Category Archives: Interview

KIRK BRANDON (SPEAR OF DESTINY)

KIRK BRANDON’S REVERED BAND SPEAR OF DESTINY ARE ABOUT TO UNDERTAKE AN EXTENSIVE TOUR CELEBRATING THE THIRTY-FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF 1984 BREAKTHROUGH ALBUM ONE EYED JACKS – AND WILL SOON RELEASE A NEWLY RE-RECORDED VERSION OF IT… IN THIS NEW INTERVIEW WITH THE MOUTH MAGAZINE, BRANDON DISCUSSES BOTH VERSIONS OF THE ALBUM, AND MORE…


KIRK, YOU’RE OUT ON TOUR REALLY SOON… HOW HAS THE PREP BEEN GOING?
Yeah, it’s going very well. The ticket sales have been excellent for most of the dates on the tour. The press that we’ve had has been really positive, so everyone’s really happy. I’m not gonna say it’ll be plain sailing, ‘cos nothing ever is, but we can hope, ha ha…

YOU’LL BE PLAYING THE ONE EYED JACKS ALBUM IN FULL…
In its entirety, that’s right…

… THAT WAS THE SECOND SPEAR OF DESTINY ALBUM, A BIT OF A TURNING POINT FOR YOU?
Yeah, it was kind of the ‘breakthrough’ album. It was a big success for us… It was the album which established the band, if you know what I mean?

YOU’VE ALSO RE-RECORDED IT, RECENTLY… I WONDERED WHAT THE MOTIVATION FOR THAT WAS – WHETHER IT WAS AN ARTISTIC THING (CORRECTING CERTAIN THINGS ABOUT THE ORIGINAL THAT YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN UNHAPPY WITH), OR WHETHER IT WAS A SORT OF BUSINESS THING… LIKE, ABOUT TEN YEARS AGO SUZANNE VEGA RE-RECORDED LOADS OF HER BACK CATALOGUE AND PUT THOSE NEW RECORDINGS OUT AS A SERIES OF ALBUMS, I BELIEVE SO THAT SHE HAD SOMETHING TO SELL TO MAKE SOME MONEY FROM, ‘COS SHE DIDN’T ‘OWN’ THE ORIGINAL MASTERS…
Well, it was all of that, in fact. The original version, back in the day, it was originally recorded by just Dolphin, Stanley and myself, and the other guys came along more or less at the end of it. So it was like a site under construction all the time – but it solidified in the closing stages of recording, and then we took it out on the road… But, to tell you the truth, a lot of the sounds on the original version I’m not so keen on, personally. It was meant to be more of a rock album.

… SO HOW COMES IT WASN’T?
The record company – CBS, which is now Sony – wanted a pop album. That wasn’t where I wanted it to go. That wasn’t where I wanted to take it. But the company were obviously talking to the producer (Nick Tauber), and the engineer, in an effort to make it go more that way. In the end, in some ways they didn’t get what they wanted, and I didn’t get what I wanted. So, we’ve done it again recently, re-recorded it, and finally it’s much more of a rock album. I just finished it the other day – literally just finished it the other day – and it’ll be on sale on the tour, and we’re also going to do a vinyl version. Everyone seems to want vinyl these days, which is cool. Better sound reproduction.

THAT PUSH / PULL WITH CBS OVER THE AESTHETIC OF THE ORIGINAL VERSION, DID THAT CAUSE YOU PROBLEMS?
Yeah, they would have preferred me to be some sort of Tommy Steele or Adam Faith or something, ha ha…

… HA HA, I CAN’T SEE THAT…
No, ha ha… I think really they wanted ‘five lads and a song’ sort of thing, as opposed to a rock album. That would have been much easier for them to market, y’know…

YOU’D BEEN AROUND FOR A WHILE BY THIS POINT, THOUGH… WERE YOU AWARE OF ‘THE GAME’, AS IT WERE?
To be truthful, no I wasn’t. It was a bit of a steep learning curve, them early albums. But you do kind of find out, ha ha…

