I’d like to just begin by taking a look back to those formative years; for those unaware of KST, give us a bit of back-story…how did you guys meet and ultimately form?
“You know that will reveal how old we are right!? [Laughs] We met around the mid to late 90s while we were in our teens at Crosskeys College in South Wales. Many schools in the area at the time didn’t have 6th forms so you would go to Crosskeys to do your A Levels or whatever else they had to offer. At the time (And I believe still to this day), they offered a BTEC performing arts course, this course had two variants, Drama or Music. The majority of us met on the music course.
In between the sex, drugs, rock ‘n’ roll, and shouting in an alcohol fuelled state at Pontypool’s Rugby lads, we’d also spent a lot of time playing music. Mainly; Manic Street Preachers, Radiohead, Nirvana or Oasis songs, before officially forming The Kennedy Soundtrack in 1999 to start writing our own stuff. One of the first tracks we wrote was “Too Much Stress”, and that version is way different to what ended up on the album. It was more of a 90’s Britpop affair with Nic’s youthful higher pitched rap over the top. Though it planted the seed for the KST to grow…”
The early 2000’s was a really interesting era in rock and alternative music…with Nu-Metal in full swing, so many bands were experimenting with genre crossover’s; the likes of LINKIN PARK and LIMP BIZKIT all taking the blueprint set by RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE and redesigning an entire style…were these bands that you looked to as inspiration?
“Rage was definitely an influence, I remember a friend in high school gave me a black cassette tape that he’d recorded himself with the letters “R.A.T.M” carefully written in Tippex. He said “Give it a listen, there’s no samples or anything, it’s all Guitar!” I was like what IS this? I took it home and grabbed my Walkman and listened to it straight away. This was nothing like I’d never heard before and I loved it. There’s just something about those funky but also heavy riffs that just blew me away. Up until that point I was mainly listening to U2 trying to figure out what on earth The Edge was doing then this Tom Morello guy was doing even stranger things!
Prior to RATM we were also growing up listening to GUNS & ROSES, CYPRESS HILL, N.W.A, NIRVANA and even prog-rock like PINK FLOYD, YES, and EMERSON LAKE & PALMER. Even the SEX PISTOLS, but I’m sure Johnny Lydon would not be impressed to be mentioned alongside Yes, but to be proper punk you don’t conform just to fit in. I watched an interview with him on YouTube the other day, I think he was quite disappointed with the punk scene. It’s what often happens with counter culture movements, is that they just become another box for everyone to fit into and then become main-stream. Be yourself, though accept your influences! [Laughs]”
With your gritty yet melodic rap-rock sound, you stood out yourselves in the South Wales scene…bands like CATATONIA and STEREOPHONICS had put Wales back on the map musically, but you were part of such a vibrant movement…with yourselves, SKINDRED, FUNERAL FOR A FRIEND and we can’t ignore LOSTPROPHETS as much as society wants us to…what are your memories of back then? A lot has changed in music since, do you look back fondly?
“Lostprophets! I’m not gonna’ lie, we used to listen to them a lot, as they were around a little before us. It’s a terrible thing to have happened to all the victims, and it goes to show you shouldn’t put anyone on a pedestal. He’s ruined a lot of lives including the rest of the guys in the lost prophets that have to live with it. Anyway enough of that…
I do get nostalgic listening to all those bands; it was part of us as we were developing as people and as a band. Each of us was coming to the band with our own musical background and each one of us was determined to get that into the mix. That’s the Kennedy Soundtrack, each one of us had a Soundtrack we grew up with to add to the project. Everything from 70’s Prog, Rock, Metal, Reggae, Hip-Hop and even 90’s indie.
Cool Cymru was a term that was banded around quite a lot, though we came a little late to the party and we weren’t really part of that scene, apart from perhaps Skindred. We did play with them from time to time. Benji even did a cameo on one of our B-sides, which I incidentally will be re-released in the coming months through Spotify (shameless plug)…”
You left your mark with the release of your debut album “Tale Of 2 Cities” back in 2002, an album that’s become somewhat of a cult-classic…you delivered so many top tracks like “Learning To Let Go”, “Here 4 You” and that’s without the singles you released…it was a quality album from start to finish and at the time, arguably criminally underrated. Looking back, are you proud of the album still? With hindsight is there anything you wish you'd done differently or not done at all?
“Ha, Is it really a cult classic? I suppose that just means that not many people have heard it, but the ones that have, love it? Well, I think that’s a good a definition! We are always proud of what we achieved, and looking back now there are things that we could’ve done differently, but it is what it is. We are certainly better musicians and performers now, older, slightly wiser. We are better than ever!”
