KAI MARTIN & STICK
is back and that with a really good record
Kai Martin & Stick was one of my favorite bands in the punk / new wave style of the early 80´s Kai's brazen voice mixed with saxophone from Gomer did not only a different band without a damn good band. Now they are back and Kai Martin has been so kind to answer a bunch of questions from me in August, 2016.
How was it that you did a reunion a few years ago?
-When we ended August 10, 1985, it was never to be reunited. Far too many bands had done it with far too mediocre results. Some of us played Kai Martin & Stick! -songs with the house band (Swedish punk 25,2003 Schlager Jubilee 2005). But that was all. So I met Charlie Burchill guitarist of Simple Minds, who did not understand the reasoning at all. On the contrary, he urged us to start playing again. Encouraged by this, we sketched on a reunion to 1 April 2008, that is to say 30 years after the band's creation. It did not happen then, for various reasons, so we made another attempt in 2012 to play the whole "Röd Plåt", our second album (1982) with a new keyobardist, new saxophonist and bassist ditto. It sounded not good, but when Cremonese (Kai Martin & Stick! -gitarristen) And I played "Rör, rör, rör dig nu” with Augustifamiljen at Pustervik inauguration in late April the same year, we felt "yes" this is an interest and we attracted and triggered the audience really there. Bassist and saxophonist defected in the summer and the reality of reunification looked bleak. But in November, with Alex Gabay. In December, returned Gomer Explensch after a lengthy stay abroad. Easter weekend 2013 we rehearsed for the two gigs - Grand Central in Stockholm and Pustervik - the weekend after. It sounded incredibly good and the shows were amazing.
Have you played a lot out since then?
-It was four gigs in 2013. Two in 2014. One 2015 and so far two this year, 2016. We like to play more and we sound better than ever.
What do you think is the difference is in playing now and 30 years ago?
-Then we were in the middle of a movement. We sat on the crest of a wave and surfed with that, took advantage of the power of this, chose our own way and put our own dressings and impressions. Now we try to reconcile it from then with the here and now. An interesting attempt to twist the nerves; not easy, but I think we have succeeded.
What audience do tyou attract, it is only those in our age, or have you received any new fans?
-When we made the comeback gigs, I was surprised. Yes, there were the older crowd who were young then. But also young people and especially young women. So it was a good mix.
In the beginning, you were involved in punkcircles. Did you feel at home there, or how was it?
-The punk was the start of our music. We loved the energy and the expression of many of the bands. But pretty soon it became both uniformal and conformal in a way that we are not appreciated and many of the punks not Gothenburg thought we was odd birds, just what we wanted to be, and pretty soon we decided to call ourselves a pop band. It was a way to tease, but eventually we went on from there and ended up more in the music we're in now.
How do you see on punk today, do you think it lives and do you have some new punk favorites?
-That'saA great movement which both operate in the here and now and that celebrates its roots. My meeting with the young punks makes me happy, there is a commitment and an energy, a willingness to stand up for something. But it is of course also become an art that not only has the music, with the people who grow their characteristics with tattoos and piercings, besides the fantastic hairstyles; I'm glad that I did was froced then, even if I am fascinated and beguiled by it now. About bands, I'm very fond of the Gothenburg band Rome Is Not A Town.
What are you listening else on today?
-Already back then I was an omnivore with jazz from the parental home mixed with Hasseåtage, Povel Ramel, and Swedish and American standards. For it was the pop music of the Beatles, the heavier rock and symphonic rock, which I was very into the early 70s. Then 2016 ...? Radiohead,it´s the best band now.
Your new album is a really good album filled with post-punk (for that is the way the music should be called). It is heavy and sometimes feels a little dark. What inspired you for this album? What inspires the lyrics at all?
-It was important to connect with Kai Martin & Stick! as we were when we stopped. I was then 28 years old, lived during the Cold War threats and a polarized world of countries that rarely rested on the male, edgy and cultivating a prestigious think that went far too many generations back (read Middle East). It was tricky, the music would be charged with energy and the lyrics could breathe desperation. The first song we did was "Skriet" and "Fattar(ingenting)" (both played at Liseberg and Henriksberg 2014). "Skriet" is the one song that anxiety linked to Edvard Munch's famous paintings on the theme and Pär Lagerkvist's poem "Ångest" from 1916. The rest of the lyrics took it´s time to write, but landed well. I have long been affected by refugee disasters in the Mediterranean and wanted to write something about it, then came the text was "Strändernas svall" to the song that opens the album, and it also made another video. What is perhaps most frightening is that the texts that I wrote in the 80's has its relevance 30-35 years later. So really, it was purely thematically not so strange to approach the atmosphere of the time here and now.
How many of the past members is in the group today?
-Ronny Rock Svensson, Gomer Explensch and I have been on all recordings. Georg Cremonese has been involved since 1983. Markus Larsson, keyboards, and Alex Gabay since 2012.
Tell us a little about each person, what they are working with and their best and worst sides?
