England - Full Moon 80 - 04/16/03
Kaneman talks - an interview with...
Philip Kane's debut Songs for Swinging
Lovers was released recently. It's an impressive collection of songs, sung in the voice of a
tempesteous angel. Luna Kafé had a talk with him.
LK: Tell us about your first band.
Philip Kane: "Avalanche were a group of alcoholic intellectuals playing extremely loud and
very messy rock music. They released one fairly well received album, Hangover 'Square,
appeared on British TV a couple of times, and then broke up in the pub afterwards. The album is
still worth a visit. The lyrics come from a time when we were all full steam on the self destruct
button, and as much as this is not the way to live a long and fruitful life, there are some
interestingly shaped flowers at the cliff edge. I believe you can still get it via Amazon.co.uk;
though I may try and sort out wider distribution on it soon."
LK: Do you read all of your press?
Kane: "Whilst I wouldn't want anyone, particularly my employer, to think that I spend my
working days searching the world wide web for mentions of my own genius...well.....in fact...I do.
I don't feel particularly guilty about this. Yes, it is appallingly self-indulgent, (which is an
accusation I have often faced). But, in truth, I don't really see what is wrong with indulging
yourself. I am not a protestant, nor do I wear the hair shirt my wife knitted for me on any day
other than Sunday. Besides, when the long winter evenings draw in what could be of more comfort
to a vain man than a large brandy and a stack of magazines proclaiming him a God!"
LK: Why sing about Gloria Estefan?
Kane: "In a former life, a thousand years ago Gloria Estefan was Satan! This is not to
suggest that Gloria and Lucifer were in fact the same entity, but it was certainly how things
appeared to a much younger, much fresher version of myself. The mere chorus of 'Doctor Beat'
could reduce me to such a state of pure revulsion I wouldn't rise from my bed for a week."
"But I was young then, and I was wrong. In 1998 I found myself in a Bangkok Hotel clutching a
bottle of whiskey and a sense of loss. The Karaoke singer dragged Gloria's classic "I Can't Stay
Away from You" a hundred miles out of tune. It seemed to me, at least from where I was sitting at
the time, that it was the most profound meditation on emotional wounds that I had ever heard. I
love the way that, what we might describe as ersatz music, is actually concerned only with the
most important subject, that of love and its loss. Our developed sense of what is cool tells us
it is shit. My developed sense of what is beautiful and holy tells me that 'cool' is shit, and
that Gloria is capable of insights that a Joe Strummer, for instance, would never get within a
million miles of. Glen Campbell is better than Oasis. Barry Manilow better than Ed Harcourt.
Nina Simone is better than anyone."
LK: What's your next project?
Kane: "First some solo gigs. I am off to Venice and Rotterdam next month. Hopefully I
should be able to visit Oslo shortly, (Tuba Records are having a bit of a push on the album).
After that, there are two EPs waiting to be released; Me, the Ladyboy and Gloria Estefan
and Media Gurls. Then the next album. The songs are written. The funding is an issue. It
would seem a shame not to follow up Songs for Swinging Lovers, as it has made a lot of
friends, and seemingly found a constituency. I may also put out an Ennui album, as the recordings
for this are already done."
LK: Are your songs based on real life?
Kane: "This assumes that I am incapable of writing fiction. I am not incapable of writing
fiction. I am very good at it. The song "....to be Free", for instance, is a prayer in the voice
of a peasant farmer whose wife and children were killed in some war, and who is finding his own
faith to be built on shifting sand. When I left for work this morning my wife and children were
very much alive."
LK: What music do you listen to?
Kane: "Nothing new. Ever. I remain stuck with the perception that if it involves an alcoholic
with an acoustic guitar, then it is very much for me. And without wanting to accuse two temperate
men of my own illness, I think that Cathal Coughlan and Mark Eitzel are still writing better music
than anyone else. I am always disappointed by what the critics recommend to me. Recently I have
wasted hard earned cash on Dakota Suite, on James Yorkston, on Lift to Experience and countless
other acclaimed 'gems'. The critic and writer Chris Roberts recently told me that I wouldn't believe
how bad most of what is released is. Well I do believe it. Reading fawning reviews has cost me
money I could have spent on my own work. My wife likes the Eagles."
LK: Is it lonely being such a gifted singer and songwriter?
Kane: "This assumes that I regard myself as such. Whilst I am aware that my voice is
gaining something of a pleasing rustiness as it ages with me, I am not sure whether I think I am
anything other than a very derivative and technically unaccomplished singer. As a songwriter I
may have the odd moment it's true. But writing songs is hardly a great spectator sport. It must,
of necessity, be done alone. But I don't get lonely doing it. It is good company."
"And besides...I fucking hate people!"
Copyright © 2003 Anna Maria Stjärnell