Much to the dismay of your fans, it was to be your only album, there was and still is genuine disappointment surrounding that, what happened following the initial release and collectively what have you guys been up to during the time that’s passed?
“2002 was a pretty hectic year for us. What with recording the album in the USA and touring, I reckon we probably did around 250 gigs that year, we were pretty worn out and jaded by the end of it. By Christmas 2002 we were dropped from the record company. Shortly after that, around February 2003 we were offered a support slot on tour with STEVE-O from JACKASS. The first gig on the tour was in London’s Shepherds Bush Empire. Let’s just say that the place was full of teenage boys trying to outdo each other and the place was crazy. I remember walking onto the stage with some kids shouting “I’ve puked and pissed on your guitar!”.....I thought to myself, “yeah, whatever”.....but as I walked over to my treasured guitar on stage, glistening under the stage lights with our intro music pumping out over the PA, I picked it up and I felt it slip out of my hand a little. The rest of the guys were taking their places on stage looking similarly concerned as I was. I put the guitar around my neck to realise, that the shouts from the kids at the front of the stage were not just the sounds of youthful banter, but they had actually thrown puke onto the stage. We played for around 20-30 minutes whilst being assaulted by various bodily fluids and projectiles before ending the show wondering what the hell had just happened...
All our gigs up until that point (apart from one gig in Barry Island where we had a little scuffle with one of the local knobbers) had been fantastic experiences, playing with PINK, HUNDRED REASONS, PITCHSHIFTER and various festivals such as Reading and Leeds. But, having just lost our record label, being worn out, and the Shepherds Bush gig was the final straw. That was the last time that we played together on stage. (As of Nov 2018)
Following this we all went on to have normal jobs, leading normal lives, buying houses, raising kids etc etc. Between us we’ve been doing Drug Rehab Work, NHS Management, Stats Office Management, Store Assistants, Carpenters, Youth Workers and Bus Drivers.
While living the 9-5 we’ve still had other musical projects, such as Nic’s Hip Hop stuff;- Applied Science and Knights Of Boom. Elliot has been in almost every band in South Wales from 2003 to current day, such as The Guns, Smiling Tigers to name a couple. Myself and Elliot also performed in Ice Cold In Alex and have new project CATALYSTS. You can find these on Spotify, Apple Music etc."
Now in 2018, nostalgia is ripe and it’s an exciting time for KST fans….Recently (Oct 13th 2018) you re-released your album marking International Cassette Store Day…very much like Record Store Day it celebrates physical format and independent outlets across the country, and to mark the occasion people can now find your debut album on cassette as a limited edition for collectors. How did this come to light and who got the ball rolling to make this happen?
“Well that was serendipitous event back in the summer where I put an old demo tape of ours (Actually originally it was on mini disc but I’ve recently got into cassettes) on eBay to see if anyone would be interested in it. Pretty soon after listing, Ant from Lavender Sweep Records in Swansea messaged me if we’d be interested in releasing the demos for international cassette store day. The plan was to release the demos. As it turned out we decided to keep some of the demos and to re-release the album instead. We contacted our old record company and I must say they have been really helpful and supportive to hear that we’ve reformed. So they agreed to let Lavender Sweep produce a limited run for CSD. There are still a small number available if you are interested!”
If that wasn’t enough, you’ve also been rehearsing for some select reunion shows and have even talked about releasing a collection of B-Sides and rarities…tracks like “You Never Know” getting the deserved chance to shine…clearly the energy is positive; what’s it like having the band back together?
“It’s been fantastic! And this time we’re doing it for ourselves, by ourselves and our main goal is to create music and have a good time. We’ve succeeded at that, so we will keep surfing the new KST wave.”
With the talk of the B-Sides project, coupled with the Cassette Store Day release, the level of activity in the KST camp is exciting…fans have to ask, what’s next? Is the motivation there to maybe get together and write again? Maybe more live shows down the line? Or is this purely a nostalgia trip for the fans?
“We’ve recently been in the studio with the Producer Legend that is Romesh Dodangoda. We will be releasing a single in the New Year from that session. For KST live? We’ll see how our first show in nearly 16 years goes on the 14th December 2018! It’s sold out so it seems there’s appetite for the KST. I think we just might have to think about a show in the New Year, maybe even new material. You Never Know…”
Dave, thank you so much for the chat, all the best for the up-coming projects and more importantly, welcome back!