-Georg Cremone, guitar and songwriter. Working in the music business MUG in Gothenburg and as a producer and recording as well as livetechnician. Is a renaissance man. What he does not know is not worth knowing, is eager to learn and an outstanding guitarist and man. Drew, a giant load during the filming and production of the album. May want to decide too much, which can be tricky in a band where everyone wants to deeicde much. Alex Gaby, bassist and songwriter. Working on Bengans. Is the son of the actor Micha Gabay, who played with former Kai Martin & Stick! Keyboardist Tony Vibrato (Mats Landahl) in the 60s. Alex is a highly skilled bass player, who understands the complexity of the band and has contributed enormously to our update of sound. Toured around the world with the band Noxshi until 2010. Can succumb to negativity when misfortune strikes with full force. But he is pragmatic and find solutions. Markus Larsson, keyboards. Working as the Volvo engineer. Is incredibly curious to explore the retro sound and has invited up the challenge of recreating and reinventing Kai Martin & Stick! 'S music. Time did not permit songwriting this time, but there are resources. Dexterous fingers and brain. Do not take up much space, which you must do in this band. Gomer Explensch, saxophone and songwriter. Artist. There is no who is playing sax like him and he is the best. In addition, a stage personality of rank. Without him no Kai Martin & Stick !, it is quite clear. Suffering from studio nervousness and fiddling some , but weigh it up with a great personality and amiability. I've played with him since high school. Ronny Svensson Rock, drums. Film Writer and -reviewer. Can everything about film and music, can talk for hours about this. Fascinating. He is a steady drummer, which made great achievements in the studio. Is a collector of rank, which can be a bit too much. Kai Martin, singer, lyricist and songwriter. Journalist, but unemployed at the moment. Has a singular voice, which adds additional profile to the band's music. Likes to be on stage, but is completely useless at remembering lyrics.
You've been through a lot in your career? Once you were idol band in the Starlet, how did this happen? You're not the band that was so famous, really?
-Right. The picture was taken by a freelance photographer for a gig at the studio in Stockholm during the "Röd Plåt" tour. But how it got that idol image in girls' magazine Starlet is a mystery.
What is the funniest show you have done in the past and now?
-We were booked at a festival in Uppsala during the "RödPlåt" tour with Siouxsie & the Banshees as the main act. Just before our gig the organizers came with panic in his eyes and explains that Siouxsie set will not be. The organizers wanted to tell this pronto, but we said 'do it after our gig. " We go in and make a triumphant gig before 3,000 people, the organizers tell afterwards that those who want to get the money back. Only a handful did so and we were praised for having saved the festival. In 2015 we played at Gröna Lund, Charles Trenets classic hit song "La mer" isthe intro to "Strändernas svall" and then we made what was probably the best gig ever. It was power and euphoria, energy and presence with a lovely audience response.
If you could choose five bands, living and dead to have a concert with Kai Martin & Stick, which five would you choose?
-Haha, What an opportunity. We never got to open for Simple Minds, it would be on it´s place. I have a dream of playing with Makthaverskan. Playing with the Magazine should not be stupid. To tease Ronny it would obviously be great to play with Håkan Hellström. Public Image's an outstanding vital band, which also would not be wrong to play with.
Is there no one ever teased on that just your name appears in the band name?
-It is it surely.
How did this band name came foreward, really, is there a funny story behind it?
-We started as Stick !, because it sounded punky and good. But, as I said above, was the punk suit too tight. We wanted more. So, inspired by Elvis Costello & the Attractions, Graham Parker & The Rumours, Siouxsie & the Banshees, Ian Dury & the Blockheads we decided Kai Martin &Stick!…
When we met, you said that you had a bunch of records that you should clear away from home, why? How do you see on the "modern" things like download, Spotify, etc?
-The reason that I want to clear is that I am stuck in the stuff that takes a lot of space. Actually, when I have a minimalist's dream of having just the essentials. Not only do I live in abundance and there are thoughts I wrestle with every day, but everything is stuck in a kind of limbo. I just sell my Märklin Railway, which has been in the basement for deacdes. Still, it pains. It's not really good. Far too many records I have for sentimental reasons and never listen to. Why keep them ...? Spotify is quite ok and a gold mine for those who want to explore music. But I can, just like when I was afraid of the infinity of space as a child, was frightened by the limitlessness of music. Since I think it is strange that those who compose the music get back so little for this and the Spotifyfounder Daniel Ek is extremely wealthy for his idea, but the bands and artists that made it possible is not really in the same situation. Free is good, but it hardly helps those who create music, or, for that matter, films.
You did a solo album a few years ago, tell me about it, it differed a little from the band's records?
-I did not write the music for several years, for what I did after Kai Martin & Stick! was not good enough. But some songs crept in, one and another song I made demo recordings. Only at the end of 90´s century it began to drain, I met Mattias Bylund (arranger and producer, who in February received a Grammy for his collaboration with Max Martin production by the likes of Taylor Swift). We started making demos together and suddenly he had produced one that sounded so good that I said "We have to make a record!". There was pop music for adults, as I called it, inspired by Svante Thuresson, Bo Diddley, Mauro Scocco, Peter LeMarc with multiple and the album "Sol på svenska," where the title is a play with Jan Johansson's "Jazz på svenska," where I removed the o in the soul because I am only near real soul.
