Kevin Kehen Interview
Q: When I heard the opening track of your album, "Effigy", my response was 'Jesus f***ing H'......Quite a stormer to open the album. There are several tracks that seem to cross over. Was this intentional to voice your views on theology?
A: This subject matter has, for most of my adult life, been high on my list of things that bother me. I’ve gone from simply berating organized religion as a therapeutic haven for the feeble-minded, to absolutely condemning it as the prime obstacle to the furtherment/development/liberation of human kind. I’m vehemently against all forms of lies, mind control and dumbing-down, and similarly disquieted by grand scale corruption… or any corruption actually.
The motivation to write songs came from a period of commuting from New Jersey to NYC. It was a period when I was in a place and situation which seemed to encapsulate so much of what I hate about the world today… so much of what is wrong. Looking out of that train window was like watching a movie of mankind imploding.
I’ve always believed that songs, and music in general should mean something. I’m also aware of the adage “write what you know.” So, sitting on that train, fuming with disgust and anger, and deciding to write songs… the result is Lose The Faith.
Q: How much twelve string is actually on the album?
A: None whatsoever. I didn’t even own one at that time.
Q: What guitars were used?
A: My old Zemaitis Metalfront, Dobro, Yamaha and Fender acoustics, a Squire Strat, Fender Precision bass.
Q: Let's go back to 1985-1986...As a musician back then, what were your musical influences? What bands did you fancy whilst growing up? Who do you like now?
A: Musical influences come from all directions, but should not be too obvious in your own work. I’m as influenced by the worst musicians and music as I am by the best. When I hear something that offends my ears, I know never to do anything like that, and when I hear something inspired, I listen to what it is that makes it sound so inspired… not necessarily the notes themselves, more the context.
To answer your question more directly, some of my favourite guitarists are Hendrix, Mick Ronson, Ronnie Wood, Jimmy Page. I was also influenced by the “new wave” ethic of my generation, which was to move away from blues-based playing (which all of the above blokes are.) I’m talking about the sound that started with Joy Division, and continued through so many bands including PiL, Magazine, Killing Joke, Bunnymen, Sisters… but I always try to do my own thing and not sound like anyone in particular… so in the end it’s broadly speaking a combination of very different styles.
Q: What were you groovin' on in the 70's? Were you into punk?
A: Bowie and the Spiders, and The Faces mostly. I used to be around the rock music of the seventies at bars and parties. I listened to John McLaughlin and that jazz rock sound for a short while, and then punk happened. Like just about everyone it made an impression on me. Punk didn’t really last more than about a year, and I quickly got involved in the local music scene – going to gigs, and starting in my first band aged about 19.
Q: Where do your culinary talents lie?
A: I just love cooking. I like the creative aspect of looking around the fridge and deciding what culinary delight to concoct. Since living in the States, I’ve perfected the English classics, like shepherds pie, Cornish pasties, Yorkshire puddings etc etc… because you never find proper wholesome food like that here. Similarly I’ve got better at curries. I make a mean red chili, and can do southwestern cooking (green chili dishes) better than most restaurants around here. But I’ll have a go at anything.
Q: What is your drink of choice during a session. If I had a case of something tasty from the Pacific Northwest, etc, would you be able to help me put a dent in it?
A: When I’m hanging out playing music with the guys it’s mostly Tecate (Mexican beer) and Tequila, or sometimes whiskey, or rum. Honestly, I drink whatever’s going, and have too much of a habit to be very selective about it. If someone hands me a glass of Dom Perignon I’ll enjoy it with a suitable degree of respect… if someone hands me a bottle of Bud I’ll drink it in 3 minutes and grab another.
Q: Your top 5 films.
A: Time Bandits, Vertigo……… This is really difficult. I like classics - especially Hitchcock, Kubrick …and Terry Gilliam. I’ve come to really miss the kind of old British movies they’d show on TV on Sunday afternoons, such as Titchfield Thunderbolt, Whiskey Galore, and the good old WW2 ones like Reach For The Sky. I saw The 49th Parallel the other night – great stuff!
Q: Who do you admire as a guitar player or musician?
A: I’ve mentioned some guitarists before, so some other people who I rate as artists would be Tom Waits, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Jake Thackray, Lou Reed, Eno…
Q: Have you ever met Carl McCoy or that other geezer Andrew Elderberry?
A: I met Eldritch a few times. I could never get a conversation out of him – he used to kind of hold court and expect everyone to listen. I just thought he was a prat… I still like the Sisters music though – up to F+L+A anyway.
Q: Any news on Artery or Mindfeel?
The long awaited Artery compilation I’ve been collaborating on is manufactured and due for release in August. It’s called “Afterwards (Songs From 1979 to 1983)” available from www.spinneyrecords.co.uk
Mindfeel – we’re trying to get a track on a compilation at the moment. We keep talking about releasing our own CD but nobody’s putting up the cash and making it happen.
Q: I've always thought of you as a very dark character. How goth are you? If your answer is not very, would you be interested in learning how to be very goth by someone who is?
A: I’ve given this whole goth phenomenon some thought over the years, and generally conclude that “being dark” is probably extremely commonplace… certainly in earlier life. The goth thing – as a movement/fashion/style gives essentially insular people a group to identify with… if that’s what they need. It’s like knowing you’re not the only one in the lifeboat.
I never felt the need to attach myself to any particular movement. Goth was a term thrust upon the Mission at the time, and because I was in that band I was automatically associated with the term. I guess I’ve been pretty “dark” much of my life, but these days I try more and more to enjoy my own life and not dwell on all the bullshit out there… which is considerable.