Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pheaturing Kevin Hearn

Hello, kids, and welcome top another entry of the Phile on a miserable wet Sunday morning here in Florida. How are you?  Did you have a nice Labor Day? For those that don't know, it's the day we honor the American worker. When I say an American worker, I mean an 8-year-old kid in China.
I no longer recognize Labor Day as a holiday now that Jerry Lewis is not hosting anymore.  President Obama spent his free time in the White House making beer, and apparently the beer is so good that the White House is now releasing the recipe. Not to be outdone, Mitt Romney will be releasing his own recipe for root beer. I wish somebody would release the recipe for fixing the economy. That's how bad the economy is. Not only is our president drinking, he's drinking beer he made in his bathtub.  A new study has found that men and women see colors differently. And we also see everything else differently. Women can perceive more than 50 shades of gray, whereas men see a poorly written book.   The NFL opener was on Wednesday and the Giants lost. I thought London did a tremendous job with the opening ceremonies. Speaking of football and the Giants, do you know who they hired to take Regis Philbin's place? Michael Strahan, former New York Giants all-star. Regis has hip replacements older than this guy. Mark my words... Regis will be the next crazy old guy who talks to an empty chair.     There was a lot going on Wednesday night. The first NFL game tonight, the Democratic National Convention, a new episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo." Everything that we are as a nation is all rolled up into one night.  Next year McDonald's is opening two restaurants in India that don't serve meat. They're doing it because cows are sacred in India. Whereas here, they're lunch. They'll still have the Happy Meal in India. To be honest, for most people in India, any meal is a happy meal.  Well, as I said the Giants lost to the Cowboys on Wednesday. I am sure Jeff who does the Phootball Talk With Jeff pheature on the Phile is laughing I didn't get that point for our picks. Anyway, you all know I am a big Kelly Clarkson fan, so you can imagine how heart broken I was when I saw this picture.

Yeah, I know, before any of you e-mail me, I know she is from Texas. Maybe I will become a Cowboys fan this year instead. Ahhhh, no.  So, I was watching "Big Brother" the other day and during that show I found out I won a lot of money.

I don't play the lottery, so if no numbers were picked that does that mean I won, right?  Did you see the second episode of "Doctor Who" last night? The episode was called "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" and I was not at all impressed on how the dinosaurs looked.

So, the DNC is over. Did you see all the posters they had all over the place at the convention? I think they were aiming for the younger, maybe black voters.

And now, lets see went to the big square dance in the sky!

Art Modell
June 23, 1925 - Sept 6, 2012
Art should be buried in Cleveland, and then 35 years from now he should be dug up, dragged and dumped in Baltimore.

Michael Duncan
Dec 10, 1957 - Sept 3, 2012
Corpse, like the Marines, 'cept spelt different...

Well, like I said the DNC is over, and they are all so tired none of them could make it here on the Phile today. LOL. But, we don't hear from the other side to often, so I was surprised when a friend of the Phile wanted to come back on. So, please welcome back to the Phile...

Mike: Here's is a top ten list for the Phile.
10. All my records released henceforth.
9. I won't accept the nomination.
8. I have decided to resign.
7. I am a Chicago Thug.
6. College records for tax returns.
5. I am out of here.
4. I have submitted my resignation.
3. I'm not a American citizen.
2. Jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs!
And the number one five words you want to hear in Obama's speech...
1. Dead people vote for me.

Me: That's great, Mike, but I don't think we all want to hear those words. So, tell me, while you're here, I have to ask, what did you think of Bill Clinton's speech the other day at the DNC?

Mike: You mean former Molester-in-Chief Bill Clinton?

Me: Ummmm... I guess so.

Mike: Well, while the Obama-bots claim Republicans are engaged in a "war on women" they invite the only President ever to be accused of rape (remember Juanita Broaddrick?) as their "Honored Guest" Speaker! It doesn't get any better than this!

