If you have questions about their other albums or about anything else regarding Kissing the Pink, then email them to me and I'll ask them when I have the opportunity.
What was your involvement in Kissing the Pink?
I WAS MAINLY THE GUITAR PLAYER AND I ALSO PLAYED BASS IN THE STUDIO. ALSO BACKING VOCALS, AND SOME ODD LEAD LINES. I ACTUALLY JOINED KTP AFTER THE NAKED LP, EVEN THOUGH I SESSIONED ON SOME OF L.P. TRACKS AS A GUITARIST. WE ALL KNEW EACH OTHER THROUGH MUTUAL FRIENDS AND A MATE OF MINE AT THE ART SCHOOL I WAS ATTENDING FOR MY DEGREE WAS BEST FRIENDS WITH JOHN HALL. WE USED TO COME UP TO LONDON FROM FARNHAM (WHERE THE ART SCHOOL WAS) TO PLAY MUSIC WITH JOHN IN THE REHEARSAL ROOMS OF THE ROYAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC. NICK WAS THE SON OF THE WOMAN WHO LOOKED AFTER THE HALLS OF RESIDENCE, AND THE OTHERS WERE ALL AROUND IN SOME WAY OR ANOTHER. JOHN THEN WENT ON TO FORM THE BAND. IT WAS SUGGESTED I WAS TO BE PART OF IT WITH MY ART SCHOOL MATE JAMIE, BUT WE WERE TOO INTO SCULPTURE AT THE TIME & IT NEVER HAPPENED. EVENTUALLY WE WOULD HANG OUT IN WILLESDEN WITH THE BAND, AND AFTER THE RELEASE OF NAKED, AND IT JUST KIND OF HAPPENED THAT I BECAME A MEMBER. THEY WERE LOOKING TO AUGMENT THE SOUND WITH MY STYLE OF GUITAR PLAYING & EVERYTHING JUST FIT IN. WE STARTED TO WRITE AND RECORD MATERIAL FOR THE SECOND LP "WHAT NOISE" FROM THEN ON, ALL 6 OF US!!!!
Atmosphere in 'the house in north London'?
WEIRD! FANTASTICALLY CREATIVE PLACE TO HAVE SPENT TIME IN! ALWAYS SO MANY ARTISTS AND PEOPLE AROUND. THERE WAS A LOT OF CREATIVE ENERGY RUNNING AROUND THAT PLACE, IDEAS, ARGUMENTS ABOUT ART, MUSIC, PHILOSOPHY, AND GIRLFRIENDS. ALWAYS GOOD LOOKING GIRLS AROUND! MANY HAPPY TIMES SPENT THERE EVEN THOUGH I DID NOT ACTUALLY LIVE THERE.
Where did the name 'Kissing the Pink' come from?
REAL STORY IS THAT IT WAS A TERM USED IN SNOOKER ON A POPULAR T.V. PROGRAMME HERE CALLED 'POT BLACK': "...THE CUE BALL IS JUST KISSING THE PINK..." BUT WE LIKED TO PRETEND WE KNEW IT WAS SLANG FOR ORAL SEX! THAT WAS THE MAIN REASON WE HAD TO CHANGE OUR NAME TO 'KTP' IN THE U.S.A.
Did you have musical influences or heroes? Lyrical influences?
IMPOSSIBLE TO SAY AS THERE WERE SO MANY INFLUENCES. RANGING FROM MESSIAN, JOHN CAGE, TALKING HEADS, DOOBIE BROTHERS, STEELY DAN, KRAFTWERK, HUMAN LEAGUE, DURITTI COLUMN, BACH, ETC. ETC. ETC.
I really like 'Naked' and 'What Noise', and I'm wondering if you could describe the studio recording atmosphere during those early days. For example, Kim has told me that you all worked at home in the dining room studio quite often, and then checked into 'big studios' for the recording. Were you comfortable with the studios, were you able to achieve the sound you were looking for, were the recordings made quickly?
