Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kenne Highland Interview, Part Two

Part two of head Gizmos Krazee Kenne Highland interview, where he talks more about the Gizmos, his other bands at the time and over the years and his musical tastes.

What do you remember most about the two gigs that we (the Gizmos) did? (cuz I barely remember them at all)

"two Gizmos gigs Friday and Saturday 8 and 9 April 77; left Brockport NY maybe 7 April, I was on leave from the marines (2 April 77, DMZ and Johnny Barnes at Rat!), slept in plastic chair with 25-cent TV sets in Cleveland bus station, Get off in bus in Bloomington, record "Amerika First" and "Gimme Back my Foreskin" whilst WIRED on adrenaline (ok, a combat Marine vocal, Veteren's Day, marine birthday just passed). Friday night gig was a lotta jumpin' round like Iggy (on my part), Saturday 9 April (the better gig, prolly) is a Gulcher CD: John Cougar: "here's PFC Ken Highland" (and a VERY nice write-up in Vulchur or some zine, I thought Coug was a nice guy, at least, MY opinion).

We were Midwest teens aping our idols; my "Mean screen' vocal is SO Iggy and Ted on "I Shoot Up" and my ostrich guitar...we WORSHIPPED the Velvets! I was being SO butch (straight outta boot camp, not Compton!) (HWA;honky with an attitude!), I go "Richard Reigel....another wimp from Creem!" This IS in Creem somewhere, have Mad Max do the goddam research, "too many people Lookin' Back"; tossing in Bob Seger reference coz Dad had a Jacobus uncle went to Pioneer high school like Seger, Iggy and Asheton brothers. Two more items: during a metallic KH version of "Louie Louie", fell off stage and almost into lap of Rich's lil sister, shades of Iggy Academy of Music 31 Dec 73, fell off stage during "I Got Nuthin'" into Slade Parader editor's lap, age 15.

Take greyhound back to Washington DC, stationed at NSA, Kim Kane of Slickee Boys tells me about some band called the Teenage Boys with Ian MacKaye (who the Fugazi is he?) and Saturday 16 April, Rat, Boston, Dead Boys, me and Cheetah Chrome splittin' a joint and Cheetah muttering "always gotta get fucked up before i play" as he's riffin' on his guitar in Rat dressing room; GREAT guy, GREAT guitarist, the midwest can be alright and GLAD to know him...and PISSED off young loud and full of mucus had better sounding guitars! (we shoulda got Goldie Zelkowitz or whatever her name was)....

Kenne's first wedding to Ms. Lyn Cardinal, with members of O.Rex, the Slickee Boys and me in attendance.

 Kenne's wedding reception party at Cantone's, with O.Rex/Afrika Korps playing with Martha Hull of the Slickee Boys and myself sitting in. Real Kids played, as well, hence pic of John Felice, Kenne, Jonathan Richman, Kim Kane (Slickee Boys) and me!

Joining the military and getting married interrupted the Gizmos and the other bands stuff that you were doing - what other projects did you have simultaneously? (O Rex, etc)

"Multi-tasking while Gizmo; guilty! (only I lifted me kilt in court and the judge dismissed the case coz the evidence would no stond oop in c'art!) O. Rex ran from Sunday 3 June 73 til fall '76 when we were so embarrassed by that crappy record, we decided on a name change "like the Dictators" and thus was born Afrika Korps, which lasted ALL of 1977, Jan-Dec with one Indiana weekend (8-9 april 77) to record second and third Gizmos e.p.and do Bloomington library gigs. And I STILL do that! (Been doin' it since '73; western NY classic-rock Brockport NY jamming and Brooklyn NY O. Rex proto-punk!) I do my Gizmos gigs in the midwest and then do my own thang Boston local, though at present have NO gigs on the books! (oops, now those mofos will call me) Gizmos was Indiana but when in Brooklyn NY/Teaneck NJ, I was with the Gruberger brothers and/or Ken Kaiser in O. Rex and Afrika Korps. Does jamming classic rock at Ft. Meade, Maryland with other servicemen count? Inspiration: the ARMY vet James Marshall Hendrix jammin' with Billy Cox; though Ken kaiser was nuthin' more'n a punk-ass college kid whom I met through a fellow marine ("Kenne Highland, why'd you join the marines? You were a big rock star and in Creem"; me: "because i wanted to kill people!"".....

Re: post-Gizmos - can even you remember everything that you’ve done? Africa Korps, The Korps, Kenne Highland Klan, Peecocks, etc etc. Tell a bit about all of these projects.

"Post-Gizmos: Afrika Korps lasted all of 1977, Gulcher released everything, we were Ramones (Solomon Gruberger-influence) meets NY Dolls (my Thunders leads). 1978 was the year of The Korps, me and Kenny Kaiser swapping instruments and the same dude that engineered James Brown's Black Caesar engineered us! Mostly a power-pop album, influenced by that issue of Bomp with power-pop on the cover, kinda Ramones/Jon Richman (Kaiser) meets....Kenne Highland! (I kinda almost came into my own here, though I DID try singing all the vocals like Mach Bell of Thundertrain!) Kenne Highland Clan is basically me doing my originals (name that riff! that I stole!) inspired by the r&b album The Rockin' Highlanders, these black dudes in kilts (by 1988 and the first grandkid had started researching Dad's McBee side, coz, though "born on the wrong side of the blanket", I was told, at HIGHLAND games, I'm a McBee by bluid, so ancient weathered MacBheath is me tartan!). As for the Pee-cocks, that was the Gizmos formula again; gay rock writer fronts NY Dolls IN makeup band and my quip was Jayne County backed up by the NY Dolls; Pee-cocks even DID open for Jayne County in Boston and a lot of good gigs; I even played CBGB's finally!....

(Obviously, there have been many more projects, but I guess that's a tale for another day!)

I know what kind of music you liked pre-Gizmos - what kind of music influenced you over the post-Gizmos years - local/national/international bands that stand out?

"musical tastes: I basically am FROZEN in tyme (and my family tree DNA test DOES confirm Neanderthal western european DNA!) so once I had that first drink of Southern Comfort behind St. Luke's Episcopal in downtown Brockport NY (there was a coffeehouse called the Crypt where a SUNY Brockport student named Bob Richert usedta hang '66-'70) and let's not fergit gittin' stoned at Hot Tuna SUNY Brockport 2 April 73 perhaps...yeah,my fucken head IS a) up me arse b) in '73! so I still dig the same classic rock, maybe I’m a little more country/bluesy/rootsy, but yeah, everything I said in 1976 on that "favorite album" survey Gizmos ' Bob Seger (who attended Pioneer High school, Ann Arbor as did my great-grandfather Highland's Jacobus "Dutch uncle") sez: "still the same" and "call me a relic/call me what you will/say i'm olde-fashion lissenin' to ZZ Hill/today's music aint got no Stax soul/ I thrive on I-IV-V rocknroll"....that's Freestylin' Kenne Highland gittin' ready for me and Bim from Obnox to do a rap record!".....


Part three still to come!