Me: Mike Rotch, everybody, Republican extraordinaire.

Okay, let's talk about something more jolly. Over in Ohio they have this Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, but it seems the bands we want to see get inducteed never do. Is inducteed a real word? Anyway, I thought I would invite a music expert to the Phile who will be our own Jann Wenner. So, please welcome to the Phile, Vinyl Barista at Berdan Records and a member of unHOF... Joseph J. Ramsey in a pheature called...

Today's Induction: Savoy Brown.

One of the main criteria I try to use when choosing inductees is, could any of these bands or musicians be someone's absolute favorite? Even for a short while (as I had many favorites over the years!). Savoy Brown were that for me. Their string of albums from "Getting to The Point" (released 1968) to "Looking In" (1970) were as good as the British blues got. I stack these against anything John Mayall or Fleetwood Mac were doing at the same time!  The comparison to Fleetwood Mac is apt as Savoy Brown's combustibility rivaled even that group. By the time of 5th album, "Raw Sienna", it marked the first time that a single lineup of the band had recorded successive albums without any changes in personnel. That classic version of the band were Chris Youlden, Lonesome Dave Peverett, Roger Earl, drums. Tone Stevens, and Kim Simmonds.  Sadly, Chris Youlden left after "Raw Sienna" to embark on a lackluster solo career. He was great and his version of Savoy Brown had real chemistry in the studio. I often wondered what the band would have accomplished had they been able to keep this lineup intact. Upon his departure, the singing job fell to Lonesome Dave. Ordinarily, the loss of a lead singer would signal big trouble for most bands... Despite my love for Youlden's voice, in this case, Savoy Brown turned in their masterpiece, 1970's "Looking In".  I can honestly say that "Looking In" changed the way I thought about music and influenced my playing as a guitarist and as a songwriter. Like The Groundhogs Savoy Brown was steeped in the blues yet stepping outside the box to create something... well, brand new. The Groundhogs rocked a bit harder and had flirtations with psychedelia, Savoy Brown rocked, too, but in a much more grounded way... there were elements of jazz and Latin percussion which gave the music a kind of exotic feel... along the lines of early Santana. Both Simmonds and Peverett were at the top of their games as far as guitar playing goes... Peverett far more the rock and roller and Simmonds throwing in the odd Wes Montgomery or Kenny Burrell lick... the music IS multi-layered. "Looking In" is the ONLY Savoy Brown album to completely feature the vocals of Lonesome Dave... and what a singer he turned out to be. I loved his voice.  Savoy Brown were still my favorite band when I bought tickets to see them open for Rod Stewart & The Faces in 1971. I was never a big Rod Stewart fan but I often went to concerts to see the openers. I was shocked and disappointed when Savoy Brown hit the stage with ALL new members save for guitarist, Kim Simmonds. What??? Didn't play a single song I recognized... all were probably from their upcoming album, "Streetcorner Talkin'", which turned out to be their biggest selling album ever. The new members were most of Stan Webb's Chicken Shack along with new singer, Dave Walker, who earlier had infamously taken Jeff Lynne's spot in the ill-conceived Mach II of the Idle Race. After the initial shock wore off, I grew to really like "Streetcorner Talkin'" but it just wasn't the same.  Turns out, three quarters of the band I liked had bolted the group en masse to form their own rock and boogie band, Foghat. I saw Foghat several times including their first few trips to Hollywood at The Whisky Au Go Go (before, I think, they were even calling themselves Foghat!), and I loved their first three albums... but they NEVER (my opinion, of course) rose to the greatness of that final Savoy Brown album. That one is really special.  On a side note, there probably isn't a string of rock albums with better sleeves than Savoy Brown. Most are gatefold and artist drawings except for the UK version of "Getting To The Point" which has a very odd photo of Simmonds on the cover and "A Step Further" which has kind of a psych photo of the band lurking in foliage. Youlden is wearing a stove pipe hat a la Abe Lincoln (I told you it was psyche... ha ha!). Again, "Looking In" is the big winner as it features a drawing resembling something that would appear in a horror comic like Warren Publication's Creepy or Eerie. Indeed, the photo inside the gatefold shows Lonesome Dave surrounded by his favorite records and books and, sitting on top of the pile is issue number three of Creepy Magazine complete with artist Frank Frazetta cover. No wonder I liked him so much!

