Monday, June 18, 2007

Mordred - Haigh St Fair , Masonic Stage, SF, June 2006

Unsure which line-up actually turned up for the gig, heard that Danny White was coming from New York to play with the guys.
If anyone has any details on set-lists/ members, please post in comments.

Interview With Paul Kimball

During June 2007, Paul Kimball, who sang on Mordred's 'The Next Room' got in touch, and I interviewed him.

Here's the interview (thanks Paul) -

1) What did you do before Mordred ?
Paul: I was lead singer for several bands prior to Mordred up in Washingtonstate, the most prominent of which during the pre-grunge heyday ofthat area's scene (Helltrout and Lansdat Blister). It was a great time to be gigging, and we got to share bills with quite a few of theseminal bands from that period

2) Had you heard, or even heard of Mordred before you joined ?
PK: Nope, had never heard of them.

3) Can you explain how you got the Mordred job ?
PK: They were having auditions, and I sent in a tape of my previous stuff.They called me back, sent me a tape of some of their songs, and I showed up and sang 'em. I remember thinking they had the nicest gear of any band I'd ever played with, and that the rehearsal space wasawfully nice too. They were obviously very "pro", and when they said they were trying out close to a hundred singers my competitive nature kicked in and I decided I really wanted to get the gig. Felt quite stoked when I did, I gotta say!

4) Was material for 'The Next Room' already writen when you joined, or did you have input ?
PK: I had lots of input actually. They had written several of the songs already, but the band gave me free reign on the lyrics and melodies for those. The rest we worked out as a band. There was even one that Scott Holderby had originally written words and melody for, but at that time the relationship between the band and him was strained, so they asked me to rewrite it. Originally there was some question as to whether Dj Pause was going to be in the "reformed" group, and before meeting him and hearing him play I was definitely not into the idea. It seemed really corny to have a DJ, but man... when he showed up and played with us the first time I was completely sold that we needed him, and was glad that my input on that point too was respected. Pause is not just a great musician, he's a helluva good guy to hang around with.

5) The album had a very 'grunge' and heavier feel to it which disappointed alot of fans. Was this change of direction for sommercial reasons ?
PK: No, not at all. It certainly was a conscious move toward heavier material, and I was culpable as a catalyst for that, but the drive among the group was a generous one, largely. It was more "Hey, we got this new guy, and he is bringing a different set of things to the group than our old guy brought, so let's see where it leads us if we all try to bend toward one another." In retrospect, the myriad meanings and implications of the word "compromise" were all appropriate, both good and bad.

6) How long were you in the band ?
PK: Amazingly, only about eight months. To this day, it was the hardest eight months of creative effort I have spent.

7) Did you leave the band before they split or was it mutual for the whole band to go separate ways ?
PK: Mordred just died when our European tour fell through. Everything fell apart really quickly after that.

8) What did you think of 'The Next Room' as a record ?
PK: I think it got a bad rap, really. I think if folks had had a chance to see us play those songs, they would have felt quite differently about it. But I also think it's fair to say that it somehow lacks the sparkle of newness that some of Mordred's earlier tracks had. It's the sound of a band racing to find itself, and at times I think it really succeeds, but our (quite conscious) musical schizophrenia didn't make it an easy one for other folks to penetrate. Still, I have had several people tell me that they think it'll hold up better to the ravages of time than the other Mordred records.

9) What are your fondest memories of being in the band ?
PK: • The first time we nailed "Lo-Cal Hi-Fiber" in practice• Working on an acoustic tune called "Shaggy" with Jim Sanguinetti in the stairwell of our studio• The first night of tracking the record at Gish Studio• Partying in Dortmund, Berlin, Paris, and London, on our press tour• More than anything else, the few live gigs we got to do. The band was really good, and criminally unheard.

10) What did you do once Mordred split ?
PK: I walked away from music completely for a while. Then I picked up a guitar and decided I really needed to be able to make some music on my own, completely of my own choosing.

