Red Kate

Album review: Red Kate/The Bad Ideas split 7" record

(Photo by Todd Zimmer)
The sound of rock ‘n roll, serious dyed in the wool; real rock ‘n roll blasting through my speakers rejuvenates my tattered and weary soul. I’ve grown tired of the indie/college rock/shoegaze types; to me, music (rock especially) should be like sex: I’ll take a quick five-minute explosion of passion and true power over an hour of half-hearted posturing mediocrity any day.
The upcoming split single from KC bands Red Kate (pictured above) and The Bad Ideas, being released by Mills Record Company, is anything but a boring rock roll in the hay; it is rock ‘n roll laid out by two bands that clearly know how it is done.
Red Kate, the pinko commies from the Heartland whose sound is equal parts The Clash, The Saints, and Chuck Berry, continually put out music that is catchy, thought-provoking and top shelf. Its two offerings to the 7” are no exception. They are exactly what you would expect from Shawn and Company: fast and as invigorating as Bruce Lee kicking you straight into an ice-covered lake.
“On My Mind” is good ol’ sing-along punk rock. Red Kate gets to the point and breaks down the key ingredient of what makes music so addictive, how you should be as a player, someone that people will always follow: “Keep moving forward / leave them wanting more.” Rock steady drum, silky smooth bass, flamethrower guitar, and a run time of just over two minutes is a recipe for success in this ADHD world.
“I got new dreams and I’m gonna make ‘em real” is the fuse that light’s “New Dreams.” Repeating that line over and over as the band plays at breakneck speed, “New Dreams” molds itself into a mantra that becomes part of your brain, making you believe that these guys truly know what they want and where they’re going, and you buy what they’re selling. Red Kate clearly knows what it wants, has its convictions, and is willing to put it all out there. Lucky for us, the group is willing to lay it down on wax too. Editor’s note: “New Dreams” is originally a Naked Raygun song, written by Santiago Durango.
Since first hearing Patti Smith first belt out “Piss Factory,” Ann Wilson blowing my doors off with “Barracuda,” Kathleen Hanna singing about a “Rebel Girl,” or PJ Harvey saying she’s “Man Size,” I’ve thought women fronting bands—punk rock bands especially—is incredible and hot. Sure, that statement will probably get me shit for being chauvinist or whatever but I don’t care. A woman laying it all out there is amazing. Breaka Dawn of The Bad Ideas certainly will continue my fascination with frontwomen. The Bad Ideas’ contributions “Apocalypse Detroit” and “I’m Stuck” show that, like their partners in crime, they speak what they believe. They don’t play pretend when they play punk rock, they ARE punk rock.
The drums, guitar, and bass are as wild, hectic, and ramshackle as the subject matter. It’s two minutes and six seconds of chaos and anarchy. Quality punk rock visiting time-tested themes of punk: a system collapsing upon itself, choosing what side to be on, standing up for yourself, it’s all there and it’s done well.
“I’m Stuck,” the other is a California hardcore at its finest. It’s fast, disaffected, and bitches about the way people are treated in America. In short, it’s about being stuck in a rut dug by society. I’m sure we’ve all been there once or twice.
This split 7” shows that, even in America’s Heartland, people can be pissed, disillusioned, bored, and generally defeated by life. The key is to turn that into gnashing of teeth and let it boil over into creativity. These bands have certainly done that.
--Danny R. Phillips
Danny has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others.
Join Red Kate and The Bad Ideas at the album release party this Saturday at Harling’s. Faultfinder, Bruiser Queen (St. Louis), and Crushed Out (Brooklyn) will also play. Starts at 8 p.m. Facebook event page.




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Album review: Red Kate - When The Troubles Come

I had a conversation with a friend the other night over drinks. The majority of the talk is unimportant, but the meat of it was how much we miss rock ‘n roll. I, like my musician friend, have grown weary of bearded bands trading in their amps and Telecasters for banjos, washboards, and glockenspiel. What boat did I miss here? 
Legendary folk singer Pete Seeger posed the question, “Where have all the flowers gone?”. I say, “To hell with the flowers. Where’s the riffs?”
Well, I have discovered some of the sadly endangered rock ‘n roll species on Red Kate’s When the Troubles Come. The Kansas City-based band (L. Ron Drunkard, Desmond Poirier, Brad Huhmann, and Andrew Whelan. Original guitarist Scot Squatch, who appears on a few of the album’s tracks, left Red Kate while recording Troubles) has laid down a superb LP packed with ‘70s rock aggression. The band’s one-two punch guitar work of Desmond Poirier and Brad Huhmann should make Angus Young and Marc Bolan fans very, very happy.
Red Kate indeed mines the 1970s for gold but stays clear of the cheese that marred the latter part of the decade. Red Kate plays big and aggressive but at the same time is more than capable of producing songs with great pop sensibilities (“Pink Sweater”). Have no fear, my friends; the schmaltz of bands like Boston and Foreigner are nowhere near Red Kate’s sound—thank god. Think more Stranglers and The Saints than STYX and Kansas.
Extolling the virtues of standing up for something and questioning the motives of the government, Troubles is chock full of calls to actions under the cover of rock ‘n roll. On the exceptional lead off track “Union Voice,” Drunkard cries out: “The boss is not your friend / now it’s time to make a choice / stand up and raise your voice.” In “Hypnotized,” he snarls: “I won’t pledge allegiance to the flag or company / there ain’t no way in hell you’re gonna pacify me.”
Too few bands put their beliefs out there for the entire world to see, and even fewer still are capable of doing so while kicking ass. Troubles is what rock and punk used to be before being invaded by Creed worshippers and Hot Topic. Red Kate brings a message without being heavy handed, self-important, or preachy. The band does not tell the listener to overthrow the government or become a radical anarchist. What it does is plant a seed of curiosity, of standing up for what you believe in and for being an individual.
When The Troubles Come is passionate record made by people who clearly believe in the words they’ve laid in wax. It is a record for people who believe that it is their right as humans to stand up for something, to question the beliefs put upon them by church and the state, to demand answers to their questions, and to do so while rockin’ like their heads are on fire.
When The Troubles Come was recorded and engineered at Weights and Measures Soundlab by Duane Trower. It was mixed by Trower and L. Ron Drunkard, digitally mastered by Trower, vinyl mastered at Sae Mastering (Phoenix) by Roger Seibel. Released by Replay Records.
Red Kate’s KC album release party will be at Davey’s Uptown this Friday, August 23. The Bad Ideas kick the show off at 9 pm, followed by Steady StatesThe Quivers, and topped off by Red Kate. Sure to be a loud, rowdy, boisterous evening. Facebook event page.
--Danny R. Phillips

