mercredi 25 juillet 2012

Brian Kotz , The Back To Zero 's singer

- Who are you , where are you come from ... Brian Kotz. Born 1961. Always lived in North London, most of my formative years spent in the Barnet/Southgate area, now in Crouch End.  

- How did you come into music ? Through my brother, who's 13 years older than me. He was one of the original Modernists, and had a great record collection - from around 1963 onwards it was almost exclusively soul and rhythm & blues, so I was growing up and hearing things like "Soulful Dress" by Sugar Pie DeSanto and "You're My Remedy" by The Marvelettes, so to me, that was my first definition of music. I also used to like watching pop shows like "Thank Your Lucky Stars" and of course Ready! Steady! Go!  

- Your first souvenir about that ? Souvenir - in the French sense? My earliest memory of expressing an opinion about music was when I must have been about 3 years old. The Rolling Stones were on TV singing "It's All Over Now". My Dad (who hated pop) switched the set off and said "you heard them, it's all over now". I yelled "no it's not"!! and switched it back on again. Apart from anything else, it's the first time I remember turning a television on!  

- What kind of music did you listen when you were young ? Whilst I was becoming aware of my brothers records, The Monkees came along when I was 6, and they were the group for me. I was exactly the right age for them. I loved their TV shows, collected all their bubblegum cards (which I still have) and most importantly, because of them, I started listening to the radio, (just catching the end of the pirates and the beginning of Radio 1) following the charts, etc. I also loved The Beatles from a young age, and was taken to see the film "Yellow Submarine" when it came out.

- Any favorite band when you were young ? The first band I used to call my "favourite" was 10 CC, when I was 12. This was after "Rubber Bullets" and "The Dean & I" were two consecutive singles of theirs that I loved, and I bought their first LP. Then when I found out that they'd all been in bands in the 60's like The Mockingbirds and The Mindbenders, and Graham Gouldman had written so many brilliant songs of that era, I really became intrigued, and tried to find out as much as possible about their pre-10CC careers. It wasn't cool to say I liked them when the punk era came along, but I re-visited their music after all that snobbery died down, and I still love their early stuff, and respect the individual members hugely as musicians and writers. My other fave band of the era was Sparks. Then, in May '77, The Jam blew me sky-high. From the age of 13, I started collecting records from the 60's, sparked off by finding a box of 60's singles at my school's Summer Fair and buying 38 of them for 3p each. This set me off on many years scouring jumble sales and charity shops at weekends, building up a fair collection (the 70's being nearer the 60's, so it was easy). The Kinks and The Small Faces then became as important to me as current acts. I wasn't totally convinced by punk at the end of '76, but a couple of months later, a schoolfriend who was into it, Paul Williams, lent me his copy of "Neat Neat Neat" by The Damned, and I loved it, it was fun, energetic, and I preferred it to The Pistols. Around this time (Feb '77), Paul, knowing how much of a 60's fan I was, told me, 'there's a band I think you'll like, Brian. Punks like them, but they dress in suits and sound like The Who.' I replied, "Right then, they HAVE to be the ones for me!" This is before I'd heard a note. A few weeks later, I heard "In The City" for the first time on Radio Luxembourg. Lifechanger  

- First record ? First record bought for me (apart from kid's records) Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby, bought by my brother. "Submarine" was obviously the one I liked as a 5-year-old, but after I had the record I used to run round singing Eleanor Rigby too. The following year, I was given "Finchley Central" by the New Vaudeville Band - I loved it because Finchley was near where I lived! The record had a picture sleeve of a tube map, which I also thought was brilliant. The first record I bought with my own money, aged 9 in 1970, was "My Baby Loves Lovin' " by White Plains. I still love it, a great slice of Brit Bubblegum. We'd just moved house, my brother moved out at that point leaving his records behind, and I decided it was time to start my own collection too.  

- First gig ? 10CC at The Rainbow, 13th September 1974. I was sitting in the 3rd row, and I wasn't used to a loud PA system - when they started, I remember my knees knocking together for some reason! How could I have known then, that just over 5 years later I'd play there myself with Back To Zero.  

- Best gig ? Lyres/Chesterfield Kings (double bill) 17th January 1986, The Channel, Boston. The first ever gig I went to in the U.S. Both bands were on top of their game, and both by themselves would have qualified as contenders for the best gig ever. The high watermark for US garage-punk in the 80's, and I was there to witness it. I taped it that night too, luckily!  