11) You are now in Careless Hearts. Can you give us a little insight into the band.
PK: For the first time I'm playing an instrument while singing, which makes the entire experience feel new, and the majority of the songs are my compositions. The band I have is just awesome, solid players with lots of feel, and no attitude or BS whatsoever. The music is rootsy rock, with lots of folk and country influences, sorta like 'Exile...'-era Rolling Stones or Creedence, but pretty contemporary sounding, too. We are in many ways the anti-Mordred: kinda sloppy and lacking in ambition, but uniformly happy. (We are also staunchly DIY,so I'd like to ask anyone reading this to please buy our self-titled CD: it's good, I promise!)

12) What did you make of the interest in Mordred a few years ago, with the website coverage as I believe you posted on one of them (being the Every Day's A Mordred Day site) ?
PK: I was excited to see that the guys were playing again, and that the audience for Mordred still existed. And I thought it was great that they had mended fences with Scott.

13) How well was 'The Next Room' received ?
PK: Poorly, overall, was the impression that I got. People didn't know what to make of it, most notably the record label, who treated it like it was smeared with feces. They did an abominable remix of one of the songs, which stands as a gleaming example of the one of the worst pussification jobs in the history of the audio arts. The first time anybody in the band (outside Gannon Hall, who, despite his best intentions, was way over his head as acting manager) heard the remixed version it was on the finished CD-single, and by then it was way too late! I was mortified, and as you can tell, still am.

14) How did you find my blogspot ?
PK: You sent traffic to my band's website, which showed up in our usage reports. (Thanks, by the way!)

15) Do you still keep in touch with any of the Mordred guys ?
PK: Not really. In past years I've exchanged brief emails with Art and Pause, but that's it. Last time I saw all those guys was at my wedding, waaaaay back in 1995.

16) Compared to the first three records, can you see why 'The Next Room' was received so badly ?
PK: My main theory: if we'd not released it as a "Mordred"-branded product we might have done a lot better. It wasn't bad music, it was just not what the fans of Mordred wanted to hear. Had we freed ourselves from the weight of history we might have been able to take the music even farther than we did, because some creative choices were made in attempts to NOT alienate fans. I think that would have made it a better album overall. Considering how few copies it sold I think we could have done just as well, and maybe generated more buzz, as a new band.

17) Can you tell me roughly what each song on 'The next Room' was about, because there were some dodgy song titles in there, such as 'Murray The Mover' ?
PK: I'm sorry, I don't want to get too far into that. I'll say this, though:"Murray The Mover" was meant to be pure camp, based on a dumb band in-joke. It was me writing from the point of view of a really obnoxious, Lothario-type guy.It wasn't a song to be taken seriously at all, unlike some of the other tunes,which I poured a lot into. (If you have specific questions I don't mind addressing them, but jeez, there's a lot to go over if I tried to open-endedly address them all.)

18) Did you ever meet Scott Holderby ?
PK: Nope!

19) Do you think Mordred suffered due to the lack of effort from the record label, being Noise Records ?
PK: At the end, absolutely. They promised us tour support, then renegged in a way that basically bankrupted us. Then, when we were flailing, they took advantage of the situation and swooped in on all our publishing rights like opportunistic vultures. Stupid parasites, killing the thing that feeds them...

20) Do you have any old photo's of you and the band ?
PK: I wish I did. We did one photo shoot as a band, and it was less-than-stellar. If you come across any, especially live shots, I'd love to see them.

21) Anything else you'd like to say ?
PK: I'll say this: carrying on in the absence of somebody fans really like isn't easy, and I'm proud of the way Morderd took on the challenge of evolving during the writing of "The Next Room". It was clear throughout the process that the fit between me and the band wasn't perfect, but it was one of the best musical educations I've ever had, as much in terms of what not to do as anything else.

Old school Mordred have a website