Eric Johnson/Al Perry/Brad Trojan Interview
On Thursday July 7th, a benefit for KXCI will take place at the local swanky venue known as Plush. (340 E. 6th Street, on the corner of 6th and 4th Ave.) The event has been dubbed "Something Else by KXCI: A Tribute to The Kinks." (The album "Something Else By The Kinks" was released in 1966.) Five local bands (LemonMan & Friends, Al Perry & The Cattle, Sun Zoom Spark, Nowhere Man,Muddy Bug, and local artist Leila Lopez, will pay tribute by covering the songs of one of the most influential yet underrated bands in rock history...The Kinks.
There have been many tribute shows in Tucson's musical past, but it can be argued that none have conjured the excitement for the music to be performed amongst it's participants, as in this event. To be a Kinksfan, it would seem, is to be a passionate one. Founded by brothers Ray and Dave Davies in 1961, (the partnership of the siblings is considered to be the most volatile, creative relationship in the history of rock music)The Kinks were part of the mid-sixties phenomena called "The British Invasion." With hits such as "You Really Got me," "Waterloo Sunset," and "Lola,"they continually broke new ground within the confines of the rock genre. They have influenced scores of musicians that span generations, from The Who to Elliot Smith.
Three local musicians, Brad Trojan aka LemonMan, of LemonMan & Friends (formally of The Galactic Federation Of Love), Eric Johnson of Sun Zoom Spark, and Al Perry & The Cattle, sat down with me, (Cozmik Jon Marchand) at Slowburn Studios, (the home of Sun Zoom Spark and The Black Sun Ensemble) to talk about the benefit for KXCI, and the music of The Kinks.
Cozmik Jon: I'll start off by asking an obvious question: How has the music of The Kinks, and the songwriting of Raymond Douglas Davies influenced you and your songwriting?
Brad Trojan (LemonMan & Friends): I enjoy his compositions, his wonderful melodies, his perspectives and social commentary of the time (the 60s). I also love the great way he weaves his stories with the characters he thinks up. He is so good at making things so personal and so broad to the listener, to all our lives. It is the most simplistic and beautiful songwriting when he is at his best.
Cozmik: Yeah, you can tell he is often talking indirectly about himself and his own life, but deflecting it in a way-communicating his inner world within a fantasy, a rock and roll one of course.
Al Perry (AL Perry & The Cattle): You know, Ray Davies was the first guy I really got into as a songwriter. He just writes such great songs man, all across the board. You just get the feeling Ray is not into what everyone else is interested in. When I was a kid in High School in the early 70s, and I wasn't into sports or the social scene, songs like "David Watts," really appealed to me, being an alienated teenager. That influence carried on into adulthood. The wistfulness and nostalgia, the social commentary found in the rock operas like "Preservation," that are just so well done. He really is a classic songwriter, in the real sense. More than just a rock sense. I think his stuff is timeless.
Eric Johnson (Sun Zoom Spark): The Kinks are the cool Beatles. You have albums where so many songs is SO Strong, they almost detract from the record as a whole. The songs are such perfect little gems of songwriting, and it is really hard to write a little pop song.
Cozmik: What do you all think stands as the biggest contribution The Kinks have made to Rock 'N Roll?
Al: I have to think about that! I just can't come up with that off the top of my head!
Eric: I would have to say solidarity for the working man. If you think about the other bands of the sixties, they weren't talking about real things, real life. Representing the common person was a big thing for The Kinks.
Brad: Right! Also the different styles they would infuse into the music.
Cozmik: They were the first to put in east indian instrumentation in a rock song with the tune "Fancy,"a credit mostly attributed to the Fab Four.
Brad: They have woven a lot of traditional folk music as well...These circus-like tunes...He just broke open the egg and the yoke spilled ut all over the turntable! (everyone laughs).
Al: Listen to the early stuff, like "You Really Got Me" and "All Day and All Of The Night," they practically invented Punk Rock and Heavy Metal right there. The classic period of 66-69, superior songwriting! The theatrical things in the early 70's.
Cozmik: Yeah, once again, The Kink's "Arthur," was the first rock opera, although The Who's "Tommy," is often cited as such. How do you feel about performing at the benefit for KXCI, and how hard was it for you to pick the songs for the gig?
Brad: It's great fun! Now that my band has left me...(laughs)...I'm trying to pick some more obscure ones, some special ditties for those that may not know much about The Kinks. Songs that might not have the mainstream appeal, but are still just as wonderful and beautiful. I'm very excited to play "Autumn Almanac!"
Eric: I could not miss out on an oppurtunity to play Kinks songs. KXCI has always been a really good friend to us. We tried to pick songs that cover the 60s, 70s, and 80s, a kind of retrospective. It was a heart-wrenching task to pick what songs to play. There are so many great songs.
Al: It's always good to do something to help out KXCI! Especially being a local musician. I can't think of a more worthy cause. There was a tribute show every other week there for awhile. I often thought where are the George Jones, Buck owens, Brian Wilson tributes? That's why this Kinks this is so...I'm just happy there is is a really good tribute night. As far as picking songs-you can just pick up any Kinks album and stick your finger right there, because all The Kinks have, are great songs. From the beginning, all the way through the 80s, man. They were so consistent. They never really stopped writing great songs.
- John Paul Marchand, June 2005