After our good friend Martin Byrne left the band after ten years of superb experiences in gigging and recording together, it seemed like I'd reached a crossroads. Stick or twist.
I stuck. I think I stuck..but maybe I had a sneaky look at twisting too. To be honest, I didn't have a plan. But one of my best friends suggested that I knew the solution, but just couldn't think of it.
What do you do with a problem like Maria?
Erm, you celebrate and throw your hat in the air, if you wear one.
So, I've known Maria for so long that I'd forgotten that she played bass and was actually hoping that I might ask her to join the band.
Problems solved.. WHAT A PLAYER...what a great foil for Laura's un-nerving abilty to play drums at an inhumanly unwavering tempo. And a pair of absolute Goddesses, Lucky me.
Of couse, it meant starting Amazing Kappa again. This time, I added 'Band'.
We have a brick in the wall of fame on Mathew Street. It says 'Amazing Kappa Band' .
Our friend Bill Heckle had it made that way.
When we statred the Cavern Pub residency in 2002, my friend Alex McKechnie (the same one who whispered 'ask Maria') was managing the Cavern Club, where we were also resident, passed round leaflets saying " You are witnessing the Amazing Kappa". I seem to just let other people pick the band's name; or else we'd be plain KAPPA and selling knock off tracky tops as a side line.
First new song was "Comeback King" .
Then "Killer Heels" ..well, I'm surrounded on all sides, aren't I? Laura wears killer heels to play drums on stage.
When our American buddies in Petibone first visited us here in Liverpool, they could not believe the average height of the heels worn by Liverpool ladies on a Saturday night in town.
We carried on putting new songs together.
Then I had the invite from Chris Radostits to travel with the girls to Chicago, to his studio, Cinnamon Sound Studio in Aurora, Illinois.
Perfect, our first album together... and the last one had been in summer 2012, being 'Rodeo Lokomotiv'
So I set us up for February 2014.
Chicago winters are brutal affairs. Nobody should really go there in winter without good reason.
But, the flights are cheaper.
For various reasons, come the time, niether Laura nor Maria could travel with me, the week that was booked, but Chris had blocked out his studio for me, and with a flight booked, there was nothing doing but to get on American Airlines Flight 55 once again and see what happened.
Worst case, I'd spend the week in a drunken stupor and go downtown to Chicago and enjoy the city I've spent so many times visiting.
Upon arriving in Chicago in an un-nerving snow blizzard, I was greeted by Chris and Patrick Marron, Petibone's 6 foot 6 guitarist and all round cool, funny guy.
As we drove further out of the city in Chris's low slung, sultry , bastard of an Acura car, we hit the highways near Aurora (were we on 55 or 66, to tell you the truth in all the excitement I kinda forgotten myself) . In slow moving blizzared traffic, we are sitting behind a white car. (I'm gonna say a Dodge, because it's the first US car brand that springs to mind, but to be fair, these days, it could easily be a Toyota) ...so it's a traffic jam...cars are sliding...snow is piling down alll around us.
The guy in the white car suddenly jumps out. and comes towards the three of us sitting in the black Acura. As he gets up closer we see him clearly. He's like an extra from 'Duck Dynasty'. plaid shirt, baseball cap, two foot long grey beard. He's shouting "motherfuckers!!" " you got too close"..." mother-fuckers!!!" Then he sees me, Chris and pat. Chris is 6 foot 3, at least, Pat is 6 and a half foot...and I'm English. He shit himself, and then starts pretending he's wiping snow of the trunk of his 'Dodge' in an attempt to look like he hadn't really tried road rage a stationary vehicle. It was the look of the guy...angry with somebody or something, then realising how overwhelming the odds were, starts looking for a diversionary exit strategy. He had a bumper sticker on his car, garlanded by a green Celtic knot
it read 'BADWOLF'. We fell about laughing. We survived the terrible attack from the BADWOLF.
In the studio, with under a week to go, we put down all the tracks I had planned to record with Laura and Maria, and more besides. It went quick and easy. The album is all live in the room. I added a little in guitar layers, but mainly, what you hear, is what we did. The Petibone approach to my tunes was totally different. It was brilliant too. Chris played drums. A t one point he 'face timed' his drummer friends showing them how he had shredded new hickory drum sticks. Not something he has done in 20 years. I seem to be bringing out the animal in him.
Jeffrey Eccles is playing bass.He's jumping up and down in the room.
Putting hints of the Chilli Peppers in there. This is new to me. This is cool.
Matthew Radostits, or 'Chu' or 'Chewy' is putting down keys, electric piano or organ. Little chord clusters.It's understated and yet brilliant. Pat is the same..he's putting guitar down and he's keping it low key, but thiose touches really set the record off. funky wah parts ;always thoughtful.
There are no 13/9 time signatures. I am an ignorant dolt.
There are no chords with a name longer than 'D'.
I made them make a rock and roll record and I think they liked it.
The Badwolf never even called in to see how we were getting on. We named the project after him.
He doesn't know.
There's a bumper sticker belonging to some crazy redneck in Illinois somewhere that sparked an international incident. Ha ha.
When I got home, I asked my friend Danny Crone to do some art for the album. Danny is a brilliant artist and he provided the art ..which I fashioned into a record cover.
In February this year, I finally got the girls to travel tio Chicago with me, and we put their voices on Realtime Revolution, bringing it, aptly, full circle.
Then we went ahead and made a whole new AKB album, which we will release later this year. It'll be different. I'm excited about both.
Kappa albums. like buses: You wait three years, then two come along at once.
Don't feed the Badwolf. The tag line to an old Native American Tale.
Folks, we give you Realtime Revolution by Kappa & The Badwolf...with thankgiving.