No, it was absolute torture! Jon and I were talking about this recently, and we both realised that the trouble was we were spoiled by working with Martin Hannett before working with anybody else. He was such a genius that anybody we worked with after that was a bit of a let down - so in essence, what happened was, we would be expecting the same quality of fairy dust from the producers we were working with, and we weren't getting it, so we felt we had to create it ourselves. Which, really, was a pain in the ass - we ought to have been free to actually write the damn stuff rather than trying to half-assedly produce it (although of course we did eventually learn a lot from trying). Generally, yes, we did write most of the stuff at home and then take it into a big studio.
I THINK WE STRUGGLED A LOT IN STUDIOS AS WE COULD DEVELOP AN AMAZING ''EMO'' SOUND AND WHEN WE TRANSFERRED TO A TOP FLIGHT STUDIO, WE RAN INTO THE AGE OLD PROBLEM OF TRYING TO RECREATE THAT ORIGINAL SOUND EXACTLY. THIS WAS POINTLESS REALLY, IN RETROSPECT, AS WE SHOULD HAVE UTILISED THE GREAT ENGINEERS WE WERE WORKING WITH, THEIR SKILLS, AND THEIR KNOWLEDGE, AND SAT BACK A BIT. IT WORKED BEST WHEN WE HAD A PRODUCER WHO LET US PLAY, DO OUR THING, AND GOT GOOD SOUNDS FOR US. QUITE OFTEN JOHNNY WOULD ARGUE A LOT WITH THE PRODUCERS AND THAT WOULD BE DIFFICULT. HE HAD A VERY DEFINITE IDEA OF WHAT HE WANTED US TO SOUND LIKE, BUT COULD ONLY RELATE TO THE SKILLS HE HAD IN DEMO STUDIO TECHNIQUES. AND THOSE EXPERIMENTAL WAYS OF MAKING MUSIC DON'T ALWAYS WORK IN BIGGER STUDIOS WHEN YOU ARE PRIMARILY CONCERNED WITH ACTUALLY MAKING A TECHNICALLY RELEASABLE RECORD. LOTS OF HISS AND COMPRESSION WAS WHAT JONNY LIKED & LOADS OF 3K. ALL GOOD ON DEMOS, CREATES A GREAT ATMOSPHERE, BUT HAS TO BE USED WITH SKILL AND ACCURACY IN ACTUALLY MASTERING.
Why was KTP exploring electronics in the early 80's?
IT WAS WHAT ONE DID IF ONE HAD AN ENQUIRING MIND REALLY. THE TECHNOLOGY WAS JUST BEING DEVELOPED, MIDI CLICK ETC., AND IF YOU LISTEN TO THE MUSIC OF THAT PERIOD, PROCESSING SOUNDS WAS REALLY WHAT THE MORE CREATIVE ACTS/PRODUCERS WERE DOING. IT OPENED UP A WHOLE NEW, AND FUTURISTIC, PALLETTE OF SOUNDS, AND THAT WAS EXTREMELY EXCITING. THE MONEY CAME FROM RECOUPABLE ADVANCES ON OUR RECORDING BUDGETS.
Could you comment on your musical equipment from the first two albums? For example, were you using MIDI, or was most of it played live? Also, 'WN' seems to have evidence of sampling technologies - - is this true?
There's no MIDI on either Naked or What Noise (actually I think there might have been a little towards the end of WN - it took so long). All the sequenced-sounding stuff was actually played! We had a Solina string machine, a couple of Mini Korg analog synths, a Korg MS20 analog synth, an early Casio keyboard (can't remember model) and a Korg Polysix. Jon had an old Hammond (can't remember model - it wasn't a B3, unfortunately!). Stevie had one of the very first Simmons electronic drum kits, the one with riot shields as pads! Josephine had a Selmer alto sax, and Peter Barnett had a pretty good, but not outrageously expensive violin, and sometimes played a Fender Jazz bass (I think). Guitars-wise we had an Ovation acoustic guitar and a Yamaha solid body electric, a Morley chorus pedal, and a Clockwork Concubine, a fuzz pedal and a few Boss pedals (compressors, chorus, later a digital delay, octave divider). Effects wise our staple was a Roland Space-Echo, and we specified the AMS digital delay and Eventide Harmonizer whenever we were in studios. There was a vocoder for a while, can't remember which model.