DO YOU REMEMBER A PARTICULAR MOMENT WHEN YOU THOUGHT ‘THIS ISN’T WHAT I WANTED IT TO BE’?
Well, it wasn’t a very jolly time, if you want the truth. It was all very… contentious. Things like people coming back to the studio in the early hours of the morning and starting to remix things. All kinds of little capers going on. You’d come back in the morning and the mix would’ve changed quite considerably, but they’d say “Nah, that’s just the way you left it, mate”… and I’d be thinking “Well, I don’t remember it being like that”. It was all quite contentious… But, you know, after we left CBS they got their ‘five lads and a song’. Well, they got two lads and a song – Bros, ha ha ha… Actually, there was three lads in Bros, wasn’t there. Sorry, ha ha. But CBS got what they wanted, after all, anyway… Not that I’m knocking Bros.

HAVE YOU SEEN AFTER THE SCREAMING STOPS, THAT RECENT DOCUMENTARY ABOUT BROS?
D’you know what? I haven’t… but everyone says I should. Everyone says it’s ‘the new THIS IS SPINAL TAP’…

I CAN SEE THAT, FOR DEFINITE. IT’S VERY… EYE-OPENING… A REALLY GOOD PIECE OF FILM-MAKING, IT’S FUNNY AND A BIT TRAGIC… YOU DEFINITELY COME OUT OF THE OTHER END OF WATCHING IT WITH QUITE WARM FEELINGS TOWARDS THE GOSS BROTHERS, TO BE HONEST…
Yeah, other people have said that to me. Everyone keeps saying it’s Spinal Tap, and that by the end of them you feel sorry for them or you like them or whatever, y’know… I have to see it, I have to.

YOU MUST HAVE HAD YOUR FAIR SHARE OF SPINAL TAP MOMENTS…
Ha ha, crikey. Every day. Comedy, literally. Funny times. So much so that because I’d seen THIS IS SPINAL TAP many many times in the ’80s, I kind of thought that was the blueprint: “Oh, this is how it’s gonna be” sort of thing… and then “Oh yeah. It is!”, ha ha… Yeah. Sure enough it was.

BY THE TIME OF THE ONE EYED JACKS ALBUM, I THINK SPEAR OF DESTINY HAD A MARKEDLY DIFFERENT SOUND TO THEATRE OF HATE, YOUR PREVIOUS BAND… OBVIOUSLY, AS WE’VE JUST SAID, THE ALBUM’S SOUND WAS IN PART A CONSEQUENCE OF THE PUSH / PULL SCENARIO WITH CBS… BUT IN SOME WAY WERE YOU CONSCIOUSLY WANTING TO GET A BIT OF DISTANCE FROM WHAT HAD GONE BEFORE AND ARRIVE AT SOMETHING MORE POLISHED? 
I wouldn’t have said ‘polished’, to be honest. That polish you heard was probably down to the production team, the engineer and the producer. Theatre Of Hate had had such an impact. It was like an explosion. It went up like a rocket. It just went up, but then it come straight back down again. By the time the end of 1982 had come, November 1982, it sort of marked a turning point for us – though none of us really understood what that turning point was until years and years later. Then you kind of really realised what had actually happened back there, and also how it had happened and why it had happened. You remembered all the players and the people involved in it, who didn’t help. There was a bit of an element of the King Of Hearts about it, the suicide king. There wasn’t a deliberate and conscious attempt not to sound like Theatre Of Hate, but things had moved on and we’d left that era behind. By the end of 1982, it had all come and gone… Does that make it any clearer?

IN A WAY IT DOES, YEAH… FOR SOME PEOPLE THERE’S THIS SORT OF ROMANTIC IDEA THAT YOUR FAVOURITE BANDS ARE SORT OF ‘FIXED’ AND WILL NEVER SPLIT UP AND WILL NEVER CHANGE – BUT OF COURSE AS A BAND YOU CAN’T RESIST CHANGE, YOU CAN’T REPEL IT… YOU’RE YOUNG MEN AND YOU’RE GROWING AND CHANGING AS PEOPLE – SO HOW COULD THE BAND POSSIBLY STAY THE SAME?
Yeah, that’s it. That’s it, for sure.