Okay, this is so fucking cool, and I cannot believe I have him on the Phile. Today's pheatured guest is a Canadian musician who is currently the keyboardist of one of my favorite bands ever... Barenaked Ladies and his own group, Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle. He is also the 23rd artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. He has a new solo album out called "Cloud Maintenance" which is a brilliant album and available on iTunes. Please welcome to the Phile, one of my favorite musicians ever... Kevin Hearn!

Me: Hello, Kevin, it's an honor to have you here, I am a big fan. How are you?

Kevin: I am fine thanks.. I have been on the road for three months straight. Now a little break.

Me: Regular readers of the Phile know I am a HUGE Barenaked Ladies fan, in fact you guys are my favorite band. I won't tire you out asking too many BNL questions, Kevin. Anyway, I always ask guests I have on the Phile from Canada if they like Barenaked Ladies. And as you are from Canada, I will ask you the same thing. LOL. What do you think of the Barenaked Ladies?

Kevin: I like them.

Me: Speaking of fantastic bands, I love the work you did with Thin Buckle. Do you still play with that band, Kevin?

Kevin: Thank you. Yes. Whenever I have the time or the opportunity. I love playing with Bob Scott and Chris Gartner and we have been playing music together for over twenty years.

Me: Let's talk about your new solo album which I downloaded from iTunes... "Cloud Maintenance." That's a very sweet album. Where did the title of the album come from?

Kevin: The album cover is a painting by Brooklyn artist Don Porcella . It is called "routine cloud maintenance". The painting had an influence on the over all feel of the record, so I thought it was a fitting title.

Me: You wrote all the songs on it, right, Kevin?

Kevin: Yes. I had a little help with the words on "Monsters Anonymous "from my good friend Boothby Graphoe.

Me: Who plays on the album with you, Kevin?

Kevin: It's all in the credits or on my website

Me: How long have you been writing lyrics and music and what comes first?

Kevin: Since I was about eleven... there is no set pattern as to which comes first.

Me: One of my favorite BNL songs is "Sound of Your Voice". Did it take awhile for you to write songs for that band when Steven and Ed were doing most of the songwriting?

Kevin: I have always written songs, but I was asked to join BNL as a keyboardist, not as a songwriter.

Me: You play guitar, accordian, keyboards and other various instruments, Kev. Which instrument did you learn first?

Kevin: Piano.

Me: How old were you when you started to play an instrument?

Kevin: Five.

Me: Does learning an instrument come easy for you? If you ever need a kazoo player... what I am talking about, you probably play a mean kazoo.

Kevin: I can often make something work with instruments which have keys or strings as I am familiar with piano and guitar. Not so much with wind instruments. Thanks for the kazoo offer.

Me: What is your favorite instrument to play?

Kevin: Piano.

Me: Recently when I saw BNL play in Tampa I noticed you played more guitar then I am used to seeing you play. Is that a nice change for you, Kevin?

Kevin: I am enjoying it... I think I have played more guitar on the BNL records than people may realize, but my parts were often covered live by Steve or Ed.

Me: I have to ask you about this, before we get into your artwork. You played with Lou Reed for a few years. How did that come about, is he a BNL fan?

Kevin: I still play with Lou. I love him. He is someone who I look up to as an artist. We just toured Europe together. He really liked my "H-Wing" record, and it is through that record that we met.

Me: When did you first meet Lou and did you have to audition to be in his band?

Kevin: I did have to audition, and it was one of the most nerve wracking and thrilling times for me. I first met him after a show in New York. He invited me for pizza.

