Thu, Oct 24

Kid Congo Powers & the Pink Monkey Birds

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

Kid Congo Powers & the Pink Monkey Birds
Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds

TUCSON, ARIZONA — “It’s a new lineup,” landlord of the avant-garage Kid Congo Powers exclaims of the Pink Monkey Birds edition responsible for the fifth studio full-length of their 19 year recording career, That Delicious Vice. In The Red Records, the band’s home since 2009, is set to release
it April 19th. Today, the band shares the video for “Wicked World”, directed by Chris Carlone and featuring LA punk icon, Alice Bag. Watch it here. Kid and Alice will also be part of the LA Intersections

Festival at The Broad Museum in a special, one-off performance on March 30th.

“We’ve gone from a four piece to a three piece,” continues Kid, whose unique guitar style has been at the center of some of the most forward-thinking bands in punk and garage: The Gun Club, The Cramps, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, and Knoxville Girls, to name a handful.

“Because Mark Cisneros (ex-The Make Up) is playing guitar, sometimes we have songs with two guitars. And then sometimes, he plays bass on a bass six [i.e. — the electric bass version of the mariachi instrument, the bajo sexto]. So, that is a new development. We lost a member and decided to try to do it as a three piece — more space, you know?”

Ron Miller remains on drums, percussion and vocals.

“I’m not sure if living in the desert is making me want more space in music or not,” laughs Kid, a Tucson resident for a few years now. “Maybe I’m turning into a desert stoner rocker. But I’m not a stoner, so that’s not happening.”

No, the former Brian Tristan is most decidedly not unleashing a Kyuss tribute album. But you hear the desert all over That Delicious Vice, beginning with opening instrumental “East Of East,” its Duane Eddy/Rowland S. Howard guitar twanging through some malicious reverb. You feel it in the slide guitar- drenched theme from an imaginary western, “Silver For My Sister,” which echoes the pioneering Los Angeles blues punk band Kid formed with Jeffrey Lee Pierce, The Gun Club. There’s also such unique pieces as the acid/garage cumbia title track, translated into Spanish at least for its name, “Ese Vicio Delicioso.” As he tells the tale of his musical journey over the Pink Monkey Birds’ cowbell-thumping Latinate rhythms, Kid’s thickly distorted guitar groans and screams with feedback, likely a conscious sonic homage to Jimi Hendrix, namechecked in the lyrics.

“Mark came up with some great Spanish guitar things,” Kid enthuses. “We were working with cinematic sound a lot — creating a mood, creating a picture and creating a feeling. We actually like to expand, spread our wings each time a little more and not do the same old thing, and not just be the thinking man’s garage rock band.

But the album’s major hallmark has to be its extended collaboration with Alice Bag, the face of and voice of early LA punk titans The Bags. How and why these two took this long to unite creatively is a dense mystery, considering both graduated with honors from early Hollywood punk palace The Masque, and their photos had to have stared at one another from opposite pages of a few issues of Slash or fLiPSiDe.

“Yeah, we were around that ground zero, that tight circle of friends,” chuckles Kid, “But there was a lot of cliquiness going on, even though the scene was so small. Everyone knew each other, but I was more with The Screamers and she was more with The Bags and the punk thing. You know, I was more arty farty!”

“We go back a long time,” enthuses Alice. “When I was doing my book tour, Kid called me and I hadn’t heard from him in ages! And he’s like, ‘You’re coming to DC! If you need me for anything, I’m gonna make some noise with you — I’m in!’

“It always amazes me how deep those early friendships go. You can not speak to somebody for years and years, but if you have punk rock in common, you’re my sister or brother forever. So he came out and he played with me at one of my early readings in DC. And then, every now and then I’d see Pink Monkey Birds, but just randomly. Because he was living on the East Coast and I was living on the West Coast, we didn’t see each other very often and fell out of touch again.”

Next thing either party knows, they’re both In The Red labelmates, with the release of Alice’s third solo LP, Sister Dynamite. Following that, the producers of the Peacock comedy television series The Resort reached out to label head Larry Hardy, to inquire if either Kid or Alice would be interested in composing a Spanish-language song for the show.

“It was actually Alice who said, ‘Well, why don’t you just get us together and we’ll do it?’” says Kid. “And they went for it. So we wrote a cheesy lounge act song, which is of course much better than any cheesy lounge act.”

“We recorded it,” adds Alice. “Then we did these cameos on this show, playing our song. They flew us out to Puerto Rico for a few days. It was just a really fun experience. It’s really fun getting to hang out with Kid, and the process of writing a song with him was very enjoyable, even though I was living in Mexico City and he was in Tucson by then — we were still working remotely.

“But we just clicked. I’d send him a recording, and then he’d add to it. and send something back. We both were very open to each person’s own brand of quirkiness.”

This led to “Wicked World,” a full-on Kid Congo/Alice Bag duet that’s That Delicious Vice’s second track and major fulcrum. Over rat-a-tat “Big Bad John” drums, a blast of fuzz bass, and Kid’s siren-like slide guitar, the co-composers recount in tandem the tale of a child “born into trouble from a devil seed/Every fork in the road led her here.” It’s a short drive from there through a poor childhood and bad decisions to

turning tricks and seeking kicks, amid an atmosphere heady with the scent of sex. The action stops, and Alice chants, “One two three four five six seven — you’re going to Hell, and I’M GOING TO HEAVEN!!” It’s a pulp paperback reincarnated as primal rock ‘n’ roll.

