Google+ Little Bird: Favourite Albums - Part1 - The Kennedy Soundtrack 'A Tale of Two Cities'

Monday, 22 April 2013

Favourite Albums - Part1 - The Kennedy Soundtrack 'A Tale of Two Cities'

I think everyone has that one record that they always go back to. That one album that you know every word to. The one that still gives you chills. The one that will perpetually strike something inside of you that perhaps no one else will understand. The one that can bring you right back to a completely different chapter in your life.
This can be quite a private thing; your own little morsel of words or noise that you keep close to you.

Probably a bit different from a lot of other things I listen to but hey, variety is the spice of life (or some pish like that)...
I adore this album. Why? Because it makes me happy. It really does. It's the one album I always go back to without fail and I never get bored of it. I have phases of listening to a record over and over again in my car and this one is number one in the Heather repetitive car charts (my other half doesn't get how I don't sicken myself with listening to the same thing over and over).

It came out in 2002, and I've played it countless times since then. Unfortunately The Kennedy Soundtrack are no more *sob*.

I first discovered these guys when I saw their music video for 'Killing Music' and went out and bought the single as soon as. (Remember singles??! When was the last time you bought a physical CD single?!).

The album is a mix of so many styles and I find it hard to place them in a category. There's a blend of nu-metal, rap, rock, funk, hip hop with a tiny splash of a reggae feel here and there.. It's a pretty weird infusion of musical styles but I personally feel this completely works. Lead vocalist Nic brings the rap to the table, and does it quite smoothly I feel, while guitarist Dave throws down some lovely vocal melodies to contrast.

There's a right mix of vibes in the album, from the laid back stoned-outta-my-balls sorta sound, to the meatier 'fuck you' songs. In between however, are some pretty deep, sad and sweet songs that you really can't help but take a moment to really listen to.

This album is a frequent visitor to my car stereo, love singing along (I sing the rap sections. Me rapping is NOT GOOD, really, really not good) and blasting it loud when I'm having  a bad day. It leaves me relaxed and feeling like I could take on the world. Marvellous.

I've been fortunate enough to get in touch with some of the members and bassist Elliot Blake kindly told me all about the formation of The Kennedy Soundtrack..

"Rob (Guitarist) & myself had dreams & ideas of being in a band before owning instruments.... So we decided not to opt for the latest games console for our birthdays & Xmas gifts one year. We made a pact to get guitars, bass & drums with another friend as we had written lyrics & designed an album cover ( heavily influenced by Guns N' Roses skull artwork) we were called " Gelignite" , obviously being 13 & 14 at the time this was short lived but obtaining the instruments ( all be it our drummer, who decided a Hockey goalie kit was a much better choice for his retrospective gift ) we set about actually learning to play, what I found a very difficult instrument, for the remainder of comprehensive school life. 
After Rob finished school he had applied to go to college on a rock & pop course. This was Btech that would last 3 years, I was still in a dead end job in dispa without any direction & I remember my best friend turning to me saying " just come to college with me " looking back it would seem I would owe Rob the life experiences I would gain from this moment for the rest of my life. 
We started college in the autumn of '96, the course allowed us to meet other musicians, jam & learn from others..... I remember walking into to campus studio, hearing & seeing a person singing, playing an acoustic guitar so incredibly well I actually fucking hated him & thought what an arrogant prick.... Later this person would become an amazingly close friend & and the voice of a band we were unknowingly going to be in together.
You meet a lot of new people in college, some people you get to know over time, others you work at relationships by finding common ground. I remember meeting 2 guys, who for what ever reasons found themselves on the Drama Performance course, finding common ground was quite easy with others when you smoke alot of pot. One of those two guys for some reason to me seemed to me, for want of a better word, a little lost & after hanging around smoking, talking we hit on another common ground & that was writing. I remember him saying that he was into hip hop & like to write lyrics to rap to. Both looking for something to do I remember taking some Oasis chords & asking him to write a rap to them. These lyrics would eventually become the first song of a band that wasn't even born.
I think a gig opportunity came up in my home town of Pontypool in the summer after college, so i called up some friends from college who had jammed out in our final projects together.... Rob, Dave, Nic, Myself & 2 others.... We did a mix of stuff, covers some of Daves songs he'd written & one I had written with Nic with another bands chords in college but was now a completely new sounding song musically called "Too Much Stress" ironic from a bunch of teenage pot smokers who didn't even understand the concept of the word "Stress". However it pulled the 4 of us together even more... We all decided that Uni wasn't for us, a decision that the 2 others who played the with us gig couldn't follow, so Nic asked a college friend we actually all knew to come play drums for us. Troy first jammed with us in a church hall & he just fitted in, played well enough as the rest of us, smoked alot of weed too which we were all pretty into, maybe not so much Dave lol..... Nic would constantly say shit like " So I'm in the band then " ???? Which was always met with chorus of "Yes" .... I could understand this now as the early days consisted of songs with just Dave singing & songs with Nic doing the verses with Dave or myself doing chorus lines. Even though we were gel-ing well as a band we had the most embarrassing name inherited from our college final project ( which I will not tell you ) So it was challenge excepted.... Dave, Rob & myself sat in a local pub coming up with all sorts of shit.... Dave kept banging on about liking the name Kennedy, we had another friend in college called James Kennedy who was & is an amazing guitarist ( Kyshera his band are called atm go check em ) Anyway I Dave was bent on his surname & liked the sound of it. Whilst I was looking through the paper at race horse names, as I thought that they were always unusual..... I spotted a horse called Soundtrack, a few beers & choice words we finally came across The Kennedy Soundtrack. Deciding that what we were writing  at the time, was quite diverse & unusual we instilled the belief that the Soundtrack part of the name meant we could write in different styles as long as we had the Rap & Singing as a consistent  As for the Kennedy, well I always thought that it stood for something like the unknown, an X-file, an anomaly .... Reality is Dave just liked the fucking sound of it & I picked out a race horses name in the paper & so The Kennedy Soundtrack became & some of the best fucking days of my life were made."

