John Kay (Steppenwolf) 2000 Apr 23, 2011 16:07:31 GMT -6
Post by classic rock revival on Apr 23, 2011 16:07:31 GMT -6
CLASSIC ROCK REVIVAL INTERVIEW
This is an interview I did with John Kay (early fall - 2000), that was featured in the band's fan club newsletter "The Howl". It's also the first interview I ever did.
Jim: You have so many classic songs that you've been singing for the past 33 years. Do you ever tire of signing the same songs and what's your favorite song to sing?
John: There are two main reasons why I rarely tire of singing the songs we are known for. For the most part I feel that those songs have held up well over the years and therefore the lyrics don't stick in my throat. The fact that our audiences usually respond enthusiastically to these songs helps me sing them with conviction. The other reason is that since 1980 when we started to rebuild The Wolf we have always played our newer songs interspersed with the earlier hits, etc., because, while we are proud of our past accomplishments we never wanted to get bored on stage. That approach has worked well for us and we continue to mix old and new to this day.
Jim: There's a massive tape-trading community going on these days. What are your feelings on fans taping your live shows for trade?
John: Trading live tapes between fans is fine with me. While the quality of the recordings are usually not the greatest, if the fans like them, let them have their fun. They have supported us all these years buying our records and concert tickets so as long as they don't use these tapes for profit, I say "trade them all you want, after all you're the reason we're still here".
Jim: As a singer, who are some of your favorite singers?
John: Some (and there are many) of the singers I really like are: Little Richard, Ray Charles, Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Son House, Steve Marriot, Paul Rogers, etc., and also Bonnie Raitt, Shawn Colvin and Rikki Lee Jones. Of course this is just the short list.
Jim: It's great to see (and hear) that you've added "Straight Shootin' Woman", and "Skullduggery", to your live shows. How did you decide to add these two songs to your set list?
John: Both of those songs are from the 70's a period from which we have not been featuring much material in our shows till now. Also "Woman" is played as a tribute to Jerry Edmonton our original drummer who not only wrote that song but who had a lot to do with the way The Wolf sounded back then. As you probably know Jerry was killed in a car crash some years ago, so that song now has a special meaning for me. "Skullduggery" was written, as the title tune of our 1976 album by the same name, by Bobby Cochran who was our guitarist during that period and who is still a friend of ours. He lives like the rest of us in the Nashville area and sat in with us during several past Wolf Fests. It's an uptempo rocker that's fun to do on stage.
Jim: What do you think of today's Rock And Roll music scene in general? Are there any new artists you like?
John: Today's rock scene is quite different from the days when The Wolf was a baby band. It's much harder for the new bands to make a go of it, although the internet gives some of them a chance to get their music out there even if the record companies won't give them the time of day. I like bands which have a rootsy sound, such as the Subdudes (now broken up) and groups that blend different musical ideas like Sonja Dada. Although I'm not that familiar with a lot of their songs, I like Rage Against The Machine's attitude. I also like many songwriter/singers, particularly women who often have a special way with words. Lucinda Williams would be just one example.
Jim: Since you reformed the Wolf in 1980, what has been the best selling John Kay & Steppenwolf CD?
John: Other than the various hits collection CD's, Rise & Shine, as well as Feed The Fire and Live at 25 have done well, but various other releases and my reissued solo albums are chugging along nicely also.
Jim: Have you considered doing an acoustic-unplugged Wolf album?
John: We always have various projects in the works which always take more time to complete than anticipated, i.e., my solo CD and our 2 video releases. Therefore we are holding back on any additional projects till we're caught up. (Editor's Note: Since this interview, John Kay's solo CD "Heretics & Privateers", was released in 2001. To hear sound samples or buy the CD go to John Kay & Steppenwolf's official website JOHN KAY & STEPPENWOLF
Jim: Are there any other artists you'd like to do an album with?
John: There are many musicians and singers who's work I admire, but it's unlikely that I'll do an album with them for various practical reasons, such as time and scheduling as well as record release issues. Also, at this point in my life I want to put my time and energy only into pursuits which I feel very strongly about.
Jim: Speaking as a fan, I'd like to see "Don't Step On The Grass Sam", "Power Play", and "Screamin' Night Hog", added to your live shows. Any chance of that happening in the future?
John: There is a good chance that we'll do Screaming Night Hog next year and we may even have a Screaming Night Hog T-shirt as well.
Jim: Have you considered releasing a best of compilation of John Kay & Steppenwolf recordings from 1980 to present?
John: That is a project we've been talking about and it may actually happen although I can't tell you just when.
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