DO YOU REMEMBER MUCH ABOUT THE WRITING OF ONE EYED JACKS – SORT OF WHO YOU WERE AND WHAT YOU WANTED TO SAY, AND ALL THAT?
Yeah, I do. Something I’ve done recently is, before we re-recorded it, I’ve went back and sort of analysed the original. I thought to myself “let’s just go back and give this a really thorough look”… I thought it’d be quite a cursory thing – I’d analyse it musically and learn from that, or be reminded of parts and things. But in actual fact that’s not what happened. What actually happened was that it was a bit of an emotional journey – back into the turmoil, personally and with the band. It was just turmoil. It was like being in a cauldron, and round and round you go, cooking away… I’m not going to say it was traumatic, but it was all a quite fraught period in my life in terms of what we were trying to do, and what I was trying to do. And also in terms of the songs I was writing, and the pressures that were brought to bear on me (and there was a lot of that). You’re trying to make one kind of album and they’re trying to make you record another kind of album… We went into the studio and that’s when a lot of the pressures really began.

WHEN YOU LISTENED BACK RECENTLY, THEN, DID IT SOUND LIKE AN UNHAPPY COMPROMISE OR A BIG BATTLE?
It didn’t, I have to say. Truthfully, it didn’t. As you quite rightly pointed out a minute ago, I was still a young man and so my life was changing. Life was different on a weekly basis, y’know? So, when I listened to it recently, it just sounded like exactly what it is – a collection of songs from an extreme point in my life.

DO YOU SAY EXTREME IN THE SENSE THAT YOU WERE ON THE VERGE OF A BREAKTHROUGH, PERHAPS?
Yeah. In one way, yeah. That’s right. It was an incredible time – this record we’d made and put out became this sort of big moment for Spear Of Destiny… That album is when it all really took off, so that was a fantastic thing – but no-one knew it’d break through. I can’t say it was expected – certainly not by me, and not by the record company, either… So, when I was listening through it recently and analysing it I thought I was doing a retrospective look at my work… But in the end it had actually become a retrospective look at my life, and all the things I’d thought or felt at that time. By the time I’d listened all the way through it, and worked out all the guitars and played myself through it, it had ended up being this incredible journey through everything in my life at that point.

YOU DID TOP OF THE POPS AND ALL THAT, WHICH IS PRETTY INCREDIBLE TO US MERE MORTALS… BUT ACTUALLY ONE OF THE MORE CURIOUS FACTS ABOUT SPEAR OF DESTINY IS THAT YOU PLAYED WEMBLEY STADIUM WITH U2…
Yeah, we did! We played some football stadiums in Germany and Holland, but not as big as Wembley. Theatre Of Hate did a festival in France with The Clash that was really really big, but not as big as Wembley… We did two of ’em with U2, actually, that were really big. There was Milton Keynes Bowle, and there was Wembley – the Twin Towers themselves. It was incredible to walk out on that stage and see that amount of people and hear the cheer go up. It was absolutely brilliant, we had a fantastic time at that show. The U2 fans took to Spear Of Destiny. They really liked it and they showed their appreciation. I remember we played the single NEVER TAKE ME ALIVE and the whole stadium clapped along to it. Wow. That was an incredible moment in my life – a great moment ‘cos I finally got to play at Wembley. I’d have preferred it if I was playing football there, though, ha ha ha…

HA HA… YOU DO STILL TOUR A LOT – SO YOU MUST STILL ENJOY PLAYING LIVE?
Very much. You know, you get a certain amount of maturity the older you get. You’re in control of things more. You’re in control of your life more, in terms of what you’re doing with it and how it’s all going. Playing the gigs is… erm…

… AT THE LEVEL OF BEING ‘ANOTHER DAY AT THE OFFICE’, THEN?
No, never. We never have a gig where it’s just that. It’s never ‘just another day at the office’… We still do it because it’s fun. The guys (barring the drummer) have been with me for over twenty years, now. It’s still good fun, and we have a laugh with it, and it’s really enjoyable. And for the audience it is a celebration of those songs. And it’s actually for them, primarily. It’s for them in the first instance, and it’s for them in the last instance.

