Q&A: Kid Congo Powers On His First Favorite Song, His Favorite NYC Band, And Being President Of The Ramones Fan Club
If there is a man who has played in more cool bands than Kid Congo Powers, he's in the Witness Protection Program. Powers has played guitar and crooned haughtily in the Gun Club, the Cramps, Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, the Divine Horsemen, Congo Norvell... oh, you get the picture. This suave, fashionable cat has been around, creating many squalls of brain-teasing raw rock, and over the last few years, he has made some of his most Powers-ful tunes with the Pink Monkey Birds. SOTC spoke to him in advance of his band's gig at this weekend's 4Knots Music Festival Afterparty.
What's the first record that flipped your wig?
The first record I bought when I was a kid was the Rolling Stones' "Ruby Tuesday" with "Let's Spend the Night Together" on the B-side. I was infatuated with the 45 picture sleeve, which was the cover of Between The Buttons LP. The aesthetic of mystery and cool lured me in. But the first song must have been, "Who Wears Short Shorts?" that my sister played while I was a toddler. I loved it. My milieu was set early.
Advantages and disadvantages to having played in the Cramps?
All advantages, no disadvantages. My first recording sessions and records, tutelage and friendship from Lux Interior, Poison Ivy, and Nick Knox, sexy black clothing, and the discovery of the Univox Super Fuzz.
And the Gun Club?
Advantages: Meeting [leader] Jeffrey Lee Pierce in 1979 and forging a, for better or worse, brotherly and musical relationship, picking up the guitar then learning to play it, starting my first band, world travels, a move to the UK, much public drunkenness, and some harrowingand some magicallive shows. Great records.
Disadvantage: Jeffrey passing away way too soon.
And Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds?
Advantages: Moving to West Berlin in the mid-'80s, filming "Wings of Desire " with Wim Wenders, recording in Hansa Studios, learning lots from Mick Harvey, making some great records.
Disadvantages: I never learned German in the three years I lived there. Just Australian slang.
How/when did the Pink Monkey Birds come together?
I was curating a month of Sundays at Tonic around Xmas in the late '90s and had to find an act one week, so I had to play. I got some good friends to help out, and it was so fun and good I just had to keep going.
What's the current lineup?
The current lineup of the band has been the same since probably 2007. Actually Jonathan Toubin told me I needed a Texas rhythm section, so he sent bassist Kiki Solis my way and later drummer Ron Miller. And he was right: They are the best rhythm section ever! We also have Jesse Roberts playing guitar for the last two albums. We are recording a new album as I write this, again for In The Red Records... This is definitely the longest band that I've had.