Between The Lords and Kill City Dragons, what have you been up to ?
When The Lords split, I was in a bit of a shock ! Once you played in your favorite band, you can imagine, that it will be hard to find anything to cover the loss.
So why did you decide to form KCD rather than joining an existing band and how did you find the other members ?
When it came to finding a front guy, we were at a loss. We tried out a lot of guys but no one really cut it for us. Then Steve remembered a guy from a bar in New-York and so we got our asses on a plane and plunged into the Manhattan night life where we found Billy working at a bar in a nightclub. We got him turned on enough, so that he followed us to London a week or two later. We booked a rehearsal and the room basically exploded so we had ourselves a new gang... but we needed a name too.
Do you think that the international line-up (2 americans, 1 swiss and 1 brit) had an impact on the musical direction of the band and the vision you had to get noticed by the press and audience ?
I don't know if that had any other impact apart from the fact that our backgrounds colored our personalities, but we gelled well and the band took on a dynamic of its own. But that, in turn, had a lot to do with how the outside world (press etc) percieved us.
Plus Steve is a born business guy and has a knack of getting everyone around us exited. We were a real gang. A black cloud hovering about and people took notice ! We were all strong personalities and left an impression wherever we showed up. That all helped big time. (laugh)
What was the writing process in the band ?
Steve wrote a lot of the songs with Billy. Dave was involved too.
Kill city blues was the first song of the band, right ? Was it the first song the band was satisfied with after missed attempts or an easy one which become the mould of what you wanted to achieve ?
To be honest, i don't recall what song we did first, but it was not Kill City blues. that one came quite a bit later and we never recorded it. The style came from the way Steve wrote and what we contributed to.....
Dave brought Devil calling, a song he co-wrote with Nasty suicide (Hanoî Rocks ; The Cherry Bombz). When did they write it, was it originally planned for The Cherry Bombz ?
No, I think Dave and Nasty just wrote that while hanging out. They gave it to a finish band called Smack first, as far as i know. I heard it there and had an idea of what kind of groove it should have so I bugged the others to do that song and it became one of our best (me thinks).
In concert you also played a medley of Sweet jane (Velvet underground) and Be my lover (Alice Cooper Group). Who's idea was it ?
I can't remember who came up with that. I think we just used to jam on those songs and it just happened by itself...
The image of the band was pretty strong and the promotional pictures were quite colorful. Did you give a lot of attention to this aspect or were you all pretty dressed up on a daily basis anyway ?
Yes, that's just how we dressed, we all were quite flamboyant and looked good together. A bit like if we were brothers. Of course we made an extra effort for gigs and photo-shoots.
In 1989 you've recorded a few demos and eventually one of them (Devil Calling) was released on a flexidisc with Kerrang magazine. How did it happen ?
Yes I vaguely remember doing demos for the mini-album we later recorded... you're right. we did get one in a mag on a floppy disc. Steve was doing a lot of that work, but we later found Maria, a wonderful lady who loved us in general and Billy in particular... (laugh). She became our manager. we trusted her and she never let us down and put a hell of a lot of work into us.
Which other songs did you record during those sessions ?
I think we recorded all the songs that later ended up on Let 'em eat cake.
KCD get the public and music press attention pretty quickly. How come ?
Well, cuz we were an amazingly exciting band ! (laugh) You could not help loving us cuz a band like that comes along once in a decade maybe... We really had a special magic about us... There was a power coming from us ... an energy that you don't get every day... plus, we could pick up a bit from where The Lords left off.
The band was on Wideboy records. Why did you decide to signed with them and how was your relationship with the label ?
We never signed with Wideboy. That was a friend who run his label and he let us release it on there. We did not wanna wait for the majors to make up their minds.
What are your recollection of the recording sessions of what will become the "Let them eat cake" E.P. ?
Those sessions were great. We all were excited about the band and I think Mark Dearnley was a cool guy and understood what we were about. It was recorded out of town and we had a fun time doing that mini album with him.