How do you think it is to live in Sweden today, politically, etc.? Black Ingvars did not play for SD and the like, can you imagine your band could take an opinion politically?
-We live in a strange self-centered era when few want to share, but more want to reflect in their own excellence. It is nasty and reflects itself in politics, where we have a weak left that close their eyes to a lot of problems and a right-leaning against a fake story. Trump and Jimmy Akesson grow the remarkable lack of knowledge by talking about making the country great again. In fact, we have seldom had it so good, but we just do not want to share with those who have as worst at the same time, I think that we are very weak in our assimilation policy. No man is good for not knowing what limits there are, how important equality is in Sweden (it has been fought for over a hundred years and still have to be fought for, oddly enough, in all camp) and why the intern ...? Creating jobs, high and low. It worked in the 60's and I imagine that it works now. Then we have and will always have a war against prejudice, which must be completed. To not talk about hatred, grown outside the network and social forums. Who wants to live with hate ...? And how can they cultivate their bitterness? There is hardly any solution.
Which is your most political song?
I would say "Rör, rör, rör dig nu," wrote in the shadow of the nuclear arms race in the early 80s, which gave huge counter-demonstrations in Western Europe, with the final in Amsterdam with nearly half a million demonstrators in 1981. Something which, among other things got me to write the song. But even "Ljug för mig" on Utan Titel is political, just like "Jericho" on the "Simmarna" about the Israelis attack on a refugee camp south of Beirut with a huge number of casualties.
Politik och musik, hör det ihop eller är det bara dumt att blanda ihop dem?
-Popmusik och kärlek är ju en bra förening. Men det är klart att budskap i texter måste vara vidare än så. Så ja, det är självklart att blanda in politik i musiken.
Best political band?
-Gang Of Four was / is an amazing band. Specials as well, which continues with Jerry Dammers of the Specials AKA and the song "Nelson Mandela" is a good example. Now ... well, I can probably miss the bands that are consistent and vocal in their opinions. But, without being fond of his music, it's brave of Niklas Strömstedt to make it stand against SD, as he did in "Så mycket bättre" last year.
Five favorite records? Five favorite concerts?
-The Answers are varied enough everyday and mood. But ok ... the Beatles' White Album "- contains everything. Magazine: "Secondhand Daylight" - dirty beauty. The Blue Nile: "Hats" -sentimentalt sadness and grandeur. Billie Holiday "Lady Sings the Blues" - sore pain, incomparable music. Bjork: "Debut" - headstrong, intelligent, beautiful. Hunters & Collectors, Hultsfred 1988 - beautifully, and deliciously skewed. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, Q Club, Gothenburg, 1990 - hard, tough and relentless. Simple Minds, overwhelming, Simple Minds, Gothenburg 1981 - tumultuous, powerful and adorable static. Sinéad O'Connor, Scandinavium, 1991 - emotionally strong, musically impressive. Håkan Hellström, Rockefeller, Oslo 2002 - ecstatic, frentetic, dedicated.
Which was the first record you bought? And the most expensive?
-The First record I bought was the single "Dream a Little Dream of Me" in Skiölds record store at Skanstorget 1969. The most expensive ...? No clue.
Was it important to get your disc in a physical format? Why only vinyl?
-Yes, so much tradionalists are we. The idea was to also get it on CD, but we could not afford.
Tell us something really funny happened during the years that you played?
-Funny ?! Kai Martin & Stick! is a serious band (laughs). It happens always things when you're on tour, and much of it will probably be more internally fun than it works in public. But when we would finish the "Röd Plåt" tour, we got problems. The finale in Oslo was necessary to get the economy on the whole, but bassist Heinrich Höffgen, got chickenpox and had 40 degrees fever. He said still ok to play, we went away with him bedridden with fever. Soundcheck had to be done without him, who slept at the nearby hotel. The problem was that when he would to begin the show and he looked like shit with boils all over his face. Intro music started, he goes on stage, playing with his back to the audience. The lodge is so that we are forced to walk through the crowd to reach the scene and when I'll get on he turns. The sight is appalling, the spotlight makes him looks like a leper, tongue hanging, his forehead bathed in sweat. But he did it, even if we have the time held the gig short.
Future plans for the band?
-Play More, making new songs and see if we can afford more recordings.
-I'm out of work after 35 years of GT, so the tip is received with gratitude. Otherwise, I play hockey, sas a goalkeeper as I have always done. Writing on my blog kaimartinblog.com ...
Words of wisdom?
-Dare to be yourself and trust that you are.
Something to add?
-Thanks and do not forget to listen to Kai Martin & Stick! 'S new album [Utan titel], the first in 31 years; you are worth it.