it presents. I love the earthiness i like the vulnerability it has, the stripped back sound and skiffle approach appeals to me it's very back to basics. The songs have got to be good enough to stand up on there own.

The sailor angle that transfers over into your stage wear would lend itself to some thinking that you are a folk band and obviously the name would give that impression to, but really at heart you are a bit of a sleazy rock and roll band with your vocals edging into the Tom Waits drunken troubadour style. Do you ever get confused looks from members of the audience who were looking for shanty tunes?

KJ: Myself and accordion/piano player Miro Snejdr wanted a name that could have been a Tarantino film title and we thought 'FOLK GRINDER' had that. Yeah it's fun seeing some peoples reactions to our take on the sea shanty, after all what is a shanty but a work song a song about the sea, a tale of woe and the missing of ones loved ones a journey of adventure of hardships.......There are drinking songs, stories about love and pain, joy and loss. I delve deep into the topics of addiction and affliction i pull on my own personal experiences in life and what i've gone through and how i've survived to tell the tale. What i put across is very real and heart felt. If you've lived life then you'll get it. The fact that its got a Rock'n'Roll edge to it all i guess was inevitable.

Where did the original concept of guitar and accordion come from?

KJ: I've always loved the sound of an accordion and bless the day i ran into Miro, for he's an exceptional player and gifted musician. His playing style compliments my writing and playing style, it just works.

As I have touched on how long you have been performing for can you tell us what you consider the biggest change is in the musical landscape when you look back over the years?

KJ: Simple, a lot of music these days has now become so over produced it's a kind of quick fix fast food music with no depth or substance. So much of what we hear is conveyor belt music, there's a lot of desperate wannabes out there. We are being swamped with so many manufactured celebrities that kids are growing up with a twisted view of music and role models and they seem to have lost touch with what's actually real. Sadly for so many young'uns it's become all about the bling.

Apart from touring with Kirk Brandon he produced your album too. How did that transpire? Do you guys go way back?

KJ: I first met Kirk back in 1982 on the Theatre of Hate Westworld tour. A mates band that i was joining called 'Death Beat' were supporting them. I remember chatting with KB before the show and recently i reminded him of this. He says to me ''was i nice to ya Kooz?'' and i laughed and said ''yeah you were, you signed my ToH 'Rebel without a brain' record sleeve for me' writing on it 'STAY LUCKY' .......he laughed and said ''Good". Later on over the years our paths would cross again and we would work with some of the same musicians and became good friends. He called me up in 2010 and asked me if Folk Grinder would open for him on a couple of acoustic dates he was doing in London and those were fG's debut shows (1st & 2nd Oct 2010 at the Redeemer Klub) hosted in an old Victorian Music hall in Exmouth Market. Then in September 2011 he came to see fG play a show at the 12 Bar Club in London and approached me after the show with regards to producing our debut album. He told me the story of when Mick Jones from The Clash had produced Theatre of Hate and said he'd reached a point in life when he wished to return that favor and wanted that favor to go to me. I was taken a back by his words and honored too, it was perfect timing as well as perfect casting. We ventured into the studio in February 2012 and began making the album. On it's completion we were then invited to support Theatre of Hate on their 30th Anniversary tour and then since our albums release in December 2012 have gone on to tour with Kirk on his acoustic tours in 2013 as well as various shows of our own.

Bands now seem to have to emulate the shark and keep on moving to survive. It's as if the taking the foot off the pedal leads to certain death. It can from the outside looking in appear to be an all consuming. Do you think now, more than ever, you have to live and breath being in a band just to get by?

KJ: It takes a lot of stamina and dedication and i guess you gotta really love what you do with an extreme passion to keep doing it. At the end of the day if it's what you do and want to do then you find a way to keep doing it and hopefully make it pay.

It's not been that long since the release of the album, but do you have anymore plans to return to the studio?

KJ: There is still a lot more playing to be done promoting the first album but the next fG album is already written and some of it has been demoed. When the time is right and the finance is there then we shall record our second album.

When can we expect you back on the road, or is the near future more about hit and run shows rather than a tour?

KJ: Soon........there are various fG shows booked and being booked around the country as well as there are more tours with KB planned for the end of the year and for the new year so keep an eye on our website and the press for details.

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