September 2019 sees Spear Of Destiny embark on a 20 date UK tour where they will celebrate the 35th anniversary of their sophomore album One Eyed Jacks.
This is a great opportunity to see its founding member KIRK BRANDON accompanied by the current line up featuring Craig Adams (The Mission/Sisters Of Mercy), Adrian Portas (New Model Army/Sex Gang Children) and Phil Martini (Jim Jones/Wayward Sons) perform at some classic venues across the length and breadth of the country.
This SOD line up for the very special run of dates, will for the first time in an age, be expanded by adding both live keyboards and brass. The setlist will not only be highlighted by playing One Eyed Jack’s in its entirety along with B-sides but a unique extended encore of fan favourites from the whole SOD catalogue will finish all of the shows.
The band recently re-recorded the album in its entirety, Kirk even drafted in his long term keyboard player Steve Allan Jones and current Theatre Of Hate sax player Clive Osborne to bolster the sound of the original recording. I caught up with Kirk on the phone and started by asking if it feels like 35 have passed since he went into the studio to record the album, he replied, “God no it doesn’t, it’s strange and this probably sounds slightly insane but I just had that image where Alice peers through the looking glass into the other world, that was then and this is now, it’s almost like stepping through a mirror”.
We chatted about the recording process the second time around, he commented, “We did it last year with Grapes of Wrath and re-recorded that and decided we’d do it again”. “Back in 1984, things were done a bit differently, we were using old style SSL desks and instruments were just mic’d up ‘adequately’ which meant the sound was never going to be its best”.
I probed Kirk about an old interview I had read where he admitted that he never felt comfortable with the way that the original recording turned out, he added, “We are a rock band and the way that the label (CBS) recorded the album back in ‘84 was as if we were a pop band, like the way they used to churn out stuff in the late 50’s and this was just NOT what we wanted to do. It was as if they just never captured the sound as we wanted it to be heard so being given the chance to re-record the album in a modern studio was something I was really keen to do”.
“I wanted to put it back to where it should be, which is a rock record with some great tunes on it, “Playground of the Rich”, “These Days are Gone”, “Young Men & “Rainmaker”, they’re classic songs and I wanted to make them sound like they SHOULD have sounded back then, fuller, more rocky”. “Looking back on tracks such as “Playground of the Rich”, the song is actually MORE appropriate these days than it probably was back when I wrote it back in ’83!”
“The experience really caught me on the hop, I thought the process was just going to involve me and the guys back in the studio re-recording some old songs but all the emotions came flooding back and I had to step back and take stock of exactly what I was doing”.
I asked Kirk how the studio had changed over the years and that the kit available in 2019 was obviously a lot different to that available 35 years ago. Kirk told me that he has a great engineer called Christoph Bryde in Manchester and he’s been working with him for ages, he added, ”it’s great working with him (Christoph) as there’s no need to ask him if he could do something, he just knows what I’m after and gets it sorted for me and we just get on with it! A lot of it comes down to the wealth of recording/production experience that I’ve picked up since the early 80’s. I did an album with Alan Shacklock and he taught me an immense amount about recording and techniques right through from the 50’s to the 60’s when the recording process really upped its game, he was best mates with Mick Taylor from The Rolling Stones and you know that you’re getting the information first hand, such an interesting guy!”
Being Devon based myself, I was keen to learn more about how Kirk found himself in an upmarket area of Torbay called Churston (near Brixham), “My dad took us out of London and we ended up down there, I think I was ten years old and I managed to pass the 11+ exam and it was decided that I’d attend the grammar school up the road from where we lived”. I asked Kirk if there were any places he used to frequent on a regular basis, no landmarks came to mind but Kirk did say that he used to go into pubs and had a great time!
I asked Kirk if he missed London when he first moved to Churston and he replied, “It was a different world, there wasn’t council flats as far as the eye could see and horrible grey streets with horrible grey people, it was like a world of colour down in Devon!”
I threw in a curve ball and asked Kirk what advice the 2019 Kirk Brandon would impart onto the younger 1970’s version of himself given the chance, he replied, “Where do you want to start”. Given that I had 5 minutes left, I decided to move on swiftly!
I asked Kirk if there were any venues on the list of September dates that he had played before in previous bands, there weren’t many on the list that he hadn’t played, he added, “When you start to book venues around the country, you see familiar places popping up, we’ve played at most of these venues a number of times throughout the years and I for one am excited about getting out there and doing it all over again. Places like The Fleece in Bristol, The Oran Mor in Glasgow and Jimmy’s in Liverpool hold fond memories for me, it’ll be good to get back there again, it’s been too long!”
Staying on the topic of the tour, I commented on how few days they seemed to have between the shows and whether they have toned down the live performances over the years or are they still as raucous as they always were but they have some form of miracle recovery cure? Kirk said, “I’d love to have 3 days off between each show but that ain’t ever going to happen is it, a tour would take about 3 months to complete 20 dates! Nobody bothers playing on a Monday so we just rest when we can! If it was possible, I’d love a bit more time but it never works that way, rock bands don’t have the luxury of being able to hang about”.