So like you said it's Mark Dearnley (The Dogs d'Amour, Gene loves Jezebel, Bang Tango) that is credited as producer of those sessions but your friend Ralph Jones (Flesh for lulu, Wild at heart) claims the credits for this work. Can you clear up things here ?
No it was definitely Mark who recorded us. We did some recordings with Ralph later on with the second line up. Ralph might got it mixed up, he never was around in those first two years.
The artwork of the E.P. contains Egyptian elements while the band name got asian appeal. A bit weird, don't you think ? (laugh)
Yes you are right... I forgot.. (laugh). It's not like I'm looking at that cover every day. But there are the wings. The japanese or chinese lettering came later on though. But you are right, it is a bit strange. Never thought of that before. The sleeve design was done by our friend Mark Campbell.... and we just thought it looked cool. Stiv would have probably payed more attention to the symbolic details... and I would too these days... being responsible for what goes out now myself but in those days I was
The self-titled LP consist on the previous E.P. enhanced with 3 tracks recorded live. I heard another (bootleg) version with 2 more live tracks (Inspiration and Devil Calling). Was it planned to be out this way at first ?
Really ? You heard a bootleg with Inspiration on it ? I always thought that this was a great song and a shame that we never got to record it ! I'm not sure why we did this EP and live tracks thing. I guess we only had those few live recordings and someone decided we should put 'em out since we never got a record deal. And you can't put out a few live songs on their own, so they stuck 'em together with what we already had. Not a good move in my book, but it was not up to me. And there was never any money to do things properly, so we did what we could.
Tell us about the atmosphere and appeal around the band. Did you feel you were about to make it big ?
Yes, in the beginning the record companies all knocked on our door so we thought that something cool is gonna happen for sure ! And we got a ton of great reviews so we could assume to hit it off this time. The band was real tight. We even lived together, all of us, can you imagine that ? What a beautiful disaster we were ... ha ha, and not a dull moment. It was one big party and half the town joined in. Great times that I will never forget !
What about the USA. Did you try to break the market ?
No, like i said, we never had a budget and America was a long way away.....
Obviously you had enough material to record a full length album but it didn't happen. Was it because of the departure of Billy and Dave or for another reasons ?
The main reason was the lack of funds but obviously, Billy and Dave leaving did not speed things up either. It took Steve and me a whole year to find suitable replacements, cuz Dave and Billy were such strong characters and players... very hard to replace (as we found out).
After Billy and Dave left to form Shooting Gallery with Andy Mc Coy, Johnny Stevenson and Mark Anthony joined. How did you met them ?
We met Mark quite soon after the split and he was just such a nice guy a good player and had a great look so we did not fuck around and made him a member. Johnny's membership took a lot longer to be confirmed. We found him a few month after the split way up north, playing in a small local band. He was just amazing. blessed with an amazing voice (Steven Tyler heat your heart out ! -laugh-) and a great live performer too. He threw himself around like he was Iggy Pop. The only drawback was (and that's why we did not jump on him right away) that he did not look like us at all. He was up there with very short hair and some farmer pants on... so at first we just could not imagine him as our frontguy... replacing Billy... know what I mean ?
So we got the interest from Music for Nations and they gave us money to travel the world and look for a singer !!! Steve and I hopped back on a plane to the US and spent some months searching the scenes of New-York and LA. (to our surprise, everyone we met knew who we were. We had no idea that we had such a high profile in the States !). We came across a lot of singers who looked great but could not sing and some who sang great but did not look the part. To Steve, the look was very important and it was his brainchild so I went along with his vision of how the band should be. Anway, we never found anyone in all of the places we went to (can you believe it ?) so we returned, knowing that Music for Nations will not be happy. So Steve had the idea to get Johnny and make him look like one of us. And that's what we did. We got him to London, put some extentions in his short hair and I gave him some of my clothes to wear and there he was... looking like a star. and he liked it at first.....
