++ Hi! How are you today?
Very well thank you!
++ Let’s get into business, let’s talk about Kid Sinister! How and when did the band start? What was the lineup and how did you all meet?
I went to school with Phil Rice the drummer and he had just left Bristol band Misdemeanour. I had been signed to Atlantic Records as a solo artist but it was not going anywhere and I felt I wanted someone else to sing my songs. I saw an advert in a local paper for a singer looking for a band and arranged to meet Steve and somehow he became our singer. Mike joined on bass and that became the nucleus of the group.
++ How do you remember those days in Bristol? Was there a thriving scene? Has it changed a lot?
Yes it was a thriving scene and a good place to be in a band. The only difference was there was less of an infrastructure to support the music business side so it was always felt that you had to move, or spend a lot of time travelling, up to London.
++ Where does the name Kid Sinister comes from?
A line in a Rickie Lee Jones song, can’t remember which song but it’s off her classic debut album the one with Chuck E’s in Love….
++ Did Kid Sinister gig a lot? Any particular gigs you remember the most?
Yes we did gig a lot, I don’t think we ever fully captured our best moments on record, they usually happened live. That’s why I was glad to get a chance to tidy up some live recordings and release the live album of songs that we never recorded.
++ You only released one single, “Sugar Rae” 12″, right? You even set up a label because of this release! Care to tell me a bit more about why did you go the self-release way and about the Sons of Art label?
We had had a lot of interest from the major record labels but it wasn’t happening quick enough so we decided to do it ourselves. Although we weren’t ‘indie in sound’ we were in attitude and felt we could do it ourselves with the help of the Cartel, which had grown out of the late 1970’s punk & indie movement. We had intended to release an album on Sons of Art but the band split up and Steve & I regrouped as Wushcatte, where we were singed to Kitchenware Records/EMI so we mothballed the label until a few years ago.
++ Any anecdotes about the recording of this single?
The main recording studio in Bristol at the time was The Coach House run by Andy Allan. Andy was a folkie technician who somehow found himself at the centre of a musical revolution.
We were half way through our recording session when a group moved into his newly built pre production suites. That in itself confused us, ‘pre production, what’s that all about?’ We were used to rehearsing in a shitty cold damp room where everything was too loud and then setting up in a recording studio and recording it as we rehearsed it.
Any way this new ‘group’ had been in a week and all they had set up was a TV and some state of the art, but in reality rather primitive, video games. They had also racked up a huge phone bill. Andy was very unsure about them and although they apparently had a record label he had not seen any money and was getting nervous. We all had a good laugh too as they didn’t seem to have any ‘real’ instruments either!
Well I don’t know who had the last laugh as we went on to record our 12” single ‘Sugar Rae’ which is now fetching £50 on eBay whilst the other ‘group’, called ‘Massive something or other’, went on to record one of the seminal albums of the 1990’s, ‘Blue Lines’ and thus launched the ‘Bristol Sound’ and a thousand trip hop imitators.
Our only contribution was from Steve our lead singer. Neneh Cherry was recording with them and had a new baby with her and Steve got very drunk, threw up everywhere and ‘trip-hopped’ down three flights of stairs, taking out baby’s stair-gates one by one, Rock ‘n’ Roll eh?
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and if we had had our wits about us we could have listened, learned and maybe teamed up with these great artists and collaborators and even appeared on the album. There was a YTS tea boy, called `Jeff’ who did appear to be taking it all in though, apparently he was thinking of naming his fledgling band after a suburb of Bristol just off the M5, Portishead!
++ Feel My Pulse might be my favourite song of yours! Would you mind telling me what is it about? Where did the inspiration came for it?
We recorded this at SAM studios above what became the Moon Club and then the Lakota with Steve Street. Steve was thinking of giving up the music industry, one too many overdubs with 80’s band ‘RedBox’, and we probably confirmed his decision.
Lots of major/minor seventh/sixths chords, this could be quite a stonker live. Again I was still clinging on to a bit of lead vocal! The original idea for the guitar riff came from a guitarist we played with for a few weeks called ‘Jerry’, forget his second name, but he worked for the BBC. He was a very nice guy and a good guitar player but he could never remember what he had just played, he would come up with a brilliant lick and then be totally unable to play it again. His time keeping was a little dodgy too. We arranged a band meeting and the first item on the agenda was time keeping and commitment. Jerry turned up late for this meeting as usual and arrived jolly as ever, ‘have I missed anything?’.. ‘er yeah, you’re fired’. Still no hard feelings.
Kit Morgan played guitar on this session but it wasn’t mixed very well.
Line up Steve ‘Logg’ Hogg Vocals, John Douglass Rhythm Guitar & Backing Vocals, Phil Rice Drums, Mike ’Thin Man’ Rogers Bass, Tim Walter keys, Kit Morgan guitar,
Lyrically it reflected the ‘true’ story of an attempted suicide when unemployment was rife in late 1970’s early 80’s. There were a lot of ‘pop’ bands with political lyrics then, The Style Council, Blow Monkeys etc.
++ What happened with the interests of the major labels for the band? Why didn’t that work out? What happened to all the other songs you recorded?
Despite continued interest the band called it a day in 1990. It was the end of an era and a good time to stop, commercially we may have had further to go but musically it was time to move on.
We released an album of all our studio recordings on Sons of Art records which is still available via the website but is also on itunes via the excellent Bristol Archive Records. They have also released a live album recently so pretty much everything we did is now available.
++ Listening to your songs, I see there’s a lot of variety in them, from straight-forward pop songs to mellow ballads, was this the intention or did it came naturally? How did songs shaped up for Kid Sinister, from the first idea to the final recorded song?
I was the songwriter and never really wrote in one style or genre, I had a number of influences but Paul Simon was big one and he has always written songs which are distinctively his but in many musical styles.
The songs were arranged by the band and tended to reflect the period we played in, i.e. the 1980’s. Many of the songs would sound different if we were to record them now. We had a reputation for being ‘tight & polished’ but I’m not sure if that was true, I think we jammed quite a bit.
++ What music were you listening at the time?
Paul Simon, John Hiatt, The Beach Boys, U2, Rolling Stones, Steely Dan, Buddy Holly, and of course whatever was on the radio at the time, some of it good some of it bad.
++ Why and when did Kid Sinister called it a day? What do you do nowadays for a living?
1990 if my memory serves me right! I carried on working in music details of bands below. I also had my own CD import & music management business and then moved into music education. I now work for ‘Access to Music’ supporting the next generation of musicians.
++ Were you involved with any other bands after Kid Sinister broke up?
Steve & I continued working together and formed ‘Wushcatte’ who were signed to EMI & Kitchenware Records, home of amongst others Prefab Sprout. Our debut album, ‘this third animal’, is still available from Amazon, www.amazon.com. We also released an electronic album as ‘Widescreen’, working with acclaimed musician/producer, Richard Grassby-Lewis, available via www.2ndsight records.co.uk. Steve went solo for a while and released an EP called ‘Lakeside’ featuring songs co-written with myself, available via www.sons-of-art.com. We are now working under the name ‘Augustine’ and have an album, ‘Acorns Up’, out now on the revamped Sons of Art label, www.sons-of-art.com.
++ Anything else you’d like to add?
It’s amazing how much interest remains in the band. I really appreciate it and thank you.