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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 02/18/2011

Be specific: Post-punk all-star Kid Congo Powers talks about writing his garage rock memoirs

By Allison Stewart

kid congoKid Congo Power (far right) has gone from sideman to frontman with the Pink Monkey Birds.

Sideman extraordinaire Kid Congo Powers has been a member of three legendary bands: Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds (he played guitar from '86-'90), the Gun Club (off and on during the '80s) and the Cramps ('80-'83). He's now touring as the leader of his own band, the skuzztastic garage/rockabilly/swamp rock outfit Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds, who play Comet Ping Pong tonight.

Kid talked to Click Track about his recent-ish move to D.C., his in-progress memoirs, and the Birds' upcoming album, a follow-up to '09's "Dracula Boots."

You live in Dupont Circle these days, yes? What brought you out here?

I'd been living in New York for the previous 12 years and hadn’t been getting from New York what I wanted. My partner Ryan Hill, got a job at the Hirshhorn. He said, "I’ve got this job offer, but I don’t know if I should take it. It’s in Washington, D.C." And I had the suitcase open and was throwing clothes in it, like, “take the job!"

You've been writing your memoirs. What does that do to a person? Does it make you reconsider things you’ve done?

Well, things that you did you thought were great [you realize] were probably not great. I thought being a crazed rock and roller was gonna be what this book was [about], but it’s a lot about my childhood and formative years and how it led up to my being a musician. For me, that was the interesting part. It was really loaded up with a lot of interesting things. And I haven't been having to go to therapy.

(On "In Cold Blood" and his past masters, after the jump.)

You’re a musician. How much do you even remember?

I remember quite a lot... You have a timeline of your records and tours. That always sparks recollections. And we were just in St. Louis and people would be like, "Don't you remember when you played St. Louis in '84?" And I'd just be like, "I have no recollection." I couldn't possibly -- I've played thousands of shows since then. And if you have a wild lifestyle, things get a little blurry.

Considering the bands you’ve been in and the personalities involved, is there a worry about how candid you can be?

i think they would really love it if I was as open as possible. These are all people who are very strong, who have very strong visions about what they were doing, and I think they pick people to be in their bands who are also seeing things in a different way, who are like-minded. There’s not going to be any censorship there. I don’t think there’s gonna be a problem. I hope not. We’ll see what the lawyers say. (Laughs.)

With your new band, it’s the first time you’ve been your own boss. Is there a sense of freedom that comes with that?

Yeah, there’s a huge sense of freedom. It came on gradually, when I was doing more and more side projects. In the Cramps and the Bad Seeds, I had some say in the vision, but I was usually the guitarist who added some stuff to it, but the vision was of Nick Cave or of [Cramps members] Lux [Interior] and [Poison] Ivy. But now I have a band and it’s a very collaborative effort. I’m always saying to Nick and to Ivy, "I really forgive you if I ever complained about your leadership in the band, because it’s so much work!" It’s a lot bigger job than I had anticipated when I was a guitarist.

You've [been working on a] new album. What's it like?

We’ve been recording in Kansas in an old school that my drummer and his girlfriend bought and turned into an artist’s retreat. It’s in the middle of Harveyville, Kan., population 250. It’s beautiful and there are absolutely no distractions. It’s an incredible place to work. You have no sense of time -- there’s no traffic, no nothing.

It’s not like "In Cold Blood" at all....Is it?

You know what, it is! Anything can happen. It’s pretty isolated out there. I know when [my drummer and his girlfriend] moved out there, people were pretty suspicious of them. You know, city folk with tattoos.

And you record in an actual high school gymnasium? Like, where basketball games are played?

Yes. there’s a basketball court there, a clock in a cage, bleachers, a balcony, a stage. The sound is just incredible. It conjures up this weird, strange kind of magic. It makes you think about all the things that went on there. The prom. Were there juvenile delinquents? Were there gangs? What was going on there?

By Allison Stewart  | February 18, 2011; 11:00 AM ET
Categories:  Be specific  | Tags:  Kid Congo Powers  
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