THAT’S A VERY GENEROUS THING TO SAY…
… and it’s completely true.

IT’S GOOD THAT YOU SAY THAT, AND I THINK, PARTICULARLY, THAT PEOPLE WILL RELISH THE BAND PLAYING ONE EYED JACKS ON THIS NEW TOUR AS IT SEEMS TO BE ‘A FAVOURITE’ OR, IF YOU LIKE, A SPEAR OF DESTINY ‘CLASSIC’… THE ALBUM DID GET SOME GENEROUS REVIEWS AT THE TIME, AND IT DOES STILL SOUND GOOD TODAY (DESPITE WHAT YOU SAY ABOUT WHAT WAS GOING ON BEHIND THE SCENES IN THE STUDIO)… BUT I WONDER WHY YOU THINK IT STANDS UP WELL?
I think it’s the songs. I think it’s actually the collection of songs. They’re all individual, in a way. Whether it’s the song RAINMAKER or the song LIBERATOR or THESE DAYS ARE GONE or DON’T TURN AWAY… There’s two ends of the spectrum, there. They’re all singular, very singular, I suppose. That’s what it is, I think? It is very difficult to pin down exactly what the ONE EYED JACKS album actually is, in my opinion… but somehow if you listen to it in its entirety then you do know what it is. That’s why it’s been so successful, or popular, I think…

I LISTENED TO IT FOR THE FIRST TIME IN QUITE A WHILE, BEFORE THIS PHONE CALL, AND ONE OF THE SONGS THAT MADE MY EARS PRICK UP WAS PLAYGROUND OF THE RICH… I MEAN, IT’S THIRTY-FIVE YEARS SINCE THAT ALBUM BUT THERE’S SOMETHING IN THAT SONG WHICH FEELS PRETTY RELEVANT…
Yes, there is. Absolutely. That song is a song for today. My God, when we play it live the cheer really goes up for that one. Society is definitely really splitting into them who have and thems who ain’t. One side is drifting faster than the other side even realises, to be honest. They’re both drifting apart and we’re becoming this disenfranchised society, this split society. So that song is absolutely pointed, and it tells that story even now, thirty-five years from when it was first out. On the one hand we’ve got yet another good old Etonian made good, and on the other hand people’ve got fuck all and are going down the food banks… One bunch of old Etonians are having a fantastic time going from garden party to garden party, and another lot of people are scratching for a meal for their kids…

AS I SAID A MOMENT AGO, YOU DO PLAY LIVE A LOT – SO YOU TOUR A LOT AND GO ALL OVER THE COUNTRY… DO YOU ‘NOTICE THINGS’? TO YOU DOES THE PLACE SEEM QUITE… ERM… BREXITY?
Yeah, it does. Yeah. It comes from all walks of life, too. A lot of poor people stare over the fence, disenfranchised, and they look at Europe and… I dunno, they probably went there on their holidays twenty years ago, but now… they just feel disenfranchised from it, in their own country. It is a desperate time. It is a desperate time, and a unique time. What’s actually going to happen, no-one actually knows…

… WE’RE BALANCING ON A KNIFE EDGE, I THINK…
Yeah. I think Boris doing what he’s doing – taking us out of the EU – is not him doing it for the country. He’s doing it for the Conservative party. They’ve had three years with it, just fucking about, and if he doesn’t deliver Brexit there won’t actually be a Conservative party anymore. So that’s why he’s doing it. That’s why he’s carrying it to this ridiculous bloody end, y’know? It’s difficult. There’s a lot of people riding in the cart with him – financial institutions, hedge funds. The people at the top end of society. They’re all betting against the country now. It’s cruel. It’s heartless, yeah. It’s just money-making. Betting against the country, moving their currencies, moving their funds. And it’s… erm…