A self confessed super fan, John Horler from Exeter asked Kirk what his favourite Spear of Destiny and Theatre of Hate tracks were, I posed the question to Kirk to which he replied, “Oh blimey…..my favourite T.O.H. track is one that we recorded on the third album and it’s called ‘A Thing of Beauty” and it’s pretty cutting and the lyrics are pretty good, really incisive but with a certain flair about them! Probably some of my best work, I’m certainly not ashamed to say that but I don’t have a massive ego about it and I’m sure you don’t believe me but honestly I don’t”. “As for S.O.D, god, that is a tough one, If push came to shove, I would say “Philadelphia” because I lived there for three years and I have a lot of affection for the place, it really is a crazy place, we played there in the good old days and then again more recently and everyone assured me it wasn’t like it was back in the day but it didn’t look any bloody different to me, still a lot of gunfire and general madness, it’s part and parcel of the place I guess, you know what they call London now? “Stab City” so there you go…..”
I asked Kirk about whether movies had an influence on his earlier material as there is a very atmospheric, almost haunting quality about them, “I guess movies did help to shape the way that I wanted the music to sound, I was into the old ‘noire’ films of the 50’s but yes, I’ve always been a huge film fan”. I commented that some of his earlier work reminded me of spaghetti western soundtracks which Kirk agreed also played a part in shaping his tastes, he went through a phase of watching loads of movies with soundtracks by the Italian composer Ennio Morricone which made its mark on him. I asked about his thoughts on Tarantino movies to which he replied, “They’re okay, it all seems so pastiche, he did one with Kurt Russell in it called Death Proof which I thought was really good, dark, it’s the kind of film that people will look back on in 10-20 years’ time and say how cool it was! Some of the other stuff like Inglorious Basterds was a bit ‘throwaway’ in my opinion, it was like he was pampering to the needs of Hollywood!”
I asked Kirk if he used to listen to or enjoy the output of bands like Kraftwerk or ABBA who were the polar opposite of punk rock in the 70’s, he replied, “I used to listen to a German band called Amon Duul, The Groundhogs, you can’t go wrong with albums like Thank Christ for the Bomb and the one with a track called “Cherry Red” on it, that was the big one! I think I used to listen to quite a lot of music, I was always into The Stones and bands from the 60’s too, I’ll never grow out of that!”
My questions led down the path of ‘Supergroups’ and I asked Kirk if he could form a band with ANY musicians (dead or alive), who he would have up on stage with him, he pondered the question for a good few seconds before answering, “I would have Roy Orbison, Eddie Cochrane and Elvis Presley up there with me, I doubt that there’d be much for me to do so I could just stand there and watch them work the room – you wouldn’t stand a chance with that lot!”
I asked Kirk to think of the millions of bands and artists out there today and name me one of his favourites – “He’s become really ill lately (and I hope he gets through it) but there’s a guy call Koozie Johns and he has a band called Folk Grinder, they asked me to produce their album and I ended up doing two for them! He’s so off the wall and completely crazy, I just thought that he’s brilliant and wanted to get involved. He sent the demos to me and I called him and asked if he was for real but I ended up doing it!”
I asked Kirk if he was the shy retiring type that would rather spend the time after a show holed up in the dressing room, waiting for the crowds to disperse before darting out of the side door into his waiting limo, he replied, “Ha, if I had my own limo, that might be an idea! No, completely the opposite, if people part with their hard earned cash to come and spend time in my company, I give it back to them, I’ll happily spend time at the merch table, chatting to fans signing autographs and posing for ‘selfies’ or whatever the hell they’re called, it’s not hard work is it? and I think that sort of thing really helps to make a fan’s day”.
It's not very often that I blow my own trumpet but when Kirk Brandon opens up the conversation with “I was looking at your website earlier, It’s visually very cool – it’s easy to navigate, not like some sites where you really have to sit and work it out!” which I’ll take as a compliment, thank you Mr Brandon!
Wed 4th COLCHESTER Arts Centre
Thu 5th GLASGOW Oran Mor
Fri 6th STOKE Underground
Sat 7th LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
Sun 8th NORWICH Waterfront
Wed 11th SOUTHAMPTON The 1865
Thu 12th BRISTOL Fleece
Fri 13th WOKING Undercover Festival
Sat 14th BEDFORD Esquires
Sun 15th LIVERPOOL Jimmy’s
Wed 18th EXETER Phoenix Arts Centre
Thu 19th BIRMINGHAM Hare & Hounds
Fri 20th NOTTINGHAM Rescue Rooms
Sat 21st MANCHESTER Gorilla
Sun 22nd HULL Polar Bear
Tue 24th SWINDON Level III
Wed 25th CARDIFF Clwb Ifor Bach
Thu 26th NEWCASTLE The Cluny
Fri 27th BRIGHTON Boat (outdoor)
Sat 28th LONDON Under The Bridge