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Kevin Coyne - sense and sense of humour

He is some kind of a "special" personality - as a musician, he has released more than forty CDs and been on stage for an equal number of years now. More than that: his art-paintings are famous among insiders - his teddy-bear books are being loved by young and old people. So Kevin Coyne can be called an artist in every sense of the word.

He crouches on stage in front of his bluesloaded band, fingering his guitar with his thumb - uttering lyrics of despair, of love, of bad or evil things. His voice sometimes sounds high, thin and crazy, or dim and dark in the next moment - Coyne truly tells stories about his life and life in general.

In this interview before his concert in Berlin at the Quasimodo, he even reveals a little bit more ...

Kevin Coyne

Carina: In 1980 you left Virgin Records - after that you went to Rough Trade, Cherry Red, Ariola and so on - today you are with Ruf Records. Didn´t it occur to you to found an own label?

Kevin: I did once - I did very briefly - it was called "Collapse-Records". We made one record and then it collapsed! (laughs) It is true! - But I was not very serious about it. It was distributed by Rough Trade. - I might do it again, but I don´t plan to do so now. It is a lot of hustle to run your own label. I think if I could find a good distributor - but I´m not sure right now. In the moment I just need somebody to put the records out.

Carina: You write books, you are painting and making music. Don´t you sometimes fear to run out of creative ideas?

Kevin: No, not at all - ever! I don´t even think about it. Because - there is so much in life and it is so interesting! - Every time you switch on the TV - or you look out of the window - if you fail to have any ideas, that is because you are not generally creative or something like that. I certainly don´t have any shortage of ideas!

Carina: You have a strong sense of humour and your lyrics are very close to reality. Blues is a thing where storytelling is rather important. Are there many motives from your own imagination, from your own life?

Kevin: Sure, there are many! There are stories of my past, the places I have worked: I worked in psychiatric institutions and I worked in the streets with junkies in the Westend of London. At least, these are all subjects I have meant. As I said before - you walk down the street or look out of the window and there is a little story somewhere! Somebody standing at the bus-stop or something. The last album before this one, there is a song called the "Garden Gate Song", which is just inspired by somebody, who sits somewhere in the garden gate. An old person. I am very concerned about old age - death, and happiness and sadness and all the usual subjects ...

Carina: The things you do are also presented on your own website. Which role does the Internet play for you?

Kevin: Well, it is very good! I was a little skeptical at first. But a couple of years ago, somebody said: "Have a website! It is good for business - people buy things, they buy records and books and stuff." - It is also a very good communication-thing! I get e-mails from all over the world and it is amazing, where people buy my records - or found my records. In the south-pacific and Australia, New Zealand - in the strangest places! Australia not so, because I have toured Australia - but many of the countries, where I would think there was no response to Kevin Coyne - no, there they are! It is a great asset, the website! - I am a great believer in it.

Carina: Your son Robert is playing in your band and he is a multi-instrumentalist. Aren´t there any father-son conflicts - and: does he have projects on his own?

Kevin: To be honest, there is never any conflicts. We never fall out about anything. Never, since he was a baby - I can not remember having one argument with him! He is not the sort of guy arguing. He does what he does - I do what I do. - Yes, he does have other projects: he is working in a band called "Venus Ray" which I think is bringing out an album next month. And there are singles and very good reviews in England. He also got a band "Mean Vincent" together with his brother Eugene, who is a singer and songwriter. And he has had a band called "Silver Chapter", which made five singles back in the early nineties and he toured with "Siouxsie and the Banshees". So - he has got a lot of experience outside of my situation. He is just a very easy, very creative musician - it is a pleasure to work with him. I am very fortunate. If he was no good, he wouldn´t be here - I can tell you that!

Carina: Back to sense of humour in music - Fred Frith also said that it was very important.

Kevin: He should know, Fred - he´s got a great sense of humour ...

Carina: Do you think your´s is something typical for people from Great Britain in general - or is your humour something coming out of an own experience in life?

Kevin: Well, I really don´t subscribe to that! I do generalize about humour and say: "Well, the Germans don´t have much of a sense of humour -or the Swedes don´t have a lot of humour - the British have ..." But I do not really believe that! I think it is individuals with their experience of life and how they see life. And some people are "naturally happy" and have a sense of humour, some people are "naturally gloomy" and don´t have a sense of humour.

Kevin Coyne - "Room full of Fools"

National characteristics, like history, do play a part in peoples - it seems to me as a sense of humour - or openness - because humour really comes from an openness. So in reality - ... well the British, they lay a lot of claims in having a very individualistic sense of humour - in some ways they have, but it doesn´t mean that other countries do not have humour as well!

Because - people laugh all the time in Germany in concerts! I must be doing something right. If they understand the humour they will smile and they will react. - There´s a lot of humour in my stage show - if you have never seen it, it is very misleading. We played in Belgium the other day, and that guy said: "I never realized it from the records, that there was all this messing around, and fooling around on stage, and humour!" He didn´t realize it that I´m so much an entertainer! I am not just a musician and a singer, I am an entertainer, too. - I have had to be! If you play in Lapland or places like this, you have to have a sense of humour, you have to entertain people - and I have worked in all these places!

Carina: What is more important in your life - drawing pictures or being a musician?

Kevin: Oh, no! They´re all important - equally important! Some more important one day than another, but in the main I give as much energy, as much honesty and creativity to each individual subject. I don´t have "hobbies" - painting is not a hobby for me! I went to art-school for different arts and academy situations for eight years. It is a very serious thing for me in one way. And writing too! - I´ve been writing in magazines and in books since the sixties. I take it seriously.

Carina: After having published approximately forty CDs - what is your demand to being on stage and to make a good show? Do you think you have to do a perfect show today?

Kevin: No, I never think like that! I think like that´s a "fault in some respect" of certain musicians - I´ve met some of these in Germany - who think to have control of the instrument and the rest is this perfection - is the main thing. The main thing is to utilize the instrument to say something true and honest for yourself! The technique should come second in my opinion - and the same with the show. It doesn´t have to be perfect - I don´t want it to be perfect. If it is, it gets boring. The little mistakes are often the most interesting things. If Tom Jones´ toupee falls off during the show, that´s much more interesting than the show in my opinion - no I really mean this, this is what makes the show! My shows are never the same - the songs remain the same, but in between, the talk and everything, the general atmosphere can be very different from show to show. - So if my shirt rips, or my trousers fall down - it´s all part of the show! That´s what I always say to guys working with me: "Don´t take me seriously when the show ´s on!"

Carina Prange

Kevin Coyne´s website: www.kevincoyne.de

latest CD: Kevin Coyne - "Room full of Fools" (RUF 1052)

Foto: n.n. - Coverart: Kevin Coyne

© jazzdimensions2001
erschienen: 2.4.2001
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