It's nice to know where bands come from, what inspired them to create music and what each person is bringing to the table. It seems these guys each brought their own tastes and musical inspirations into the band which created the strange blend of sounds that is the Kennedy Soundtrack.

I asked the guys what their go-back-to albums are to get a feel for their musical inspirations...

- Elliot - Bass -

Well I think mine has to be Nirvana's Nevermind. I must have been about 13 hear the opening riff to Teen Spirit & I remember I could not stop rewinding my Walkman (lol) and listening to that intro riff over & over. The guitar riff & the drums kicking in was just so immense.

Fave songs? I guess after thoroughly enjoying Nevermind I fell in love with "Drain You" & "Lounge Act". Drain You simply for the efforts you would make as a teenager to impress someone as I could probably relate as a love struck teen, Lounge Act for the sheer rebellious tone of the song "I won't regret fucking thing" lyric resonated with me as I did what pleased in my teens without consideration what upset I was causing others

I guess Appetite for Destruction by G n' R is a joint 1st as well as they're the first band that introduced me to heavy rock n roll & it. Totally pissed off my parents for the fucks Axl use say.

Fave songs? "Welcome to the Jungle" ...... I remember watching G n' R live from the Ritz on late night ITV & Axl starting with the infamous " Do you know where you are? " speech. As there are many songs/hits on that record I must also say that the last song on that album " Rocket Queen " stirred something inside me, the melodic chord changes at the end of the song mixed with hard riffage from the start of song showed a contrast & a softer side in G n' R that probably doesn't appear in any other song on that album. With Axls last lyrics stating "All I ever wanted was for you to know that I care" 

- Rob - Guitars -

Use Your Illusion II by G n' R....Guess I liked the attitude. The epic-ness of the songs with the full orchestra and over blown guitar solos. Just remember it had a lot of play time in the Walkman. And G'n'R brought us together, trying to be a band without instruments. Was the start of it all I guess. Although Hendrix at Woodstock was the reason I wanted to play guitar in the first place.

Fave songs? Estranged is the song of choice then like I said all 9:24 epic minutes of it.

 - Nic - Vocals -

Nic couldn't pick just one, hence the swearing haha!

"Yeh, 'Straight Outta Compton', MJ's 'Bad', Iron Maiden 'Number of the Beast', Cypress Hill ''Black Sunday', 'Hip Hop Collection' - Various Artists  'Red Hot Metal' - Various Artists and that's just off the top of my head and then chose one off em all, BASTARD!!! lol"

Fave Songs?"Fats Domino 'Blueberry Hill' - comp, Bob Marley Legend, Chaka Denis and Pliers 'Tease Me', fucking hell!!"

- David Challenger - Guitar/Vocals -

A full interview with Dave is coming in another blog post, here's a snippet.

Nirvana 'Unplugged in New York' - What I love about this album is the simplicity of it, almost anyone could just grab an acoustic guitar, play and sing along. One of my favourite tracks is probably "On a Plain", but there's many other gems in there too. Actually, the ones that stick out most for me are probably the songs that Nirvana didn't even write. The songs they covered, such as "The Man Who Sold The World" (David Bowie) and "Lake of Fire" or "Oh Me" (Meat Puppets). Another song "Where Did You Sleep last Night?" was another favourite of mine and my friends 

Stereophonics - 'Word Gets Around' - It is a very sing along kind of album. We do love a good sing song. "Check My Eyelids For Holes", "Last of The Big Time Drinkers" all amazing sing along tracks.This album, I feel that I can identify with the sentiment and what these guys are about. It was an exciting time for welsh music. I know we had the Manics (I do love James Dean Bradfield's Voice and his guitar work) but the Stereophonics, I think, are perhaps a little more accessible. I felt that they were just like me and my friends, valley boys

U2 - 'Rattle & Hum' -  Another Live album (mostly) and again containing many of their classics from Joshua Tree and also cover versions of Beatles and Bob Dylan. I wouldve been 8 or 9 years old when this was released. I think it pretty much past me by, as did most things, including Bros (yuck) & Kylie Minogue (yum). This album, along with the film that was released along side it, I discovered a few years later. I liked U2 anyway but when I saw the Rattle & Hum film and B.B.King was playing with U2, that sealed it for me. I was into blues when learning to play guitar, and this album does go back to the USAs Rock n Roll Roots.

            My favourite track of this album, without doubt is Bullet The Blue Sky and its way better than the studio version, though having said that, Im pretty sure the live version is overdubbed quite a bit, but I dont care. I love the fact theres slide guitar in there, funk riffs, a rolling bass line and vocals which are almost spoken in places, its also quite dark

I love hearing about musical influences. Those albums we love so dearly become a part of who we are.

I would love to hear about yours, feel free to email me and I will include you in a future post.

H x

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