As a founding member of legendary Brisbane outfit The Saints, the subsequent formation of the seminal Laughing Clowns and further beyond to his own horizon-less solo oeuvre (and even time spent touring as part of Nick Cave’s Bad Seeds) it’s fair to say that Ed Kuepper is bona fide Oz music royalty.
In the lead up to his upcoming ‘Nostalgia For The New ‘ national tour, where he’ll be airing a selection of newly gestating tracks as well as dusting off a selection of back catalogue wonders, Anthony Gebhardt fired off some questions to the man himself…
Q: On last years ‘solo and by request’ show at the Sound Lounge in Currumbin I was blown away by your ability to improvise and play an evolving and engaging set alone for upwards of two hours…enough stamina to put acts half your age to shame! Are these shows taxing or tiring for you, or do you find you get lost in the moment and they fly by?
EK: Well thanks, glad you liked it. The ‘by request’ shows were by their nature open ended. I didn’t find myself getting tired during the shows, but afterwards if kind of hit me sometimes that I played a fairly long set.
Q: So this current tour is taking things full circle and giving you a chance to air of host of new tracks. How long have you spent fleshing them out? And how many new tracks do you have up your sleeve to potentially unveil on these current dates?
EK: The challenge for me with the new material will be to make them feel both as comfortable and spontaneous as the older material, hence the playing them live before recording them. I haven’t done much fleshing out with the new stuff, I actually want to strip it back to the core components and then build it in the live environment, much the same as I did with the older material on the request tour. As far as how many new ones, I haven’t counted them actually, I’ll probably do a set worth.
Q: Will you be using this opportunity to road test your new tracks with the view to some new recordings later in the year.? And do you have any idea yet as to how the new record may evolve or end up sounding?
EK: The intention is to record them before the end of the year but I can’t predict how they’ll evolve yet. The by request tour confirmed to me that every song has a core and just about everything else is arrangement. It’s an approach the great jazz players have used for ages but it can apply to other forms as well. It’s all part of the quest to find that moment of musical nirvana or perfection…I know I’ll never get it but it’s great reaching for it.
Q: You have a three week residency coming up at Black Bear Lodge. Am I correct in saying that the last time you did this was with Chris Bailey playing Saints tracks back when it was The Troubadour? I’m still kicking myself for missing these shows, were you happy with how they played out back then?
EK: I think you might be right, so it’s been awhile. From my point of view the thing I did with Bailey was basically to see if we could work together in a creative way after all this time. We didn’t actually play that much Saints stuff, it was largely material from the respective solo catalogues from the time after the Saints split. I thought some of the shows were good and showed potential.
Q: Have you chosen your back catalogue tracks that you’ll be dusting off for this current run of shows, or can we call out for something? (at the appropriate moment of course!)
EK: I haven’t completed the set yet, but I’m sure I’ll ask for requests from time to time.
Q: You seem to have a bit of an affinity with playing The Currumbin Soundlounge on the Gold Coast. I’ve seen you there under various guises at least three times now…Do you enjoy playing this venue or is it simply a place to play when you’re booked for a Gold Coast show?
EK: No, it is a deep spiritual affinity plus they also have the Currumbin Theatrical Society doing The Sound of Music in the smaller room.
Q: Back in the halcyon days of the original Saints in the late 70’s did you ever make the trek down the road and play any shows on the Gold Coast? Any particularly memorable shows or infamous experiences?
EK: Once and only once in 1976, we were booked to support AC/DC at Miami High School hall I think it was. I don’t remember much about it except that their manager said everything we played sounded the same, which gave me a bit of a laugh. There was also a disagreement as to whether drink riders were there to be shared with the support act. Their road crew didn’t like us either..
Q: Do you like to keep tabs on new Brisbane music rising up from the underground?
EK: Stuff filters through to me and every now and then I try and do a bit of a catch up, but when I’m working on my own material I find it hard to listen to much other music…I generally prefer to watch a film or read a book.
Q: And finally, what’s your take on the seemingly never ending wave of seminal bands reforming and riding the nostalgia wave?
EK: I don’t really have any strong feelings about it one way or the other to be honest. There definitely seems to be a market for it, but my entire musical life has been a kind of artistic development/movement, going sideways forwards, backwards standing still etc. I’m not sure if I’d do it in the same way, Laughing Clowns did some shows a few years ago and even though we didn’t play any new material, we didn’t stick to some rigid notion of doing things the way they were. But then this tour is called ‘Nostalgia for the New’, so maybe I am getting in on that dewy eyed thing as well..
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Be sure to catch Ed Kuepper when he brings his one man music machine to The Currumbin Soundlounge on Friday, 17 July as part of his Nostalgia For The New tour. He’ll also be holding court across a three night residency at Black Bear Lodge in Brisbane for the remaining three Tuesdays in July…