Of the producers we worked with only Martin Hannett and Philip Bagenal understood what sampling was, and the only tool to use in those days was the AMS digital delay, which had a capture facility. We used to use a Sony Walkman Professional to record bits of found sound, and put it in the AMS. The first sampler we got was after N and WN, which was an Ensoniq Mirage. Now of course everything we do is totally sampler based (Akai S3000XL).
Further to the list of instruments used on Naked, we forgot to mention the ARP Odyssey, which can be heard in all its splendour at the start of 'In Awe of Industry' amongst other places.
Could you describe the situation when recording 'What Noise'?
IT BECAME AN EPIC PROCEEDURE. MAINLY BECAUSE WE SPENT AGES GETTING "HEAVEN" RIGHT. IT NEVER WAS, HOWEVER! RECORDING WHEN YOU DON'T REALLY HAVE A PRODUCER, UNLESS YOU ARE VERY SKILLED AND TRUST YOUR ENGINEER, CAN BE A SLOW, AND NEARLY ALWAYS FATAL PROCESS FOR BANDS. SPENDING LOTS OF MONEY TYRING TO FIX OR BETTER SOMETHING THAT IS NOT RIGHT IN THE FIRST PLACE.
What's the story behind the 'What Noise' artwork/sleeve?
MY GIRLFRIEND AT THE TIME, 'MANYA', WAS AN ARTIST & WE SAID WE'D DO THE SLEEVE. IT ALSO WAS GOOD FOR THE LABEL AS THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO PAY ANYONE TO DO IT. THE ARTWORK WAS GENERATED ALL BY MYSELF & MANYA, AND DELIVERED TO THE LABEL FOR REPRO. ALSO DID THE "RADIO ON" SLEEVES.
Could you describe the writing relationship within the band? Was there much collaboration, or was each track generally the 'baby' of the writer?
It varied - the usual was that Nick would have a snippet of words and tune, maybe a bit of verse or a chorus, and we'd all jam round that and gradually build a song round that kernel. But sometimes people would come with whole ideas and try to implement them.
DEPENDS ON WHICH PERIOD OF TIME YOU LOOK AT. IN THE BEGINNING IT WAS VERY MUCH JOHN, NICK AND GEORGE WHO WROTE SONGS & PRESENTED THEM TO THE BAND TO ARRANGE & PLAY. JOHN & NICK WROTE A LOT TOGETHER AS NICK WAS NOT AS GIFTED A PLAYER AS JOHN. GEORGE WROTE A LOT ON HIS OWN. WHEN I JOINED, IT WAS NICK, JOHN, & ME MAINLY, AND STEVIE WITH RHYTHMS WE MIGHT JAM TO. WHEN IT WAS THE FOUR OF US IT TENDED TO BE ANYONE WHO HAD AN IDEA WOULD PLAY IT, A CHORD STRUCTURE, A RHYTHM OR WHATEVER, AND AS WE MAINLY SPENT ALL OUR TIME TOGETHER THE SONGS KIND OF CAME ABOUT. HOWEVER, NICK WAS PROBABLY THE PRINCIPAL SONGWRITER IN TRADITIONAL TERMS THROUGHOUT THE WHOLE LIFE OF THE BAND.
How were your relationships with (producers) Colin Thurston, Peter Walsh, and Phil Harding? Can you describe how significantly you think that they impacted your sound?
Unfortunately most of the producers we had were thrust upon us by Magnet, and we were too weak and disorganised to kick up much of a fuss. As I say, the only producers we were completely happy working with were Martin Hannett (whom we worked with twice only) and Philip Bagenal (who Magnet didn't like, but the most interesting bits of What Noise were done with him). I think Jon learnt a lot about general professional production techniques from working with Pete Walsh and Phil Harding.