… BALLS TO THE REST OF US?
Yeah, ha ha. Basically it is, yeah, if you want to put it like that. Ha ha… They don’t give a monkeys. But the thing is, they never did. They never did. They’ve sold us this illusion that ‘the land of milk and honey’ is just the other side of Hallowe’en. But I dunno about that, mate – I’m not entirely sure it is, ha ha ha…

YOU OBVIOUSLY KEEP YOUR EYE ON THIS STUFF AND HAVE OPINIONS ABOUT, BUT YOU STILL WRITE ABOUT IT TOO… ON THE THEATRE OF HATE ALBUM WHICH CAME OUT A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO (KINSHI) THERE’S A TRACK CALLED MR MENDACITY, WHICH SEEMS AS IF IT COULD BE COMMENTING ON A CERTAIN POLITICAL PERSON…
Trump is a massive ground-shift in the way things are done. It’s piss-taking on absolutely the most massive scale. It’s piss-taking. And that’s what Boris does. That’s what the Conservative party do.

I STRUGGLE TO WORK OUT HOW THINGS HAVE DEGENERATED TO THIS POINT WHERE WE HAVE TRUMP AND BORIS, ACTUALLY… NINE OR TEN YEARS AGO WE HAD BARACK OBAMA AS THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND DAVID CAMERON AS THE BRITISH PRIME MINISTER… OBVIOUSLY CAMERON TOOK THE REFERENDUM GAMBLE AND THUS PROVED HIMSELF TO BE SOMETHING OF A DICK – BUT IT’S PRETTY WORRYING THAT YOU CAN EVEN SAY THAT WITH HINDSIGHT HE BEGINS TO LOOK LIKE A BIT OF A MODERATE STATESMAN COMPARED TO WHAT’S COME SINCE?
Yeah, I know. I can’t work it out, either… I just don’t know. I really don’t know… It’s a new kind of political system, I think. It’s definitely a new way of doing things, isn’t it? Boris. It’s all so fucking cynical. The sheer cynicism is colossal, it really is. It’s alright being a multi-millionaire and all of that – fine, fair enough – but you don’t have to take the piss all the time as well, do you? Really? They might laugh that it’s funny. Yeah, yeah. I think we can all take a joke – but this is beyond a joke. It’s all so cynical.

SO WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU’RE OPTIMISTIC? AND IF YOU ARE, HOW DO YOU REMAIN THAT WAY?
I don’t know. I suppose everyone’s just getting on with their lives, y’know? It’s like going to the pub and having a conversation – that conversation might actually change the way you think, but then when you leave that pub you’ve actually got to go straight back to your life and get on with it. Get on with doing your job or whatever. Being with your family and your kids… And your mortgage, your car bills… And all the rest of it… So you can have all these opinions – which are relevant, of course – but your life has to continue anyway. It has to. You have to go back to your life and try and make that work.

SO… LOWER EXPECTATIONS?
Social media – people look in on it and it reminds them that they haven’t got things. They see this world that they’re not really part of. Endless champagne and nice brand new Audis, all that. Oh, so you haven’t got a brand new Audi? Well, sorry for you old chap… That kind of thing makes people really envious and it causes people an enormous amount of discontent. But I guess people will be realising more and more that they have to be practical in their lives, and their expectations – which the media place more and more in front of you – have got to be managed…

… DO YOU THINK THINGS WILL BUBBLE OVER?
Well this is the establishment’s problem, isn’t it? Yes, more than half of the vote was for Brexit. About a million more or something? So, really, it was approximately even. So whichever way you go, people are gonna be really hacked off. I think we could probably see some rioting. The police are ready for it, the army are ready for it. The authorities know that things might really kick off… Interesting times!

 

Get tickets for the ONE EYED JACKS tour, here