Brisbane, Australia's Kitchen's Floor has been dishing out melancholic downer pop for several years now. Matt Kennedy is the founder and core of the band. He was gracious enough to respond to some interview questions via email last week, and here are the answers.
The phrasing and arrangement of the questions ain't what I'd like it to be; I had a vicious headcold when putting them together. Cheers to Matt for the interview, and supplying the photos.
DrugPunk [DP]: Previous interviewers have ascribed the Kitchen’s Floor aesthetic of domestic decay, in part, to the city of Brisbane. Do you agree with that? What’s Brisbane like, and how long have you lived there?
Matt Kennedy [MK]: Sure I agree with that. I’ve lived in Brisbane my whole life apart from my high school years which I spent on the Gold Coast, a horrible tourist beach town an hour’s drive south. I didn’t live near the beach though, I lived next to the highway. Right now it’s summer and Brisbane is very hot and humid, things are very sweaty. My house is old, made of wood and open to the elements so every year around this time there is an insect invasion. Spiders, flies, cockroaches, and a lot of weird bugs that I don’t know what they are. During winter we get mice, but I prefer the insects to the mice. Brisbane has some great bands happening right now. Bands like Blank Realm, The Wonderfuls, Scraps, Cured Pink, Sewers, Girls Girls Girls, Sky Needle, Fig. are ruling it. Brisbane is also the HQ of Breakdance The Dawn, possibly the greatest CDR/Tape label in the world.
DP: Did you have a clear sense of what you wanted Kitchen’s Floor to sound like heading into the project?
MK: I Just wanted to write catchy pop songs with junkyard instruments.
DP: How did your recent Australian tour go? Any highlights?
MK: It was heaps of fun. We played Maggotfest in Melbourne[,] which was crazy, usually Melbourne audiences are restrained but that whole show was wild. The next day we drove an hour north and played a small festival called ‘Paddock Bash’. It was on a farm in the middle of nowhere and was amazing. One of my favourite memories of this year would be during that afternoon while taking a piss in the porta-loo, Mad Nanna had just started their set in the paddock and I felt very content. For the Newcastle and Sydney shows we went down with Sewers, one of the best new bands in Brisbane, and that was pretty darn good too. I needed a week alone in the dark to recover after that trip.
DP: As an outsider who’s never been to Australia, it seems/sounds like a lot of the cities-Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne-have been experiencing a music boom in the last few years. Royal Heache, KF, Naked on the Vague, etc. –Why?
MK: I don’t really know why, it’s cool though.
DP: Joe Strummer once said in an interview that “I find creativity hinges on being well pissed.” How does a KF song get written, typically?
MK: With an acoustic guitar in my room, with or without alcohol but mostly with. Usually late at night.
DP: KF toured the States last year-how did that go, and what did you think of the US?
MK: I was expecting things to be similar since we’re seen as a very Americanized country but the US is very different to Australia. Much more heavy. We did a big circle of your amazing country in a van over a month, something like 25 shows. Met a lot of great people but it’s a bit hard to sum up the whole experience briefly. Columbus was a highlight for me, we played with Psychedelic Horseshit and it was damn awesome.
DP: One of the things that strikes me about your music is how many versions you’ll do of the same song, for example, how different the songs on “Too Dead to Notice” sound compared to the studio versions. Why this constant re-tooling of previously recorded songs?
MK: I like experimenting with the arrangements of the songs and since the lineup is always changing then different people being involved can make the songs sound different. No particular recording sounds ‘definitive’ to me.
DP: What can we we expect from KF in the future? The circumstances surrounding the “Bitter Defeat” material were pretty unique, but do you think you’ll continue with the sound you and Andrew McLellan and Bobby Bot developed for this EP?
MK: Probably not, I’ll keep playing with them both in the future but I don’t really know what things will sound like. Maybe more instrumental stuff? Maybe the next record will be ridiculous synth punk? Adult contemporary? I have no idea.
DP: What’s the deal with “Pasta”? It sounds like a Jim Shepherd outtake, and it’s a real departure from you previous KF songs….
MK: That’s a track I recorded in 2006, it pre-dates Kitchen’s Floor by a year. It’s myself playing around with a 4 track tape recorder, guitar and amp feedback. I don’t mind it, it makes an interesting ‘bonus download’ for the Bitter Defeat single.
DP: Both LPs close out with numerical songs, “Twenty-two” and “Twenty-four.” Are they summaries of your situation at the time?
MK: Those were my ages at the time when I wrote them. I still haven’t written ‘Twenty-Six’ yet but hopefully it will come about before I’m obligated to write ‘Twenty-Seven’.
DP: In one interview I’ve read, you mentioned having a good sense that there’s a whole lot you want to do artistically before turning 30. Are you planning on musical retirement once your twenties are out? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
MK: Age doesn’t matter with music, I’ll just keep going until I run out of ideas or motivation.
DP: What are you up to when not recording or playing out? Do you work a shitty day job or make a farce of Uni, like the rest of us?
MK: I haven’t worked much at all this year. I have an empty wallet to prove it. I do some volunteer stuff at Brisbane community radio station 4ZZZ, and I host my own weekly radio show ‘Eternal Soundcheck’ which focuses solely on Australian music. Currently I’m doing a course in small business, so hopefully that leads to some interesting things in the future. I’m planning to start my own record label/distro in 2013.
DP: You seem like a guy who enjoys a drink. What’s your favorite kind of drunk? Beer, wine, other….?
MK: Nothing beats beer but I do drink a fair share of cheap red wine. It really depends on my money situation. If I have money to waste then gin is my drink. Lately I’ve been limiting myself, I haven’t had a drink in a week and I feel pretty good about that. I’m not the best drunk in the world so some clarity every now and then is delightful.
DP: Your songs remind me of some of Lou Reed’s work, especially his “Berlin” era material: you share with him the ability to paint scenes of bleakness and squalor, without necessarily celebrating self-destruction. Are there any influences on your lyrical style? You’ve said previously that what you’re expressing is the weird sadness of life….
MK: Lyrics are intentionally brief and repetitive. I try to use strong yet vague words, but everything still has to have a personal meaning for me because I won’t accept shallow songs.
DP: Any closing words or further musical recommendations from Australia for us Yankees?
MK: My favourite Australian bands this year have been The Wonderfuls, Lower Plenty, Satanic Rockers, Nun, Fig., Housewives, Rites Wild, Bitch Prefect, Holy Balm, Ghastly Spats, Raw Prawn, The Native Cats, Ruined Fortune Band, The Lost Domain, Sky Needle, Straightjacket Nation, Primitive Motion, Muura, Superstar, Legendary Hearts, Total Control, Angel Eyes, Extrafoxx, Mad Nanna and a few more I’m forgetting. All I would consider worthy of the time of your readers.
You can listen to KF albums, and buy the ones still in print, on their bandcamp page.