In celebration of an astounding forty five years in the music business, iconic Brisbane artist Ed Kuepper is preparing to release a three album vinyl retrospective which takes in a large chunk of his vital back catalogue of music outside of his original seminal act, punk rock founding forefathers The Saints.
These three albums focus on his solo output (compiling all of his 45’s and CD singles), an entry level summation of his jazz-inflected art-rock ensemble Laughing Clowns and a live document of his most recent full band foray, The Aints!, recorded at the Marrickville Bowlo.
In addition, Ed has just announced a run of live dates, where he’ll be collaborating with none other than awe inspiring Dirty Three drummer Jim White. We were recently lucky enough to have a chat with Ed to discuss these exciting developments.
Across your four and a half decades in the biz do you have a period that you look upon as your most fulfilling or rewarding from a creative perspective? And could you ever have envisaged still being musically active in 2021 when you first started out back in the mid 70’s?
There were periods of time within those decades that were pretty much equally creative and as fulfilling as each other, then also stretches during those decades that weren’t. I liked the periods where I’d have a breakthrough of some kind, even something small on the face of it like finding a different way of playing a chord or something. As far as thinking I’d still be musically active in 2021, I didn’t think I’d live into my thirties when I started out, so no.
The CD version of your solo retrospective contains a bonus disc of b sides, EP tracks and fan faves – did you play an integral role in the track selection and was it a challenge in whittling the final selections down?
Yes I picked the songs for the disc but we had a fairly strict set of parameters as to what should be included. The bonus disc could have focussed on instrumentals or more experimental stuff but we went with b-sides etc which makes some kind of sense – or did at the time.
Are there any Laughing Clowns rarities or alternative takes in the archives that might one day see the light of day?
There are live recordings of Laughing Clowns that hopefully I’ll get around to recording at some time, but our studio sessions were pretty brief so we didn’t stock up a lot of outtakes or alternate mixes that I can recall. We always knew what we were going in for and the songs were chosen and arranged well in advance.
With the upcoming Aints! release being a live show recorded at the Marickville Bowlo, were there other recordings from that tour that were in the running to be represented? And what are your thoughts in general on live albums when it comes to other artists?
The Aints! live at the Bowlo got the tick because it was finished, really. It also was interesting to me because it’s the studio album (The Church Of Simultaneous Existence) played live before the studio album was recorded. The Aints! were in their element live and when we were looking at the release initially during the lockdown, live music seemed a distant thing, to me at least.
Generally, I’m not that interested in live albums by other artists unless the live versions have some defining differences with the studio versions, in which case I often really like them.
You’ve just announced some upcoming live shows with the legendary Jim White (of the Dirty Three) accompanying you on drums. Have you worked with Jim before in a collaborative capacity and how did this opportunity to play together come about?
Yeah Jim and I are going to do a fairly extensive run of shows around Australia which I’m really looking forward to. I’ve loved his playing going back to when the Dirty Three were starting out and they supported me somewhere in St Kilda in the early/mid-’90s. I’d thought about asking him several times before but the stars never seemed to align. This time however he was in Australia with no chance of escape because of COVID, so I got in touch to see if he was interested and the rest, as they say, is history.
How is the rest of 2021 shaping up in the exploding universe of Ed Kuepper?
We’re looking at things but at the moment everything is still in ‘take it as it comes’ mode for me. I found [like most people] the last year or so very difficult at times, not particularly creative or fulfilling at all – even though perversely I actually enjoyed the lockdown at times. Some people used the time very productively and I didn’t so I’m envious and hate them very much, thank you…
Ed Kuepper’s three album retrospective, incorporating The Aints!, Laughing Clowns and his solo work, will be available on LP from 28 May via www.edkuepper.com and select record stores. All releases will also be available via bandcamp and select digital avenues.
His upcoming run of national live shows, featuring Jim White of The Dirty Three on drums, will take in local dates at the Miami Marketta on 6 June and at The Triffid in Brisbane (theatre seated) on 17 June.