THURSTON WAS GOOD, IF A BIT OVERRATED, BUT HE HAD A WAY WITH THE BAND THAT WORKED, ALLOWING THEIR EXPERIMENTAL IDEAS TO TAKE SHAPE AND RECORDING THEM WELL. HARDING & THE PWL SET UP REALLY WORKED FOR US, IT ENCOMPASSED A COMMERCIAL DANCE ETHIC, AND THAT WAS WHAT WE WERE INTO AT THE TIME. PERHAPS THE BEST WAS WALSHY, AS HE MADE WHAT I STILL THINK TO BE ONE OF OUR BEST SINGLES, (APART FROM "LAST FILM"), WHICH WAS "ONE STEP". WE HAD A LOT OF SOUL TO US, BUT IT WOULD OFTEN JUST GET LOST IN SOUND EXPERIMENTS. THAT IS ONE OF MY GREAT REGRETS WITH KTP, WE NEVER REALLY LET OUT OUR SOUL TO ITS FULLEST.
What led to the drastically different sound of the "Certain Things Are Likely" LP?
IN ONE WORD: PWL! WE WORKED WITH THEM ON MOST OF THE TRACKS, EITHER REMIXING OR ACTUAL PRODUCTIONS, AND THEY HELPED TO CREATE THE SOUND. ALL APART FROM "ONE STEP" WHICH WAS WITH THE VERY WONDERFUL & NICE PETE WALSH. HE WAS A GREAT RECORD MAKER! ALSO THAT SONG JUST HAD 'IT': GOOD SONG, SIMPLE ARRANGEMENT & PLAYING & NO MESSING ABOUT WITH SOUNDS. I REMEMBER JOHN KEPT TRYING TO GET ME TO PLAY THE GUITAR LINE IN THE CHORUS & I HAD A TANTRUM (AS GUITARISTS HAVE TO FROM TIME TO TIME) AS I THOUGHT IT WAS TRASHY. STILL IT WAS DONE EVENTUALLY, PLAYED IT IN ONE, AND IT WORKED. EGG ON MY FACE THAT DAY.
Could you comment on the success and popularity of the band? Where have you received the majority of your success? How were your tours received, and what did you think of them?
I wasn't with the band when it hit its biggest sustained success (in Italy, and a bit in the US). I think the longest term low-key success has been in Germany, and a bit in the US. Tours were always great. In fact, I think we were a better live band than a studio band - there was always a lot of improvisation live, and we always tried hard to get the beefiest live sound we could. Generally, I would say that we mis-called and mis-timed so many things that we didn't get the success and popularity we might have had if we'd had our shit together. The biggest boo boo we made was to sign to Magnet, which was the totally wrong label for us. The next biggest series of boo boos was our choice in managers and our settling for the producers we did.
I WOULD SAY THAT WORLDWIDE WE WERE SEEN AS HAVING AVERAGE SUCCESS. WE WERE HUGE IN ITALY, FRANCE AND GERMANY FOR ABOUT 3 YEARS: 84 TO 86 OR THEREABOUTS. BEFORE THAT WE HAD A GOOD RUN IN THE UK WITH (AN) ALBUM, ONE BIG HIT SINGLE ("LAST FILM"), AND SOME DECENT CHART PLACINGS IN THE STATES. WE DID, HOWEVER, KEEP 'PRINCE' OFF THE NUMBER ONE U.S.DANCE/CLUB CHARTS WITH "CERTAIN THINGS ARE LIKELY". CAN'T QUITE REMEMBER WHAT TUNE HE HAD, MAYBE IT WAS "KISS". BUT WE WERE THERE AT NUMBER ONE FOR AGES BUT IT NEVER TRANSLATED INTO A MAJOR CHART PLACING ON THE BILLBOARD TOP 100: PERHAPS 65 OR 70.