- Did you ever play in a band ? These have been my bands; 1978 - The Unexplained (directionless local band with schoolfriends, one gig, gave me a bit of experience and the desire to do something that was more my sort of thing) 1979 - Back To Zero (A great year to be 18!!!!!) 1980 - Bees By Post (kind of psyche-pop, we covered some tracks from Nuggets like "Psychotic Reaction", suffered from post-mod fall-out and were only together for 8 months) 2001-2003 Back To Zero - recording of reunion album. Sam (guitarist/songwriter) got in touch through the internet, he had "Pro-tools" at home and asked if I wanted to make the album we'd never made at the time. Some good thing happened, like a reunion of all 4 original members, and the album itself, which got a very limited release online, but Sam and I couldn't get on at all (old AND new differences) so we never played live again, and went our separate ways once again. 2004 Long Tall Shorty. Four gigs singing with them. I think I was about the 26th member over the years. Great to sing whole sets live again, but I wasn't really happy with them, and I then received an offer to join the band mentioned below. 2004-2007 The Buckets. A fun rhythm & blues/rock and roll band with terrific musicians like Bruce Brand on guitar. All covers - Johnny Kidd & The Pirates and Leiber & Stoller songs dominating the sets. About 20 gigs in between the other guys' commitments. 2011 The Conkers. So far, this was a one-off line-up for my 50th birthday party, but what a brilliant band - the first time I'd put my own group together instead of joining someone elses. Named after the "imaginary band" I had as a 6-year-old"! I picked 3 friends who I thought- no, knew! would be right, one 3-hour rehearsal, 8 songs - nailed 'em! I hope we do it again one day, we sometimes talk about it, it's a matter of finding the time.  

- Did you were in a youth cult ? I've had a love/hate relationship with the Mod scene over the years, but it's stuck with me, it's been too much a part of my life ever to completely cut myself off from it.  

- For how long ? How long's a piece of string?!  

- How did you come into ? I'd always been fascinated with mods as a kid, knowing my brother was involved in the original scene in London. I used to read articles about it, knew my favourite bands were considered mods - then when punk happened, I used to jokingly say "well I'm a mod"! Then The Jam released In The City, which musically, changed my life completely. A band who dressed Mod, sounding like that? YES!!!!! In March '78, Record Mirror ran a feature on "superfans" including the "mods" who followed The Jam, (including Chip Hamer, who's now a long-standing old mate who I'm still in touch with). I thought "if they're doing it, why aren't I?" No looking back from that moment.

 - Your past hobbies ? Apart from music - London and her history, and long-distance walking (about to walk to Holland for charity).

 - Your best souvenirs ? OK, as I know of your interest in Glam, and as UK/junkshop glam is something I love too, BTZ wasn't my first "taste of the public". In 1975, aged 14, I got myself on to a TV music quiz for teenagers called "Pop Quest", in my local TV region's team. We won the championship, which meant a stereo, but more importantly now, I got to meet guest pop stars on the the first show I met the one and only Marc Bolan. Spot me at the end of this clip from 2:39.... here I am actually meeting him.....! I then entered a radio quiz in 1977, "Quiz-Kid '77", and actually got to win the whole thing, having my prizes presented by Mud. I'm still a bit of a "Quiz Monster" nowadays at pub music quizzes.


- Does style was important for you ? 60's style's top for me of course....and I could sniff out an original paisley shirt from 10 kilometres away during the 80's and 90's! I've kept a lot of my clothes from the BTZ era, I could never part with my original regency jackets that I bought in charity shops - one's an original Lord John of Carnaby Street.  

- What kind of music do you listen now ? Favourite all-time bands - The Easybeats and The Zombies. Still love 60's Beat, freakbeat, soul, blues, pop, psyche, garage etc., big on Power Pop, still discovering glam gems from the 70's, big fan of French music of the 60's (especially Polnareff and Dutronc), and Nederbiet from Holland, can't emphasise enough how important the 80's Medway scene was in the general scheme of things for it's influence, and have a general appreciation of the emotional human voice - but one thing I NEVER do is slag off music if I don't like it, and I get REALLY irritated if people start doing that. All music means something to someone somewhere, and no-one has a right to do that. Yes, I know how bleeding self-righteous that sounds, but I don't care.

 - Does style still important for you ? The extremely loud 60's shirt I bought this year is shouting YES!  

- Your 5 favorite records ? 1) Just A Fear - Answers 2) The Real Thing - Russell Morris 3) You're Holding Me Down - Buzz 4) Making Time - Creation 5) Let Your Hair Hang Down - Catapult

- Your favorite song (difficult !!! ) ? Just A Fear does it for me. (the answers) The palpable paranoia in Vince Edwards' voice, that incredible guitar solo, the EVERYTHING of that record!

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