How many times did it take to be ready with the new line-up, how was the new chemistry ?
We rehearsed for some more months and started to gig again. In the beginning of this new line up we were all very excited. Steve's songwriting became even stronger and the new voice was just amazing !! Musically, I think we toped the first line up ! We also had Music for Nations getting very excited and we thought we finally get to reap the reward for all the hard work we put in. The chemistry was great and we all looked to the future with confidence.
Seems like many people at the time thought the band was over and have never been aware of your effort to keep going. At least outside England. Did you notice that or have you been able to maintain the momentum around the band all this time in the UK ?
No, not really. People did think that we packed it in, but when we started touring in the UK the reception was fantastic ! People loved our new line up and we played packed out gigs! The press got into it again as well and we were all set to crack it this time.
So you arranged a recording session with Ralph Jones ?
Yes, i think we made some demos with Ralph, but I have no idea what happened to them. Maybe Ralph still got them. We recorded in the cellar of the house we all lived in but I never heard the results and they never came out....that's all we did with Ralph.....unless my memory doesn't serve me so well anymore...
Another three track demo was made. Which songs were included ?
Yes, we recorded again with Mark Dearnley and the result was fantastic ! We did two great new songs (Steve will remember the titles) and one Alice Cooper cover (Be my lover). The music we recorded sounded like we could have played with Aerosmith and looked quite good doing so !
How the change of line up influenced the musical direction ?
Like i said, Steve was giving the musical direction fom the beginning and so the style did not really change. It just got better and more defined.
Did the band get a lot of record labels attention ?
Yes we did (again) but it was the same thing all over. All the record companies knocked on our door but could not make up their minds as to wether or not they should sign us. You see, it was the beginning of the Seattle scene. Nirvana just came out and Smashing Pumpkins. The old rock style was not in vogue anymore. It was just bad timing as they say. A few years before we would have made it very big for sure ! But there was Music for Nations and they did not fuck around and offered us an ok deal.
You almost secure this deal with Music for Nations but Johnny decided to leave the day you were supposed to sign, innit ?
Yes... unfortunately that is true. A very bad day in my and -I'm sure- Steve's lives ! We were supposed to meet in this pub and then go in to sign the deal and be taken out by the company for a celebration meal. Johnny came in and declared that he was gonna leave the band to do his solo thing ?!?... Can you imagine what that felt like to us ? I had a hard time, holding myself back, not to punch the shit outta the guy ! We pleaded with him to at least stay for a while. We told him that he would stand a bigger chance with his solo stuff if he would play with us for a while until he was known (and we were right, as the world has never heard his great voice ever again) but he insisted on leaving. I think what happened was : we made him be someone who he was not comfortable with in the end. And when it came to the crunch, he bailed out... Of course now the wind was totally taken out of our sails and we had to call it quits. We could never hope to get another singer like that and let it be... (what a shame, that I have not found out at the time that I could do just as great a job fronting a band and writing great songs.)
Shooting Gallery or even Slumlords didn't last long. Haven't you thought of reunite the original line-up of the band in 1993 ?
No, they did not either... I personally don't care much for Shooting Gallery but the Slumlords was a fantastic band and the world don't know what it missed ! Really amazing music they did, what a shame they did not get anywhere either.
23 years later, what do you think of KCD and what the band achieved ?
Now, looking back on it all... It was a wonderful time. Full of wonderful experiences (and of course some very frustrating ones as well) and I still get hundreds of fans talking to me about this band. We must have left a bigger impression than I was ever aware of at the time. We seem to have gone down in history as one of the great (live) bands of our time... and I would do it all again... but I think a reunion is not very likely to happen. It has been talked about, but never amounted to anything. Steve and Billy live different lives these days and I'm not sure if we will ever see either of them on a stage. But I still love all that's to do with this band and I still love everyone who was involved !