The 'Sugarland' era is almost a complete mystery to me. What lead to recording in Texas, and how does the band feel about that album?
We knew some people in Houston, and at the beginning of '91, having been dumped by Warner Bros, we decided we'd just make some music ourselves, without any music biz crap, so we just took all our gear (which by that stage was sampler/sequencer based) over to the USA, rented a place to live, rented a place to set up the gear, and had a good time making music and hanging out with our Texan chums. We'd all been well into the techno/rave scene by that stage, so our music was heavily oriented in that direction, but we foresaw that this would mix with psychedelic rock at some stage, and we tried to be ahead of the game. Sugarland is the only KTP thing that I would say Jon, Nick and I have few regrets about musically - it's pretty much uncompromised and finished.
What access do you have to unreleased KTP recordings and materials?
I'VE GOT MOST OF THE DEMOS IN A BOX COMING OVER TO YOU ASAP!
What is the current status of Kissing the Pink? Future plans?
Mostly, what we're concentrating on at the moment is trying to earn some sort of living with the skills we have (producing, writing) in the areas of music we're familiar with (dance mostly - house, drum and bass, breakbeat, etc.).
Having said that, Jon, Nick and I are well aware that there may yet be something left in us working together as a band. As KTP or Kissing the Pink? I'm not sure - though Alan Edmunds is having a go at remixing 'In the Service of God', so who knows?!
I SEE NICK FROM TIME TO TIME. HE'S A PROFFESSIONAL SONGWRITER, SIGNED TO MCA/UNIVERSAL MUSIC, I THINK. JOHN AND GEORGE ARE CURRENTLY DOING SOME PRODUCTIONS AND MAKING COOL DANCE TRACKS AS ONE-OFFS, AND DEVELOPING ONE OR TWO ACTS ALONG THE WAY. I AM CREATIVE MANAGER AT WINDSWEPT MUSIC PUBLISHING (YOU KNOW THE REST OF THAT STORY). STEVIE LIVES IN SPAIN WITH HIS GIRLFRIEND AND FAMILY & IS A COMPUTER WHIZ, I HEAR. JO, (SAX) WAS IN THE 'MARCHIONESSE' SINKING DISASTER ON THE THAMES, AND HAS NOT BEEN ABLE TO PLAY SAX SINCE, SAD STORY THAT. DON'T KNOW WHERE BARNEY (VIOLIN) IS NOW.
What have you done in your career since leaving KTP?
Since leaving the band in Feb/March '89 I started to work for ZTT records & their publishing wing Perfect Songs as an A&R manager. I was lucky enough to be the person who 'discovered' Seal. Worked on his first L.P. as A&R with Trevor Horn producing, which was an amazing experience. I also 'discovered' Gabrielle & Mark Morrison, who we eventually signed both to the publishing company. I also discovered & developed the first incarnation of All Saints, but we had no luck with them & they were dropped after two years. They used some of the tracks for their first L.P. & I still work with Shaznay from time to time.
I left ZTT in '97 & went to Columbia Records( Sony UK) as A&R manager
working under a guy called Dave Balfe, who was the guy behind the Food record
label & signed BLUR to it. Great man actually. Worked on Roachford/Hepburn/Matthew
Marsden/Prefab Sprout (a bit ) & an artist called Steve Balsamo who's record
is finally due for release next year after 4 years of blood & music. Jon
& Nick & George did some work on it when we were trying to find a (???).
All mainly U.K. successes & not much in U.S. so you'll probably not know
Left Sony in July 2000 ( I'd had enough as my seniors had passed on Craig David twice! who I had & demo'd & was on very early) & went up to Manchester for a change of scene & life, to lecture at the University in Music & New Media Management, but after a year missed the industry so much I accepted an offer to come & work here at Windswept Music Publishing as creative manager this August. New in the job, but doing what I do best. We have Craig David so what goes around comes around I guess!
So that's a bit of info on my post KTP life for you.