Danny R. Phillips has been reporting on music of all types and covering the St. Joseph, MO music scene for well over a decade. He is a regular contributor to the nationally circulated BLURT Magazine and his work has appeared in The Pitch, The Omaha Reader, Missouri Life, The Regular Joe, Skyscraper Magazine, Popshifter, Hybrid Magazine, the websites Vocals on Top and Tuning Fork TV, Perfect Sound Forever, The Fader, and many others

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Grinding Gears with Todd Grantham




Grinding Gears with Todd Grantham


It's great to know why musicians do what they do. Why they write songs about heartache or joy. What kind of emotion they're trying to express. Who they most look up to. That's the magic of what they do. But then there's the science of it. How do they make the most raw or sensual sounds come out of their instruments?

This week we talk with Todd Grantham, also known as the suave ivory tickler of The Quivers.

The Deli: What kind of gear are you using?

Todd Grantham: 

I play a Roland XP-80 and a 1968 Vox Continental organ with The Quivers.  I think the XP-80 was introduced in 1996. That's the year I first bought the smaller Roland model - the XP-50.  They both have 3.5" disk drives. So cute. I like the XP series. 

At home, when I'm relaxed and want to play sitting down? I play a 1959 Cable Nelson Spinet piano.  It's been in the family since before I was born and I've been playing - mostly banging on that piano since I was a baby. I love it. You can't make a keyboard thunder and rumble quite like it.

The Deli: What makes your particular gear achieve the sound you're looking for in your music?

Todd: Opportunity, convenience, good fortune and affordability.

The Deli: How would you describe your sound?

Todd: Sometimes it's a little toot or a beep. Sometimes it goes Rrrrrrrarrrrrrrwwwwwrrr. When I'm in a hurry on piano it goes pling pling pling.


The Deli: What projects are you in you're in right now?

Todd:  The Quivers have become a full-time job for me. I couldn't be more artistically satisfied playing with this gang. But I played organ and piano on a few songs for Red Kate's upcoming album. Can't wait for that to be released. Holy cow, them boys are serious! Their song "Hypnotized" is gonna be big! You'll see.

The Deli: What other instruments do you play?

Todd: I've toyed with an accordion and a tin whistle, and can make a harmonica groan like a flattened tire. Oh, and I shouldn't say this, but for at least a dozen years I've had a vibraphone that doesn't actually belong to me. If the rightful owner sees this, I'll probably have to kiss that vibraphone goodbye. So this is off the record, right?

The Deli: Who are your favorite or most inspirational players (of your instrument[s]), both in KC and beyond? 

Todd: Locally? Jason Beers plays a wicked organ with Wild Chipmunk & The Cuddly Poos. He sickens me with how effortlessly fantastic he is. You know what? This is a difficult question. He's not a favorite, nor inspirational. He's freakish. He's a mutant. He should be shunned and banished from society. Devil-man! Devil-man! He loosens our morals and our morale, and I hear he's one of those free-thinkers.

The Deli: What is your ideal dream equipment set up? 

Todd: If it were the ideal dream, we wouldn't be talking about musical gear.

The Deli:

 Where do you like to shop for gear, and why?

Todd: To be honest with you? I don't shop for gear. Bernie [Dugan] tells me, "You need to get one of these…" and then he goes out and GETS IT FOR ME! I love my friend! But he makes me play extra pretty for him.

The Deli: Do you have a favorite KC venue to play in terms of sound quality? 

Todd: recordBar always does us well. I recommend the Cowtown Mallroom too. The acoustics in there are a hoot.

The Deli: Ever made or have thought of making your own custom gear? 

Todd: Oh god… Oh GOD the burns! Call 911.

Although Todd probably doesn't have the burns, you can catch him performing tonight at The Brick with The Quivers. They'll be joined by The Wild Ones and Bummer City, both from California. The Quivers' new EP Gots To Have It! will also be available this weekend!

-Michelle Bacon

Michelle is editor-in-chief of The Deli - Kansas City. She also has a weekly column with The Kansas City Star and reviews music for Ink. She plays with Deco AutoDrew Black and Dirty Electric, and Dolls on Fire. She enjoys the smell of Elmer's School Paste, but never the flavor.

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Todd Grantham

Photo courtesy of Steve Gardels 

The Quivers