edkuepper181Richard Sharman photo.

The label "Elder Statesman" doesn’t do Ed Kuepper justice. His career started in 1973 and spans the Saints, Laughing Clowns, The Aints! and scores of bands bearing his own name. His solo work explores a wide range of musical styles, including punk (whatever that is), folk, rock, blues, and jazz. 

His landmark solo records, "Electrical Storm” (notably his first) and "Honey Steel's Gold" (his break-out effort) were recently re-mastered and re-issued. Sounds like a good excuse for an Australian tour, not to mention an interview at the hands of Robert Brokenmouth. Here’s how it played out. 


RB: Let's start there ... What did you think of Rowland - the man, the guitarist? It strikes me that he's portrayed in a very specific way these days, not entirely as he really was. What do you think?

EK: I actually don't know how he's portrayed these days but I always liked Rowland, he came to all the Saints shows in Melbourne before we moved to London. He was incredibly enthusiastic and he was always quizzing me about music, so much so that I told Jeff Wegener [former Saints and future Laughing Clowns drummer] that he should move to Melbourne because it looked like something was starting to happen down there. 

Jeff followed that advice, took Jeanine Hall with him and formed a band with Rowland and Ollie Olsen called The Young Charlatans. I lost contact with him in the early ‘90s and only saw once shortly before he died, he seemed a bit sad and looked like he didn't have long

RB: Of course, I'm using this as a way of introducing that “back to the good old days” theme. You've rereleased a couple of LPs; what prompted you to release these two, in particular? Are these the two LPs the ones people have been asking for - or are they simply personal favourites?

EK: Well, to paraphrase myself, ''there [probably] never were good old days as such'', but the reason for picking these is pretty straight forward in that we had to start somewhere. 

“Electrical Storm” was my first solo record and “Honey Steel's Gold” was released at the time when CDs were starting to take over and we've had a lot of interest in it being made available more affordably on vinyl because original pressings were starting to get quite pricey.

Ed Kuepper HSG era

RB: Could you tell me a little about the writing and recording process behind them? 

EK: With “Electrical Storm”, which came on the back of Laughing Clowns splitting, I just started writing without considering having a specific band in mind, which was a bit liberating. “Honey Steel's Gold” was an extension of that really. 

Both albums were recorded and mixed fairly quickly like all my stuff, more to do with budget constraints rather than through artistic or ideological intent.  

RB: I recall your Hot Records stable-mate Louis Tillett playing on “Electrical Storm'”- what was he like to work with then? At the time of writing, your Bandcamp page indicates that only 94 copies remain of the 1000 pressed - are you considering a re-pressing?

EK: Louis was terrific to work with, he seemed very energised after playing on the last Clowns album ''Ghosts of an Ideal Wife'' so I asked him to play on the new session.  He lived around the corner from me in Newtown and we even bandied about the idea of forming a band at the time but that didn't eventuate. 

I'd like all these reissues to be available to anyone that wants one really, and even if people are undecided or claim they can't afford them my manager will be at the merch desk asking people to verify that by showing their bank statements, and he then will guilt trip them into getting a copy, after all that's what second mortgages are for

RB: For you, what is the most important aspect of a live show? Whether you're performing or you're a punter, what really makes it magnificent for you?

EK: I'm not sure I can easily put it into words but I know it when I hear it, it's got to have something about that feels unique to the night, something that goes a bit beyond the recorded versions - and I don't mean just the volume level.

ed kuepper 2017 top ten

RB: I expect I'll ask a couple of awkward questions. You don't have to answer them, of course. Here's one. Intro first, then the question at the end. D'you recall that “Guardian” live review of the Clowns from 2009? by Everett True, who “didn't get it” even though he was a life-long fan: "Maybe it was because my dancing shoes had gone missing. Maybe it was because I felt out of place among all the bonhomie when perhaps I used to enjoy being alone in my appreciation."  

I mean, True's response has nothing to do with you the performer on the night, it's hardly on your radar that the man is no longer twenty and is a lonely middle-aged dick. How on earth do you cope with dills like this? Come to think of it, how on earth do you deal with all these weird rock'n'roll expectations? 

EK: I thought Everett’s review was an interesting take in a lot of ways, those Clowns reunion shows were great IMO, and had a joyous quality to them that was quite different to the old days where we always played well but didn't make any effort to disguise any animosity that we may have towards each other at the time. I was doing the Clowns reunion at the same time as The Saints reunion and the mood in the two bands couldn't have been more different onstage or off.  

I also did make an effort to alert people not to expect the band not to have changed in the 25 years since we last played, most people that came along loved those Clowns shows. Anyway I won't say a bad word about Everett [not to his face anyway] as he did describe me as "the sexiest and most handsome man in rock'n'roll".

RB: Lastly, for now, I wonder if I could ask about what we can expect from these shows - last year you were talking to the Rockpit and said: "We’ve found a really great spot between structure and improvisation”… maybe improvisation isn’t the word… so are you going to be tinkering with the songs from these two LPs - you've always seemed to want to find more within your songs, certainly since I started seeing the Clowns.

EK: I don't remember saying that but yeah, that sums it up pretty well.


The Exploding Universe of Ed Kupper
Australian Tour

Fri 8th: Queenscliff Town Hall
Sat 9th: Meeniyan Town Hall
Wed 13th: Fremantle, Freo Social
Fri 15th: Adelaide, The Gov
Sat 16th: Hobart, Theatre Royal
Wed 20th: Canberra, The Street Theatre
Thu 21st: Sydney, City Recital Hall
Thu 28th: Brisbane, Princess Theatre
Fri 29: Gold Coast, Twin Towns
Sat 30: Sunshine Coast, Imperial Hotel

Info & Tickets