Me: Speaking of auditioning, is there any band you were in that you had to audition for? If I had a band you'd be a shoe in.

Kevin: Well, I think the first two month tour I did with BNL was a bit of an audition. They did not ask me to join until after that. There is alot more to getting hired to join a band than your ability to play. Your ability to be a good, reasonable human being is just as important. For instance, can we eat a meal together, can we work together, be open and have a comfortable rapport? Can we coexist on a tour bus? Etc, etc.

Me: Did you play piano or guitar for Lou or both?

Kevin: Both.. and I often act as MD... running rehearsals, etc.

Me: Alright, let's talk about your art. Congrats by the way, you are the 23rd artist to be pheatured in the Peverett Phile Art Gallery. How long have you been drawing, Kevin? Probably since you were a little kid.

Kevin: For as long as I can remember.

Me: When did you first start doing art professionally?

Kevin: I don't know that I ever have.

Me: Good point. Anyway, I love your style, it's very child like, in a good way, and very John Lennonish. Who are your favorite artists and influences?

Kevin: Thank you. Pudlo Pudlat, Dr. Seuss, Marcel Dzama, David Lynch, Norval Morisseau, Jean Dubufett, Wassily Kandinsky. Team Macho, Maurice Sendack, and I always enjoyed John's drawings . Bob Dylan does some fantastic drawings as well.

Me: What tools do you use, Kevin?

Kevin: Pencil crayons, water colour pencils, acrylic ink, various pens.

Me: I like to doodle when I am sitting around and daydreaming. When do you do most of your art work?

Kevin: When I am on the phone, or in a band meeting, in a hotel room on a day off, or somewhere relaxing while listening to music.

Me: You have done the artwork for a number of Thin Buckle albums. Were you hesitant in showing off your art? I am most of the time.

Kevin: Yes, I was at first, but people seemed to like my drawings so I became less shy about it.

Me: You also did the art work for a few BNL releases, and one album "Snacktime" had a book filled with your art. When did that idea come along? That must've been fun to do.

Kevin: Oh yeah.. I love that record... I was happy my drawings were used. I have books and books full of drawings.

Me: Kevin, you must of done a hundred drawings, do you ever show them in an art gallery?

Kevin: I did do a show at the AGO in Toronto and I showed a few of my drawings. I also did a fun little show on one of the cruises.

Me: The Ships and Dip BNL cruises... I always wanted to go on one. If you could only do one thing, play music or paint, what would you choose?

Kevin: I can't choose. If I had to rely on one for a living, I would choose music.

Me: Kevin, thanks a million for being on the Phile. It is a huge honor and I hope it was fun. Go ahead and plug your websites and everything, Kevin.

Kevin: Cheese-tacular grilled smokies... now only seven hundred and ninety-nine dollars!

Me: So, what's next for you? Barenaked Ladies are working on a new album, right?

Kevin: Who are you?

Me: I don't really know. LOL. Anyway, would you please come back when it comes out? You can invite any of the other Ladies to.

Kevin: Yes... thank you... take care.

Me: All the best, Kevin, and take care yourself.

Holy fuck. Sorry, but I just interviewed Kevin Hearn from Barenaked Ladies. Imagine how I feel if I interviewed Kelly Clarkson. Anything is possible. Anyway, that about wraps it up for this entry. Thanks to Steven Folks, Joseph J. Ramsey and of course Kevin Hearn. Also special thanks to Christine Leakey, Phile Alumni for hooking the interview up. The Phile will be back tomorrow with singer Anna Coogan, and Michelle Obama. Yep, for real... I think. Then there's gonna be an extra entry on Wednesday with Morgan Geer from Drunken Prayer. And next Sunday Kate Taylor from the band Dead Fingers. So, spread the word, not the turd. Don't let snakes and alligators bite you. Bye, love you, bye.

No comments: