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The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
Interview-Ian-Underwood-Kryptonics-May-2012

 

Interview – IAN UNDERWOOD, THE KRYPTONICS

By Shane Pinnegar

 

 

From 1985 to 1992 The Kryptonics blazed a trail through Perth pubs and clubs alongside contemporise The Stems, The Bamboos and later The Neptunes, reaching the East Coast for a few tours whilst playing a hard rockin’ power pop noise that was equal parts Radio Birdman and Hoodoo Gurus.

 

No less than 14 members came and went through the band in that 7 year period, with several going on to greater success with bands including You Am I, The Neptunes, The Bamboos, The Chevelles, Front End Loader and Hard-Ons. The Kryptonics' several EPs and 7" singles, alongside rarities and bootleg live material was released on CD in 2007 by Reverberation Records as "Rejectionville", named after one of the band's latter songs.

 

Throughout this time the one constant was founder and guitarist Ian Underwood, who also took up lead vocals after the band’s first single was released.

 

Reforming to support Hoodoo Gurus at The State Of The Art Showcase June 3rd, to celebrate the newly re-monikered WA Day, this may well the last time Underwood convenes the church of The Kryptonics so don’t miss it!

 

Ian Underwood 2012

 

G’day Ian & thanks for taking the time to talk to THE ROCKPIT

 

You last reconvened the band in 2007 - what was it about the STATE OF THE ART showcase that made you want to jump on board as The Kryptonics?

 

I think these reunion shows work best when they're apart of a wider festival, like the recent Dig It Up shows or All Tomorrow's Parties. The Sydney Dig It Up show was simply a great day on every level. Also, I'd be lying if I said it wasn't about the money in some respect, because it means we can do the show without the spectre of losing money hanging over our heads. It means this show can be a celebration and a grand 'ol get together.

 

 

The powers that be have assembled a fantastic lineup for the event – who will you be hoping to catch from side of stage?

 

I make no bones about the fact that when I was in my teens, the Hoodoo Gurus were my favourite band in the world and “Stoneage Romeos” was my favourite album. So obviously I'm chuffed to be sharing a bill with them, for what will be the first time ever. Also looking forward to catching Abbe May again - I was involved with her previous outfit The Fuzz and think she's a little dynamo.


Perth – and Western Australia – has long been a producer of amazing musical talent, more perhaps than many places, per capita. Is it our isolation, ‘Something in the water’, a need to brighten up the city some label ‘Dullsville’ – or do you have another explanation?

 

Well there's always been plenty of shit bands in Perth as well, but certainly the geographical isolation means that the decent bands have the luxury of getting good, or 'leaning their trade' outside of the critical gaze of the rest of the country, so that when they finally debut on the East coast or overseas, they do so fully formed. It worked for the Triffids and more laterly the Drones, and a bunch of bands either side of them.

 

Plus Perth bands seem to have a drive to prove themselves to the rest of the country and the world that's often missing in Sydney and Melbourne outfits, who take more for granted. Perth people are kinda like Kiwis in that regard as well. Sometimes having a chip on your shoulder can be helpful!


'69 EP-era The Kryptonics

 

Apart from running Reverbaration Records, what have you been doing with yourself for the past five years?

 

These days I work for one of the biggest indie distributors in the country, Fuse. I run the Production Department and also look after certain licensing. This year I'm helming a pretty substantial reissue program of classic Australian albums on vinyl, that's pretty exciting. Plus I'm involved in some book projects as well, as we have a started a publishing arm as well.


Is this a one off for The Kryptonics, or do you harbour longer-term ambitions for the band such as recording new material?

 

It’s quite possible the band will never play again and there are no plans to record anything new. I was speaking to Kim Salmon about this the other day, and decided that most bands who reform down the track and record new material sully their reputation. He has great new songs that he specifically won't record with The Scientists, who are doing a series of shows later on this year. I think that's wise.


How does the songwriting process work for you – bursts of inspiration at any time of night or day, or do you have a process you work by?

 

I only wrote songs when I needed to, so now that I don't have a band as such I'm creative in other ways.


The Anthology collection “Rejectionsville”, released in 2007 is an amazing document of a band who evolved so fast, had so much promise – but just didn’t get the dice to fall the right way. Do you personally feel more pride or regret at those crazy days?

 

I have nothing but happy memories about the Kryptonics, sure some line-ups in retrospect were a little second rate, but I'm happy knowing that we were part of an incredible time in Australian rock and roll. We were clearly B-listers, but when the A-listers were bands like Died Pretty, The Scientists and The Beasts of Bourbon, I'm OK with that.


In the late 80’s The Kryptonics main adversities seemed to be a lack of finances and the sheer remoteness of Perth. Do you think the digital age has given more than it’s taken, in terms of the immediacy of worldwide distribution of music for new bands, versus the illegal downloading side of it?

 

Certainly the internet and social media would have helped the band enormously and you can't stop piracy, so I’m all for music being more available and immediate. As we've discovered at FUSE, there's been a huge boom in vinyl sales across all genres, so those that want to own the music and curate their own collection are still forking out money. That’s hugely encouraging.


What can fans expect from your set on Sunday – and which line-up will you have on the day?

 

It will be a short, frantic set from the Sixty-Nine era of the band. Me, Russell Hopkinson, Greg Hitchcock and Jeff Halley. Most of the songs will be from that line-up but with a few of the better songs from the later band's output. [Hopkinson and Hitchcock have both enjoyed success with You Am I amongst others, Halley is a member of The Chevelles]


'69 EP-era The Kryptonics

 

If you could go back in time and be a part of the recording of any song or album throughout history, what would it be?

 

After hearing the Replacement's 'Please to Meet Me' I always harboured a dream of recording at Ardent Studios in Memphis with Jim Dickson producing. It’s where Big Star recorded as well. Sadly Jim's no longer with us but the studio is still there.


Finally Ian, what for you is the meaning of life?

 

Sleep.

 

Thanks again and good luck at The State Of The Art Showcase!

 

 

Find out all the news on the State Of The Art Show at their Facebook page HERE

 

 

Interview posted 30 May 2012