“One of the songs, ‘The Boy Had It All’ “was actually inspired by Howie Pyro,” Kid explains. Pyro, who died May 4, 2022, was a NYC punk fixture who co-founded the D Generation and was a popular party DJ and music/movie archivist. “The Boy Had It All” is the latest in a series of “songs about people we know that are gone.”

“It seems to be a recurring theme,” he elaborates, “because sometimes when people leave this Earth, it’s hard to believe that they’re not on Earth anymore. They were all — no, they are — special friends that I thought were magical people. I always want to try to capture something before that magic flies away. I mean, I can’t grasp it anymore. But when it’s fresh, it’s like, ‘Okay, we gotta write about this magical person. Yeah, it’s the same with Sean DeLear on the last record [2021’s Swing From The Sean DeLear].”

“It’s really great to be playing with someone who I’ve known for over 40 years,” he says of the collaboration with Alice. “I respect her as an artist. I respect her stance as a feminist. I respect that she’s such a great role model for a lot of young Chicano kids. We have a lot of parallels that make it joyful.”

The album ends with an extended soundscape, “Murder Of Sunrise,” which Kid claims is meant to be his “Barry White song.”

“That was my idea,” he says, proud yet almost sheepish. “I was like, ‘This is a Barry White song and here’s some chords that are kind of like Barry White, kind of ‘Never Gonna Give You Up.’’ And I’m talking about how I’m in ecstasy!” he laughs.

“And I thought, ‘You know, Barry White has been an actual real influence, you know?’ I realized that because I got asked during the pandemic — again, a German TV show. Someone I knew was making a documentary about the influence of Barry White. And he had remembered many years ago at the beginning of The Pink Monkey Birds that I had said, when he asked, ‘What’s your new band gonna sound like?’ And I said, ‘It’s gonna sound like Lou Reed and Leonard Cohen meet at a Barry White concert.’ So he actually remembered that like 15 years ago or something. He said, ‘Will you be in this documentary and talk about Barry White?’ I was like, ‘Of course, Barry’s the king!’

“So there’s all kinds of ridiculous, but heartfelt influences on the album,” he concludes. “Well, I don’t think they’re ridiculous influences, but they are unexpected sometimes, even to me.”

That Delicious Vice is produced by Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds, recorded and mixed by Jim Waters [Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Sonic Youth] at his Waterworks Studios facility in Tucson. Artwork is by Ryan Hill, graphic artist for all Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds releases on In The Red to date.

Kid Congo & The Pink Monkey Birds will be touring Australia in April. More US dates TBA.

3/30 Los Angeles, CA – LA Intersections Festival at The Broad Museum (Kid Congo Powers solo with Alice Bag)

10/22 San Francisco CA – Kilowatt * 10/23 Albany CA – Ivy Room * 10/24 Los Angeles CA – Lodge Room * 10/25 Phoenix AZ – The Rebel Lounge * 10/26 Santa Fe NM Tumbleroot Brewery *

*w/ Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

Kid Congo Powers’ Some New Kind Of Kick: A Memoir available through Hachette Books


Slim Cessna’s Auto Club

Why am I always expected to do these? I write fiction—questionable fiction at that. This is my third attempt after being told by our manager to do and then redo a bio—I think I am being kind in not pointing out the difference between biography and autobiography.

I typed keywords into the computer: Examples Of Band Bios. I certainly gleaned an insight into…self promotion…so this is my final attempt, dont ask again and dont try and edit and improve it to: Appeal to a wider audience. That is not us.

I will start—and I wish I could end—by saying, Thirty years, hundreds of songs. Wouldnt it be nice to end right here? But, the internet said I needed to address other ‘fascinating points of interest’. What genre are we? I dont want to be shoehorned anymore, I hope that we have made our own. We helped create The Denver Sound and we continue to experiment and reinvent what we are flattered to be a part of.

I am proud that we have taken total control of…everything, and continue to release music and books on our own label SCACUNINCORPORATED. SCAC is releasing the second section of Kinnery Of Lupercalia: Buell Legion. Only SCAC is able to faithfully represent the Buells and their hopes and hates, humors and despairs. I usually dont listen to our albums after we record them, however I might listen to this again. It finally captures the perfect balance between our studio and live sound. Andrew and Dwight have graduated into what I would call, Advanced Placement Recording. Everyone has found their place in SCAC and it shows on this album. George—Emile Cessna’s brother—has joined SCAC on baritone bass and now forms a formidable rhythm section with longtime drummer Andrew—I guess I should mention everyone here. Though she would never say it, Rebecca—my girl— pushes the pedal steel and keyboard into new territory. I now see Dwight cited as a major influence for both banjo and guitar players and he cements those accolades on the Buell Legion. Slim’s voice is honed and better than ever… and Myself, blah blah blah…

A person should not have to qualify a statement with, Honestly…but, honestly, SCAC is a family and yet, We Want More Of You, everyone is invited and welcome. I like standing at the merchbooth and seeing someone from our 90’s shows now bringing their children to see what this life is all about. It is interesting to think that people would pay to see us jump about on stage, actually give money to read and listen to what we are doing. I dont know why I have been chosen to speak for everyone here, but I do know that everyone will say, We are grateful and appreciate every time we are allowed to entertain you. We do not take it for granted. It is our job to alleviate your burdens and welcome you to escape into our world. We are thankingyouandthankingyoua…

Ever yours, Munly J Munly, early 2024.